NORTH CHANNEL – State Representative Ana Hernandez was the featured speaker at the September 2nd CIP (Community Industry Partnership) meeting, held by Zoom for about 35 participants. Hernandez spoke about work accomplished in the 87th legislative session, and the two specials sessions that Governor Abbott called after that. Hernandez was one of the 50 Democrats that left the Capitol to block legislation that they deemed restrictive to voting rights, but she and Representatives Walle and Coleman eventually returned, and others later, to allow the sessions to continue. As a results, SB1 (Voting rights) and SB8 (Abortion rights), were passed by a Republican majority over the Democrat’s objections.
Hernandez noted that the governor plans to call a 3rd Special Session, to proceed with redistricting and to finish voting on bills that did not pass in the previous sessions. She said that due to population growth, redistricting will results in at least 2 new congressional seats for Texas.
On SB1, she said that it will not take effect for 90 days, and meanwhile the U.S. Congress is working on voting rights legislation that might supercede the Texas restrictive regulations. Among other restrictions, SB1 prohibits 24 hour voting, drive-thru voting, and mailing ballots to anyone that did not request one.
She also explained passage of bills that strengthen the ERCOT electric power grid, and SB900 which requires safer measures for oil storage tanks to avoid fires such as the 2019 ITC fire in Deer Park.
Another subject which the legislature passed, and Hernandez explained, was the open-carry “permitless” gun bill, which has advocates on both sides of the issue.
Some of the bills authored or sponsored by Hernandez included:
House Bill 16, which will protect residential consumers and small businesses from price-gouging electric plans.
House Bill 917 to give retirees representation on their own Employee Retirement System Board of Trustees.
House Bill 914, which will provide designated municipal employees the authority to request the removal of abandoned or illegally parked vehicles from public roadways.
House Bill 402, which will allow the use of assets seized from human traffickers to fund critical assistance programs for survivors of human trafficking.
Hernandez also talked about the 2022-2023 Budget. The Texas House of Representatives and Senate have approved a $248 billion two-year budget that fully funds the state’s commitment to the public education investments made by House Bill 3 during the 86th Legislative Session, invests additional funds into higher education, and strengthens Texas’ commitment to mental health services and public safety.