The 86th Legislature is in the history books with big decisions made when it comes to school finance, property taxes and more.
Nicholas Quallich spoke with State Rep. Drew Springer (R-Muenster) and State Sen. Pat Fallon (R-Prosper) about the successes and failures of the 2019 session. Texoma Politics Now was unable to interview Rep. James Frank (R-Wichita Falls) due to scheduling conflicts.
Springer is state representative for District 68, which includes Childress, Hardeman, Haskell, Montague, Throckmorton, Wilbarger and Young counties.
Springer, who was first elected in 2012, filed several bills this legislative session that got signed into law. One of them allows for the dissolution of the North Montague County Water Supply District. The district and the City of Nocona have reached an agreement where the city will assume the facilities and service obligations of the district, and the district will no longer have a need to exist.
“Those are the ones that as a legislator you love to do because it addresses a local issue and you find solutions,” Springer said.
Springer also introduced House Bill 463, which would require private air ambulance companies to enter into reciprocity agreements. The legislation was eventually vetoed by Gov. Greg Abbott.
“[Abbott’s] hesitation was that on the surface it appears that [the bill] violates the free market,” Springer said. “As a free market republican, I can understand and appreciate that. I think the problem that you face though is that when you are unconscious upside down in a car, you don’t get the choose whose coming to pick you. That’s done by dispatch.”
Springer said he and his team plan to continue to tweak the bill in order to try again in the 2021 legislative session.
Abbott also vetoed a bill by Springer that would’ve made the Bowie Knife the official state knife of Texas. However, the governor only said no to the bill because of an inaccuracy in the bill’s text. In the next session, Springer said the language will be perfected and he hopes Abbott will sign the bill into law in Bowie, home of the Largest Bowie Knife, according to the Guinness World Record.
In July, Springer will be hosting two town halls in Texoma. On Tuesday, July 9, he will be in Vernon at Wilbarger Auditorium from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Another town hall is scheduled in Paducah at the Community Center on Richard Street from 11 a.m. to noon.
A bill in honor of murdered Wichita Falls teen Lauren Landavazo touched the hearts of many across the state during the session.
Senate Bill 710, also known as Lauren’s Law, ensures that anyone convicted of capital murder of a child under fifteen years old would receive a sentence of no less than life without parole.
In 2016, Landavazo was shot and killed while walking home from McNiel Middle School. The gunman, Kody Lott, was sentenced to life, but current law means he will be eligible for parole in 30 years.
Since her death, Lauren’s parents, Vern and Bianka, have advocated to change capital murder laws in Texas with the help of State Rep. James Frank and State Sen. Pat Fallon. Frank first brought the bill to the Texas Legislature in the 2017 legislative session, but it died in committee. In 2019, it hit some roadblocks in the Texas House.
“It passed out of the Texas Senate very quickly, 31-0, but the issue was in the Texas House when it hit snags and failed,” Fallon said. “Our life raft was Senate Bill 710. I ended up having to go speak to each one of the calendar committee members personally to advocate for it.”
Two days later, the bill was on the House floor and passed 132-8. Lauren’s Law was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott on June 11 with Lauren’s parents in attendance.
Lauren’s Law will go into effect on September 1, one day before the third anniversary of Lauren’s death.
Texoma Politics Now airs the final Sunday of every month. It is hosted by Nicholas Quallich and executive produced by Brittney Cottingham. If you have questions, comments, suggestions about the show or would be interested in appearing on an episode, email firstname.lastname@example.org.