Elections 2020IssuesState HouseState SenateStatewide NewsThe Back MicThe Back Mic: GOP Convention Postponed, Freedom Caucus Letter to Hegar, Senate District 14 Update

This week — Texas Republicans postpone their state convention, the Freedom Caucus calls on the comptroller, and a state senate race continues to solidify.
March 20, 2020
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Texas GOP Convention Postponed

Republican Party of Texas Chairman James Dickey held a conference call on Monday to talk through the implications of coronavirus for the Republican Party State Convention. Here’s what you need to know:

  • The convention was originally slated for May 14-16.
  • Party officials have tentatively moved the event to July 13-18 pending a vote of the State Republican Executive Committee (SREC) on April 4.
  • Dickey indicated that arrangements have been made to ensure the convention would still be held in Houston.
  • Senate districts and county chairs have been encouraged to find a new date for their conventions outside of gathering bans that have been instituted.

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick joined the call and gave an update on how the state is preparing and mitigating in the midst of coronavirus concerns. He praised Governor Abbott for waiving STAAR testing requirements and gave updates regarding new testing centers and school district closures.

Rafael Cruz, Senator Ted Cruz’s father, ended the call with a prayer.

The 2020 Texas Democratic Convention, slated for June 4 in San Antonio, has yet to be rescheduled, though party officials have indicated that contingency plans are being made.

The Texan Mug

Freedom Caucus Asks Comptroller to Waive Sales Tax Penalties and Interest for Sales Taxes

Yesterday, the Texas House Freedom Caucus sent a letter to Comptroller Glenn Hegar with the subject line “Sales Tax Penalty and Interest Waiver for Sales Taxes Due March 20, 2020.” Here are the highlights:

  • “Texans and Texas businesses are under strain like never before. Government health and safety precautions mandate that restaurants, stores, service establishments, and certain other places of business close to prevent the spread of the Wuhan Coronavirus (COVID-19).”
  • “Extreme economic hardship caused by lack of revenues due to virus-related declines in sales and closures challenge Texas businesses—especially small businesses—in unparalleled ways.”
  • “In light of this severe adversity, we request that your department waive all penalties and interest for monthly sales taxes due tomorrow, March 20, 2020 for sales taxes not paid on time.”

The letter was signed by all members of the caucus; Reps. Mayes Middleton (R-Wallisville), Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler), Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth), Kyle Biedermann (R-Fredericksburg), Briscoe Cain (R-Deer Park), Mike Lang (R-Granbury), Matt Shaheen (R-Plano), Valoree Swanson (R-Spring), Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington), and Bill Zedler (R-Arlington).

Senate District 14

Since Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin) announced he would be vacating his seat to become the University of Houston’s first dean of the Hobby School of Public Affairs, special election dates have been set and potential candidates have begun lining up to vie for the position. 

  • Governor Abbott announced this week that the special election would be postponed until July 14. It was originally slated for May 2.
  • Two Democratic candidates have already entered the race: Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt and current State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin).
  • Chito Vela III, who previously ran against current Rep. Sheryl Cole for the seat in House District 46 and was rumored to run in Senate District 14, announced he would not seek the seat. 
  • “As much as I love the Texas Capitol, I will not be running for the #SD14 seat. A Texas Senate race is a huge effort requiring massive resources. My strength in the #HD46 Texas House race was grassroots campaigning and the trust of my neighbors, friends and community,” said Vela of his decision.
  • However, Vela did announce his intent to potentially run for another elected position: “If Council Member Greg Casar vacates his seat to run for the Texas Senate, I will run for his Austin City Council seat.”

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McKenzie Taylor

McKenzie Taylor

McKenzie Taylor serves as Senior Editor and resident plate-spinner for The Texan. Previously, she worked as State Representative Kyle Biedermann’s Capitol Director during the 85th legislative session before moving to Fort Worth to manage Senator Konni Burton’s campaign. In her free time, you might find her enjoying dog memes, staring at mountains, or proctoring personality tests.