The Back MicThe Back Mic: Sid Miller Drops Pointed Radio Spot, Alcohol-to-Go Heads to Abbott’s Desk, Budget Conferees Announced

This week — Sid Miller jumps into puberty blocker debate, alcohol-to-go nears the finish line, and budget conference committee begins.
April 30, 2021
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Texas Commissioner Takes Aim at GOP State Representative

A radio ad was deployed in state Rep. Dustin Burrows’ (R-Lubbock) district this week coming from an unexpected source: Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller.

The ad accuses Burrows, chair of the powerful Calendars Committee, of slow walking a bill aimed at banning the use of puberty blockers on children. House Bill 1399, filed by Texas Freedom Caucus member Rep. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth), was voted out of the Public Health Committee on April 15.

Twelve days later, on Tuesday of this week, the bill was forwarded to the Calendars Committee. That came after a six-week period between HB 1399 being referred to the Public Health Committee and its committee vote called by chair Rep. Stephanie Klick (R-North Richland Hills).

“One man standing in the way,” Miller says in the spot, “that’s your Rep. Dustin Burrows of Lubbock, who chairs the Calendars Committee and is holding up the bill because woke corporations put pressure on him.”

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Miller then instructs House District 83 residents to call Burrows and urge him to move the bill.

Krause rebuked the ad, saying on Twitter, “This below frustrates me. I appreciate folks advocating for good policies ([especially] when it is my bill!), but I don’t like misinformation. HB 1399 just got into Calendars last night. There’s no slow walking here. [Burrows and the Calendars Committee] literally just got it.”

“I just think we need to be honest and accurate in our criticisms. There could come a point where the allegation rings true, but to say so when the bill hadn’t even been in Calendars for 24 hours is misleading and inaccurate,” Krause further told The Texan.

He also stated that the bill analysis had been revised more than once to prevent points of order on the House floor. “It took a while, but better to be thorough.”

As the 87th session winds into its final month, the pressure to pull priority bills across the finish line will heat up. Some will make it, and some will not. Miller wants to ensure HB 1399 is among the former.

Alcohol-to-Go a Signature Away from Permanency

During a period of increased restrictions on movement and commerce by the state government last year, one specific reform went the opposite direction. Governor Greg Abbott used executive powers to allow Texans to purchase cocktails and other alcoholic beverages and take them home — colloquially dubbed “alcohol-to-go.”

Over the pandemic-laden interim, Abbott indicated his support for making permanent the suspension of the takeout prohibition of alcohol. Such a move was widely supported by the legislature — so much so that it was specifically mentioned by Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) in his acceptance speech.

Likewise, the House moved first on the legislation, passing it near the end of March as one of its first votes of the 87th session. This week, the Senate gave its approval to the legislation leaving final say to the policy’s original sponsor, Abbott.

Only two members, one in each chamber, voted against the legislation. Rep. Matt Shaheen (R-Plano) cited his concerns about drunk driving to explain the vote. The lone no vote in the Senate was Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock).

List of Budget Conferees

The 2022-2023 Texas budget is nearing its final form. Last week, the House finalized its version with amendments, a few weeks after the Senate approved its version.

There is a roughly $4 billion difference, most of which comes from different disbursement levels of federal funding, between the two versions which will have to be hammered out in conference committee. To do that, each chamber nominates five of its members to negotiate on their behalf during the process.

Those members are listed below:

Senate

  • Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), Chair
  • Joan Huffman (R-Houston)
  • Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham)
  • Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville)
  • Larry Taylor (R-Houston)

House

  • Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood), Chair
  • Giovanni Capriglione (R-Southlake)
  • Mary González (D-Clint)
  • Armando Walle (D-Houston)
  • Terry Wilson (R-Marble Falls)

The conference committee proceedings began Thursday.

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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.