The Back MicThe Back Mic: TEXIT Returns, Senators Back Russia Divestment Bill, Chapter 313 Replacement Signers Listed

This week — TEXIT makes its biennial return to the state Capitol, one senator hesitates on Russia divestment bill, and those lending their names to the House economic development bill are listed.
March 10, 2023

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TEXIT Bill Filed, Generates Intense Twitter Fight

On March 6, the 187th anniversary of the fall of the Alamo, Rep. Bryan Slaton (R-Royse City) filed the “TEXIT Referendum Act,” the now biennial swing at allowing Texas voters to decide if they want to leave the United States.

“The Texas Constitution is clear that all political power resides in the people,” Slaton said in a release. “After decades of continuous abuse of our rights and liberties by the federal government, it is time to let the people of Texas make their voices heard.”

As is now customary, the filing and announcement sparked a fiery discourse between those supportive and those opposed.

Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Plano) responded critically, saying, “Any legislator who signs on to support this reckless, seditious and treasonous bill will not pass a single bill this session. This isn’t a threat. It’s a promise.”

The Texan Tumbler

Comments between Leach, Slaton, and others on social media continued.

Last session, former Rep. Kyle Biedermann (R-Fredericksburg) carried the bill  — which died a quick death in the House State Affairs Committee.

The question and history of Texas secession is quite layered and interesting; it’s also a separate question from whether Texas should leave the union. Some believe it was settled on Civil War battlefields, while others assert it remains a viable option as an unavoidable part of the nation’s founding philosophy — but one thing remains: independence has remarkable staying power in Texas political discourse.

This year’s iteration is likely to suffer the same fate as its predecessor. But that won’t stop those supportive from lobbying the issue.

Russia Divestment Bill Filed, One Senator Abstains Then Joins

State Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) announced on Wednesday the filing of Senate Bill (SB) 1817, a directive to withdraw state investment from entities tied to Russia, with 30 out of 31 senators as co-authors.

The legislation is a response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, following through on a promise made by a majority of the Senate one year ago in a joint letter. Comptroller Glenn Hegar, whose office oversees state pensions, reiterated the call last year and applauded the legislation.

Bettencourt said in the release, “SB 1817, signed by 30 Texas Senators makes it clear where Texas stands when it comes to Totalitarian Regimes like Russia that wage war on Democracies without reason or provocation.”

But one name was missing from the list of co-authors: Sen. Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville).

Nichols did not sign the letter, but neither did Sens. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) or José Menéndez (D-San Antonio), both of whom were in the batch of original co-authors. Each of the six new senators also signed on as co-authors.

On Wednesday morning, The Texan asked Nichols’ office why he had not joined the others as a co-author, an inquiry that went without answer. But shortly after, Bettencourt indicated on Twitter and confirmed to The Texan that Nichols is now signed on as a co-author.

Nichols has not commented on the sequence.

List of House Members Signed Onto Chapter 313 Replacement

Much of the Texas House, along with Gov. Greg Abbott, has lined up behind a replacement for the now-expired Chapter 313 tax abatement program — an economic development incentive.

House Bill 5 by Rep. Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christi) is the chamber’s priority bill to replace 313 with a new, curtailed abatement program. It seems to rule out renewables — something multiple legislators, and Abbott himself, support excluding — and gives the comptroller of public accounts broad authority on how to run the proposed program.

37 House members have signed onto Hunter’s bill, signaling their support — four as joint authors and 33 as co-authors. Those members are listed below.

Joint Authors

  • Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock)
  • Oscar Longoria (D-Mission)
  • Morgan Meyer (R-Dallas)
  • Hugh Shine (R-Temple)


  • Charles “Doc” Anderson (R-Waco)
  • Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin)
  • Ernest Bailes (R-Shepherd)
  • Ben Bumgarner (R-Flower Mound)
  • Angie Chen Button (R-Richardson)
  • Giovanni Capriglione (R-Southlake)
  • Charles Cunningham (R-Humble)
  • Drew Darby (R-San Angelo)
  • Jay Dean (R-Longview)
  • Frederick Frazier (R-McKinney)
  • Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth)
  • Sam Harless (R-Spring)
  • Cody Harris (R-Palestine)
  • Abel Herrero (D-Robstown)
  • Justin Holland (R-Rockwall)
  • Lacey Hull (R-Houston)
  • Jacey Jetton (R-Richmond)
  • Ann Johnson (D-Houston)
  • Ken King (R-Canadian)
  • John Kuempel (R-Seguin)
  • Stan Lambert (R-Abilene)
  • Janie Lopez (R-San Benito)
  • J.M. Lozano (R-Kingsville)
  • Christian Manuel (D-Beaumont)
  • Armando Martinez (D-Weslaco)
  • Joe Moody (D-El Paso)
  • Geanie Morrison (R-Victoria)
  • Claudia Ordaz (D-El Paso)
  • Four Price (R-Amarillo)
  • John Raney (R-Bryan)
  • Glenn Rogers (R-Graford)
  • Lynn Stucky (R-Denton)
  • Kronda Thimesch (R-Carrollton)


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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and 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.