Landgraf Files Bill to Enhance Penalties for Rioting, Preserve First Amendment Freedoms

AUSTIN — State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) filed House Bill 2461 to crack down on criminal rioters while protecting the constitutional rights of lawful protestors.

“Our First Amendment right to peacefully assemble must be preserved and protected,” Landgraf said. “HB 2461 will protect the ability of Texans to exercise their constitutional rights by properly punishing those who seek to take advantage of peaceful protests through violence, looting and intimidation.”

Widespread reports of individuals traveling from state to state to incite violence and looting during peaceful protests have motivated Landgraf and other state leaders, including Texas Governor Greg Abbott, to find solutions to deter such behavior and preserve the peace.

“Anyone who participates in violent riots should be held accountable for their actions. This legislation will help ensure that alleged rioters from out of state face the same standards of justice as those who call Texas home. I applaud Representative Landgraf for taking action to keep Texas a law-and-order state and I look forward to working with the Legislature to get this bill to my desk,” Governor Abbott said.

House Bill 2461 would amend Texas law to deny bail for anyone arrested for a criminal offense committed during a riot until the person makes the first official court appearance before the judge that will hear the case. House Bill 2461 also increases penalties for crimes committed during a riot, such as assault, arson or robbery.

“I’m thankful for Governor Abbott’s support of this important endeavor to preserve and protect the constitutional rights of law-abiding Texans. Those who seek to upend our constitutional republic by spreading chaos and anarchy will be met with firm resistance in the Lone Star State,” Landgraf concluded.

The 87th Texas Legislative Session began in January and is underway through May 31st, 2021. In accordance with the Texas Constitution, the state legislature meets for a 140-day regular session every odd-numbered year to vote on legislation and pass a balanced state budget.


Landgraf Fights Electricity Rate Hikes

ODESSA — State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) submitted a letter to the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) demanding it to rescind authorization for rate hikes on Texas electric bills amid recent power outages.

“You already left the taxpayers out in the cold with your lack of leadership and oversight of ERCOT,” Landgraf writes in the letter. “And yet, while they were still shivering in their homes, you decide to take more money out of their wallets -- food from their mouths -- in order to pay for mistakes made by your agency. I think not.”

The PUC held an emergency meeting earlier this week where officials introduced an order that directed the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) to correct any past prices to reflect the current shortage of energy. The order stated that “Energy prices should reflect scarcity of the supply. If customer load is being shed, scarcity is at its maximum, and the market price for the energy needed to serve that load should also be at its highest.” Lawmakers like Landgraf are concerned that this leaves Texans vulnerable to unexpected rate hikes in their energy bills.

“We cannot allow someone to exploit a market when they were the ones responsible for the dire consequences in the first place,” Landgraf’s letter continues. “On behalf of my fellow West Texans, and as a matter of principle, I demand that the Public Utility Commission of Texas rescind its authorization to ERCOT to permit rate hikes on Texas electric bills.”


Landgraf Files Texas Energy Independence Act

AUSTIN — State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) filed House Bill 1683, dubbed the “Texas Energy Independence Act,” to stop the implementation of any overreaching new federal regulations on oil and gas production in Texas.

“This is about protecting jobs in the Permian Basin,” Landgraf said. “Like no other time in history, American energy operations are being threatened and Texas must be prepared to resist overreach in the oilpatch. I filed HB 1683 to defend our oil fields, to defend Texas jobs and businesses from the tentacles of federal bureaucracy.” 

House Bill 1683 prohibits Texas state agencies and officials from contracting with or providing assistance to any federal agency or official regarding the enforcement of a federal statute, order, rule, or regulation regulating oil and gas operations if the regulation is not already in existing state law. HB 1683 also prohibits any political subdivision in Texas from receiving any state grant funding if the political subdivision adopts any such rule or regulation of oil and gas operations. Finally, the bill provides a process for any Texan to be able to submit a report to the Texas attorney general regarding a political subdivision that enforces a federal regulation of oil and gas operations that is not in state law.

“The oil and gas industry provides billions of dollars in revenue that helps fund construction of highways and bridges all over the state, along with public education and a hundred other state services over the years,” Landgraf said. “The Texas Energy Independence Act will serve as a bulwark against overreaching federal policies that value the opinions of a vocal minority over the livelihood of hardworking Texans.”

The 87th Texas Legislative Session began in January and is underway through May 31st, 2021. In accordance with the Texas Constitution, the state legislature meets for a 140-day regular session every odd-numbered year to vote on legislation and pass a balanced state budget.


Rep. Landgraf: prioritize teachers for COVID-19 vaccine

AUSTIN — State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) sent a letter to Governor Greg Abbott Monday advocating for Texas educators to be classified as “frontline workers” for COVID-19 vaccination purposes. This would allow many teachers who want to vaccine to be able to receive it sooner. 

“I emphatically ask you to include Texas public school employees in the priority category of ‘frontline workers,’” Landgraf writes in his letter to the governor. “These individuals are clearly on the frontlines, risking contracting COVID-19 each day in Texas schools in order to continue educating our Texas students. Employees on all levels in Texas public schools are crucial to carrying out the day-to-day operations while ensuring that a superior education is provided to our state’s schoolchildren.”

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) created the COVID-19 Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel (EVAP) to make recommendations on vaccine allocation decisions, including identifying groups that should be vaccinated first to provide the most protection to vulnerable populations and critical state resources. DSHS distributes the vaccine with the guidance of the EVAP. Currently, front-line healthcare workers, residents of long-term care facilities (Phase 1A), and people over 65 or with a chronic medical condition placing them at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 (Phase 1B) are currently eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Texas per the panel’s recommendations.

“My constituents in West Texas and I highly value the difficult work of our educators, who ceaselessly go above and beyond everyday of this pandemic,” Landgraf continues in his letter to the governor. “Educators have constantly supported Texas students throughout the pandemic, so it’s only fair that we must support our educators during this critical time. It is in the best interest of all Texans to ensure that our Texas public school employees are included as ‘frontline workers’ to make certain our Texas schools remain healthy.”

Landgraf and the other members of the Texas legislature convened at the Texas Capitol building for the 87th Texas Legislative Session on January 12th, 2021. Members of the Texas House and Texas Senate meet for a 140-day regular session beginning the second Tuesday in January every odd-numbered year to vote on legislation and pass a balanced state budget.


Landgraf Applauds Governor’s Action in Odessa to Protect Energy Jobs

ODESSA — State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) joined Governor Greg Abbott in Odessa at a roundtable discussion and press conference announcing executive action on the state level to prevent the federal government from harming the oil and gas industry in Texas.

“I appreciate Governor Abbott’s leadership here,” Landgraf said. “This order demonstrates the importance of oil and gas, and specifically, the significance of the work we do in the Permian Basin. In addition to all of the jobs the industry creates, our roads, schools and nearly every other service provided by the state directly benefit from revenue generated by oil and gas production.”

Executive Order GA-33 directs every state agency to use all lawful powers and tools to challenge any federal action that threatens the continued strength, vitality, and independence of the energy industry. The order directs each agency to identify potential litigation, notice-and-comment opportunities, and any other means of preventing federal overreach within the law.

Landgraf and the other members of the Texas legislature convened at the Texas Capitol building for the 87th Texas Legislative Session on January 12th, 2021. Members of the Texas House and Texas Senate meet for a 140-day regular session beginning the second Tuesday in January every odd-numbered year to vote on legislation and pass a balanced state budget.


Landgraf Co-Authors Bill to Prohibit Abortions in Texas

AUSTIN — State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) is throwing his full support behind House Bill 1280, a pro-life bill he co-authored to prohibit abortion procedures in Texas.

“As a father who heard his daughter’s heartbeat early during my wife’s pregnancy, I am proud to co-author this landmark bill,” Landgraf said.

“Valuing and protecting human life — before and after birth — is part of who I am. I was raised with these values, they’re central to my faith, and I will die with these values. Fundamentally, governments exist to protect the rights of the people —  including the right to life —  and that is exactly what HB 1280 sets out to do, protect the lives of unborn Texans.”

House Bill 1280 prohibits abortions in Texas unless the pregnancy poses a significant risk to the health of the mother. In such instances, HB 1280 also requires the physician performing the procedure to do everything possible to save the life of the unborn child.

“HB 1280 gives a voice to the voiceless, it offers defense for those who cannot defend themselves,” Landgraf continued. “While the Texas legislature and I cannot overturn Roe v. Wade, I can sure do my part to get Texas ready for when that historic day finally arrives. I appreciate the bill’s primary author, State Representative Giovanni Capriglione (R-Southlake) for taking the lead crafting this life-saving bill,” Landgraf concluded.

Landgraf and the other members of the Texas legislature convened at the Texas Capitol building for the 87th Texas Legislative Session on January 12th, 2021. Members of the Texas House and Texas Senate meet for a 140-day regular session beginning the second Tuesday in January every odd-numbered year to vote on legislation and pass a balanced state budget.


Landgraf Seeks to Shield Oilpatch Schools from “Robin Hood”

AUSTIN — State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) filed House Bill 1077 to reduce the impact of “Robin Hood” recapture payments on mineral wealthy school districts.

“The events of the last year demonstrate how necessary HB 1077 is for school districts in the oilpatch,” Landgraf said. “Many Permian Basin school districts are still sending millions of dollars back to the state in recapture payments even after the historic drop in oil demand.”

As the state's property values have risen significantly over the past decade, the state has also seen substantial growth in the number of school districts subject to recapture under Chapters 48 and 49, Texas Education Code. At the same time, oil and gas production has provided billions of dollars in tax revenue that has gone to help provide funding for education, roads, and the state's Rainy Day Fund.

“School districts in energy-producing regions of Texas bear the brunt of the Robin Hood law,” Landgraf continued. “That’s why I filed HB 1077, to give our school districts and students a chance to keep more of what we produce.”

HB 1077 seeks to provide relief to so-called mineral wealthy school districts by reducing the recapture payment amount required of these districts by an amount proportional to the percentage of the cost of the Foundation School Program funded by amounts paid to the state by school districts subject to recapture.

Landgraf and the other members of the Texas legislature convened at the Texas Capitol building for the 87th Texas Legislative Session on January 12th, 2021. Members of the Texas House and Texas Senate meet for a 140-day regular session beginning the second Tuesday in January every odd-numbered year to vote on legislation and pass a balanced state budget.


Landgraf Renews Constitutional Oath as State Representative

AUSTIN — State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) took the oath of office on Tuesday at the Texas Capitol to once again serve the Permian Basin as a member of the Texas House of Representatives.

Landgraf and the other members of the Texas legislature convened at the Texas Capitol building for the 87th Texas Legislative Session on January 12th, 2021. Members of the Texas House and Texas Senate meet for a 140-day regular session beginning the second Tuesday in January every odd-numbered year to vote on legislation and pass a balanced state budget.

“The good people who live and work in Andrews, Ector, Ward, and Winkler counties deserve to have their voices heard loud and clear in their state government,” Landgraf said. “It’s a distinct honor to serve hardworking West Texans in the Texas House of Representatives.”

During the next 140 days, the Texas House of Representatives, along with the Texas Senate, will consider legislation on hundreds of issues impacting the state, including solutions to address the state’s $1 billion budget deficit that is a result of the economic slowdown caused by COVID-19 closures and the drop in global demand for oil. This is the first legislative session since 2019, as Texas is one of the only states in the nation with a legislature that does not meet every year.

In addition to passing a balanced state budget without raising taxes, Landgraf's priorities this session include increasing transparency at every level of government, creating a statewide active shooter alert system, curtailing the ability of bureaucracies to operate without public oversight during times of disaster, and reducing the negative impact of “Robin Hood” and STAAR testing on public school students and families in the oilpatch.

“I took an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution,” Landgraf continued. “This duty is the ultimate role of any elected official, and an oath I will diligently uphold as I continue fighting to ensure West Texas voices are heard in the chambers and halls of their state Capitol.”


Statement re: MCHS helping to vaccinate frontline medical workers at surrounding hospitals

ODESSA — State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) issued the following statement Monday after learning that Medical Center Health System CEO Russell Tippin has carved out a portion of its state-allocated COVID-19 vaccine shipment for frontline medical workers at hospitals in Kermit, Monahans and other surrounding communities:

“I’m proud that Russell Tippin and the leadership at Medical Center Health System in Odessa are helping other West Texas hospitals by making sure that all doctors, nurses and other frontline medical workers in our region are getting vaccinated so that they can more safely care for their patients.

“I want to give credit where credit is due. Medical Center Health System is going out of its way to be a good neighbor and making sure that the vaccine needs of the Permian Basin are being met in a timely manner.

“Hospitals in communities such as Kermit and Monahans are not expected to receive their vaccine allotments for several more days, and rather than making them wait, MCHS stepped up to share its resources while also ensuring that Odessa’s frontline medical workers get vaccinated.

“I appreciate CEO Russell Tippin and his board of directors: Bryn Dodd, Mary Lou Anderson, Richard Herrera, David Dunn, Don Hallmark, Wallace Dunn and Dr. Ben Quiroz. What a great example of giving during Christmas week.”


Citing Hospital Visitation Restrictions, Landgraf Files Pro-Transparency Bill to Fight Bureaucratic Bullies

AUSTIN — State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) filed House Bill 665 to require state agencies to obtain legislative approval to renew emergency rules adopted during a state of disaster, such as hospital visitation restrictions that have been imposed recently.

“I heard far too many tragic and sad stories from Texans who were prevented from being with their loved ones in a hospital during their final moments,” Landgraf said. “I advocated for our local physicians and hospital administrators to be able to have the flexibility to be able to implement their own visitation rules based on the prevalence of the coronavirus in their area. However, there was little I could do because the current law allowed a state bureaucracy to adopt a one-size-fits-all approach for the entire state without any legislative oversight or public input whatsoever. HB 665 will change that.”

In March of this year, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) adopted an emergency rule that required hospitals to prohibit visitors who were not providing critical assistance. Current law allows state agencies to adopt emergency rules without prior notice or hearing if the agency finds that there is imminent peril to public health or safety. Such rules can be effective for 120 days and can be renewed once for 60 days. This proved to be untenable for thousands of Texans who were prevented from visiting family in hospitals throughout the state in 2020.

“The policy that locked them out was not a law adopted by an elected body or even an executive order issued by the governor, it was a decision made behind closed doors by an unelected bureaucracy,” Landgraf continued. “House Bill 665, if passed, will ensure there is sufficient public oversight over state agencies during times of disaster in Texas so that this sort of thing never happens again.”

HB 665 specifies that, during times in which at the governor has declared a state of disaster for at least 75% of Texas counties, agency emergency rules can only be effective for 30 days, and cannot be renewed unless approved by a majority vote of a joint hearing of the standing committees of each house of the legislature with primary jurisdiction over the agency seeking to renew the emergency rule.

Landgraf and the other members of the Texas legislature will convene for the 87th Texas Legislative Session on January 12, 2021. Members of the Texas House and Texas Senate may begin filing bills for the 2021 legislative session as early as November 9, 2020. The Texas legislature meets at the Texas Capitol building for a 140-day regular session beginning the second Tuesday in January every odd-numbered year to vote on proposed legislation and pass a balanced state budget.