Grow Texas Fund Bill gaining momentum in Texas House

AUSTIN — State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) and State Representative Tom Craddick (R-Midland) on Wednesday presented to a Texas House Appropriations subcommittee their proposal to bring state money generated by oil and gas production back to energy-producing hotbeds across the state. Landgraf and Craddick also announced the support of major trade associations for the proposal, known as the “GROW Texas Fund." The two filed a legislative package to direct state funds to make drastically needed improvements to roads, boost public safety, enhance educational opportunities across energy producing areas, as well as reduce infrastructure bottlenecks at Texas ports.

"From the wells in the Permian Basin to the high-rises in Houston, the GROW Texas Fund will help secure a statewide tax base that serves every corner of Texas," Landgraf added. "That’s why I'm proud of the growing support from across the state."

The GROW Texas Fund legislation is supported by the following organizations and their members:

Greater Houston Partnership

Texas Alliance of Energy Producers

Texas Association of Business

Texas Oil & Gas Association

Association of Energy Service Companies

Texas Independent Producers & Royalty Owners Association

Permian Basin Petroleum Association

Permian Strategic Partnership

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Landgraf & Craddick Amend House Budget to Improve Service at DPS Driver License Offices

AUSTIN — State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) and State Representative Tom Craddick (R-Midland) successfully amended the budget bill proposed in the Texas House of Representatives to add funding to bolster salaries for hard-to-fill positions at Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) driver license offices in the Permian Basin.

When the new DPS “Mega Center” opened between Odessa and Midland last year, it was supposed to streamline customer service and reduce wait times. Instead, the center has been plagued by vacant positions whose salaries are not competitive with those in the oil and gas industry and customers experience hours-long wait times for services such as driver license processing. The Landgraf-Craddick budget amendment gives DPS an additional $500,000 to use as incentive pay to fill those types of vacant positions and get lines moving again, both at the Mega Center and other driver license office across West Texas.

"An increase in oil and gas production is always a good thing, but with it can come some growing pains," Landgraf said. "I constantly hear complaints about how long it takes to get a driver license at the DPS mega center and I think these additional funds will help alleviate what has been a huge inconvenience to people across West Texas."

The House passed the budget, House Bill 1, unanimously on the final vote in the early hours of Thursday morning and the measure now heads to the Senate for approval. The 86th Texas legislative session will run through May 27, 2019.

Speaker Bonnen nominates Landgraf for national Nuclear Legislative Working Group

AUSTIN — Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen today announced his nomination of State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) for the National Conference of State Legislatures' Nuclear Legislative Working Group.

The Nuclear Legislative Working Group provides legislative members from across the country with the opportunity to learn about the cleanup of federal nuclear weapons production and research facilities, the transportation and storage of radioactive wastes, and other nuclear energy issues critical to the nation.

Landgraf has served the people of District 81 - which includes Andrews, Ector, Ward and Winkler counties - since 2015. During the current 86th Texas Legislature, Landgraf is Vice Chairman of the House Transportation Committee. In previous sessions, he served on the House Energy Resources Committee and House Environmental Regulation Committee.

"Representative Landgraf is familiar with issues that will be tackled by this national working group," said Speaker Bonnen. "His leadership through several legislative sessions has already benefited the people in his district and will now play a key role in shaping national policy on this important front."

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Landgraf co-authors Texas School Finance Bill

AUSTIN — State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) this week co-authored House Bill 3, comprehensive legislation to fundamentally transform the public school finance system in Texas. School finance and property tax reform are the two top priorities for the 86th Texas Legislature and both have been declared emergency items by Governor Greg Abbott.

"I am proud to be a co-author of House Bill 3 and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House to make sure it is passed," Landgraf said. "This is the kind of meaningful school finance reform I've been eager to make happen since before I became a member of the legislature."

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Landgraf & Craddick: Invest in energy hotspots to grow Texas

AUSTIN — Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) and State Representative Tom Craddick (R-Midland) are working together to bring state money generated by oil and gas production back to the Permian Basin and other energy-producing hotbeds, where those tax dollars originate. The two filed a legislative package to direct state funds to make drastically needed improvements to expand roads, boost public safety, and enhance educational opportunities across energy producing areas.

“Oil and gas production in Texas creates countless jobs, generates billions in tax dollars and helps fund public education across the entire state,” State. Rep. Landgraf stated. “But this single-largest economic driver in Texas is being threatened because of inadequate state investment in highway safety and infrastructure, and educational opportunities in Texas’ energy-production hotbeds.”

HJR 82 and HB 2154 filed by Craddick and Landgraf would create the Generate Recurring Oil Wealth for Texas Fund— the “GROW Texas Fund.” The GROW Texas Fund would not raise or create taxes. Instead, it secures existing state revenue paid by oil and gas producers through severance taxes for specific re-investment in the Texas oil patch that has been strained to the brink by record-breaking production in recent years. That money would then be used exclusively to: expand and improve highways and public roads, increase law-enforcement and first responder salaries, and revitalize education and skilled-workforce opportunities by dedicating money to teachers, schools, colleges and universities.

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Landgraf seeks stronger punishment for assaults on pregnant women

AUSTIN — State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) filed legislation making it a felony to assault a pregnant woman in Texas.

House Bill 902, authored by Landgraf, makes it a third degree felony for assaulting a pregnant woman if the actor knew or should have known the woman was pregnant at the time of the assault. A third degree felony is punishable by between two and ten years in prison.

"This bill is a clear statement that when a pregnant woman is assaulted, both the mother and the unborn child are victims, and a more severe punishment for the attacker is justified,” Landgraf said.

Currently, the assault of a pregnant woman is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in county jail. However, there have been several instances where the assault itself warranted an increased penalty, or where a longer sentence could have prevented additional assaults. HB 902 seeks to ensure that the punishment fits the crime by increasing the penalty for knowingly assaulting a pregnant woman.

"I want to make sure we protect both the pregnant mother and her child, as well as creating a greater deterrent for assaults of this kind," Landgraf added.

The 86th Texas legislative session is underway and will run through May 27, 2019.

Landgraf urges Congress for Medicaid block grant

AUSTIN — State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) filed legislation urging congress to establish a Medicaid block grant program in Texas.

House Concurrent Resolution 29, authored by Landgraf, petitions the state's congressional delegation to pursue block grant legislation in Washington, D.C. to allow Texas to administer its own health care for the poor.

"Medicaid costs in Texas have grown exponentially in recent years and are crowding out room in our state budget for other essential services such as education, higher education, and transportation," Landgraf said. "A Medicaid block grant would give Texas the flexibility to better fund those things while still keeping our commitment to the most vulnerable of all Texans."

The Medicaid program is unsustainable financially for the state as Medicaid spending in Texas is experiencing steady, long-term growth. In 2001, Medicaid consumed 20% of the All Funds budget but now accounts for nearly 30% of the 2018-19 budget. Because Medicaid is a federally mandated program the state of Texas has no power to amend the mandatory benefit and eligibility requirements of the program.

"I believe Texas can administer the Medicaid program more efficiently, while also giving us greater certainty in the budget from year to year," Landgraf added.

The 86th Texas legislative session is underway and will run through May 27, 2019.

Landgraf seeks to reduce overpass strikes & save taxpayers' money

AUSTIN — State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) filed legislation aimed at reducing the number of overpass strikes due to over-height semi-trucks by holding those drivers or their employers liable for the costly damage.

House Bill 799, authored by Landgraf, seeks to hold the owner of the vehicle strictly liable for any damage to a bridge or overpass caused by the height of the vehicle. The driver of the over-height vehicle could also be charged with a misdemeanor crime punishable by a fine not to exceed the cost of the damages.

"Like so many West Texans, I'm frustrated with how frequently overpasses in the Permian Basin are being struck by oversized loads," Landgraf said. "These bridge strikes compromise highway safety, cause traffic congestion and cost taxpayers up to millions of dollars in repairs."

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, in 2018, there were at least 82 overpass strikes across the state. Meanwhile, over the five previous years from 2013 and 2017,  there averaged just 31 overpass strikes a year. The cost of repairs for the 2018 damages alone exceeds more than $20 million, but less than $3.6 million of that has been collected from the drivers and companies responsible.

"I'm determined to reduce the number of these collisions and hold the vehicle owners strictly liable for the cost of the repairs so that taxpayers aren't stuck footing the bill," Landgraf added.

The 86th Texas legislative session is underway and will run through May 27, 2019.

Landgraf combats child trafficking at the border

AUSTIN — State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) filed legislation that would criminalize, under state law, misrepresenting a child as a family member at a border crossing.

House Bill 888, authored by Landgraf, seeks to combat human trafficking by making it a Class B misdemeanor to knowingly misrepresent a minor as a family member to a peace officer or federal special investigator at a port of entry. This is already a criminal offense on the federal level. If passed, this bill would give local and state law enforcement an additional tool in Texas.

“We must continue our efforts to secure our border and combat human trafficking, and this bill provides reinforcements in that fight," Landgraf said. “I appreciate that the idea for this bill was brought forth by a constituent from Odessa who put a great deal of research into helping craft this bill."

According to the Texas Attorney General, there are more than 75,000 minors in Texas who are currently victims of sex trafficking. The AG’s office reports these child victims are often tricked and coerced by their captors, being told, for example, they are going to Disney World. Therefore, when the opportunity arises for a child to speak up to authorities at a port of entry, they remain silent as their captor tells the customs officer the child is their son or daughter.

The 86th Texas legislative session is underway and will run through May 27, 2019.

Landgraf appointed vice chair of transportation committee

AUSTIN — State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) was appointed by Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen to serve as Vice Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and also as a member of the House Committee on Business and Industry.

The House Committee on Transportation is responsible for oversight of the critical infrastructure development for the state including state highways. The committee also has jurisdiction over the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, the Texas Department of Transportation and the Texas Transportation Commission.

"An increase in oil and gas production is always a good thing for Texas, but with it comes a significant increase in traffic on Permian Basin highways creating challenges to local infrastructure," Landgraf said. "I will continue to take the lead to improve safety on our highways and keep West Texas open for business."

Landgraf was also appointed to the House Committee on Business and Industry, which is responsible for oversight of industry and manufacturing and has jurisdiction over the State Office of Risk Management, the Risk Management Board, the Division of Worker's Compensation of the Texas Department of Insurance, and others.

"I asked for these posts because I believe I can utilize them to better serve the people of the Permian Basin and Texas. Now that committees have been assigned, I'll be rolling up my sleeves and getting to work," Landgraf said.

The 86th Texas legislative session is underway and will run through May 27, 2019.