We Will Rise

Odessa, Texas is a dry, dusty, scrub-brush-covered piece of desert with hardly a natural tree or body of water in sight. But to me, the people here make this the most beautiful spot on earth.

The elements, coupled with our relative remoteness, make Odessa a more difficult place to live than most. That’s why we tend to attract strong and resilient folks who like to work hard and play hard. That’s what it takes to make it here. We boast with pride about our families and our successes, but we are also humble enough to submit to the sovereignty of God, and charitable enough to always help our brothers and sisters in times of need.

On Saturday, our community and region were beset by a force of evil. A mobile rampage indiscriminately killed innocent lives and left countless families grieving.

But in the face of such daunting darkness, the people of Odessa emerged as a bright light for all the world to see.

Brave first responders, surrounded by a fury of chaos, risked their own lives to save others by getting the wounded to safety and neutralizing the source of our pain before even more untold damage could be done. God bless the men and women of the Odessa Police Department, Odessa Fire Rescue, the Midland Police Department, and the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Trauma teams at Medical Center Hospital, Odessa Regional Medical Center and Midland Memorial Hospital treated dozens of wounded patients with a calm efficiency that saved lives and allowed some families to be reunited even before the sun set on Saturday night.

Kind people from all across the Permian Basin gave anything they had—even their own blood—to help strangers, and did so without batting an eye.

All of these actions happened across Odessa and Midland without anyone thinking twice or hesitating. Nobody had to. It’s ingrained in the people of West Texas to be gritty and strong for a cause that is greater than ourselves.

I was born and raised here in Odessa, and I’m honored to serve its people in the Texas House of Representatives. I’ve always been proud of Odessa, but I’ve never loved my city more than I do now, after our darkest day.

On Sunday afternoon, I spent several hours (along with Governor Greg Abbott) visiting with many of the survivors at the hospital as they recover. The conversations were great: sometimes painful, but always optimistic. I want to understand the survivors’ (and family members’) experiences and share the burdens of their pain as much as I can. And getting to look into their eyes and listen to them has been very helpful and I’m grateful for their courage to share so much with me.

I want to let you know that I offered to help the survivors and their families in any way possible. They had different types of needs, but they all made the same final request: please continue to pray for me to heal. I believe in the power of prayer and have honored their requests. If you feel compelled to do the same, I hope you will join me in lifting them up in prayer.

But make no mistake, there is other work to be done.

This week, I am focused on helping to direct the abundant resources of the State of Texas to the individuals in the Permian Basin who need that assistance. I am also going to post links to information and resources in the comments section and in subsequent posts that will hopefully be helpful to you or someone you know.

There will be a policy debate about how to stop gun violence and how to save lives during these violent attacks. There’s no question that action must be taken to confront the scourge of gun violence in Texas.

There are obviously widely differing opinions in our state and our nation about how to go about doing this. Transparently, I believe in the constitutional right of law-abiding citizens to own and possess firearms. I understand that everyone doesn’t share that belief. Regardless of your position on the issue, if you’re my constituent, I will listen to your ideas and suggestions, and I hope that we can have respectful and productive conversations about them.

Related to that, I’ve already been contacted by many of you with ideas about implementing an “active-shooter alert system,” similar to Amber Alerts, that could better inform the public and save lives in the process. Keep the ideas flowing!

Lastly, I know that these tragedies can often leave us feeling powerless, and I can certainly understand why. But in my view, I believe that they are reminders of how powerful and resilient we actually are. It’s a reminder that no matter how others act in the world around us, we have the power to choose what is in our own heart. We have the power to choose kindness over hatred. We have the power to help instead of hurt.

The people of Odessa, Midland and the Permian Basin are empowered with strong hearts and giving souls — that’s why in the face of evil darkness, We Will Rise.

God bless Texas!

State Representative Brooks Landgraf


$2 Billion Secured for Permian Basin Roads

AUSTIN — State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) was on hand Thursday morning when the Texas Transportation Commissioners, led by Chairman Bruce Bugg, voted unanimously to approve more than $2 billion in additional funding for transportation projects in the Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT) Odessa district over the next decade.

"I have joined many others from West Texas in the fight to ensure that the Permian Basin receives its fair share of transportation dollars since the first day I took office," Landgraf said. "Today's actions demonstrate a collective realization that meeting the infrastructure needs of the Basin is in the best interest of Texas."

Every year, the Texas Transportation Commission updates and approves the Unified Transportation Program (UTP). The UTP is TxDOT’s 10-year plan that guides the development of transportation projects across the state. The 2020 UTP approved by the commission on Thursday includes over $2 billion in new projects for the Odessa TxDOT district, bringing the total amount of funding set aside for transportation projects in the district over the next 10 years to over $5 billion.

"Lives will be saved, and that is what's most important," Landgraf continued. "The projects approved for funding today will bring many of our most heavily traveled roadways up to the highest federal and state standards which will undoubtedly save countless lives while also improving mobility and reducing congestion."

A 2017 TxDOT study found that 11% of all traffic fatalities occurred in the Permian Basin despite the fact that it represents only 2% of the state's population. The region also produces billions of barrels of oil per day providing a financial windfall for the state because of taxes on oil and natural gas production. In the last five years oil and gas production tax revenue has generated over $5 billion for public education, over $5 billion for transportation and over $6 billion for the state's rainy day fund.

"I'm grateful to Chairman Bugg and the rest of the transportation commissioners for stepping up and making the decision to invest in our West Texas roads," Landgraf stated. "Now that the projects and funding have been approved it's time to get to work."


Governor signs Landgraf's bill increasing penalty for assaults against pregnant women

AUSTIN — State Representative Brooks Landgraf's (R-Odessa) legislation aimed at making it a felony to assault a pregnant woman in Texas was signed in to law by Governor Greg Abbott on Monday.

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

"I want to make sure we create a greater deterrent for assaults of this kind and protect both the pregnant mother and her child," Landgraf said. “In my view, this new law reflects the fact that this heinous act is a crime against both the mother and her unborn child."

Currently, the assault of a pregnant woman is treated like any other assault, as a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in county jail. HB 902 seeks to ensure that the punishment fits the crime by increasing the penalty for knowingly assaulting a pregnant woman.

"I appreciate the Governor signing this pro-life bill that helps protect women from violence," Landgraf added.

HB 902 takes effect September 1, 2019.


Landgraf has most successful legislative session yet

AUSTIN — For 140 days every other year, the Texas Legislature meets in Austin to work on crafting policy that is intended to improve the state and lives of Texans.  Memorial Day marked not just a day to honor fallen American warriors but also the end of the 86th legislative session. State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) worked throughout the session to help pass a conservative balanced state budget along with several key pieces of legislation.

"Representing and fighting for the people of Andrews, Ector, Ward, and Winkler counties in the legislature has been an honor and a privilege," Landgraf said. "This session I was proud to work on the issues that really matter to the people of West Texas.”

Among the highlights of legislation passed this session: a balanced state budget, property tax cuts, transformative school finance reform with a reduction in the "Robin Hood" scheme, anti-domestic violence legislation dubbed "Monica's Law" (named after Monica Demming of Odessa), anti-human trafficking legislation, taxpayer protection legislation aimed at reducing the number of bridge strikes, legislation increasing the criminal penalty for assaulting a pregnant woman, and funding for transportation and education institutions, as well as for understaffed DPS driver license offices in the Permian Basin to help address long wait times.

"This is has been my most successful legislative session yet, and I'm looking forward to getting back home to West Texas to talk in more detail about what we were able to accomplish and what I'm going to be working on next session to build on these accomplishments," Landgraf added.


Governor Abbott signs "Monica's Law"

AUSTIN — “Monica’s Law,” aimed at preventing domestic violence, was signed in to law by Governor Greg Abbott late on Tuesday. The legislation, authored by State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa), will create an online, searchable and public database listing protective orders issued by Texas courts as a result of domestic violence after a due-process hearing.

Monica Deming, the inspiration behind the legislation, was murdered on November 29, 2015 in an act of domestic violence. Monica, a 32 year-old mother, was shot and killed in her Odessa home by an abusive ex-boyfriend. Two protective orders for domestic violence had previously been issued against him, but he was easily able to keep them secret.

"Monica's Law will save lives and protect countless Texans from domestic abusers," said Governor Greg Abbott. "Nothing is more important than the safety and security of Texans, and we must do everything we can to protect innocent people from violent individuals. I am grateful to Representative Landgraf for his leadership on this issue, and I am honored to continue the legacy of Monica Deming by signing HB 629 into law."

"Monica’s Law" establishes a statewide registry where certain redacted information can be accessed by the public, but also one where law enforcement and the courts have access to all of the information provided by protective-order applicants. Information is only available after due process has been given to the abuser in a judicial proceeding.

“Monica’s Law will save lives, and I'm grateful to Governor Abbott for his leadership in signing this anti-domestic violence legislation in to law," Landgraf said.

Read more

Landgraf's anti-human trafficking bill fully enacted by Texas Legislature

AUSTIN — State Representative Brooks Landgraf's (R-Odessa) anti-human trafficking legislation, House Bill 888, was passed by the Texas House and the Texas Senate on Thursday and will become law unless vetoed by the governor.

While it is clear the state of Texas has greatly improved its ability to fight human trafficking, HB 888, authored by Landgraf, seeks to aid in this fight by making it a crime to misrepresent a minor as a family member to law enforcement at a port of entry. The offense created by HB 888 is a Class B misdemeanor.

"I am proud to take this important step in ensuring that children don't fall victim to such a grave violation of human rights," Landgraf said.

According to the Texas Attorney General, there are more than 75,000 minors in Texas who are currently victims of sex trafficking. These child victims are often tricked by their captors to coerce them to cooperate and not run to law enforcement. 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 final version of HB 888 that will be sent to the governor does not include any provisions related to Medicaid benefits. The controversial amendment added to the bill by a Democratic House member was struck by the Texas Senate at Landgraf's request. Landgraf then led to ratify the cleaned-up bill.

Unless vetoed by the governor, HB 888 would take effect September 1, 2019.


Landgraf-sponsored bill to protect Second Amendment and property rights passes to governor

AUSTIN — Legislation sponsored by State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) that will protect the Second Amendment and property rights of property owners was passed by the Texas Legislature with resounding support on Wednesday and now goes to Governor Greg Abbott for final approval.

Senate Bill 741, authored by Senator Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) and sponsored by Landgraf, prohibits a homeowners or property owners association from disallowing the already lawful possession, transportation, or storage of firearms in homes in the neighborhood.

“This bill seeks to simultaneously protect property rights and our Second Amendment rights," Landgraf said. "I was proud to sponsor it in the Texas House and thank Sen. Hughes for his leadership."

When a person buys a home in a new neighborhood, that purchase often comes with a set of deed restrictions for the neighborhood. These restrictions customarily require you to mow your lawn, not have an RV in your yard, and any number of other provisions designed to promote and protect the character of the neighborhood. SB 741 is necessary to prevent firearms-related restrictions from being included in those restrictions.

“I’m thankful to a constituent from Ector County for presenting the idea for this bill four years ago after an abusive POA infringed on his family’s rights," Landgraf added.

Unless vetoed by the governor, SB 741 would take effect September 1, 2019.


Landgraf's Bridge Strike Bill fully enacted by Texas Legislature

AUSTIN — State Representative Brooks Landgraf's (R-Odessa) 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 will become Texas Law unless vetoed by the governor.

Previously, the House Transportation Committee, of which Landgraf is vice chair, unanimously passed House Bill 799 before it was passed by the Texas House and the Texas Senate. HB 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.

"I'm grateful to my colleagues for supporting what is clearly a common sense measure that will hold vehicle owners strictly liable for the cost of the repairs so that taxpayers aren't stuck footing the bill," Landgraf said.

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.

Unless vetoed by the governor, HB 799 would take effect September 1, 2019.


Landgraf & Craddick's "GROW Texas" Resolution passes Texas House

AUSTIN — House Joint Resolution 82, part of the "GROW Texas" legislative package authored by State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) and State Representative Tom Craddick (R-Midland), was approved by the Texas House of Representatives on Thursday. HJR 82, which creates the Generate Recurring Oil Wealth for Texas (GROW Texas) fund passed out of the House by a vote of 121-13.

The "GROW Texas" legislation would bring state money generated by oil and gas production back to energy-producing hotbeds across the state. The legislation considers directing 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.

In the 2020-21 Biennial Revenue Estimate, Comptroller Glenn Hegar states: "total Texas oil production is expected to increase at slower rates through 2021 due to infrastructure bottlenecks in the Permian Basin."

"The regions of Texas responsible for the state's oil and gas production have experienced significant challenges that limit the growth of the energy sector and could pose a significant threat to the long-term success of the industry and the state," Landgraf said. "It is in the best interest of Texas to protect this vital source of revenue for the state and 'Grow Texas' is a big step forward to address those challenges."


"Monica's Law" fully enacted by Texas Legislature

AUSTIN — “Monica’s Law,” aimed at preventing domestic violence, passed the Texas House of Representatives and will become Texas law unless vetoed by the governor. The legislation authored by State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) will create an online, searchable and public database listing protective orders issued by Texas courts as a result of domestic violence after a due-process hearing.

Monica Deming, the inspiration behind the legislation, was murdered on November 29, 2015 in an act of domestic violence. Monica, a 32 year-old mother, was shot and killed in her Odessa home by an abusive ex-boyfriend. Two protective orders for domestic violence had previously been issued against him, but he was easily able to keep them secret.

Landgraf began crafting this legislation after being approached by Monica’s father, Jon Nielsen, a former Odessa police officer. Nielsen pleaded that, had a database been available, he and Monica would have been able to know that her abuser had a history of domestic violence. Together Landgraf and Monica’s family have been fighting for this legislation for more than three years.

Read more