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  • Writer's pictureReed Clay

87th Legislature -- Week 19

Down the home stretch we go … Here’s the latest from Austin, with only 2 weeks to go.

Texas receives nearly $16 billion in federal relief; cities and counties in Texas will receive billions more. Congress allocated nearly $16 billion to the state of Texas in the American Rescue Act. Texas cities and counties will receive another $10 billion. Treasury guidance outlines broad eligibility for the funds, including support for public health expenditures, addressing the negative economic impacts of the pandemic, replacing lost public sector revenue, and investing in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure. This is additional good news for appropriators, who learned a couple of weeks ago that they would have an additional $3.1 billion to spend this budget cycle.

AG Paxton sues Biden Administration over rescission of 1115 Waiver. The Attorney General sued the Biden Administration over its recent decision to rescind the federal government’s renewal of Texas’ longstanding 1115 Waiver. The Waiver provides billions of dollars in Medicaid savings back to the state of Texas to fund its safety net hospitals. The extension – approved by the Trump Administration – was rescinded due to alleged procedural defects. We expect the state to resubmit the extension once the procedural defects have been remedied. But, most observers believe that the procedural defects are nothing more than a pretext to undue a decision by the previous administration. Many believe that the real motivation for rescinding the waiver – which helps reimburse the costs of treating the uninsured – was to coerce Texas into expanding Medicaid. If true, that might suggest that resubmission will not be approved. Meanwhile, the Biden Administration’s gambit seems to have failed; Medicaid expansion appears all but dead in the Texas legislature.

Fetal heartbeat bill heads to Governor’s desk. A bill that would ban abortion once a heartbeat can be detected is headed to the Governor’s desk. The legislation was given final approval by legislators last week. Although the Governor intends to sign the bill, we expect significant litigation will ensue.

Bill banning hormone therapy on transgender children dies in the House, but lives on in the Senate. A key deadline has come and gone and a contentious House Bill that would have prohibited hormone therapy on transgender children failed to pass. Nevertheless, the Senate companion is still alive and could see the Senate floor later this week.

Constitutional carry bill heads to conference committee. After some delay, a bill that would allow the “permitless” carry of firearms made its way back to the House of Representatives, where the Senate amendments were rejected. The bill will now head to conference committee. Both chambers have appointed conferees. Both the Speaker of the House and the Lieutenant Governor traded Twitter volleys expressing their willingness to work out their differences. The Governor has said he will sign the bill if it hits his desk.

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