April 22, 2022
I hope everyone had a fantastic Easter weekend, and welcome back to The view from Austin! It’s been a busy couple of weeks.
Last Monday we started planning in earnest the policy committee meetings that will occur during TSCRA’s Summer Meeting in Santa Fe, NM. Expect more details and an agenda soon, but registration is now open.
On Tuesday, TSCRA president Arthur Uhl and first vice president Carl Ray Polk had the opportunity to host Speaker Dade Phelan today in Lufkin. Thank you to Speaker Phelan for his continued support of Texas cattle producers!
Peyton Schumann, who staffs TSCRA’s water policy issues attended a meeting at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality over the agency’s water use permitting of the Lake Ringgold reservoir project in Clay County. TSCRA requested a contested case hearing on behalf of our members in Clay County but was initially denied for lack of standing. Fortunately, we replied and were subsequently granted our petition for that contested case hearing at the meeting last Tuesday.
The same day, TSCRA’s spring interns visited Austin and met with the association’s government relations staff to get an insider’s look at how TSCRA advocates for cattle producers. They also met with legislative staff from their respective districts to learn more about the legislative process and discuss issues important to cattle producers. A big thanks to Amelia, Cami, Katie and Mallory for the visit and for all they do for cattle raisers!
Also, a big thank you to the offices of Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock), Sen. Bob Hall (R-Edgewood) and the Senate Water, Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee for taking time out of their day to meet with all of us!
Border security remains a top priority for our government relations staff and has dominated much of my time over the past several weeks, as border security and immigration fall under my policy purview.
Many of you have probably seen the news that Gov. Abbott rescinded his commercial vehicle inspection mandate. Despite the program’s short tenure, it caused some pretty significant trade and commerce concerns but was successful in forcing the Mexican authorities to adopt increased inspections on their side of the border. The other part of his announcement several weeks ago was his intention to bus illegal border crossers to Washington, D.C. I’m told 10 buses have made that trek so far.
We are preparing to testify in the coming weeks before both the Texas House and Texas Senate on the problems so many of you have experienced with illegal border crossers and immigration. Stay tuned for more.
On Tuesday of this week, TSCRA government relations staff had the opportunity to meet with Congress Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo). Border security dominated those conversations as well. Cuellar represents a large area of Texas dealing directly with the influx of illegal immigration and is very aware of the problems. As such, he has been supportive of ranchers’ concerns and critical of the administration’s handling of border policy. We greatly appreciate his work on this issue and many others, and he is supported for reelection by the TSCRA PAC.
TSCRA leaders and staff met with Congressional Western Caucus members Jodey Arrington (TX), August Pfluger (TX), Ronny Jackson (TX), Dan Newhouse (WA), Fred Keller (PA), Jason Smith (MO), Michelle Fischbach (MN), and Tracey Mann (KS) while touring ag operations in West Texas on Wednesday and Thursday.
TSCRA was also on hand Friday for a luncheon and ribbon cutting celebrating the Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine in Amarillo. Friday afternoon TSCRA will be represented at a roundtable in Amarillo with Congressman Ronny Jackson and put on by former Congressman Michael Conaway.
Also this week, we joined the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and 47 other cattle organizations in submitting an amicus curiae brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Sackett v. EPA. At stake is how much authority the federal government has to regulate water features under WOTUS. I won’t belabor the issue here, but check out our press release and the brief if you’re interested in learning more.
Last, but certainly not least, you may remember our prior coverage of a Texas court case, Hlavinka v. HSC Pipeline. If not, you should check out our previous editorial on the subject: The Hlavinka case and the importance of judicial engagement, and Victory in the courts for Texas property owners.
Earlier this year the Texas Supreme Court heard arguments in the case. As it is being considered, the Hlavinka’s have asked for your help in sharing their story and raising awareness amongst public officials. I highly encourage you to check out their latest update, which we’ve posted on our website, and engage where you can.
I think that covers the highlights for now!
Thank you for your continued support and I’ll be back with more in the coming weeks!
Jeremy Fuchs is the director of policy communications and government relations for Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.