May 13, 2022
The past two weeks have been pretty busy for the TSCRA government relations team on two fronts—Texas primary runoff elections and interim charges in the Texas House and Senate.
First the primary runoff elections.
As y’all probably know, if no candidate receives more than 50% of votes during the March primary election, the top two candidates go to a runoff election. That runoff election is quickly approaching. Early voting starts Monday, May 16 and goes through Friday, May 20. Election day is the following week, on Tuesday, May 24.
The TSCRA PAC has endorsed candidates in eight of the runoff races. You can view the complete list of TSCRA PAC-supported candidates here. If you live in one of these candidates’ districts, you’ll also be getting an email reminder from us Monday morning. Visit www.votetexas.gov for more specific information on where to vote and who will be on your ballot.
Most of these are extremely tight races, so we really need your help to get these folks across the finish line. We’ve worked with most of them extensively during their time in office, and they’re proven as loyal friends of cattle raisers. Next week or on election day, please take a few minutes to stop by your local polling place and vote for these candidates. Your support will help ensure our continued success in Austin and Washington, D.C.
On that front, we’ve been traveling around the state to help put on events supporting many of these candidates, which has continued over the last two weeks.
Last week TSCRA leaders and staff were at a series of events hosted by the TSCRA PAC with the ranking member of the U.S. House of Representatives Ag Committee, GT Thompson. Though he is from Pennsylvania, his prominent position on the House Ag Committee makes him a key ally for Texas cattle producers.
In Robstown, he was joined by Congressman Michael Cloud. The same day TSCRA leaders and staff had the opportunity to have a small dinner with Congressman Thompson and discuss many of the issues important to cattle producers. The following day, Thompson was in Guthrie with Congressman Ronnie Jackson for a tour of the 6666’s Ranch. Check out the pictures below, and a big thank you to the TSCRA leaders who were able to attend.
Last week, Kaleb McLaurin, TSCRA Executive Director of Government Relations, also met with State Rep. Stephanie Klick to discuss her runoff election. This week, we hosted an event for Sen. candidate Pete Flores in Fredericksburg. A huge thanks to the TSCRA leaders and members who joined us at Backwoods BBQ to support Sen. Flores.
That brings us to interim charges in the Texas Senate and House of Representatives.
An interim charge is an assignment for Senate or House committee members to hear public and invited testimony, conduct research, and submit reports on issues deemed important by the Lt. Governor or Speaker of the House. Lawmakers then consider these reports as they draft and consider legislation for the next legislative session.
In short, these charges are important because they often foreshadow the legislative priorities of House and Senate leadership for the upcoming session. If that’s the case, we will have another busy session.
Last Tuesday, TSCRA Second Vice President Stephen Diebel testified before the Texas House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety. The topic of the day was border security, a major priority for both the Texas legislature and TSCRA. The press release is here if you want to know more.
This week, we testified on multiple charges in the Senate Committee on Water, Agriculture and Rural Affairs.
On Tuesday, TSCRA Director Deborah Clark testified before the Senate Water, Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee in opposition to the creation of the 16,000-acre Lake Ringgold project in Clay County, which is home to 1,300 agriculture producers and more than 77,500 cattle.
On Wednesday, Diebel again testified on border security and immigration issues that are harming cattle producers in South Texas and beyond. TSCRA director Dustin Dean testified on packing capacity, and Executive Director of Law Enforcement Scott Williamson testified on agricultural theft and the work of TSCRA’s Special Rangers.
If anyone is so inclined, you can view these hearings as they happen online or watch them after the fact at https://house.texas.gov/video-audio/committee-broadcasts or https://senate.texas.gov/av-archive.php and click on the appropriate link for the date and committee you’re interested in. I recommend watching after the fact because you can fast forward to the good parts!
As evidenced by our testimony in the House and Senate, border security continues to be a major concern.
If you read the press release last week, you will have already seen that TSCRA formed a Border Security Task Force to advise the Association on the issue. The task force consists of affected landowners from across South Texas as well as TSCRA Special Rangers and staff.
The task force held its first meeting this week and is already working rapidly to devise a plan of attack. We look forward to sharing more as we can.
If I write much more for this update, we’ll have to publish it as a novel, so I will stop for now, but I’ll have more for next time.
Jeremy Fuchs is the director of policy communications and government relations for Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.