Stay Prepared: Texas Hurricane Readiness and Legislative Updates

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Our region of Texas is all too familiar with the impacts of hurricane season. With Hurricane Beryl moving west across the Caribbean, the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) is urging Texans to keep a close eye on the Gulf, heed local officials’ warnings, and have a plan in place should tropical weather reach Deep East Texas.

I want to reiterate TDEM’s call for preparedness which includes staying informed, monitoring local weather forecasts, having an emergency plan, and preparing an emergency kit.

The Department of State Health Services (DSHS) recommends that you prioritize acquiring non-perishable food, water, and essential supplies for your emergency kit. You can find DSHS’s Disaster Supply Checklist at https://texasready.gov/build-a-kit/disaster-supply-checklist.html to ensure that you and your loved ones are ready for any disaster that may occur.

With that, we’ll dive back into our examination of House interim charges. . .

House Interim Charge: State Affairs

The House Committee on State Affairs has jurisdiction over all matters relating to state policy, the regulation of electric utilities and the electric industry, cybersecurity, telecommunications utilities, and many other important issues that affect our state. The Committee also oversees many state agencies, such as the Public Utilities Commission, the Texas Ethics Commission, and the Department of Information Resources.

The Committee has been charged with monitoring the implementation of five important bills passed during the 2023 Legislative Session, including SB 1699, HB 2555, HB 5174, SB 2627, and HB 9.

SB 1699 allowed distributed energy resources, which are small-scale power generators such as home solar panels, small wind farms, or backup natural gas generators, to become part of the ERCOT grid system to provide more power to the grid. HB 2555 allows electric utilities to formulate and file resiliency plans with the Public Utility Commission to plan for extreme weather events that may impact electric services. HB 5174 established the Texas Semiconductor Innovation Consortium to formulate a strategic long-term plan for research, design, and manufacturing of semiconductors in Texas.

SB 2627 created the Texas Energy Fund, which set aside $5 billion for low-interest loans to construct new power plants, which we desperately need. The bill also allocated funds to repair existing power plants, fortify the grid around hospitals, and upgrade grid infrastructure outside of the ERCOT service area.

HB 9 created the Texas Broadband Infrastructure Fund, which allocated $1.5 billion to expand broadband internet services to the nearly 7 million Texans who currently lack reliable home internet access. I was proud to author HB 9 and pass it through the Legislature, and I was equally pleased to see voters overwhelmingly approve the program in the November constitutional election.

Additionally, the Committee is charged with reviewing how state agencies have carried out Operation Lone Star along our southern border and make recommendations on how to increase the safety and well-being of our military and agency personnel, as well as the overall efficiency of our border security operations.

The Committee is also charged with reviewing the operation and funding of the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association and evaluating the ability of state agencies to secure the Texas coast’s ability to produce energy while maintaining adequate coverage for policyholders.

Finally, the Committee is tasked with evaluating the findings of the Investigative Committee on the Panhandle Wildfires and developing legislative solutions for preventing future wildfires and improving wildfire mitigation, preparedness, and response.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if we can help you in any way. My district office may be reached at (936) 634-2762 and my Capitol office may be reached at (512) 463-0508. Additionally, I welcome you to follow along on my Official Facebook Page, where I will be posting regular updates on what’s happening in your State Capitol and sharing information that could be useful to you and your family: https://www.facebook.com/RepTrentAshby/.

Rep. Trent Ashby
Trent Ashby is honored to be representing District 57 in the Texas House of Representatives. House District 57 includes Angelina, Houston, Leon, Madison, San Augustine and Trinity Counties. He can be reached at (512) 463-0508, (936)634-2762, or by email at trentashby@house.state.tx.us.

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