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86th Texas Legislature Starts Jan. 8

The Texas State Capitol in Austin welcomes the 86th legislative session Jan. 8. Courtesy photo

Members of the 86th Texas Legislature will be sworn in at noon Tuesday, Jan. 8, in Austin as the next biennial legislative session gets underway. The ceremony includes five Coastal Bend legislators, who are all incumbents. Returning as state senators are Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen) and Lois W. Kolkhorst (R-Brenham). State representatives returning are Todd A. Hunter (R-Corpus Christi), Abel Herrero (D-Robstown), and J.M. Lozano (R-Kingsville).

In his monthly constituent newsletter, Hunter invited anyone interested to join in the opening day activities. If unable to attend, he encouraged them to visit sometime during the five-month-long session.

“We want you to be a part of your Texas Legislature and the decisions that are made and the impact that it may have on your daily lives,” he wrote.

Sessions are available via live streaming at senate.texas.gov and house.texas.gov. Hearings and other resources are all available on those sites.

The session features a new speaker of the house. Rep. Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) is expected to succeed Joe Straus, who is retiring. According to analysts, lawmakers are expected to focus more on issues such as education, school finance, and health care rather than social hot potatoes like the ill-fated transgender bathroom bill that caused so much friction in the 85th session.

For local legislators, windstorm insurance tops the list of priority issues. In October, Gov. Greg Abbott suspended an approved 10 percent hike in windstorm rates by the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association to give the legislature a say in the matter. Otherwise, the rate hike would have gone into effect Jan. 1.

Hunter and Lozano both have bills they expect to introduce during the upcoming session. Hunter wants to put a limit on the amount of increase the windstorm association can levy, while Lozano wants to do away with TWIA altogether. Hunter also wants to add more local representation to the TWIA board of directors.

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