On May 24, an 18-year-old gunman entered Robb Elementary School in Uvalde and shot and killed 21 individuals—two teachers and 19 young students. The state’s leadership response to this crime has consumed state activity since that day. The local law enforcement response and timeline of events have come into question and continue to be a point of contention.
Despite numerous requests for the Governor to call a Special Session to consider the shooting and potential response, no Special Session has been called nor is it likely to be called. Instead, the Governor asked for the creation of House and Senate committees to look at the incident and make recommendations moving forward. These committees have no actual authority nor ability to consider or pass any specific legislation. They will take testimony and, more than likely, issue some type of report suggesting changes that can be considered during the upcoming legislative session in 2023.
What those recommendations will be remains to be seen, but what they are unlikely to include is any restriction on firearms or ammunition. There is currently some federal legislation being considered (no actual bill yet) dealing with “gun” restrictions. This is always a longshot at the federal level, and personally, I think unlikely to be successful.
During the past 3 weeks, a variety of interim committees, both House and Senate, have met, and the work of the state continues, albeit in an understandably distracted fashion.
With the completion of the primaries the election season has taken a short recess, sure to return in full force in the fall. Because of the extent of gerrymandering that has occurred during the past redistricting cycle, there are few actual contested races at the regional level during the upcoming general election. Most of the fireworks and contested elections occur within the primary cycle. Our general election races, at least for House and Senate seats, are mostly uncontested or heavy leaning one way or another. Those who won their primaries are the ones who will take the oath of office in January, at least for the most part. The statewide races are a different matter.
A recent Quinnipiac University Poll has Governor Abbott at 48% and O’Rourke at 43%. This is after a Quinnipiac poll taken in December had Governor Abbott at 52% and O’Rourke at 37%. No doubt the Governor’s stance on abortion and guns is taking a toll on his overall approval rating. I am sure there are other polls showing the race not quite so close, however, and the election is still a long way off. I have still not seen anything that leads me to believe that Governor Abbott will not be successful in November.
The other statewide races all have the Republican candidate leading at this time. Although it is possible this might change it is unlikely, especially with the current state of inflation and gas prices. As James Carville said in 1992, “It’s the economy, stupid.” I believe he is still correct.
Despite inflation, people continue to spend money. The state coffers continue to grow and the amount of money available to our elected officials next session will be unprecedented. It will be quite the test of will between the savers and the spenders.
2022 is having an ominous comparison to 2011 when it comes to drought. As of today , 91% of the state is abnormally dry, 80% is in moderate drought, 64% in severe drought, 42% in extreme drought, and 16% in exceptional drought. Our typical rainy period is usually over by this time in June, and we won’t see significant rain until late September or October. There is always the possibility that a hurricane or tropical storm could drop significant rainfall on parts of the state, but that is never a given. Austin has already begun curtailments, and I am sure other communities will soon follow. It’s probably time we take our lack of water seriously.
It has already been a unique summer, and we are not even through June.
—Kyle Frazier, TWGGA Legislative Advocate