State Rep. Mike Lang visited Brownwood on Friday to discuss the recently completed 85th Texas legislative session, the upcoming special session and what it all means for Brown County residents.
Lang spoke at the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce monthly banquet at Howard Payne University’s Mabee University Center. Touching on subjects like sanctuary cities, the state budget, school funding, healthcare and more, Lang scrolled through a PowerPoint presentation highlighting the state GOP’s legislative accomplishments and setbacks during the session.
“I’m honored to serve everybody here,” he said to begin the presentation, “and I”m honored to serve the district.”
Lang explained that 6,800 bills had been filed in the House and Senate during the 140-day session, and that 1,220 will be sent to Gov. Greg Abbott for him to either sign or veto.
He said the state has allocated a budget of 216.8 billion. “We stayed below population plus inflation, which is very good,” he said. “It’s a very conservative budget.” Lang fought against his chamber’s initial budget proposal to use $2.5 billion of the state’s economic stabilization, or “rainy day,” funds. The final number went down to $980 million.
The majority of the budget will go to healthcare and education.
On a slide titled “women’s health,” Lang said the state budget will “finally” defund Planned Parenthood and provide millions for an “alternatives to abortion” program. He went on to discuss increased funding for mental health care, ethics reform bills and the overhaul of TRS-Care, the retired teachers’ healthcare program.
Lang mentioned some bills that he coauthored. S.B. 7 provides harsher penalties for inappropriate teacher-student relationships, H.B. 89 prohibits the state from conducting business with companies that boycott Israel and H.B. 45 mandates that legal rulings may not be based on foreign law.
Lang said H.B. 45 is necessary because of Sharia law. “It’s coming into city councils — not in Texas, but it’s just more of a preemptive thing to say, this is how Texas is going to be.”
Several bills that Lang authored or co-authored died in committee and were not passed. Perhaps the most notable for Brown County residents was H.B. 2273, which would have prohibited the establishment and operation of a county attorney donation program.
The bill inspired a memorable back-and-forth exchange of letters between Lang and Brown County Judge Ray West in March, but ultimately gained widespread support despite failing to pass. Lang also authored unsuccessful bills regarding unfunded education mandates and civics tests for graduating high school seniors.
Finally, Lang discussed the upcoming special session which will begin on July 18 and last for 30 days. Abbott has outlined 20 specific topics for the session including a teacher pay increase, school finance reform, property tax reform, mail-in ballot fraud and the so-called “bathroom bill” that would require people to use bathrooms corresponding to their biological sex in public facilities.
Lang called that bill a “no-brainer” for the protection of Texans’ privacy.
In a brief question-and-answer session at the end of the event, Lang took queries about property taxes, the bathroom bill and the statewide water shortage.
He even fielded a Bulletin question about whether he would ever consider challenging moderate Republican Joe Straus for the House speakership. “If I did,” he said, “it would probably be totally different. Just looking at it from my point of view … I think the Speaker has too much power. I think the power needs to go to the members and the committees where it belongs. When you do that, you empower the citizens.”