Patrick, who chairs the Senate and wields tremendous power over legislation, said lawmakers have an “extraordinary opportunity” to shape Texas’ future.
Austin, Texas – (The Texas Tribune) Lt. gov. Dan Patrick on Wednesday unveiled a list of 21 legislative priorities, including property tax breaks, improving power grid reliability and more spending to fund border security.
Patrick, who chairs the Senate and wields tremendous power over legislation, said lawmakers have an “extraordinary opportunity” to shape Texas’ future at the start of the next legislative session, which begins Jan. 10, because they are expected to do so a budget surplus of $27 billion that can be spent on government projects.
Patrick said he would prioritize spending some of that surplus on property tax breaks in the form of an increase in homeowner tax exemptions. However, he warned that the state could not spend all of the surplus.
Patrick urged lawmakers to pass legislation that would encourage investors to build more natural gas plants in Texas, which he believes would prevent another power grid crisis. In February 2021, a severe winter storm caused days of power outages across the state and hundreds of Texans died during the crisis.
Patrick said the Legislature made “great progress” with Senate Bills 2 and 3 last session. These laws required Power generation companies to better prepare facilities for extreme weather conditions, authorized the Public Utility Commission to make changes to the state’s electricity market, and bailed out gas and electric companies from the financial crisis with interest-payer-backed bonds and loans.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas and the PUC, which regulate power infrastructure, are still active working to reshape the Texas electricity market. A plan proposed this month aims to use financial rewards and penalties to incentivize more power generation to be available during periods of very high power demand. during one press conference on TuesdayERCOT CEO Pablo Vegas and PUC Chairman Peter Lake both stressed that the changes are “technology-agnostic” and do not prioritize one source of power generation over another.
However, Patrick called the market transformation by regulators a “long-term plan” and called for legislation that would prompt the construction of additional natural gas power plants on top of the market changes. He called renewable energy sources “a luxury”.
Last session the Senate tried in vain Shifting the financial burden the purchase of balancing power for the grid from wind and solar producers. Patrick appeared to be calling for similar legislation or some other proposal that would give natural gas generators an edge over low-cost wind power. He said he couldn’t imagine leaving the session without a “guarantee” that more natural gas plants would be built in Texas.
“We need to create a level playing field so that we attract investment in natural gas assets,” Patrick said. “We can’t leave here next spring unless we have a plan for more natural gas power.”
“If you can’t turn on the lights, you don’t have a Texas miracle,” Patrick said.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune.
https://www.kvue.com/article/news/politics/texas-legislature/dan-patrick-texas-legislature-priorities/269-55e87d74-e0a1-4ba8-86f1-4999c3d24fa1 Lt. gov. Dan Patrick is prioritizing property tax breaks, power grid repairs and border security for the 2023 legislature