(Texas News Radio) — Texas Governor Greg Abbott laid out a series of legislative wishes Monday evening during his State of the State address at a business in Lockhart.
In the governor’s address, he touted the economic victories the state has seen over the past year or so and the perseverance of Texans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“From East Texas to El Paso from the Panhandle to Brownsville, Texans have shown grit, resilience, and compassion throughout the entire pandemic,” the governor proclaimed.
After celebrating the victories of recent corporate relocations of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Oracle, Charles Schwab, and some Tesla initiatives to Texas, the governor then laid out his priorities for the current legislative session.
The list included about 15 areas he wanted action on, including five he called emergency items: expanding broadband access across Texas; prevent the defunding of police in cities across the state; fixing the bail system; election integrity; and limiting legal liability for people, businesses, and medical professionals who are facing lawsuits in light of the pandemic.
The governor said the state has learned through the pandemic that there are more regulations that can be cut and he hopes to make those permanent. The top examples given were alcohol to go at restaurants and expanded telemedicine.
The increased access to broadband is intended to make it easier for all Texans to receive medical care through telemedicine.
“We’re not going to let cities in Texas follow the lead of cities like Portland, Seattle, and Minneapolis by defunding the police,” the governor stated. “That’s crazy!”
He continued that defunding police invites crime into these cities and negatively impacts the quality of life of people who live there.
Other areas of focus Abbott said he wants the legislature to pursue varied from the more conservative end of legislation — like protecting gun rights in Texas, border security, being the “freedom capital” of the nation, ban shutting down religious buildings as seen during the pandemic, and more right to life protections — to the more practical — like continuing the work to improve education funding, increase healthcare accessibility, and being prepared for future pandemics.
The governor talked about protecting First Amendment rights in the state.
“Freedom of Religion is enshrined in the First Amendment. And yet, some government officials across the country shut down churches during the pandemic. Even in Texas, some local officials tried closing churches,” stated Abbott. “That is wrong. We must ensure that freedom to worship is forever safeguarded. I want a law this session that prevents any government entity from shutting down religious activities in Texas.”
On gun rights, the governor said more protections are needed.
“Let’s face it, it’s not just First Amendment freedoms that have been threatened. Second Amendment rights are also under attack. Politicians from the federal level to the local level have shouted: ‘Heck yes, the government is coming to get your guns,'” Abbott said. “We won’t let that happen in Texas. Last session, I signed ten laws to protect gun rights in Texas. This session we need to erect a complete barrier against any government office anywhere from treading on gun rights in Texas. Texas must be a Second Amendment Sanctuary State.”
On healthcare, Abbott said he wants Texans with preexisting conditions to be able to access healthcare without being forced into the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare).
As for lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic, the governor wants there to be a plan that the state can use for when there is another pandemic in the future to ensure businesses are able to stay open.
“We must also ensure that in the event another pandemic ever strikes again, families and businesses will never again face the financial consequences they experienced in 2020,” Abbott said in the speech. “I will continue working with the Legislature to find ways to navigate a pandemic while also allowing businesses to remain open. We must find solutions that allow all Texans to enjoy the unique prosperity that comes with being a Texan.”