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2021 Texas Legislative Wrap-Up: Here's What Happened (and Didn't) During the 87th Session

Priorities of the 87th Session

On May 31st, the 87th Session of the Texas Legislature slowly and unceremoniously rolled to a stop. Many who have been around the Capitol for much longer than I, agreed that this was one of the strangest session in recent memory.

We began with trying to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic protocols and how to safely function in the Capitol under that environment. On the first day of the session, the House elected its third Speaker in as many years, which meant new committees, a new Chairman, and new power structure.

Following a rough start, on February 13, the state energy grid, ERCOT, was overwhelmed by winter storm Uri. Many feel that the entire emphasis of the session changed due to Uri and the focus quickly became what to do to assure that our power capabilities were never compromised again.

Issues on Governor Abbott's priority list included balancing the state budget while maintaining pay increases for teachers, ending the defunding of police forces by cities, expanding broadband statewide, constitutional carry of firearms, changes in the bail system, election integrity and most importantly, providing civil liability protections for businesses open during pandemic.

While most of these priorities passed, a last-minute glitch and a walkout by House Democrats, prevented the passage of SB 7, the election reform measure. The result is that Governor Abbott has promised to bring the legislators back to Austin this summer for a special session to deal with this priority.

Finally, the legislature is charged every ten years with redrawing the maps for Texas House, Senate and U.S. Congressional seats. This was delayed this year due to COVID and the fact that the census data was delayed. This was not a surprise and law makers expect to be back in the fall to complete the task.

Insurance Legislation of Importance

Going into the session, IIAT had four major items of importance that we worked to pass. COVID-19 liability protection for businesses (SB 6); tort reform for commercial autos where litigation and awards have skyrocketed (HB 19); requiring cooperation of and insured in the investigation of a claim or suit (SB 1602); and finally, payment of replacement cost on HO claim (HB 1110). We were pleased that three of these four items were passed and will become law.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the importance of IMPACT, the political action committee of the Independent Insurance Agents of Texas, and the support we have received from our donors. IMPACT allows us to support business-minded legislators and we continue to be the only agent organization advocating on behalf of agents in the Capitol.

A big “Thank You” to all our members who contributed.

Below is a link to a summary of insurance related bills of interest from the 87th Session. If you have any questions about these, or any other bills, please contact Lee Loftis at [email protected].

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