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2021 was the second year of the pandemic. The Texas legislature met in regular session, as usual, but then followed that session with three special sessions on issues that needed to be resolved (redistribution) and on issues that lawmakers did not address in the during this 140-day regular session. The issue of drawing new political maps came late, as the pandemic delayed the 2020 census. Others – new voting and election laws and restrictions on what can be taught in public schools, for example example – were priority issues for Republicans at the legislative and state levels, and could be the subject of debate in the 2022 election cycle.
Just weeks after 2021, a polar vortex swept through Texas, bringing freezing temperatures and snow and, unexpectedly, triggering the failure of the state’s power grid. Most homes in Texas have lost power and heat. Many have lost water. Hundreds of people died. The outages lasted less than a week, but the repercussions still haven’t stopped.
Lawmakers have required power plants to prepare for winter, but have given natural gas companies – the biggest fuel suppliers of these generators – another year before they are forced to winter. The state replaced many regulators after the blackouts and the governor, along with some of those regulators, promised that no one would lose power in the coming winter.
Outgoing state politicians enter an election year after voters saw how the government responded to COVID-19, economic turmoil, winter weather conditions and a constant stream of attacks on the electoral system that held them back. brought to power – and that many of them hope to return to power in a year.
Here are a dozen of this year’s 114 columns – a set of highlights from the year on the storm, redistribution, state finances, and issues that could feature in this next round of elections.
The winter storm
Work from political angles instead of problem solving (February 17) – As Texans grapple with dire winter conditions, power outages affecting more than 4 million homes, a pandemic and a botched vaccine rollout, a natural question arises: State do they know what they are doing?
Either way, Texans will get the bill to fix the power grid (March 10) – It’s going to get expensive to make sure the state’s electricity stays on during winter storms like the one that shut down most of Texas last month, and the money will come, from a somehow, average Texans.
The Texas Power Grid and the Improvements That Didn’t Come (June 7) – Texas lawmakers passed major bills in response to power outages caused by the winter storm that killed dozens of Texans in February. But there is still a long way to go.
Betting an election in Texas on a weather (Dec. 1) – Gov. Greg Abbott says he can “guarantee” there won’t be blackouts this winter in Texas after some people went out of power for four days last February. It’s the kind of pre-election prediction that can make a meteorologist more useful than a political poll.
The Texas government will not represent the people of the state unless its political maps do. (September 30) – The Texas legislature is drawing new political maps to reflect the state’s growth recorded in the 2020 census. But their initial proposals don’t resemble the state demographically or politically.
In race for new political maps of Texas, racial representation takes a back seat (Oct 4) – Republican lawmakers in Texas are trying to make the most of their majority by drawing new political maps to preserve their political dynasty. The maps they came up with would, but do not represent the population of the state.
$ 5.5 billion change to who pays for public education in Texas (April 9) – It’s an old, bittersweet story in Texas: Property values rise, local property tax revenues rise, and the state government is spending less on public education.
Swollen Texas treasure gives 2022 hopes room for big ideas (Nov 22) – At the start of the political season, the candidates received unexpected good news: The state comptroller said the next legislature will start with nearly $ 25 billion in the state treasury. Expensive campaign promises have become much easier to make.
Texas, the precursor state (August 19) – A number of the main issues facing the country – mask warrants, voting, immigration – have something in common: Texas.
The new laws reflect the emphasis Republican lawmakers have on their right flank (September 2) – From abortion restrictions to guns, Republican victories in the regular session of the Texas Legislature were just the beginning.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott heads for the border (June 14) – The Texas legislature has left Austin and Abbott has turned to the state’s border with Mexico, where political issues are tough and politics rewarding.
Man bites dog and tries to redeem himself (September 8) – Abbott vetoed legislation designed to protect dogs earlier this year. Now he is calling on the legislature to fix the problem – before next year’s election.