Last week, we welcomed the National Champion Baylor Bears men’s basketball team to the Capitol. It was great to celebrate these young men’s accomplishment! Celebrating Texans who have accomplished great feats is one of the biggest aspects missing from this session. I for one am looking forward to getting back to normal in all aspects of life.

Last week, the House debated several substantial bills. On Thursday, the House debated and passed HB 1927, the constitutional carry bill, which I am proud to co-author. This bill will allow law abiding citizens to carry firearms without getting governmental permission to do so. If this bill passes the Senate, Texas will become the 20th state to have constitutional carry. Texans will still be able to get a license to carry if they so choose. I have heard from so many of you on this issue and I glad to tell you that the House has delivered results.

The House also passed some significant healthcare reforms. HB 4 ensures that Texans on Medicaid are able to utilize telemedicine services. These services improve healthcare access and outcomes, especially for many in rural Texas in areas lacking medical resources. These services allow doctors to be more efficient and see more patients and allow those patients to avoid lengthy travel and wait times. The advances in telemedicine are one of the results of the pandemic that is here to stay. We also passed HB 18 which uses the state’s buying power to negotiate discounts on prescription drugs for uninsured Texans, similar to the discounts negotiated by insurance companies for their clients.

The State Affairs Committee continued holding hearings last week, again tackling a wide range of issues. We heard a bill relating to protecting Texas businesses producing firearm suppressors from federal regulations and another which states that local governments cannot issue emergency orders in conflict with those issued by the governor, as we saw many cities and counties try to go beyond Governor Abbott’s emergency orders in the past year.

We also heard several bills which would regulate the influence of China in our power grid and on Texas energy projects. It is important that we work to minimize Chinese influence in our critical infrastructure. We also continued hearing bills which would strengthen the Texas Public Information Act, ensuring that Texas government if accountable and transparent to Texans.

It is great to hear from so many of you, letting me know what is important to you. I want to encourage you to reach out to me about issues that concern you or legislation that you would like to see advanced. I can be reached at (512) 463-0556 or district9.paddie@house.texas.gov.

In addition, my district director, Joe Buck Crisp, will be spending time each month in every county to meet with you about legislative concerns and to help with issues you may be having with the state government. Please contact our Marshall office at (903) 935-1141 if you would like to meet with Joe when he is in your town.

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Rep. Chris Paddie represents Cass, Harrison, Marion, Panola, Sabine and Shelby Counties in the Texas House of Representatives. His weekly Capitol Update column will run during the current Texas Legislature session.