State Representative for District 88 Ken King (R-Canadian) stopped in Pampa on Tuesday afternoon to discuss what lawmakers accomplished in the 87th Legislative Session.
The hot-button issue was the re-districting of the state for both the House and the Senate.
“It (re-districting) is all about math,” King said. “Last time they re-districted we needed 160,000 people to make a district. Now we need closer to 200,000. Well, the current District 88 has 148,000 people. I gave up four counties much closer to where I live than the ones I picked up. But I needed close to 200,000 people.”
King noted that there are 14 members in the house that are west of the Interstate 35 corridor (Dallas to Waco, Austin and San Antonio) not counting El Paso.
“We were going to lose one or two seats, but we ended up not losing any,” King said. “We may not be that successful in another 10 years because of the dwindling population west of I-35, but we were able to retain them this time for a couple reasons. No. 1, Midland-Odessa grew exponentially and pushed population north.
“No. 2, The delegation started fighting with each other and the metroplexes can’t stop fighting with each other. So the chair of re-districting came to the West Texas delegation and told us if we got our maps together first, we will draw the map from the top-down instead of metroplex out.”
King said the topic addressed after the first 60 days of the session was post-Covid legislation, followed by the winter storm.
“ERCOT represents 75 percent of the entire power grid in Texas,” King said. “All of the metroplexes are on ERCOT, but my predecessor Warren Chisum drew us out of it.
“I don’t know if he foresaw Winter Storm Yuri, but what he did foresee was if the urban centers run out of electricity, where are they going to steal it from? They are going to steal it from less populated areas. They came within four minutes of losing the grid. That grid has not been shut off since Thomas Edison.”
There were three called sessions, starting on July 8.
The first session was called and the Democrats walked out. The primary reasons were the voting bill and UIL trans-gender.
“Under the guise of Covid, Harris County adopted their own election law,” King said. “The Texas Constitution clearly states that election law is the purview of the legislature. What was happening was they made an election law that catered to minority businesses (24-hour voting, drive-thru voting, etc.). Nothing wrong with any of those things, but all 254 counties need to be able to do it.”
The UIL trans-gender bill, stating a student can only play in a sport with the gender of their birth certificate, was eventually passed over to King to draw up.
“So I became the sponsor of the legislation,” King said. “So I went to UIL and I asked them, ‘Is there a problem?’ How often is this happening? They said they didn’t know. Five and a half million kids in the public schools they think there are maybe 10 cases of it.”
King added it’s not as simple as a boy signing up to play a girls sport by saying he is a girl.
“They make them go through taking the transitioning drugs, they have to be drug-tested and have the same chemical make-up of a biological girl at that age and all of that stuff,” King said. “UIL said there is maybe 10 cases like this. From a moral stand-point I think 10 is too many and question why parents would give their child this drug. But on its face, you have 10 kids in a pool of 5.5 million. We may be hitting an ant with a sledge-hammer.”
King’s version of the bill puts the UIL protocol into law and asks the UIL to do a comprehensive study of how often this issue comes up.
When the Democrats came back, everything passed in it’s original version, basically making the walk-out pointless.
As Covid forced districts to move virtually to finish 2019-20 spring and offered it as an option in the 2020-21 school year. The template they used to do that was King’s bill, but the bill was not designed for what it ultimately got used for.
“It was meant for a school district to partner up with a bigger school district and the kid can take a class through Skype or Facetime,” King said. “What happened during Covid was the Texas Education Agency offered a virtual option for kids who couldn’t go to school. The only legislation in place was the bill I created. It was never meant for that and we had a catastrophic failure. Not just at the smaller school districts, but across the state. We had a ton of kids fail.”
King passed the Commission of Virtual Education, which will be made up of State Board of Education members, governor appointees, House/Senate members, school administrators, etc.
“It’s designed to function like the school finance committee which passed House Bill 3,” King said.
King also led the charge on added CA125, a test for ovarian cancer, to a woman’s well-exam. Now the bill has opened for more tests.
“Now any test that’s FDA-approved for the detection of ovarian cancer can be prescribed and insured,” King said.
As the Chair of Culture, Recreation and Tourism Committee, King had oversight on Parks and Wildlife, the Historical Commission and more.
“We passed a number of bills that shoved Covid-money into those small towns because Covid hit tourism hard,” King said.
For more information on Ken King and his seeking re-election, visit http://www.kingfortexas.com/.
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