Rep. Erin Zwiener, HD 45

“We’re going to have to fight hard to protect our [LGBTQ] communities”

Rep. Erin Zwiener, HD 45
Courtesy of Erin Zwiener

Rep. Erin Zwiener's House District 45, spanning most of Hays and Blanco counties, includes some of the fastest-growing communities in the entire country. Since entering the Lege in 2019, Zwiener has been focused on managing that growth while protecting natural areas, establishing the House Caucus on Climate, Environment, and the Energy Industry in 2021.

Often, environmental regulation and local control issues intersect: Cities can put water conservation standards in building codes, which is harder in unincorporated areas. "That's critical because most new development in places like Hays County is outside city limits," says Zwiener. Updating infrastructure is essential to resilience. After Winter Storm Uri, the areas that took the longest to restore water service had aging, rural water systems. "These are areas that can't afford to fund [upgrades] on their own."

Zwiener has also filed bills to make voting easier and elections more fair, allowing student IDs to be used at the polls and limiting campaign contributions to statewide candidates to $5,000 per individual and $10,000 per political action committee (right now, there are no limits). Taking on police brutality, her House Bill 974 would make lead pellet rounds (so-called less lethal munitions and beanbag rounds) illegal for crowd control use; two of her constituents suffered serious injuries from the Austin police response to the May 2020 racial justice protests at the department's Eighth Street headquarters. "They now have their lives changed dramatically by the use of a weapon that is not designed for crowd control." She says she will also continue to "play defense" for the LGBTQ community: "We're seeing multiple attacks coming forward, and we're gonna have to fight hard to protect our communities."

On climate change legislation, Zwiener says she's "actually really encouraged. Semantics matter a lot less than policy," and Republicans that don't want to say "climate change" still felt the extreme heat of the past summer. "There's a lot of excitement around the energy transition, even if not everyone wants to call it a transition."

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

88th Legislature, Erin Zwiener, LGBTQ

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