Odessa, TX – This week’s One-On-One features Odessa native Brooks Landgraf. His family has been ranching in West Texas for five generations. As a member of the Texas House of Representatives for District 81, Landgraf has served the counties of Ector, Andrews, Ward and Winkler since 2015.
In 2008, Landgraf earned his Juris Doctor degree from St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio, where he was the editor-in-chief of the St. Mary’s Law Review. After earning his law degree, Landgraf worked as an associate attorney, where he represented West Texas energy producers. He later served as the chief legal counsel at Medical Center Health System before returning to private practice in 2015.
He currently serves as the vice chairman of the House Transportation Committee, while also serving as a member of the House Business & Industry Committee and the House Select Committee on Mass Violence Prevention & Community Safety. In 2019, Representative Landgraf was appointed to the Texas Commission on Judicial Selection. Brooks has fought to improve highways and schools in West Texas while also working to repeal regulations that harm the Permian Basin’s Oil & Gas industry.
In addition to the various political activities, Landgraf also stays active in community functions. I got him to take a little time to sit and talk about some of the current issues we are facing. We began with his achievements as a state representative. Landgraf has been able to get several bills passed in each of his three sessions. This pass year alone 11 bills that he either filed or sponsored eventually turned into law.
Three bills in particular hold a special place for him. “I’m most proud that we were able to pass Monica’s Law, which I filed in honor of Monica Deming. She was an Odessa resident who was brutally murdered in her home by an ex-boyfriend, who had two protective orders against him for prior acts of domestic violence that were unknown to Monica or local law enforcement.” Monica’s Law establishes an online protective order registry to allow the attorney general, district, county, and municipal attorneys, and law enforcement to access information on applications for and issuances of protective orders.
Another bill, House Bill 902, is a pro-life bill Landgraf filed to increase the penalty for assaults against pregnant women, was also signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott in 2019. He detailed the benefit, “Prior to the passage of HB 902, assaults against pregnant women were treated like any other assault. HB 902 makes it a third degree felony for assaulting a pregnant woman if the actor knew the woman was pregnant at the time of the assault, creating a greater deterrent for assaults of this kind to protect both the pregnant mother and her baby, and reflecting the fact that this heinous act is a crime against both the mother and her unborn child.” Landgraf also had a hand in House Bill 799. “HB 799 ensures those knuckleheads who keep crashing into our bridges are held accountable, by creating a Class B misdemeanor offense for the operation of a vehicle without the applicable license or permit that results in damage to a bridge or underpass because of the height of the vehicle. It also holds the owner of the vehicle strictly liable for the cost of any damages – ensuring taxpayers are not left paying the bill for someone’s reckless mistake.”
The Odessa native has several irons in the fire, but says he is remaining focused on securing additional resources to improve infrastructure around the Permian Basin. “I’m proud of the record funding we were able to secure for transportation projects in the region, but more is needed. Challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, oil market crash, and mass shooting on August 31 of last year have required sufficient attention and focus as well. I’m committed to doing whatever I can as state representative to ensure the Permian Basin bounces back stronger than ever.”
Landgraf also authored the Down Syndrome Information Act, which is an important piece of legislation that requires doctors to provide families with materials and resources about raising a child with Down Syndrome when the family is informed of the diagnosis. He goes into more detail, “There is alarming data about pregnancies that are terminated when the unborn child is diagnosed with Down Syndrome. The information Texas parents receive helps families know that they are not alone and that children with Down Syndrome can live happy, healthy and meaningful lives.”
We changed the conversation to gun control and the Second Amendment. “As a life-long gun owner and strong advocate for protecting our Second Amendment rights, I support efforts to protect the ability of law-abiding Texans to exercise their constitutionally protected right to bear arms. That is why I co-authored House Bill 910 in 2015. HB 910 created the Texas License to Carry (LTC) to allow for the open-carry of firearms in Texas.” And what about the state’s border security issue? “I’m thankful that the state of Texas has made border security a priority: having set aside significant funding for border security operations in each legislative session since 2015. The federal government continues to fail to effectively prioritize border security in Texas.”
Several border states are dealing with sanctuary cities that harbor illegal immigrants. Landgraf has been actively involved in trying to address the issue. “I co-sponsored Senate Bill 4 in 2017. SB 4 was signed into law by Governor Abbott and effectively prohibits sanctuary cities in Texas. I support upholding the rule of law and applying equally across all cases. If a judge has discretion to deport a criminal and sees that route as the most expeditious way to provide justice and public safety, then I am all for it. But things need to be looked at on a case by case basis and the law must always be enforced.”
On the subjects of oilfield and coronavirus, Landgraf thinks American ingenuity is the answer to getting West Texas Oil back on track. He feels the need to find a vaccine for COVID-19 is imperative to allow the traveling and investing public to feel free and safe to go about their normal lives again. He doesn’t think it’s fair to second guess the decisions that were made a few months ago on addressing the virus. However, he said he hoped he could have come up with a solution that did not generate as much waste and fraud as the CARES Act has done. He added, “I would have given serious consideration to calling a special session to allow more input from the people of Texas.”
With the current unrest across the state, nation, and globe, I asked him what would be his solution for resolve. “Right now, we need to listen, understand and accept that systemic racism is real. Then, we need to simply follow the advice of Jesus: ‘treat other people the same way you want to be treated’. If we all do that, regardless of political affiliation, what is in the dark will be brought to the light, the truth will be known, and every American will be far better off. We all need to get behind meaningful, real solutions to eliminate police brutality and drastically reform our criminal justice system.”
The Permian Basin is fortunate to have Landgraf as its state representative. His words are sincere and it was evident he genuinely cares about our community.
Graduate of Permian High School.
Graduate of Texas A&M University.
Board member of Midland-Odessa Transportation Alliance.
Member board of directors Education Foundation.
Member of advisory council of JBS Public Leadership Institute.
Mentor to the Odessa Teen Court program.
State advisory council member to YMCA TX Youth & Government.
Visit BrooksLandgraf.com for more.