If you’re like me, you learned your civics and your legislative processes through School House Rock. But maybe sometimes in the real world, it doesn’t quite work out that way. So today, I am pleased to have as my guest representative Bryan Slaton, and he’s going to join us today to tell us how the sausage is made. Bryan, welcome to the show.


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Jonathan Schober:
So, my first question, just give a little intro. When were you elected? How long have you been on? Give us a little background.

Rep. Bryan Slaton:
Yeah. I just won this past election. I was sworn in on January 12th of this year.

Jonathan Schober:
Awesome.

Rep. Bryan Slaton:
I’m brand new.

Jonathan Schober:
Well, what we’re going to do, I’m actually going to play a clip of you. And I think this was from opening day.

Rep. Bryan Slaton:
Day three.

Jonathan Schober:
Oh, day three. Okay. And this is H.R. 4 amendment 3. And I’m just going to play the clip. And I think we’ll use this as a launching point because, again, I figure we’ve got a Republican governor, we have a Republican Lieutenant governor, we have a Republican majority in the Senate and in the House. And as I watched the general session, I was confused how come it didn’t end well. And now I’m walking into the special session, and I mean, that just looks like a train wreck. And I’m just an average Joe. And you bring up something on day three that I certainly didn’t know. So, we’ll start with that and we’ll launch. So, here’s the clip. Day three of the general session.

Rep. Bryan Slaton:
… have an amendment here. The intention of this amendment is to help enforce and support the will of the voters of Texas. We hear at times the people say that we elect someone, and they don’t listen to us. They say that. And here’s a chance for us to also do that. What we have in our house, if we appoint someone to a chairman, one person can basically kill a bill by doing nothing with it.

And so, what this amendment says is that whoever’s in the majority party at the time the speaker’s appointing chairman, it has to come from the majority party. So, that means right now, I mean, there was some hard-fought races in November. People thought the Texas house would flip blue. Instead, Republicans held onto the seat. And the Republican voters, I believe, deserve to have Republican leadership because they voted for that.

And in the future, if the Texas house were to flip to the Democrats, the people of Texas deserve to have that leadership they vote for. That’s all this amendment would do is allow us to show support to the voters and their sovereignty of we the people, not us the elected class, ruling class, making decisions different than they decide on election day.

Speaker 2:
A record vote is granted. All those in favor, vote aye. All those opposed, vote no. The clerk will ring the bell. There being 10 ayes, 127 nays, two present, not voting, the amendment fails.

Jonathan Schober:
Bring us up to speed. What was that amendment all about?

Rep. Bryan Slaton:
So, the amendment was about having just Republican chairmen. And what the amendment really said, it wasn’t slanted. All it said is whoever’s in the majority party, only people from the majority party are whom the speaker can select to be a chairman.

Rep. Bryan Slaton:
So, one interesting thing in there, I filed two amendments, and I asked for them to be in a certain order, and they said they would. And I said, “Well, if they’re not, will you tell me?” Well, the parliamentarians forgot to tell me, and they switched the amendments on me, by the way, just working against us. But it’s just simple. If the public votes for Republican leadership, they deserve that Republican leadership and Republican public policy implemented into our culture and our environment and our economy just like in DC. And it’s a big battle [crosstalk 00:05:24].

Jonathan Schober:
It might be one of the few things that we actually want from DC to be here.

Rep. Bryan Slaton:
That’s right. Yeah, the list of things we want from DC’s down to maybe one or two. Right? And this is one of them. And what I mentioned on the floor that day is that when the American public votes for Republicans to be in charge, that means we have 51% of the congressmen and women up there are Republican, we’re not punished with Nancy Pelosi’s leadership. But in Texas, that is exactly the case. We’re punished with the left’s leadership.

They worked so hard this past election, spent a lot of money to flip the house blue. They didn’t. But what was their consolation? To be chair. And one thing I encourage you and others to look at, if you want to know how powerful a chairman is in the Texas house. Because there’s 150 members, but the power’s not spread out amongst…

Jonathan Schober:
Right.

Rep. Bryan Slaton:
It’s consolidated into a few. And Chairman Harold Dutton had a… it was a good bill, actually. But he’s a Democrat in public education. He had a deal for charter schools. He revived that bill. We voted on that, I believe, four times. So, we have Harold Dutton, a Democrat, getting a bill to the floor four times. And how many of our Republican priorities got voted on once or twice? We struggled to get what we had up. And it’s just a simple concept. Let’s put the people in charge of these committees and help implement the public policy that people were voting for. But apparently it was not well received even before all that. I mean, I was told-

Jonathan Schober:
And unfortunately, as I listened to that vote tally, there were only 10 people that supported that amendment. And that means there weren’t even a whole lot of Republicans that wanted Republican leaders.

Rep. Bryan Slaton:
No. So, that one, the clip you have there, that was the one where I had just some committee chairs, and it was 10. And then on the one where I had no committee chairs whatsoever, it only got five. And I was told by everyone, the Democrats here are different than the ones in DC. And I would ask them, well, can you tell me what makes the Democrats we have here in Texas different than Kamala Harris? I’d like to know. Of course, no answers given.

And what’s funny is here they are, they’ve broken quorum. And where did they go? And who’s been their favorite person to converse with and take their picture with? They are absolutely the same radical left that we see playing out in DC. Yes, there are some Democrats that aren’t radical. I got it. But in DC, you have the radical left controlling Congress.

Now, here in Texas, you have the radical left controlling the Democrat party, and I would even say, they’re controlling the legislature. Look at what we didn’t get done. Look at how often they killed RPT priorities, like amendments I had and other things, and look at how they busted quorum. And it’s gone on for three weeks, and there’s no sign of them returning. They absolutely are controlling things, in my opinion.

Jonathan Schober:
Yeah. So, let me just make sure I understand the specifics of the chairmanship. So, work me through just a little bit of what is it that makes that position so powerful. Like why can’t we share? What can a chairman do that a regular member of the committee can’t do?

Rep. Bryan Slaton:
Yeah. The chairman can set the agenda. If you refer a bill to… Well, if you file a bill, it has to be referred by the speaker. Once it’s in that committee, if that chairman doesn’t want to hear the bill, all he has to do is, he doesn’t do this, put it on the corner of his desk and let it collect dust. But that’s what happens. He just forgets it. That’s what happened with… I had a bill to build the border wall. Chairman didn’t want it. It was dead. Abolish abortion, RPT priority, dead. So, they have that much power. If they don’t want to hear it, they don’t have to.

Rep. Bryan Slaton:
So, think about it. We’re going to put Democrat chairman in, and they’re the gatekeeper for stopping the implementation of conservative policies. And they get to do it with no vote, no transparency. They just literally don’t have to utter the words. They don’t have to deny the bill. They just ignore it and it’s dead. So, it really is a great setup for the Democrats. They don’t have to win elections.

Now when they win an election, they want to tell us elections have consequences. But when Republicans in Texas win elections, it’s here’s your consolation prize. And I hope you’re happy, be our friend. That’s what we do. And it’s very sad because there’s so much at stake in our country. The fact that we have an opportunity to protect Texas and protect our values, our family values, and we give it away. Absolutely amazing we do it. And why voters put up with it, I don’t know.

Jonathan Schober:
Well, I think to a big extent, the voters don’t know. Right? I mean, hey, I voted for Republican. Okay? And I think we can have a whole conversation. There’s going to be a primary coming up. Look, I’m a purist in the primary. I have no problem saying that when I’m in the primary, I’m going to vote, and I’m going to support the person that most identifies with me and what I want. And I’m going to fight for that person and do whatever it takes. I get it. Sometimes you have to be a bit more pragmatic in the general.

And maybe that’s the answer. Right? People think that, well, Republicans won, so of course there’s at least going to be a Republican chairman. Which let’s be honest, there is a wing and a spectrum of Republicans. I’ll admit that I’m on the conservative side of the Republican aisle. I’m there. I recognize that there are other Republicans that are not completely aligned with me. I’m okay with that. But that’s very different than someone that is completely unaligned, or at least unaligned with the voters.

Rep. Bryan Slaton:
Well, you take someone that’s a moderate Republican or a Democrat. Well, you get to debate those issues that are in their wheelhouse. And I’m okay with that. I want to debate their things. The problem is, the issues that can’t be debated are conservative Republican policies. And so, with the setup they have, we are silenced. And of course, I mean, if they’re going to… My thing isn’t to only let conservatives chair the committees and only have conservative bills heard. No. Let’s talk on it all, let’s vote on it all, but that’s not what is wanted. They don’t want to do that because that would expose people.

Jonathan Schober:
So again, how’s the sausage made? Who appoints the committee chairman? I mean, are they voted on it? How is it made?

Rep. Bryan Slaton:
Yeah, so that’s why the speaker’s vote is so important. And he has that authority and discretion to do that. And so, with that, how someone becomes speaker, it’s so very important. And as I spoke to several of the speakers candidates, I was saying the same thing. I want to know what you want to do with the RPT priorities. That was my request. I want to know. What commitment as a speaker are you’re going to try to help us get a vote on the floor? Two of the eight, four of the eight, six of the eight, all the eight. I mean, what are we talking about here? And I could get no commitment from anyone. And so, in my mind, I didn’t know how I could support anyone that I didn’t think was going to support the platform because that’s been the problem in the past. It’s not like I’m just only doing this to the person who I can now vote for speaker. It was a frustration I had before. And so, that comes down to why voted red was because I had no commitment for the RPT priorities. And there was this, right after election day, this list of support, and had a bunch of liberal Democrats. And so, in my opinion, it’s playing in effect now. Our speaker pro tem and a lot of Democrat chairman went to DC. And most people around the country don’t realize that was our house… some of our house leadership went up there. It wasn’t just the Democrats.

Jonathan Schober:
It almost seems you were prescient, because everyone’s talking about stripping chairmanship now.

Rep. Bryan Slaton:
Well, that’s funny.

Jonathan Schober:
You don’t have to brag on that one, but I’ll just say that seems pretty prescient how that’s gotten played out.

Rep. Bryan Slaton:
Oh, absolutely. I’ve mentioned to some members on the floor. I said, “So you want to get rid of the Democrat chairman. Okay. Well, who are we going to put there? The only option are Republicans.” Now we’re back on day three, my amendment. Maybe I knew what I was talking about, because they are like DC.

But it’s so important because these chairmen, they can control whether a bill lives or dies. And then you get it onto calendars. So, back in 1993, a lot happened that year in the Texas house. That’s when they put in more Republican chairs. It was, of course, Democrat controlled. And they made some deals. And one of the deals, they changed the rules to where bills and the calendars committee, instead of only being there for seven days and then automatically moved to the general calendar, they moved it to 30 days in 140-day session.

Jonathan Schober:
I was going to say, how long is the session?

Rep. Bryan Slaton:
140 days. And we can’t do anything until 60 days in. We can’t hear a bill, or something like that, basically, or at least a fiscal bill. And so, that’s a lot of time they put in a bottleneck. So, as the Democrats supposedly offered the olive branch to us, they put in a huge bottleneck, and of course, had their chairman over the calendars committee and they could control it.

Well, what’s funny is the Republicans took over, they continued that. They didn’t have to, but they continued that. And then they also didn’t do anything about the bottleneck, the 30 days. So, the whole system is set up for things to fail. It’s all set up for people to run out of time. And it’s all set to [crosstalk 00:16:34].

Jonathan Schober:
Again, let me ask another just sort of silly question, stupid question. But these rules, is it law, is it the Constitution? How are these rules determined?

Rep. Bryan Slaton:
So, that’s what you saw in the video on day three. That’s where we passed the rules of how we’re going to operate, how a bill’s going to move through the system, how chairman are appointed and all that. That’s what the rules are. And so, I’ve been talking to members even before this session about possibly changing that. But I had several rules amendments, and I kind of kept it to what I had being new. But I think we should definitely change that to seven days. And there’s a lot of other things we could do.

But we need bills, and members need the opportunity to move a bill through. If it’s important to them, they should be able to move it and get it to the floor. And if it dies on the vote, let it. But that’s the problem. They won’t let bills move. It’s proven that you can’t just follow a bill and get it through. The lobby controls what bills move. The leadership controls what bill moves. That way they use all that power they have to leverage you into doing what they want or not doing things they don’t want you to do.

Jonathan Schober:
Let’s stay on this topic of how the sausage is made. But another example that’s playing out is this whole quorum busting. So, as I understand it, the special session was called. Which why we had to go into special session, that’s a different conversation. We’ll have that conversation another podcast.

Jonathan Schober:
But as I understand it, everyone was there. There was a quorum on opening day. And then within a couple of days, it’s recessed. And then all of a sudden, the Democrats get on their beer bus or their beer plane, and surprise surprise, they’re in DC.

Jonathan Schober:
Again, I’m just a layman. Right? I’m just a guy that’s got seven kids and is concerned about what’s going on in my state. And walk me through, how did that happen? How come we couldn’t just set the rules to where on opening day here it is. We never recess. Give me some understanding of how that happened.

Rep. Bryan Slaton:
Well, the rules we have, we gavel in, then we have to have hearings for bills. Well, we gaveled in, and our committees are still standing from before when they assigned committees. There’s a new one he created, the speaker created. And so, we gaveled in, waiting to have committee hearings. We did have some that weekend.

And so, we were going through the process assuming they’d be back on Monday or Tuesday. Our actions weren’t that we thought they would leave. A lot of people thought they would. I don’t know if we could have tried to keep them there and had a vote on a bill Friday or Saturday. I’d have to think more at the details. But anything’s possible if you want it.

And the speaker, we could have started the first day. He could have put us in recess until 8:00 at night, have them work on a bill in committee and try to get something there to vote that night, or have us on the floor Saturday morning. I don’t know. Those things are possible. I’d have to go back and look and see if they really are something that would be feasible.

But it all has to do with the urgency. Right? If you have the urgency, and you want to do an act and have the Democrats there, make us all be there Friday and Saturday and Sunday. That way, if they start leaving, we could have done the call the house sooner than we did. But the problem is, we did the call the house and we didn’t have any warrants out for arrest, so they couldn’t be arrested anyway. But it’s very tough to say what we could do.

But here’s the best explanation for that. That’s why you get things done in the regular session. Is because in a special session in 30 days, they can bust quorum, mess things up. If we would have taken care of business, if we would have appointed committees sooner, if we would have met more, if we would’ve had RPT priorities.

Think about all the things the governor’s put on the special session call. Why didn’t we have the push to do those during regular session? Why did we wait until the end of session for election integrity? So, the word is urgency. It’s not just day one of the special. Why didn’t we behave in a manner and set up the leadership of the house, our philosophy of leadership for the house, for urgency to get things done, to pass bills, to protect elections, secure our border, so on and so forth? But we didn’t do that.

Jonathan Schober:
Yeah, I don’t think anything on the special session is like a surprise. Right? I mean, everyone knew these were happening. I just want to, again, ask. Now there’s still a couple of Democrats that are still in Texas, is that correct?

Rep. Bryan Slaton:
Oh yes. On the first day of the special session, there were four Democrats that were there with us.

Jonathan Schober:
Okay. I was in the Air Force. And the way we did stuff, if one knucklehead did something stupid, we all paid the price. And I want to know, what would have happened if Speaker Phelan had just said, “Everyone is staying in this room until we get a quorum back”? What do you think would have happened?

Rep. Bryan Slaton:
Yeah.

Jonathan Schober:
Think some phone calls might’ve been made?

Rep. Bryan Slaton:
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, if there had been some arrests warrants put out, and if he would have… It would have been bad for everybody, but if he would have [crosstalk 00:22:42].

Jonathan Schober:
I mean, I know [crosstalk 00:22:43] bad for us. Right?

Rep. Bryan Slaton:
But yeah, if he would have done and said we couldn’t leave, and he’s like, “Get your friends back here.” And also, he could choose who leaves. Like Republicans, he could let us leave saying, “Oh, you’re not a flight risk.” But those four Democrats based on what the rest of them did, he could say, “Y’all are a flight risk. Y’all can’t leave the floor.” He could have done that.

But that goes back to what we first talked about where the Republicans in Texas think the Democrats here are different than the ones in DC. They want them to be their buddy. And not that you can’t be friends and have disagreements in politics, because we do, and I have Democrat friends here. But the fact that they will give up our priorities, give up Republican policy, for what? Right? What is it? For their friendship?

And I stand up for what I believe in. And I don’t expect my Democrat colleagues to vote with me, but I’m not going to not push what I believe in because there’ll be upset with me. I expect them to be upset with me. That’s why they’re a Democrat.

Jonathan Schober:
Yeah. So, speaking to the party. Right? Republicans. You’re there. You’re an elected official. What can we do to make sure that leadership and other people know that this is not acceptable? What are some things that we can do to exert pressure, for lack of a better word, for inform? We’re Republicans. We don’t look for other people to go solve our problems. We get in there and we fight and we solve our problems. How can we help?

Rep. Bryan Slaton:
Yeah. So, I mean, it’s all the typical things you would expect, call them, talk to them, try to build a relationship with them. And yes, do that. But most important, if you’re talking to an elected official and you feel like they’re ignoring you, you keep talking to them. But what you need to do is grow your network. The RPT needs to grow its members. Each county needs to grow its parties that are inside. You have to grow so that you have a big enough voting block that they’ll listen. Or even donations. Right?

You have to do that, because that’s what I would tell people. If your elected official wouldn’t listen to you, the one way to do it is make sure that you can swing a lot of votes to keep them there or replace them. You can help raise some money to keep them there or for someone else. That’s all you can do. And that’s what the primaries are for is if they’re not going to listen, you’ve got to find someone else.

And I know that upsets people because around here, they love everyone just to get here and stay here forever. But we’re in some critical days. And if these people will campaign that the Democrats are coming and, “Oh no, DC’s terrible.” But their actions down here, they don’t think the Democrats are a problem at all. So, that’s what you got to do. You got to grow your influence to where they have to listen to you.

Jonathan Schober:
Yeah. It’s amazing how many flyers I get and talking about DC swamp and all this other stuff. And then, wait, but you want them in power. It makes no sense. Well, hey, we’re going to take a quick break. When I come back, I’ve got one last question. The question is going to be what keeps you up at night?

Speaker 3:
You’re listening to the Elephant Herd. We’ll be right back.

Pastor VIc Schober
Promises, God’s promises. He makes them, and He keeps them. Listen to what the Bible says about itself. This is in 2 Corinthians chapter one, verse 10. It says all the promises in Him are yeah, and amen, and us to the glory of God. So, what does he mean? Well, God says my promises are always positive. Yea, yes, so be it, yes. And then when we come along and we read the promise that we want it to be for us, then we say, “Amen. Amen. So be it.” It’s like a judge taking a gavel and rapping it down and saying, “That’s it, case closed, finished. It’s accomplished.” God promises, I make it mine, I take it by faith, and it’s true for me. You do the same. Remember, God keeps His promises.

Speaker 3:
From the capital of the Lone Star State. Welcome back to the Elephant Herd.

Jonathan Schober:
We’ve been having a conversation with Representative Bryan Slaton, and the conversation has been all about how the sausage is made at the Capitol at the state house. But as we close out, Bryan, I want to know what is it that keeps you up at night?

Rep. Bryan Slaton:
Well, fortunately, I’ve always slept very well, but I know what you’re talking about with your question. And it’s a lot of things. I mean, I’m a father. Have another one on the way right now.

Jonathan Schober:
Congratulations.

Rep. Bryan Slaton:
Thank you. I want to provide for them. I want to have a place in Texas where they can grow up and do what they want. They want to start a business, they can do it and be successful. That’s what I want. And I want them to have freedom of religion. I want them to have their second amendment rights.

And so, as I see the left coming for our values and at our values, we have to do that or they’re not going to have that future. And I’ll be honest with you. With technology, I don’t know what I’ll have and what you and I will have in five years. Right? I mean, the way technology is growing, it’s pretty urgent, and anything could change it in any time for us.

So, I know what their policies will do. I remember back when I was in the ministry, whenever people were talking about LGBTQ issues, whatever. 20 years ago, it was, hey, hey, hey, that’s just something happening in someone’s bedroom. And that’s just private. Leave it alone. Let’s not talk about it. Right? Well, it’s not so much private and in a bedroom anymore. They’re forcing it down our-

Jonathan Schober:
Well, look, I’m going to go off on here. Because the whole gender modification thing, the fact that we are allowing minor children, boys, to have their genitals mutilated. And I’m like you. It was supposed to be just what goes on in the bedroom. We are long past that.

Rep. Bryan Slaton:
Well, they put it in front of you all the time. I mean, it was four years ago, the bathroom bill. And Republicans said, “Oh, now’s not time to fight.” Remember, 20 years ago, it was just in the bedroom. Leave it alone. Then it was just them going in the bathroom. Now’s not the time to fight.

Look where we are now. They have transvestites reading to children. They have the gender modification children. We got men competing in girls sports. They have been advancing. This is under Republican control for 20 years. They’ve been advancing their desires. And we haven’t done anything to protect girls sports and protect children from decisions that are permanent. And so, yeah, I’m concerned because I see what’s happening.

And of course, when you go against religious liberties, and things are more godless and amoral, I know what happens in those societies, and Christians will be persecuted. And so, that’s, in a way, what keeps me up is the direction we’re going is, in my opinion, not a good one. There might be some good things along the way, but it’s like that old country song, one step forward and two steps back. Okay, great, we passed an RPT priority. Way to go. What did we stop? Nothing.

And so, that’s what bothers me, because I want them to have a free country, a free state to live in, and just grew up and be little boys and little girls. And now we have kids, they don’t know what gender is. And in fact, a lot of people don’t know, but HHS just decided there’s now a third box on a birth certificate. So, when my little baby girl’s born, I’m going to have three options to choose from. I never heard anything about this during session. I didn’t know any scientific data came out that there’s now three options.

But that’s what’s happening in a Republican controlled state, and we’re giving power away to Democrats. And we’re told, “Hey, we need to calm down.” No. We’re absolutely in some ways being just sold down the river, and it’s very unfortunate and frustrating.

Jonathan Schober:
Well, I do sincerely appreciate what you’re doing, because it’s clear that you are a person that says what you believe and you follow through with actions, and so I appreciate that. If someone wants to connect with you, what’s your website. What’s the best way for people to learn a little bit more about you?

Rep. Bryan Slaton:
Yeah, thank you. You can go to BryanSlaton.com. You can find me on Facebook, Bryan Slaton. Or you can find me on Twitter. I think it’s Bryan for Texas or something like that. I don’t get on Twitter a whole lot. But you can find me there. And I appreciate any and all support. I’m just trying to fight the good fight.

Jonathan Schober:
Awesome, awesome. Well, thanks again for being on the show. If you like this episode, if you’d like to see previous episodes, you can go to Texasgop.org/podcast. If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for upcoming episodes, you can send me a text. Just text me at 512-729-5712.


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