Last summer, during the Republican Party of Texas (RPT) State Convention, delegates voted for eight legislative priorities that fall roughly into one of two categories: protection of children, and protection of conservative values and God given inalienable rights. This 88th regular session succeeded on the first and yielded mixed results on the second.
Regarding the protection of children, banning Child Gender Mutilation has been a top priority two sessions in a row. This session, thanks to Senator Donna Campbell and Representative Tom Oliverson, SB 14 was passed prohibiting medical providers from practices that attempt to change a child’s physical characteristics to approximate the opposite sex. Medical providers will lose their license if they violate this law.
There were five bills passed that met the priority of Stopping the Sexualization of Texas Kids. They include HB 900 by Rep. Patterson, prohibiting sexually explicit materials in Texas public schools, HB 1181 by Rep. Shaheen, which requires strict age verification for online porn, SB 12 by Sen. Hughes, prohibiting sexually oriented performances in the presence of minors, including drag shows, SB 1527 by Senators Hancock and Huffman, which provides a criminal penalty for sexually grooming children, and HB 4520 pertaining to educator employment and retirement consequences for selling, distributing, or displaying harmful materials to children.
These are all excellent bills, and we are very appreciative for the hard work of those legislators who championed them and got them to the Governor’s desk. Ultimately, culture must change to protect children. But we believe these bills will encourage that change and provide needed safeguards until it does.
Our other priorities include protecting our elections, securing the border, protecting the unborn, our second amendment rights, and parental rights.
- Protect Our Elections: HB 1234 (Rep. Hefner) passed, which returns the penalty for voter fraud to a felony, as did HB 5180 by Rep. Wilson, which provides for public inspection of ballots after 60 days of an election. A major miss was addressing the issue of the Attorney General’s lack of authority to prosecute election crimes. There were some good bills passed outside of the priority purview, such as SB 1070, which puts safeguards in place to protect individual personal information and specifies the duties that shall be executed for the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program. We were also very disappointed that SB 990, calling for precinct only voting on election day, failed.
- Secure the Border and Protect Texans: We passed two good bills. SB 1403 by Sen Parker, creates an interstate compact for border security, including building a border wall and sharing state intelligence and resources. SB 1900 by Sen. Birdwell designates the cartels as foreign terrorist organizations. Speaker Phelan killed HB 20 by Rep. Schaefer, which would have created the Texas Border Task Force and allowed Texas to turn illegal alien back across the border when Democrats killed it on a point of order.
- Abolish Abortion in Texas: No bills passed to address illegal abortions or enforcement.
- Defend Our Gun Rights: HB 3 (Rep. Burrows) provides for an armed security guard on school campuses. This is a good step toward eliminating gun free zones and is major headway in protecting our students. HB 3137 by Rep. Isaac also passed, which prevents counties from restricting gun rights.
- Parental Rights and Educational Freedom: SB 29 by Sen. Birdwell passed, which prohibits public schools and other government entities, from enforcing a vaccine or mask mandate to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The House blocked all school choice legislation where the money follows the student.
The final legislative priority, Ban Democrat Chairs, could not be achieved by legislation, but rather Speaker Phelan’s initiative or a members’ vote on the House rules. As predicted, Democrat House chairs did kill RPT priority bills. But, to be fair, Republican House chairs also killed priority bills.
Now it is up to Texas Republican voters to look at the results of the 88th Legislative session, look at the votes of your own Representative and Senator, and decide for yourself if you want to hire him or her for the next session. We encourage you to do the hard work of educating yourself and your neighbors on this legislative session. Don’t rely on what your Representative or Senator will tell you in the coming months as they come back to their districts to begin campaign season.
One conservative club in Denton County has built a website that assesses their Representatives on their performance in supporting the Republican Party of Texas Legislative Priorities. Take a look and consider if this is something you wish to do in your own county or district. www.staterepscorecard.com If we keep doing the same things we will get the same results. You must decide if you are satisfied with the current results.
For God and Texas,
SREC, SD 12
Chair, SREC Legislative Priorities Committee
To receive future SREC Legislative Priority Updates directly in your mailbox each week, sign up here.