Though many lawmakers are less than honest with their constituents when they return home from Austin, one of them has been a little more frank. Delivering a straight-forward, cogent assessment of the 84th session to the Southwest Dallas County Republican Club recently, State Sen. Bob Hall (R-Canton) told attendees that —
“Democrats are not our problem.”
As predicted by both critics and supporters of the coalition of Democrats and liberal Republicans propping up the speakership of Joe Straus, Hall’s conservative legislative priorities fell victim to the House obstructionism.
As a freshman in the Senate, Hall authored fifty-two bills in total. Nine of those successfully passed out of committee, with eight ultimately sent to the House by the upper chamber.
Unfortunately, all eight died an all-too-common death.
Hall laid out several issues that some legislators are calling victories for the session but pointed out that with Republican super-majorities in the legislature, there were “no excuses” for the conservative legislation that didn’t get passed and for the enormous amount of bad bills that needed to be killed.
Hall noted that the pastor protection bill (SB2065) passed, but its overly narrow nature left business owners unprotected. Revenue diversions from transportation were ended in part, but he said nothing significant was done to reform the state’s convoluted and disastrous toll road policy.
Hall applauded the budget for including franchise and property tax cuts, but noted that House conferees gutted the homestead exemption by removing the indexing provision. He also reminded the audience that the House distorted the stricter state spending cap proposal (SB9), by changing the limit from population plus inflation to a complex and less secure metric.
Additional money was put into the teacher retirement fund, but Hall emphasized the measure was only a short term Band-Aid, as the issue will likely have to be revisited in later sessions. Campus carry and licensed open carry passed the Senate quickly, but the House postponed taking up the legislation. What passed in the eleventh hour was needlessly watered down measures that gun rights advocates will have to address in later sessions. Despite the progress, Hall pointed out that Texas still lags behind several far more liberal states in regards to protecting constitutionally guaranteed gun rights.
Craddick responded by killing many of Burton’s conservative bills in the House.
“Democrats do a much better job of focusing on the issues and not the personalities than the squishy Republicans do,” said Hall.
Hall did not believe Gov. Greg Abbott would call for a special session despite pressure from some grassroots organizations to do so. The solution as he saw it was a more robust Republican primary with grassroots volunteers willing to support and block-walk for more conservative candidates, including those outside their own geographical boundaries.
Hall finished his wrap-up by preparing attendees for the campaign season ahead— “Nothing beats knocking on doors.”