A Midland town hall for State Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) yielded some interesting responses in regard to his positions on three of the five legislative priorities set this past June by the state’s Republican Party.
The three legislative priorities in question call for the passage of constitutional carry while maintaining optional licensing, ending tax-funded lobbying, and for the abolition of abortion.
Addressing his positions, Seliger started by stating, “There’s no such thing as constitutional carry; what people want is to have carry without a permit.” While Seliger stated he doesn’t disagree philosophically with carrying without a permit, he noted that carry licenses are necessary because they prevent felons, those with records of domestic violence and mental illness from having a firearm. “That’s what the permit does, it ensures the people who carry a firearm check those boxes, and I think those boxes ought to be checked,” he stated.
Further pressed to clarify his position on constitutional carry, Seliger responded indirectly, saying he hasn’t seen anything about it he supports so far and reiterated that, “Constitutional carry is a misnomer…nothing about it makes it any more constitutional than what we have now.”
When asked about another plank of the Republican platform, ending tax-funded lobbying, Seliger didn’t hesitate to vocalize his disagreement with the party. Rather, he strongly defended the practice stating, “The reason cities and counties use tax money for lobbyists is because people in the legislature are continually trying to screw units of local government, including schools.”
Opponents of intergovernmental lobbying argue that large amounts of tax dollars are being used to combat and drown out the voices of residents on issues before the legislature. In 2017 alone, local governments spent as much as $41 million lobbying the legislature according to lobby disclosure forms. Opponents also note that by hiring lobbyists, local elected officials are able to shield their positions on issues their constituents may oppose.
Seliger’s position on the issue, however, comes as no surprise. The very organizations that benefit from tax-funded lobbying, such as the Texas Municipal League and Texas Association of Counties, have publicly backed the senator for years.
Lastly, and perhaps the most shocking response of all, was Seliger’s opposition to the party’s abolition of abortion plank. Alleging that legislation challenging Roe v. Wade would be struck down by the courts, he stated, “I try not to vote for things that are absolutely in violation of the constitution.”
Despite representing one of the reddest areas of the state, Seliger continues to legislate as the most liberal Republican in the senate. As demonstrated by his blatant discrepancies with his own party’s platform, it appears that will continue into the 2019 legislative session.
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