We are all familiar with the abuse of power by federal agencies such as the FBI, IRS, and CDC. On today’s Liberty Cafe, though, we’ll be talking with Rep. Brian Harrison about his efforts to rein in abuse occurring in Texas state agencies.
This podcast was transcribed by a robot called otter.ai. Please forgive any errors in the text, as robots still have a lot to learn:
Bill Peacock 0:17
almost everybody’s familiar in one form or fashion, about rogue agencies, whether they’re at the federal level, or down at the state level, we’ve probably all seen some kind of examples of unelected bureaucrats determining basically what the law is going to be far beyond what the legislature Congress had passed. And then using their own agency regulations, and sometimes just internal decisions and memorandums to ruin people’s lives. On this week’s Liberty cafe, we’re going to take a look at this and see how, at least down here in Texas, we can do something to rein in these runaway state agencies. Hi, this is Bill Peacock, and welcome to episode 115 of the Liberty cafe. It’s a blessing to have you here with me and a blessing to be a part also of the Texas scorecard network, Texas scorecard sponsors of liberty Cafe, and you can find us here at my website, excellent thought.net. Go over to Texas score dark, sorry, Texas scorecard.com. And find us over there along with a lot of other stuff about the battle for Liberty going on here in Texas, and really across the world. So today, as I mentioned, we’re gonna talk about state agencies here in Texas, and what we can do to rein them in. And to help us understand this, we’re gonna have state representative Brian Harrison on, he has filed three bills in the Texas legislature that are designed to rein in these state agencies and at least put elected officials over the top of them, and in some form or fashion to help control them, but also give us some rights to go after and protect ourselves in courts that we don’t really have today. So without further ado, we’re going to turn over I interviewed him just a little while ago. And now we’re going to go and listen to that. And then I’ll be back at the end. I’m with State Representative Brian Harrison today. Representing Harrison, thank you very much for being on the show.
Brian Harrison 2:22
Bill. It’s great to be with you. Thank you very much for having me.
Bill Peacock 2:27
Well, for those of you who don’t know him, let me just introduce you a little bit. So represent Harrison is in his second term representing has district 10 and the Texas legislature which comprise Ellis County, and from what I can tell them at very small parts of Henderson County, it looks like they used
Brian Harrison 2:44
to it used to Yeah, when I was elected in a special election, about a year and a half ago, I had Ellis and summer Henderson and Ellis has grown so much I no longer have the Henderson part which so no, none of Henderson anymore. No, unfortunately, not I loved representing the folks in Henderson County.
Bill Peacock 2:58
Okay. All right. And then he puts you live there and Ellis and with your wife, Tara and four children. So represent Harrison has worked with his wife and father in multiple business enterprises, small businesses and as a consultant as a small business as well. But during the Trump administration, he served in various roles in federal agencies, he was Chief of Staff at the US Department of Health and Human Services, which his bio tells us is the largest government agency in the world. Boy, you know, we could do with less of those. But But I’m glad you were there. And then also the US Department of Defense and the the office of Vice President White House, and then the Office of the Commissioner, Social Security Administration. So represent Harrison, so you filed three bills that had to deal with state agencies and basically getting state agencies off the back of Texas. And but before I you know, before I get into those bills, I’d like us to talk a little bit about your background on this. And I’d love to just start out with this question if I could. So quite often, when I ran across someone with your resume, you know, lots of experience in big federal agencies, I find them on the wrong side of the liberty issue. But that’s not the case with you. Right use. And so could you just tell us a little bit about what’s your experience in these agencies, led you to come to the place where you’re filing these bills, trying to reduce the impact of big agencies on the lives of people?
Brian Harrison 4:27
Yeah, I do think it surprises a lot of people, that somebody who used to be at the top of the world’s largest government agency, the US Department of Health and Human Services, and I’ll give you some statistics just to drive that point home that do not make my small government heart happy, but they are true. So people here in Texas, like to brag that, you know, if Texas was its own nation state, we would be the ninth largest economy on Earth. Right? You hear people talking about this all the time. HHS, just my one cabinet agency where I was the Chief of Staff. If HHS was its own nation state, it would be The fifth right behind the United Kingdom. So that the budget here in Texas is about a quarter of a trillion dollars, you know, 250 300 billion. HHS had a budget of $1.4 trillion. When I started it had 26 operating and staff divisions, I had a staff of 85,000 people and 100,000 contractors and just one of our 26 divisions, the FDA regulates one out of every $4 spent in the American economy. So I am very intimately familiar with the power that unelected bureaucrats wield. And you’re right, a lot of people who do hold government offices, especially if they’re an executive branch agencies, they come out with a different view than me, I was pretty much a small government guy, before I served in these various roles in government, I was pushed even further to the right, based on my experience, or when I watched the unbelievable, I would say, obscene amount of power, that unelected officials at all levels of government, in America. Now, hold on, I’m looking at your backdrop there says the Liberty cafe, I love the name of your show, because, as you know, the chief of government has one job, that job is to protect our liberties. So government doesn’t give us our freedoms, those come from our Creator, as you know. And when our founders set up our constitutions, both federally and state, they knew that they recognize that. And they knew that when government acts almost in every instance, by definition, it is depriving somebody of some form of life or liberty or a treasure. And so the hurdle was supposed to be very high for government, to deprive people and to act in that way. The House of Representatives right had to agree word for word with the Senate, and then word for word, with the President of the United States, if the government was going to act, and we all watch Schoolhouse Rock, as as kids, I gotta tell you, I think Schoolhouse Rock should be banned as fake news, because that is not how America works anymore, whatsoever. And so that’s a little bit of my perspective on a having just lived through the amount of power that meet myself, nobody elected me. But as the Chief of Staff of a federal agency, I could play a far more material role in in creating federal programs, ending federal programs, creating federal taxes, ending federal taxes than 100 members of the United States Congress put together. And that’s just that’s just not right. So so I think you highlighting this, the biggest threat to our constitutional system of divided government is the out of control bureaucratic state.
Bill Peacock 7:19
Yeah, I agree with you 100%. On that, you know, when I worked back at Texas Public Policy Foundation, we used to hire folks. And one question, we would ask them all whether they’re going to be policy analyst or accountants, we would ask them, what’s the what’s the role of government? And if they got beyond three words to protect our rights are four words, the more they got past those four words, the more points they lost, because that’s really, that’s really what it’s all about your I mean, the Bible is so clear about that. And the Constitution is so clear about that. And so if you if you bring your experience down to the Texas state level, I mean, you’re in the Texas legislature now. But you’re in you’re filing a bill about bills about state agencies. Are you seeing some of the same problems and Texas that you saw at the federal level?
Brian Harrison 8:07
It doesn’t make me happy to say this, but yes, I am. And I’ll give you one example, the Biden administration, and my former agency, HHS. So HHS also oversees the CDC, and then the NIH. So when the Biden administration a month or two ago decided to put for purely political reasons, and with no clinical data showing safety or efficacy, in the pediatric population, the COVID-19 vaccination on their official recommendation, official childhood immunization schedule, okay. They did this, again, purely for political purposes. And I went out to it to publicly attack the Biden ministration for doing this, because what happens is, when the CDC issues recommendations, they will tell everybody, okay, these things are not binding. The problem is, every blue state and blue localities across the country have their official position is to blindly defer to whatever CDC does. And so what happens is these CDC recommendations have the effect of mandating in this instance, COVID-19 vaccines on millions of Americans, okay, across the country. I thought that decision was appalling. And so I want to go publicly criticizing him. But I said, You know what, I’m elected in the Texas House, I want to make sure that our hand our house is in order on this front, and I was unpleasantly surprised to learn that on our own state health agencies website, they had a requirement on their that every student to attend any university or school institution in Texas, must receive every vaccine that the CDC recommends. So I could not believe this. This was not a decision by the way that was made by the legislature. Right. This was not even a formal regulation that went out. It was a blog post. So I used to joke about this at HHS, we should not govern by blog posts. Okay, so I put that on Twitter, was on the phone with the ex executive commissioner of the state health agency, and I am pleased to report that within 18 hours, they undid That requirement, but it wasn’t fact a requirement in the state of Texas that of CDC said something in terms of a student to go to school, you had to get that vaccine and it included the COVID-19 vaccine. We’ve got instances of unelected bureaucrats at the Texas Medical Board, not doing what we’re what we chartered them legislatively to do, which is to regulate the practice of medicine to make sure that patients are cared for and the Hippocratic Oath is is enforced, do no harm. We have the Texas Medical Board right now, not doing what their counterparts in Florida are doing and protecting kids from these disgusting and appalling gender modification procedures there instead of wasting their resources as unelected officials prosecuting and going after doctors who are prescribing safe treatments that have been approved by the FDA for 50 years in the middle of COVID. Trying to save lives. So we have unelected bureaucrats literally prosecuting doctors trying to save lives. While they’re allowing child mutilations to happen. In the state of Texas, our legislature, I’ll give you two more examples. Our legislature in statute allows one unelected bureaucrat one to buy, eat it, force any vaccine they want on any school child in the state of Texas at anytime they want. One, I would like to bureaucrat and that’s current law. One other example, maybe the most extreme example, are disaster laws from the 1970s. They allow anytime a governor determines we’re in a state of disaster. So when we’re in a state of disaster, as determined by who by the governor, right, then the governor has quite literally the full powers of a king. When we are in a declared state of disaster, a governor can unilaterally delete, duly pass laws, he can unilaterally modify any law, and he can unilaterally create any state law he wants. We absolutely have problems here in the state of Texas that need to be rectified. They need to be rectified immediately, because they do not consist. They do not comport with the principles of representative government.
Bill Peacock 11:57
That’s It’s amazing that we live in a state like Texas that we think are free, and we see these kind of things. And real quick, this is a little bit off the topic of your bills. But if I could just ask so I was aware of what you were talking about, you know, the emergency powers of the governor, it’s pretty clear that the legislature the Texas Constitution says the legislature gets to pass laws and repeal laws. So it seems to me that a law that says the governor can do that is unconstitutional, yet that never made its way through the courts any Why didn’t that happen?
Brian Harrison 12:29
It’s probably it’s my guess is I’m not a lawyer. My guess is they had a difficulty, you know, establishing standing for certain people to sue. That’s a speculation. I don’t know. I agree with you. I believe that that disaster law that we have on the books right now, as we speak in Texas, is on its face on constitutional. And we Texas, I tell you that somebody who spent some of my career outside of DC, Texas has a well earned and robust reputation for being the leader on liberty, individual liberty and on freedoms and on conservative principles and governance. I have to tell you now as somebody who’s as an is an elected constitutional officer in the state of Texas, we have a lot of work to do to live up to our reputation. And we need to get about doing it immediately.
Bill Peacock 13:12
We’ll get let’s let’s dive into your bills a little bit. So before we look at the specific bills, all the bills its House Bill 791. House Bill 1947, and House Bill 1948. All three of those bills, focus on state agency rules. Why did you use agency rules as your target for going after these state agencies
Brian Harrison 13:33
very simply, our state constitution just like the federal constitution, wanting to make it very hard for the state of Texas to deprive somebody of life liberty, or to put burdens on them. And unfortunately, just how I said Schoolhouse Rock is fake news. In too many instances. It’s also fake news here in Texas, if if an unelected bureaucrat can both write and enforce a law, that is the definition of tyranny. And yet we allow it, we allow it way too much in the state of Texas. So what I did is I said, if something is going to happen, out of an executive branch agency, the people are being deprived of representation unless an elected official, so they had a choice to put an office and somebody who they could remove has a chance to weigh in on that. And in an ideal world, that would be the legislature. But these bills said you know what, if they are as an executive branch agency executing their power, they derive their power in almost all instances from the governor. The governor oversees the executive branch, and thank God the governor in Texas is an elected official so people can boot him out if they want to or him or her. Okay, that’s this is agnostic. One thing it’s important to note agnostic as to any governor, my bills were not written with any particular governor was in mind. With the one exception. I am terrified of a future governor like Beto O’Rourke, okay. That there is only a matter of time until a Democrat holds that office. We have to make sure that any power we give to any governor, we will be okay with our worst political enemy wielding and that’s when we don’t give enough thought to so yeah, so one of my bills says you know, If an executive branch agency is going to write something that has the effect of a law, which is what regulations do, okay, you can go to jail if you violate them, if they have the effects of a law, the governor, I’m trying to empower him as the state’s highest elected official, he needs to put his name on that regulation. He needs to have authority, he needs to have responsibility. And if that involves capability, even better, but it empowers him to rein in the bureaucrats that all work for him. And then the second bill that you referenced is what’s reining in something that most people haven’t heard of. It’s called Chevron deference. What it basically is when people see you know, they go into a courthouse, they see Lady Liberty blindfolded with the scales in her hand, right? Everybody’s familiar with this justice is supposed to be blind, did you? Or did you not violate a regulation or a law? The problem is, when government agencies harm individuals or businesses in Texas, and they want to fight back and say, Hey, what you’re doing is inappropriate. You don’t have the power to do this, or it’s already illegal and illegal action. Well, we adjudicate these things in the courts. Okay. So but when you go to court, the judge, the jury, and the whole process is supposed to be indifferent. That’s why Lady Liberty is blindfolded. The problem is it both at the federal level, and at the state level, we have government sanctioned cheating, they go to the courts. And because of something called Chevron deference, the courts when weighing a matter between an individual or business on one hand, and a government bureaucratic agency on the other, they literally are authorized to cheat. If it’s even a close call, what they say is, you know, this was kind of close, we’re gonna go ahead and just side with the government’s a close ball, we can’t tell that is not supposed to be the way our criminal juris, the judicial system in Texas works. And so I think it’s an immoral practice. And I filed a bill to end it and require the courts treat both parties equally, you cannot put your thumb on the scale for the bureaucrats at the expense of hard working individual Texas.
Bill Peacock 16:57
Yeah, I agree completely. One would hope that our courts would review any decisions made by an agency from the point of our constitutional rights rather than the opinion of state agency? What Why do you think that isn’t happening?
Brian Harrison 17:14
It’s a good question. It’s been a process that has taken a while for us to get here. But however we got here, we need to stop it immediately.
Bill Peacock 17:21
Right. And even you know, we’ve got an in Texas, a supreme court that’s been Republican for 20 plus years or something like that. And they haven’t done anything to stop it either. So it seems like this is going to have to be a legislative solution rather than a judicial solution.
Brian Harrison 17:38
Yeah, absolutely. And look, I mean, this is not a completely made up scenario, what I’m about to describe to you, if we don’t rein this in, if we had a future governor, like somebody like a Beto O’Rourke, who was sworn into office to lead to lead, Texas, the official position of the CDC is that firearm violence is a public health crisis. A future governor of the state of Texas, if we do not change things could say, you know, what the federal government’s official position is that firearm violence is a public health crisis. I agree with the CDC, I’m gonna declare a public health emergency disaster in Texas, and I’m gonna confiscate firearms, or I agree with the federal government’s EPA, that emissions oppose a national security, economic and public health threat. I’m going to declare a disaster in Texas, and I’m going to ban the internal combustion engine, and I’m going to ban vehicles, I’m going to shut down every automotive dealer and I’m going to confiscate your cars under current Texas statutes. And especially when you lay around the concept of Chevron deference, which lets the courts, aside with the government, over individuals who had their rights taken away, that could happen. People need to understand that and know that we’ve got to fix this problem.
Bill Peacock 18:44
Well, I think we’ve seen over the last few years, things happen even in Texas, that we didn’t imagine were possible. And in part through the the instruments that you’re talking about right now. So Well, I wish you the very best with this legislation. If there’s anything that I can do, you know, write my congressman, or representative or whatever, let me know, because I think this is one of the most important bills as I told you, before, we went online, you know, having spent about eight years and agencies myself, I’ve seen rogue agencies all over the place, and we need to do something to to bring those to an end. So thank you very much for doing this. And thank you for being on the Liberty Cafe today.
Brian Harrison 19:26
Always great to be with you, Bill. And I think you’re doing the most important thing, which is highlighting the problem that unfortunately, far too many Americans including too many Texans are unaware of. And if we do not rein in the out of control bureaucratic state, or individuals who are not elected can both write and enforce laws in Texas. freedom loving Texas, is unfortunately on the road to a post constitutional era. And we got to do everything we can to stop that and make sure that people are empowered through their elected representatives. So thank you very much, Bill.
Bill Peacock 19:53
All right. Thank you. You bet. Well, I really appreciate representative Harrison being on liberty Cafe today, and thanks again. All of you for listening, and thanks once again to Texas scorecard for being our sponsor.
Unknown Speaker 20:05
Thank you for listening to the Liberty cafe with Bill peacock. This show is produced by Texas scorecard. You can learn more about this show and find other shows at Texas scorecard.com. Be sure you subscribe and rate the show on whatever platform you listen to. I’ll see you next time.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai