Over the weekend, the Texas State Republican Executive Committee convened for one of their quarterly meetings and, among other items of business, approved 10 ballot propositions which will appear on the Republican primary election ballot for the March 1, 2022 primary.
The outcome of these propositions will be used to help guide the party’s policy priorities with regard to the distinct legislative priorities and party platform as determined by delegates in the state convention.
Republican voters will have the option to vote in favor or in opposition to the following ballot propositions:
- Border Security
- Eliminate Property Tax
- Vaccine Mandate
- Parents’ Rights and Critical Race Theory
- Right to Life
- Committee Chairs
- Election Integrity
- Gender Modification
- Parental Educational Relief
- Freedom of Conscience
Ballot Proposition Language and Background
Prop 1: Border Security
“In light of the federal government’s refusal to defend the southern border, Texas should immediately deploy the National Guard, Texas Military Forces, and necessary state law enforcement to seal the border, enforce immigration laws, and deport illegal aliens.”
The 87th Legislature appropriated $1.08 billion in the regular legislative session earlier this year for border security efforts. In the second-called special legislative session they appropriated an additional $1.8 billion amounting to an almost $3 billion total in response to a surge of illegal immigration along the Texas-Mexico border and the lack of attention from the federal government to the growing issue.
Earlier this year, Gov. Greg Abbott launched Operation Lone Star which directed state military and law enforcement resources to the border in efforts to aid both federal and local government personnel who are already charged with fighting human and drug trafficking.
Much of the money that was appropriated will purportedly be spent on things like a border barrier ranging from a physical wall to razor wire and chain-link fences, as the terrain and private landowners along the border allow.
Prop 2: Eliminate Property Tax
“Texas should eliminate all property taxes within ten (10) years without implementing a state income tax.”
Republican elected officials have held every statewide office and a majority in the Texas Legislature for almost two decades, and yet despite this reality and promises to the contrary, the property tax burden on Texans has exponentially increased.
In the 87th regular legislative session, the legislature did very little to provide relief to everyday Texas property taxpayers. In 2019, during the 86th legislative session, they reformed the way property taxes themselves were calculated, but the reform did virtually nothing to curb the increase in taxes that continued.
In the second-called special legislative session earlier this year, the legislature passed legislation that provided relief, but only for specific classes of people like disabled veterans and their spouses.
Legislation was filed to eliminate the property tax over time, but it was never seriously considered by the legislature itself and in the third-called special legislative session negotiations between lawmakers broke down and they ultimately only passed legislation increasing the amount of the homestead exemption providing for about $175 in relief per year as opposed to lasting tax relief to ease the burden over time.
Prop 3: Vaccine Mandate
“Texans should not lose their job nor students be penalized for declining a COVID-19 vaccine.”
The issue of vaccine mandates was added to the third-called special legislative session agenda, but it was not until day 22 of the already ongoing session that Abbott added the consideration of a prohibition on employer vaccine mandates to the agenda specifically. The session was due to reach its forced conclusion just 8 days later. Though the legislation was considered in the committee process, none made it through the entirety of the legislative process and the special session concluded without the legislature addressing the issue.
Since then, State Rep. Steve Toth (R–The Woodlands) has accused Abbott of not supporting a ban on vaccine mandates. Meanwhile, the Texas GOP has campaigned for a fourth special session to address the issue and the list of lawmakers who have also publicly announced their support for such a thing has steadily grown.
Abbott, who has generally been reluctant to comment on the issue, announced in a radio interview last week that he was waiting on the courts to end vaccine mandates.
All of this, despite the fact that Texans all across the state are having to choose between their own livelihoods and receiving the COVID-19 vaccination, mandated by employers as they await clarity between federal government mandates stuck in judicial limbo even though other state legislatures are addressing the issue head-on.
Prop 4: Parents’ Rights and Critical Race Theory
“Texas schools should teach students basic knowledge and American exceptionalism and reject Critical Race Theory and other curricula that promote Marxist doctrine and encourage division based on creed, race, or economic status.”
One of the issues that the legislature attempted to address in the 87th regular legislative session was that of banning Critical Race Theory. Though legislation addressing the issue was eventually passed, it did so in an incomplete way. This prompted Abbott to add improvements to the purported ban onto both the first and second-called special legislative session agendas.
In the second special session, supposed improvements to the ban were passed and went into effect on December 2.
Over the past year or so, more parents have begun speaking up to their local school boards and public school superintendents with concerns over the types of materials being used and taught to their children.
Prop 5: Right to Life
“Texas should enact a State Constitutional Amendment to defend the sanctity of innocent human life, created in the image of God, from fertilization until natural death.”
In the 87th regular legislative session, lawmakers passed the Texas Heartbeat Act, prohibiting an abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected as well as legislation known as a “trigger bill” that would prohibit abortion altogether if and when cases like Roe v. Wade are overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Notably, this legislation does not in fact prevent abortion altogether on its own and still makes it legal to obtain an abortion up to and until the point of a heartbeat detection. The Texas Heartbeat Act went into effect on September 1. In November, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments for two cases that were brought against the implementation of the law. Since then, the U.S. Supreme Court has also decided to consider legislation passed in Mississippi in 2018 prohibiting abortion after 15 weeks. Though currently unclear, it is possible that either case, if ruled on, could overturn cases like Roe v. Wade.
Prop 6: Committee Chairs
“The Republican-controlled Texas Legislature should end the practice of awarding committee chairmanships to Democrats.”
At the outset of the 87th regular legislative session in January, Republican State Rep. Bryan Slaton (Royse City) offered amendments to the proposed House Rules of Procedure that would have required that standing House Committees be led by the majority political party. It was resoundingly defeated, even though Republicans hold a majority in the Texas House of Representatives.
The issue got additional visibility as the state legislature was held hostage for upwards of 37 days earlier this summer at the hands of absent Democrat lawmakers preventing a quorum, many of whom are also appointed chairmen of House Committees.
Though quorum was eventually restored during the second-called special legislative session, no penalties were exacted upon the lawmakers who fled, nor was anything adopted to prevent such a thing from happening in the future.
Chairmen have immense authority over whether legislation referred to their committee is given a public hearing or set for a vote by the committee itself which has proven to be problematic for Republican activists hoping to ensure their legislative agendas make it through the entirety of the legislative process.
Prop 7: Election Integrity
“Texas should protect the integrity of our elections by verifying that registered voters are American citizens, restoring felony penalties and enacting civil penalties for vote fraud, and fighting any federal takeover of state elections.”
Perhaps the most controversial legislation that was deliberated over the past year by the state legislature was legislation relating to election integrity, which took varying forms before ultimately being passed in the second-called special legislative session.
Notably, the election integrity legislation passed this year weakened the penalties for illegally voting, from a felony to a misdemeanor. When asked to address the issue, House Speaker Dafe Phelan said he was not interested in relitigating the bill.
Prop 8: Gender Modification
“Texas should ban chemical castration, puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and genital mutilation surgery on all minor children for sex transition purposes.”
This issue was named a legislative priority of the Republican Party of Texas, and one of the issues that was not ultimately addressed by the Texas Legislature in either the 87th regular legislative session or the three special legislative sessions that followed even though multiple pieces of legislation were filed to do so, and a majority of Republican lawmakers were supportive.
In an interview last week, Abbott continued to point his finger at other officials when he was asked why child mutilation is still legal in Texas.
Prop 9: Parental Education Relief
“Texas parents and guardians should have the right to select schools, whether public or private, for their children, and the funding should follow the student.”
One of the issues not addressed by the legislature at all this year was that of education freedom or school choice. Though it remains a legislative priority of the Republican Party of Texas, it was rejected by the House of Representatives overwhelmingly as the state budget was being deliberated.
Prop 10: Freedom of Conscience
“Texans affirm that our freedoms come from God and that the government should have no control over the conscience of individuals.”
When the issue of vaccine mandates was being deliberated in the third-called special legislative session, legislation seeking to address the employer vaccine mandate prohibition included provisions relating to moral and religious objections for reasons of conscience.
What Does it All Mean?
It should be noted, several of these items are issues that have previously been legislative priorities of the Republican Party of Texas, and issues the legislature itself—which boasts a Republican majority—neglected to ultimately pass.
Jill Glover, the Chairman of the SREC Legislative Priorities Committee told Texas Scorecard the ballot propositions can be a useful tool for the party to push priorities.
“For example, in the last Republican primary ballot election, we had a proposition banning sex transition medical practices on children. Almost 95% of our voters agreed it should be banned,” said Glover. “At that time, many people didn’t even know this was taking place in Texas so it served to educate voters. This issue turned out to be the third-ranked Legislative Priority chosen at the state convention. Now, many more people are aware of these practices and demanding legislation be passed protecting vulnerable children.”
“A new ballot proposition we have on this time is that House and Senate Committees should be chaired by Republicans when they have the majority. This seems like a no-brainer but Speaker Phelan and Lt. Gov. Patrick did appoint several Democrats, who did not move forward our bills. We stand a much higher chance at getting our Legislative Priority bills passed when we have Republican chairs, so this is really critical,” she added.
These ballot propositions will be listed on the ballot alongside candidates for elected office ranging from Texas’ U.S. Congressional seats to statewide office, as well as the state Senate and State House of Representatives, State Board of Education, and county elected positions.