Certain perks are supposed to come with being one of the most powerful members of the Texas House – most notably, passing your district’s legislative priorities. Yet on that count, State Rep. Byron Cook of Corsicana failed his constituents miserably.
Only one measure authored by Cook passed both the House and Senate. That’s the expected record of freshmen lawmakers learning the ropes, not seasoned insiders.
As the chairman of the State Affairs Committee, Cook was too busy gutting Gov. Greg Abbott’s ethics reform package and killing paycheck protection. Along the way he also worked (unsuccessfully) to strip “mother” and “father” from Texas birth certificates, a position favored by the LGBT community.
No issue concerns Texas voters more than border security, except giving the benefits of citizenship to those illegally in the country. The Republican Party of Texas’ platform explicitly prohibits issuing driver licenses to “anyone not legally in the country.”
Yet Byron Cook has been attempting to do just that for two sessions. He tried to sneak it onto the House floor in 2013, but the measure was soundly rejected. This year, he tried an advance public relations effort, garnering the support of the now liberal-leaning “Texas Association of Business.”
Cook was forced to rely on the Democrats to pass his bill out of committee, with three Republican colleagues voting against it and another two walking the vote. His effort died in the House Calendars Committee without receiving a vote.
It may have had something to do with Cook’s own duplicity on the subject. As TexasScorecard.com previously reported, Cook and others trying to give official standing to illegal aliens have claimed doing so would allow illegals to get car insurance. But Cook’s own committee’s study refuted that spurious claim.
If Cook had been more focused on serving his constituents, rather than serving the narrow interests of establishment insiders, he might have had more time to give to his constituents. Might.
Ironically, even that’s not true.
The paycheck protection measure, Senate Bill 1968, would have prohibited labor unions from automatically deducting dues from the paychecks of government workers in Texas. SB 1968 was strongly favored by the prison guards in Cook’s district, business interests around the state, and Texas’ Republican Party.
Corsicana businessman Thomas McNutt has already announced a challenge to Cook in the March 2016 Republican primary.
Sadly, Byron Cook’s loyalties rest neither with his constituents, business interests, nor the state GOP. Throughout the session, Byron Cook was serving the coalition of Democrats and liberal Republicans running the Texas House to thwart pro-taxpayer/pro-citizen reforms.