On Monday, Senator-elect Mayes Middleton (R–Wallisville) filed Senate Bill 175, which would prohibit public funds from being used to hire registered lobbyists.

If the Legislature bans the practice, school districts and cities will be barred from spending taxpayer money on their own interests.

Background

In 2020, more than 94 percent of Republican voters supported a ballot proposition banning taxpayer-funded lobbying.

Two of the most cited examples of institutions engaging in taxpayer-funded lobbying in recent years are the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) and the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA). TASB and TASA are taxpayer-funded through dues from local school districts (which, in turn, levy property taxes). TASB and TASA employ Austin lobbyists to fight against taxpayer interests and parental rights.

Although banning taxpayer-funded lobbying is a longtime conservative priority and was a legislative priority for the Texas GOP in the 2021 legislative session, the Texas House killed the legislation after the Texas Senate passed it.

In the 87th Legislative Session last year—despite multiple pieces of potential legislation to ban taxpayer-funded lobbying—State Rep. Chris Paddie (R–Marshall) delayed the only committee-approved bill beyond key deadlines.

Paddie rewrote the bill in committee to only ban the practice at the local level. He then delayed its House reading to Middleton’s birthday (September 18) as a jab at Middleton, who supported the statewide ban. The bill died a slow death, ultimately killed by the end of the session on May 31.

In the three special sessions that followed, Gov. Greg Abbott refused to add banning taxpayer-funded lobbying to his list of priorities, despite Patrick’s request.

Looking Forward

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, president of the Senate, has already pledged to pass the ban on taxpayer-funded lobbying in the Senate during the upcoming 88th Legislative Session.

“For too long, your hard-earned tax dollars have been diverted to the pockets of Austin lobbyists that then lobby against both parents and taxpayers,” said Middleton.

According to Middleton, Republican priorities such as banning critical race theory in K-12 schools, protecting girls’ sports from gender-confused boys masquerading as girls, and furthering parental rights in education all came under fire from taxpayer-funded lobbyists.

“Taxpayers should not be bankrolling efforts to advocate against their interests,” said Middleton. “Every step of the way, taxpayer-funded lobbyists have lobbied against key conservative priorities including: property tax relief, election integrity, disclosures of what bonds truly cost taxpayers, the constitutional ban on a state income tax, and they even opposed the bill to fund and protect the teacher retirement pension system.”

Middleton says lawmakers must “end this inexcusable waste and abuse of taxpayers’ hard-earned money.”

The legislative session begins on January 10, 2023.

Concerned citizens may contact their elected representatives to ask how they will vote on such legislation.

Sydnie Henry

A born and bred Texan, Sydnie serves as the Capitol Correspondent for Texas Scorecard. A 2021 graduate of Patrick Henry College with a B.A. in Government, Sydnie is utilizing her research and writing skills to spread truth to Texans.

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