With the conclusion of the Texas Legislature’s session fast approaching, Republican activists across the state have been fighting for a number of conservative priorities. But as recalcitrant lawmakers continue to side with lobbyists and bureaucrats over citizens, most of those reforms have been left to die on the vine.
Indeed, it has not been a good session for the GOP’s legislative priorities—most of which have long been dead, but many of which only recently stopped officially breathing.
To recap, those five priorities are:
- The passage of constitutional carry while maintaining licensing as optional for reciprocity.
- Passing legislation to abolish all forms of taxpayer-funded lobbying and end the automatic payroll deduction of union dues by the government.
- Passing pro-life reforms.
- Abolishing the M&O property tax.
- Protecting religious freedom and privacy.
Texas GOP Chairman James Dickey told Texas Scorecard that Republican officials and volunteers “have put in countless hours this session to advance the Legislative Priorities identified by the RPT convention delegates.”
Here’s a brief autopsy report on each of the GOP priorities.
The first priority was filed in the Texas House by State Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R–Bedford). The measure died at the hands of Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, who killed it after Texas Gun Rights’ Chris McNutt block walked his home neighborhood advocating on the issue.
Bonnen implied McNutt had threatened his family—an allegation that was later determined to be false due to DPS body cam footage—and directed the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security & Public Safety, Democrat State Rep. Poncho Nevarez (Eagle Pass), to refrain from bringing the bill up for a hearing, effectively killing the legislation.
It was never filed in the Texas Senate.
Ending Taxpayer-Funded Lobbying and the Automatic Collection of Union Dues
The second priority was two-pronged: abolish taxpayer-funded lobbying and prohibit the automatic payroll deduction of union dues by government. The first was carried by State Sen. Bob Hall (R–Edgewood) and passed the Texas Senate with all but one Republican lawmaker, State Sen. Kel Seliger (R–Amarillo), voting in favor of the legislation.
Sponsored by State Rep. Mayes Middleton (R–Wallisville) in the Texas House, it died on the House floor despite being supported by a majority of Republican lawmakers.
Legislation to eliminate the automatic collection of union dues was never filed in either chamber of the Texas Legislature.
Pro-life reforms were expected to take center stage this session, and with states around the nation passing legislation to protect unborn children, many thought Texas would join them.
Instead, only one reform looks likely to pass. Senate Bill 22 by State Sen. Donna Campbell (R–New Braunfels) would prohibit local governments from subsidizing abortion providers like Planned Parenthood.
Legislation to abolish abortion died in the House Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee chaired by State Rep. Jeff Leach (R–Plano), legislation to prevent abortions after a child has developed a heartbeat (around 12 weeks) died due to House Speaker Dennis Bonnen’s decision to refer it to a committee chaired by a pro-abortion Democrat, and legislation to close a loophole in law that allows late-term abortions for children with fetal abnormalities—SB 1033 by State Sen. Kelly Hancock (R–North Richland Hills)— was killed in the Texas House Calendars Committee chaired by State Rep. Four Price (R–Amarillo).
Neither an “abolition of abortion” bill nor a “heartbeat” bill was filed in the Texas Senate.
Abolishing the M&O Property Tax
Legislation to abolish the state’s school maintenance and operation property tax, which funds public education, was never truly filed or considered by either chamber of the Texas Legislature this session.
Protecting Religious Freedom & Privacy
Legislation protecting religious freedom and privacy died in both chambers of the Texas Legislature. Instead, lawmakers passed a very narrow “Save Chick-Fil-A” bill that many expect will do little to protect the religious liberties of Texas businesses.
Neither chamber addressed protecting the religious liberties of individuals. Neither chamber saw legislation filed protecting the safety and privacy of women and children in multi-use public facilities.
Dickey said the party has “achieved progress” on advancing the priorities and expressed optimism that “there is still time left” for some to be achieved. While conservatives could still win major victories on issues such as property tax relief and property tax reform in the waning days of the legislative session, it is beyond dispute that the Texas Legislature has failed to enact the overwhelming majority of the Texas GOP’s legislative priorities this session.