In his State of the State Address, Gov. Abbott declared ethics reform for legislators to be one of his “emergency items.” The Texas Senate responded, passing a bold plan that would have put the brakes on legislators working as lobbyists, and forced officials to disclose their contracts with government entities.

But Joe Straus and his committee chairmen hijacked the proposal and killed it. They stripped out the proposals aimed at lawmakers and replaced them with laws aimed at citizens. The House plan would have regulated citizens, civic groups, and churches, limiting their rights to free speech. The plan was so extreme, it would have banned socially active Texas churches from passing a collection plate.

The House also included a provision that would have prohibited Texans from filming or recording lawmakers without their permission. If the bill had passed, legislators would have been empowered to sue citizens to suppress recordings they didn’t like and recover a $10,000 penalty.

Senate negotiators refused to go along with Straus’s outrageous proposals and the entire ethics plan died. After the session, Gov. Abbott called the House proposals unconstitutional.


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Straus Facts is a project of Empower Texans, shining a light on the record of House Speaker Joe Straus.

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