As the chairman of the Texas House GOP Caucus, State Rep. Tan Parker (Flower Mound) is expected to be the grassroots’ quarterback on the floor, leading the fight to pass legislation consistent with the party platform and demanding that legislation makes it over the finish line.
But as the clock ticks and lawmakers approach legislative deadlines where conservative, pro-life bills will die Parker’s doing little to ensure they pass. Instead, he’s defying his own party to push measures opposed by the grassroots.
Take for example House Bill 3294, a bill by Parker that makes two NASCAR races eligible to receive taxpayer money from the Major Events Trust Fund.
The bill was initially brought to the floor last week, and was overwhelmingly defeated by lawmakers who saw it for what it was: a waste of taxpayer money on a corporate welfare scheme for two events that were coming to Texas anyway.
All told, eighty lawmakers and a majority of Republicans voted to reject Parker’s proposed payoff to NASCAR.
Incensed, Parker convinced House Speaker Joe Straus to allow the chamber to stand at ease for Democrat and Republican caucus meetings and then used the time allotted to browbeat members of his own party for killing his bill. Parker then moved to reconsider his bill and passed it with a much greater margin, and with Democrats joining him almost unanimously to pass the measure.
Only 21 lawmakers voted against the bill, but it’s already garnering criticism in Parker’s district.
Tom Giovanetti, the president of an economic liberty think-tank and a constituent of Parker, had harsh words for the lawmaker yesterday.
— Tom Giovanetti (@tgiovanetti) May 9, 2017
Parker’s move would be objectionable enough if it occurred early in the session, but by acting on this legislation now, he’s showing that NASCAR is more important to him than any of the Republican Party’s legislative priorities such as constitutional carry, abolishing abortion, and ending property taxes. All of those issues died last night as lawmakers refused to push them out of committee.
More conservative priorities will die on Thursday when the clock strikes midnight.
Republicans should remember that virtually no part of this legislation’s defeat can be attributed to Democrat lawmakers. Rather it’s the fault of Republican representatives like Parker who claim they will fight for conservative reforms only to bring home excuses time and time again.