Texas is facing many crises at once including confusing mask mandates, an ongoing border crisis, and crippling property taxes. Only now is the state Legislature spinning back into action. A grassroots leader says the way out of these messes is more citizen-involvement.
“I believe we are in a State of crisis, maybe even in a State of Emergency,” said Lori Gallagher of Williamson County. “We fell asleep at the wheel and took our Constitutional Republic for granted.”
Below is a summary of crises bearing down on Texans statewide.
Lives and Livelihoods
Unchecked local control abounds as school districts and local officials at the city and county level are mandating masks on citizens and students. This is in open defiance of an executive order from Gov. Greg Abbott banning such restrictions, and contradicts scientific research finding mask usage isn’t effective in fighting the Chinese coronavirus.
State and federal officials are refusing to stop illegal border crossings. Federal officials have reportedly refocused efforts on “processing” illegal aliens, instead of stopping border crossings, and are using Texas airports to fly them across the nation. State officials have thus far refused to take decisive action to stop border crossings, building a chain-link fence instead of a wall. Officials also denied aid requested by Kinney County officials to address their open border with Mexico. An “ambiguous” executive order from Abbott to stop transportation of illegal aliens was halted by a federal judge.
“The fate of our state literally hangs in the balance on what, if anything, is done by the governor and legislature,” said Kinney County Attorney Brent Smith (R). “If the governor thinks he is going to be able to tip toe around the federal government and keep them happy, he is not being realistic.”
These open borders help fuel Texas’ status as the second-largest state in the nation for sex trafficking, a practice that targets men, women, and children. “So much [of] what’s happening [illegally] over the border is drug and human trafficking, including sex trafficking,” said Pastor Heather Schott of The Justice Reform, a non-profit focused on stopping sex trafficking.
Texas children are also at risk of forced genital mutilation, such as in the case of 9-year-old James Younger whose mother wants to force sterilizing drugs on him and have him castrated. This is still legal in Texas because legislators didn’t pass protections for children from this practice during this year’s regular session.
Livelihoods are also threatened by businesses mandating employees and requiring customers show proof of receiving a COVID vaccination, despite Abbott signing legislation prohibiting vaccine passports. Several state Universities are requiring the same of students.
Lives of residents in long-term care facilities are also being hurt by COVID visitation restrictions that remain in place. These restrictions devastated residents, and many died before they were able to see their family members again. Some suffered cognitive decline and no longer recognize their families. A number of these facilities, according to Mary Nichols of Texas Caregivers for Compromise, don’t appear to fear accountability because they’ve been autonomous for so long. “We need a strong word from the governor telling facilities that residents have rights,” Nichols said.
Vulnerabilities in the state’s election system remain unaddressed, such as lack of verification procedures for mail-in ballots, unsolicited mail-in ballot applications, and banning paid vote harvesting and unmanned mail-ballot drop boxes.
Texas’ power grid, which failed many Texans during this year’s winter blackouts, remains overly reliant on renewable energy. Energy experts say the state needs more reliable thermal dispatchable energy, such as gas, coal, and nuclear. Lawmakers waffled on the best approach, avoiding decisive action to solve the issue long term.
Property taxes are a serious and growing burden on Texans. Data from the four appraisal districts in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex area show most city and county governments keep hiking property tax bills for the average homeowner.
The state is $97 billion in debt, thanks largely to the legislature not fully funding retirement benefits promised to state employees. If the debt isn’t addressed soon, the state could find itself in a spot similar to Illinois, which has had trouble paying vendors on time.
Stalled Legislative Session
The Texas Legislature was stalled for 37 days as these crises grew worse because Democrats in the Texas House refused to show up for work, and Republican leadership refused to use available tools to compel them to return sooner. Examples of such tools include arresting those Democrats (which Abbott said would be done when they returned to Texas), firing them from their committee chairmanships, or declaring those seats vacant which would trigger a special election.
“Republican leadership is completely responsible,” said Matt Long of Fredericksburg Tea Party.
“The issue is their complete abandonment to put into action the wishes of those who voted them into office, and more to the point, their abandonment of our core principles of liberty and freedom,” said Chad Miller of Wise County Conservatives.
The Way Forward
With Democrats back in the Texas House, questions remain if the legislature will solve all of the issues facing Texas, and to what degree. Despite the seriousness of the situation, Miller and Gallagher say hope exists.
“We may be in crisis, but I believe we can get out of it,” Miller said. “But that will not happen with Abbott in office and his like-minded counterparts in the House and Senate.”
“With the left finally making their full push, we need legitimate conservatives to lead the push back against them, and the current crop of RINOs aren’t going to get it done.”
Gallagher sees greater citizen involvement as the answer. “We are responsible for the crisis and we are the only ones that can fix it,” she said. “We can only hope enough Texans answer the inner call to invest their time, treasure, and talent into restoring our tattered Republic.”