Roughly 94 percent of delegates to Texas’ 2016 Republican Party Convention approved five legislative priorities for the 85th Legislative Session in 2017.
First on this list of priorities was a call for the “constitutional carry” of firearms. The 84th Texas Legislature made waves during the fight over Texans’ Second Amendment rights by passing open carry and concealed carry on campus, but many believe there is work yet to be done.
Chief among them is State Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R – Bedford), who led the fight last session to repeal legal requirements that Texans obtain government licenses to carry handguns but was blocked on multiple fronts. Though stymied in the legislature, 95 percent of Republican delegates favor Stickland’s position and the Bedford Republican is a sure-bet to file legislation on the issue again.
Pro-Life issues also saw an overwhelming amount of support at this year’s RPT convention: 16 planks in the party’s platform are pro-life initiatives, the second listed legislative priority calls for the abolishment of abortion, and a #DismemberROE social media campaign launched by Texas Right to Life was so popular that anti-life group NARAL felt the need to issue an immediate response.
Many Republican legislators brag on the campaign trail that Texas saw the “most pro-life session” in history last year, but roughly 95% of the delegates to this year’s convention still see the need to directly call for the abolition of abortion in the Lone Star State.
Another top priority for the approximately 8,000 delegates at the convention is one that many campaign-conservative legislators looking to hold onto their seats thumped their chests over: border security.
94 percent of the delegates voting on the 2016 platform are calling on the Texas Legislature to “prioritize the allocation of funds to effectively secure the border through whatever means necessary…”
Many elected officials boldly declared on the campaign trail that border security and solutions to illegal immigration were top priorities last session, but many of them were the same legislators prioritizing “diversity training” over allocating more funds for the border, and finding ways to hold on to sanctuary cities, driver’s licenses, and in-state tuition for illegal immigrants.
A call for the reining-in of the federal government through an Article V Convention of States made it on to this years’ list of priorities, as well. While some Texans might still be unfamiliar with, or unsure of the Article V process to amending the U.S. Constitution, it received vast support from this year’s delegates. Last session, the Texas House actually passed such a call, however State Sen. Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls) blocked it from passing in the Senate.
Last, but far from least, was a call to “replace the property tax system with an alternative other than the income tax and require voter approval to increase the overall tax burden.”
Last year, the two chambers of the legislature fought bitterly over which taxes to cut. While the Senate listened to the majority of GOP Primary voters and worked toward cutting property taxes, the House pushed for a sales tax reduction. When push came to shove, House conferees—handpicked and backed by liberal House Speaker Joe Straus—gutted the Senate’s proposal for permanent property tax relief.
With 95% approval of this legislative priority, the Texas GOP has made it undeniably clear what they will be looking for as far as tax relief next session.
Some 8,000 delegates to the state’s 2016 Republican Convention have called on GOP leadership and elected officials to prioritize their Second Amendment rights, the right to Life, border security, an Article V convention, and relief from the burdensome property tax system.
With the will of the party clear, the only question is if lawmakers will take some of the Lone Star State’s most committed voters seriously, or if they will skirt around the edges of these issues once again.