Typically, rats are the first passengers to flee a sinking ship—looking to save their own hide rather than go down with the captain. But members of the Texas House are boarding a vessel that is already taking on water in order to claim they were part of the crew.
While House Speaker Joe Straus (R–San Antonio) and his crony cabal of liberal Republicans and Democrats killed the House’s version of the Texas Privacy Act earlier this week, some lawmakers are adding themselves as co-authors of the legislation post-mortem.
Torpedoed by Straus’ hatchet-man, State Rep. Byron Cook (R–Corsicana), House Bill 2899 was pronounced officially dead on Monday when Cook refused to vote it out of the State Affairs Committee he chairs. But even though the legislation is lying dead in the water, a slew of Republican lawmakers are adding their names to it so they can pretend they supported it.
And they aren’t just any lawmakers, they’re high ranking cogs in the Straus machine. Indeed, State Reps. Scott Cosper (Temple), Tony Dale (Cedar Park), Drew Darby (San Angelo), Dan Huberty (Kingwood), Lyle Larson (San Antonio), Morgan Meyer (Dallas), Geanie Morrison (Victoria), Four Price (Amarillo), Leighton Schubert (Brenham), Hugh Shine (Belton), and John Zerwas (Simonton) all added their names to the legislation once it had already been pronounced dead.
Even more lawmakers added their names to HB 2899 while it was already in Cook’s crosshairs, knowing it would never have any chance of passing the Texas House.
Why did they do this?
Because they’re afraid of their voters. Even though each of these lawmakers push the definition of moderate to a whole new level, they all campaign (and are elected) as conservatives.
Indeed, Zerwas’ own campaign website proclaims him to be a “conservative Republican” who has “consistently voted to secure the border and fight Obamacare in Texas.” But if you look at his record, each part of that statement is a lie.
Zerwas is one of the most liberal lawmakers in the Texas Legislature, scoring a failing grade on the Fiscal Responsibility Index for the past four years. During that time he wasn’t doing anything to fight Obamacare; rather, he was embracing it and even briefly convinced his colleagues to bring it to Texas.
This session, Zerwas isn’t doing any better to live up to his campaign claims. In fact, as the House’s chief budget writer he’s proposed a budget slashing border security funding by more than $100 million—all while ducking and hiding from a vote on strengthening the legislation against sanctuary cities.
Yet just as Jesse Jackson smeared Martin Luther King Jr.’s blood on his shirt after King was assassinated in order to claim himself to be a martyr, so too are Zerwas and others tying themselves to Simmons’ dead privacy protection legislation in order to claim that they were for it.
“We would have passed that bill, but we just ran out of time and those dastardly Democrats fooled us again!” they said on the campaign trail.
Those words are a lie, and voters shouldn’t stand for them. If Texans actually want conservative reforms delivered to them, Texas voters must dispatch the gang of cowards, charlatans, and Scooby Doo villains who masquerade as Republicans and replace them with lawmakers who will actually fight for them rather than play pretend – lawmakers who will bring home results rather than excuses.
One grassroots leader, Dana Hodges of Concerned Women for America – Texas, is already calling out lawmakers for their duplicitous actions regarding this, and other, bills:
If voters want to know if their representative truly supported the Texas Privacy Act, they can take a look at the much smaller list of lawmakers who told the US Pastor Coalition they supported the bill while it was still alive.
Meanwhile, they should call these other lawmakers’ bluff and demand that they pass the bill they claim to support while they still can.
The Senate version of the Texas Privacy Act, Senate Bill 6 by State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R–Brenham), is still alive this session. With 76 co-authors putting their names on Simmons’ bill, it is clear the measure would pass if it received a vote on the floor.
The bill is currently being held hostage by House Speaker Joe Straus. It’s time for a coalition of lawmakers willing to challenge him and demand the legislation come to the floor.