From the front lines of the Texas Legislature: Despite a change in D.C. and a more liberal coup in the Texas House (which helped many dangerous bill have progress that would have previously never moved an inch), there is good news to report, but also some unfinished business. It must be noted that even though there was a more liberal coup in the Texas House, extreme legislation was still soundly defeated because they are massively out of step with mainstream Texas values.
Taxes: The business/franchise tax now exempts from the tax, businesses with a revenue of less than $1 million (HB 4765- House Record Vote http://www.journals.house.state.tx.us/hjrnl/81r/pdf/81RDAY64FINAL.PDF#page=9 ; Senate Record Vote http://www.journals.senate.state.tx.us/sjrnl/81r/pdf/81RSJ05-27-F.PDF#page=388) and property tax appraisers now must include foreclosure sales when computing the market value of a homestead (HB 1038: House Record Vote-http://www.journals.house.state.tx.us/hjrnl/81r/pdf/81RDAY41FINAL.PDF#page=7 ; Senate Record Vote-http://www.journals.senate.state.tx.us/sjrnl/81r/pdf/81RSJ05-26-F.PDF#page=162).
Also, TEA Party groups, FMF and others, helped end the local-option transportation tax on the last day (HB 300/SB 855-Senate Record Vote-http://www.journals.senate.state.tx.us/sjrnl/81r/pdf/81RSJ04-14-F.PDF#page=11). This was HUGE!
Science Prevails, Censorship Rejected: We answered the call and defeated efforts to censor and ban discussion and criticism of evolution in the classroom, before the SBOE. This issue was intertwined with the Legislature as House members signed a letter supporting our position and filed a bill to protect these freedoms, if necessary. Over 10,000 emails and many phone calls made a difference! This affects 4 million students and was covered internationally! Final record vote:
For- Allen, Agosto, Bradley, Cargill, Craig, Dunbar, Hardy, Knight, McLeroy, Mercer, Miller, Leo, Lowe. AGAINST-Nunez, Berlanga.
State Board of Education (SBOE) Attacked, Liberal “Victory” Short Lived: FMF fought successfully against liberal bills that stripped textbook and curriculum authority away from the elected SBOE (SB 2275: Bill never received vote-click here for Supporter of Bill http://www.legis.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=81R&Bill=SB2275) and another, HB 710 (http://www.journals.house.state.tx.us/hjrnl/81r/pdf/81RDAY65FINAL.PDF#page=25), would have taken power away from the voters to decide the future and existence of SBOE members and the entity itself. We were the key to the demise of these and many other SBOE attack bills, with your help. We are outraged that SBOE Chairman, Don McLeroy, was blocked from confirmation by 11 Democrat Senators (the only other Democrat Senator, Sen. Eddie Lucio, chose not to vote on McLeroy, but he was on the Senate Floor). Despite our best efforts to the contrary, the Senate discussion focused on his Christian beliefs and the opinion of the N.Y. Times. This far-left “victory” will no doubt be short lived, as we believe Gov. Perry will be appointing a new SBOE chairman who is is just as conservative as Dr. McLeroy. An announcement could come soon.
Planned Parenthood Failed Takeover of Texas Sex Ed: Planned Parenthood and other groups put all their efforts toward forcing Texas students to learn more about condoms, contraception, and various sexual lifestyles, and less about abstinence (HB 741 -House members who supported this http://www.legis.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=81R&Bill=HB741, HB 1567- see who suppported this bill http://www.legis.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=81R&Bill=HB1567). Almost every day at the Capitol, you could see small groups of women and children carrying Planned Parenthood bags, working on this issue. But, we provided key testimony and documentation and pulled together a strong and united coalition of groups across the state in opposition to these bills, which we defeated.
New Hate Crimes Law for Children? Not On Our Watch: Can you image your ten year-old child being charged with a “hate crime”? That’s the bill that almost became law this session, HB 824 (see who vote for this bill http://www.journals.house.state.tx.us/hjrnl/81r/pdf/81RDAY43FINAL.PDF#page=18). This bill passed the full House, and passed the Senate State Affairs Committee. Just last week, it was one step away from heading to Gov. Perry’s desk before we were finally able to stop it. We also stopped a hate crimes bill (HB 2966-see who supported this bill http://www.legis.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=81R&Bill=HB2966) and a “bullying” bill (HB 1323-see who supported this bill http://www.legis.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=81R&Bill=HB1323) that would have given special class protection to “transgender’ persons.
Pro-Life, Pro-Family Legislation: Some Gains, Some Setbacks: The Pro-Life Lobby Day was a huge success with hundreds of you in attendance and live ultrasound performed at the Capitol. Numerous legislators were able to come face to face with the amazing ultrasound technology, some for the first time. We also worked on the Ultrasound bill (supporters in the House http://www.legis.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=81R&Bill=HB36 and Senate Record Vote http://www.journals.senate.state.tx.us/sjrnl/81r/pdf/81RSJ05-01-F.PDF#page=21). Both the Choose Life license plate bill and Ultrasound had a majority of support by the House and Senate, but the Ultrasound bill was blocked by liberal delays related to Voter I.D. and the Choose Life plate fell victim to political posturing on the last day. Rep. Joe Pickett (D-El Paso), the Chairman of the House Transportation Committee, bascially blocked the Choose Life license plate from getting out of committee, otherwise it would have passed the House in a stand alone bill, which would have allowed it to become law, as it had already passed the Senate, Instead, we had to amend the plate onto another bill, which had its own problems and eventually died. (See the House members that supported the Choose Life Plate http://www.legis.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=81R&Bill=HB109 and the Senate Record Vote: http://www.journals.senate.state.tx.us/sjrnl/81r/pdf/81RSJ05-01-F.PDF#page=47) Adult Stem cell treatment and research funding of $5 million will continue and the Alternatives to Abortion fund was increased from $5 to $8 million. Adult Stem Cell and Divorce Reform bills ran out of time before a House vote. We also stifled efforts to undermine parental and informed consent and embryonic stem cell/cloning bills.
Attack on Voters Guides & Others Dangerous Legislation Averted: HB 2511- see the record vote in the House-http://www.journals.house.state.tx.us/hjrnl/81r/pdf/81RDAY72FINAL.PDF#page=30 which we were able to stop after it passed out of the House, would have had a dramatic negative impact on our voters guide. I even heard one legislator tell me that he was working on a way to ban our Voters’ Guides from being passed out in churches, something federal law clearly protects!
Infanticide Bill-We also knocked down efforts to create a new Infanticide law (HB 3318- supporters-http://www.legis.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=81R&Bill=HB3318) mother who murders her infant could have received only 6 months jail time if she claimed postpartum stress, currently this is a Capitol Murder crime).
Gambling Bills Crushed-numerous bills were filed to expand gambling in Texas, particularly to allow full blown casino gambling in Texas. We helped defeat them all. The word around the Capitol was that there were over 200 paid lobbyist working to expand gambling in Texas.
With our Austin office firmly established, we were at the Capitol every day and we were involved in every part of the legislative process. We were also able to meet and interact with so many of you when you came to Austin or you called into our office. We debuted our Texas Legislative Update Blog in January and it received almost 20,000 hits during the session! Thank you for your commitment to stand with us on these important issues. We could not have had the outcomes on the above legislation without your help. Please look for more detailed analysis, pictures, and videos of legislative session summaries in the days to come here at our Texas Legislative Update Blog!