Conservative agenda for the 2017 85th Session of the Texas Legislature

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The majority of elected state legislators believes in and has committed to the principles of limited government, ethical standards, individual liberty, economic freedom, and transparent, high-quality, efficient, and effective services for taxpayers.  With a majority-Republican legislature and all-Republican statewide leadership, the success of the 85th Session of the Texas Legislature is dependent on the passage of ALL the following protections for all Texans—born and unborn.  (Most of these measures are specified in the 2016 party platform of the Republican Party of Texas.)

First Amendment Rights: Definitively protect the religious liberties of individuals, government employees, counselors, business owners (including, but not limited to, faith-based care facilities), and adoption agencies; and protect and preserve First Amendment rights, including freedom of speech (including political speech), freedom of assembly, freedom of association, and the requisite due process for all who exercise these constitutional rights (SB 14, SB 107).

Property Owner and Taxpayer Protections: Limit the growth of government (Article VIII, Section 22) to the lower rate of either population growth combined with inflation or change in the gross state product (for the two fiscal years immediately preceding a regular session of the Texas Legislature) (SB 9); require voter approval when local governments and/or local taxing entities seek to increase the tax rate by more than 3% (SB 2); eliminate the franchise tax (SB 72, SB 112); eliminate the “Robinhood” pyramid from public school finance (SB 286); require a supermajority vote in the legislature for taxes to be raised; enact zero-based, program-based budgeting (SB 272, HB 114); and eliminate all forms of corporate subsidies and welfare in favor of free market principles (SB 105), (including, but not limited to, the Texas Enterprise Fund (SB 100, SB 393), Events Trust Fund (SB 389, SB 390, & 392), and the Texas Moving Image Industry Incentives (SB 99, SB 244, HB 779).

Protect Life: Ban abortion by dismemberment to end the trafficking of the body parts of victims of abortion (SB 415 & HB 844); close the loopholes in state laws that do not protect unborn children with disabilities from abortion; enact an overarching budget patch to render Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers ineligible for one cent of state money; and repeal the Texas Advance Directives Act of 1999 to safeguard vulnerable patients from hospital death panels and quality of value judgments imposed by hospital personnel.

Transparency at ALL Levels of Government: Ban taxpayer-funded lobbying (SB 137); mandate disclosure of government contracts and possible conflicts of interest by all public and elected officials and their family members; restrict elected and public officials from registered lobbying until two years after leaving office (HB 444); end collusion between governments and unions by prohibiting all state and local government entities from deducting union dues from the paychecks of employees; separate legislative salaries/pensions from judicial salaries/pensions; end pensions for all current and former elected officials five years after leaving the last office held; and ban the practice known as double-dipping—the practice of elected officials of retiring on paper, while still in office, in order to draw early pension benefits.

Texas Privacy Protection Act: Protect privacy, safety, and dignity in restrooms, showers, and locker rooms of government and school buildings; prevent men from using women’s facilities; and protect the decisions of private businesses regarding the use of certain facilities (SB 6).

Education Equitability: Apply free market principles to education; empower parents with more options for the education of their children; improve transparency in schools (SB 242) and districts; eliminate the “Robinhood” pyramid from public school finance (HB 286); protect private schools from government regulation; require parental notification/opt-out regarding curriculum; and remove federal curriculum influence from Texas public schools.

Parental Rights: Increase evidentiary standards that must be met before a child can be removed from his/her fit parents, and, in doing so, stop the disruptive, unnecessary, and harmful investigations of families; mandate that CPS agents meet statutory deadlines or face sanctions; ensure that families and parents are assumed innocent until proven guilty; expedite family court proceedings to avoid years of divisive litigation; and nullify courts’ use of indefinite “temporary orders” to remove children from their homes for years without cause.

American Law for American Courts: Clarify that a state court may not apply foreign law that would violate fundamental, constitutional rights (HB 498).

Ensure the Integrity of Elections: Empower the Office of the Attorney General to enforce laws against the commission of election fraud (SB 245); mandate that county election administrators meet the statutory requirement to make ballot data available on the day following the election; reform the application process and use of ballot by mail (HB 531); pass a court-proof photo identification mandate for all voters (SB 153); require preservation of ballot images and paper backups to electronic voting; make election dates uniform (SB 363, HB 151); end rolling polling so that voting locations cannot be moved during an election (HB 675); and close Texas primary elections.

Secure the Texas Power Grid: Buttress Texas’ electrical grid against natural disasters as well as manmade attacks to shield the lives and economic livelihood of Texans (SB 83).

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