During the past several legislative session, some friends from the local Tea Party and I have done some citizen lobbying at the local state representatives’ and senator’s offices. In Texas the legislature meets January to June every odd year, so there’s a session coming up. I’m in the process of gathering the ideas we’d like them to be thinking about. And since some of the bill numbers will start being assigned in about a month, I’m drafting a heads-up letter, to let them know what issues we hope they’ll support. This is only a draft so far; I’ll be asking for feedback from the Tea Party, to see if I’m missing anything crucial, or to see if the issues I include resonate with others. Anyway, here’s the communication:
It’s time to start thinking about the upcoming Texas legislative session, and I know you’re already working on legislation.
During the past several sessions, those of us in the Cypress Texas Tea Party have been following bills, and letting you know what our interests are. I expect we’ll be visiting your local office during the session, as in the past, and talk with your staff. But this year we thought we would start early and let you know the issues important to us—even before there are bill numbers to attach to them.
Right now, this is my assessment and opinion, as the legislative liaison for our Tea Party. Some of our members may differ or have additional/other priorities, which we’ll share with you in our later visits.
Principles of Cypress Texas Tea Party
· We support the US Constitution and conservative principles in the Texas Constitution.
· We support low taxes and limited government spending and oppose ever having a state income tax.
· We support handling each issue at the most local authority possible—with individual and family decisions as the default authority.
· We support asserting 10th Amendment states’ rights against usurpation by federal government.
o We particularly oppose allowing national health care to be imposed on the people of Texas.
· We support parental rights in the education and upbringing of their children, including local control over spending and curriculum in public schools.
· We do not as a group endorse candidates, but we provide a platform for sharing information so our members can make informed decisions; individual members may endorse, work for, or become candidates.
These have been our principles since we began in 2010. Issues and policies may change, but we expect to continue to encourage you to work toward freedom, prosperity, and civilization here in Texas.
I’ll present the specific issues we’re interested in under several categories.
State and Citizen Rights Preservation.
Our individual and state rights have been infringed upon by an intrusion and controlling federal government, in direct contrast to guarantees in the US Constitution. There should be several levels of effort toward returning to freedom. First is asserting the 9th and 10th Amendments. If a law or regulation oversteps the bounds of the enumerated powers of the federal government, it is up to the states to stand up against the unjust law. Texas is one of the few states large enough and powerful enough to take such a stand.
Among issues that fall into this category are:
· The Affordable Care Act
· Refusal to protect the border/Refusal to enforce immigration laws
· Enforced acceptance of Middle Eastern refugees without adequate vetting
· Anything related to education coming from the federal government
An additional effort toward freedom is a Convention of the States. We appreciate that Governor Abbott is leading in this multi-state effort with The Texas Plan. As Governor Abbott explains, “The Texas Plan is not so much a vision to alter the Constitution as it is a call to restore the rule of our current one.”
Within the plan, the Governor says, “The Constitution itself is not broken. What is broken is our nation’s willingness to obey the Constitution.” So the purpose of a Convention of the States is to adjust course back to the Constitution. We encourage you to help this idea make it through the legislature this session, so that Texas will be ready to lead other states in this effort.
The most drastic approach to federal tyranny is what we might call Texit—a withdrawal from the United States because the contract of the Constitution has been broken. As in a marriage, the United States are intended to be indivisible, but also as with a marriage there are terms to the covenant that must be kept.
When this issue came up in our senatorial district platform committee, I recommended that we modify the language with an if/then-type statement:
Texas Independence Again! – Should the federal government fail to abide by the 10th Amendment and the rest of the United States Constitution, Texas should hold a referendum asking the people of Texas to decide on whether or not the State of Texas should reassert its status as an independent nation.
It is the first time this proposal has appeared in the state GOP platform. And at the time we worked on it in the senatorial district, our Senator Ted Cruz was still a strong contender to be our presidential candidate. But the modified language did not remain in the state platform. While the presidential outcome is still unknown, it is highly likely that the Constitution will be ignored, the Supreme Court will fail to uphold the Constitution, and infringements against our freedoms will intensify during the next administration. It may be time to take this idea seriously, and allow the people of Texas to make such a crucial decision.
Immigration and Homeland Security
We appreciate legal immigration. Nevertheless, we still care about border security and illegal immigration, and we’re against sanctuary cities. As mentioned above, we’re concerned about being forced to accept refugees who haven’t been vetted—and we do not trust the federal government to do adequate vetting. We appreciate Governor Abbott’s strong stance on this issue.
One infrastructure concern we’d like you to address is hardening the electric grid. Texas has its own independent grid, so, regardless of the federal government’s lack of action on this vulnerability, Texas can protect its own grid. Costs are relatively low for reaching the minimum levels needed to protect the grid from an electromagnetic pulse (EMT) from either a solar flare or an atmospheric nuclear bomb detonation. Failure to prepare could lead to dire results. I wrote about this here: http://sphericalmodel.blogspot.com/2016/05/hardening-grid.html. If you need more information to take on this issue with knowledge, there’s a short book by Frank Gaffney, published by the Center for Security Policy, called Guilty Knowledge: What the US Government Knows about the Vulnerability of the Electric Grid, But Refuses to Fix. For updates and more information, try their website SecureTheGrid.com.
Marriage and Religion Protection
In this category, the federal government and the Supreme Court have far overstepped their powers by redefining what a marriage is—and enforcing that new definition on all the states. They have further attempted to infringe on our religious freedoms, and even to make that claim that asserting religious freedom rights as guaranteed in the First Amendment is simply a cover for bigotry. That false narrative must be resisted!
We have previously passed a Pastor Protection Act. We need similar protection for individual citizens and private organizations, so that Texans will not be coerced by a tyrannical government to act against their religious beliefs. We also need to reassert the state of Texas’s right to define marriage without federal interference.
An additional concern this legislative session will be protection against the administration’s attempts to force all public buildings and schools to allow biological males to use women’s restrooms and locker rooms. This misguided attempt to accommodate the extremely small demographic of transgenders creates an opportunity for sexual predators, and disallows women and girls from expressing their discomfort without accusations of bigotry. Texas needs to stand strong against this federal overreach.
We’re in favor, once again, of the Texas Parental Rights Restoration Act. This is to protect fit parents from the risk of losing custody of their children. This often occurs when extended family, such as grandparents, sue for court-imposed visitation or custody, often because they disagree with the grandchildren being homeschooled or being raised in a religion the grandparents disapprove of. Again, these are fit parents, losing custody of their children, or being drained of their income—at times in excess of $1 million—to defend themselves in one case after another. Every time such a case has reached the Texas Supreme Court, the parents have won. But lower courts have continued to allow this injustice to continue.
It is a basic principle that parents have the right and responsibility to see to the care, education, and upbringing of their own children. Only when parents are unfit should this right be questioned.
We will also support, once again, UIL participation by homeschoolers and other private schoolers, referred to as the Tim Tebow Bill the past couple of sessions. UIL was originated in 1913, when most students in Texas were homeschooled or privately schooled. Six decades later the rules changed to deprive non-public school students from participating. We believe participation for all students should be restored.
There’s a new issue this year that we hope you will support: Educational Savings Accounts. This is a way of incorporating competition and free-market principles in education. Without spending additional money per student, more options open up, and competition may bring on more options and lower costs. Power is placed in the hands of the parents, to design the education that works best for their child, and money stays with the child, so unspent funds can be used the next year or eventually for college. This is already being done in Arizona and other states with surprising success. The Heritage Society and The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice have been studying this issue and recommending how best to implement this for the most students in Texas. I wrote about this issue here: http://sphericalmodel.blogspot.com/2016/05/a-parents-job.html
The Courts have interfered, yet again, with Texas’s efforts to protect life of both mothers and the unborn, by preventing Texas from requiring clinics from meeting basic surgical center standards. That is unfortunate. But the part of HB2 that prohibited abortion after 20 weeks, when unborn babies are known to experience pain, was upheld.
We believe it would be beneficial to also prohibit abortions that dismember the fetus. Such abortions not only cause additional pain to the fetus, they also cause greater risk, from puncture, or from failure to fully extract all part of the fetus, leading to infection. Such laws have been enacted and upheld elsewhere, and are a logical next step for Texas.
Free and Fair Elections
The Courts have interfered with Texas’s Voter ID Law. It may be possible to retry this effort by addressing whatever failure the Courts claim the law had. We must be able to prevent voter fraud, and some form of photo ID is still a logical and fair step toward that end.
We are against efforts to implement online voting, or any other type of voting that may encourage voter fraud. We are in favor of better safeguards for elderly who vote by mail, to prevent operatives from voting for people who have no say in their vote, or who are coerced or unduly influenced.
We discourage efforts toward a return to paper ballots, which are much more easily compromised by fraud. We encourage requirements to purge voter rolls of those who have moved or died, or who are fraudulently registered.
We encourage efforts to improve security of the ballot, and training of poll workers and poll watchers, so that Texas may be exemplary in voter integrity.
Thank you so much for all the work you do. We look forward to meeting with you during the upcoming legislative session.