Legislative Priorities Report for 5.15.23

I am thrilled to report that, this past Friday evening, the Texas House cast a historic vote passing our major legislative priority bill, SB 14, banning gender mutilation of children. A bipartisan, 98-42 majority supported the bill, which should soon be on the Governor’s desk.  Representative Tom Oliverson did a masterful job defending his bill in debate and even had a Democrat speak in favor of his bill.  Representative Thierry courageously departed from the weak talking points of her party, invoked her faith in God, and insisted that innocent children must not be medical experiments. She has since faced a deluge of racist and sexist comments for her vote.

Thank you to the many grassroots activists who came to the Capitol in the last couple of weeks, many for the first time, to wear our red “Save Texas Kids” t-shirts in a show of support to our Republican Representatives for the SB 14 vote.  We applaud all the Republican leadership who got behind this priority and fulfilled the will of Texas voters, including Representatives Klick, Burrows, and Speaker Phelan.

We had another victory this week getting the Senate border interstate compact bill passed in the House with one minor amendment (SB 1403, Sen. Parker with Rep. Spiller House sponsor).  SB 1403 implements one third of the RPT Border Security Legislative Priority.  The bill will go to the Governor after the Senate concurs.

Unfortunately, Republicans suffered a stunning defeat on border security when Speaker Phelan indicated he would sustain a point of order on HB 20, which was the strongest bill to secure our border this session. A watered-down version was amended to HB 7 that is not only insufficient to secure the border, it makes matters worse by requiring the consent of Democrat local officials in order to take action.

We only have two weeks left in the 88th Legislative Session, and time has run out on House Bills that did not receive a floor vote. Senate Bills are still in play. 

On securing our Second Amendment rights, HB 636 has been sent to the Senate and needs a hearing in State Affairs. HB 636 would allow a presiding election judge with a CHL to carry in a polling place.

There’s also a bad Second Amendment bill coming up for a House floor vote Tuesday. SB 728 would add certain individuals deemed to have mental illness or intellectual disability as children and add them to the FBI “federal prohibited person” list barred from owning a firearm.  There is no protection or remedy for Texans who are erroneously added to this list. SB 728 was quickly moved through the House last week amidst a flurry of other activity.

The backlog of election bills passed by the Senate were stalled in the House when Elections Committee Chairman Reggie Smith effectively shut down the committee. In what appears to be a calculated move to kill Senate election bills supported by RPT, Chairman Smith refused to hold a House Elections Committee meeting last week. He also does not appear to have a meeting scheduled this week. The bills Chairman Smith is blocking include:

SB 921 by Hughes; referred to Elections on 4/3/23, over a month ago
Bans ranked choice voting in Texas.

SB 990 by Hall; Referred to Elections on 4/25/23, almost 3 weeks ago
Eliminates countywide voting on election day and returns voting back to precinct based to help better detect fraud in the system.

SB 397 by Hall; referred to Elections on 4/27/23, over 2 weeks ago
Early voting closing tapes must be printed out immediately after closing the polls to make consistent with the requirement that tapes be printed on Election Day.

SB 220 by Bettencourt; referred to Elections on 5/12/23
Provides an immediate avenue for addressing election crimes under the Secretary of State, creates the position of an election marshal from the Department of Public Safety to train others on election crime violations, and provides for emergency judges to hear violations within three hours of reporting during early voting and one hour on election day.

We do have a few election bills scheduled in the House State Affairs Committee this week, which we hope will be quickly voted out.  These include:

SB 1910 by Bettencourt; Scheduled for a public hearing on 5/17/23
Elections information must be subject to a personal information request.

SJR 35 by Birdwell; Scheduled for a public hearing on 5/17/23
Proposes a Constitutional amendment clarifying that a voter must be a US citizen. This has been referred to State Affairs in the House. 

SB 1846 by Creighton; Scheduled for a public hearing on 5/15/23
Prohibits a manufacturer of a voting system from entering contracts with companies/individuals in certain foreign countries.

There are also some other bills protecting children from inappropriate sexual content, which are in need of attention. 

HB 1181 by Rep. Shaheen, sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Paxton, requires strict age verification for online porn, using government issued photo identification or stringent transactional data.  It is being heard in Senate State Affairs on Monday, 5/15/2023.  

SB 12 by Senator Hughes prohibits all sexually oriented performances on public grounds and in front of minors, including drag shows.  Enforcement is through both criminal and civil penalties.   SB 12 was heard in House State Affairs and reported favorably on 5/12/2023. 

Concerning educational freedom, the House committee substitute would drastically water-down SB 8, the proposed educational savings account bill. Chairman Rinaldi described the committee substitute as “not a serious proposal” and Governor Abbott has rightly declared he will veto this bill if it makes it to his desk. We continue to advocate for school choice without strings attached and remain hopeful the House and Senate can agree on a bill that will benefit all Texans.

Action Items:

  1.  Call House Elections Chair Smith and ask him to stop blocking SB 990, SB 921, SB 397, and SB 220.
  2. Call House State Affairs Chair Hunter and ask him to vote out SB 1910, SJR 35, and SB 1846.
  3. Call Senate State Affairs committee members and ask them to vote out HB 1181 and hear HB 636.
  4. Call House State Affairs Chair Hunter and ask him to quickly move SB 12 to Calendars.
  5. Call your State Representative and urge them to vote NO on SB 728 Tuesday on the House floor.

We wish to thank the many grassroots organizations advocating for not only LP bills, but also other bills that promote the Republican Party of Texas platform.  You all are critical to helping advance good conservative government in Texas that protects life and liberty of our citizens.

For God and Texas,

Jill Glover
Chair, SREC Legislative Priorities Committee

To receive future SREC Legislative Priority Updates directly in your mailbox each week, sign up here.

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