Op-Ed: Straus Track Record: Thwarts Will of the Voters, Gives ‘Big Gov’t’ Moderates Control

Op-Ed: Straus Track Record: Thwarts Will of the Voters, Gives ‘Big Gov’t’ Moderates Control

With the rise of the Texas grassroots conservative movement over the past six years and two legislative sessions, our common goal has been to make Texas strong so that her character, integrity, and pro-Liberty governance can lead a troubled nation looking for answers.

What we have discovered is an Austin political ruling class cabal of big government moderates from both parties who collude to stop conservative reforms. Joe Straus is the leader of that bi-partisan faction who is hell-bent on killing bold, conservative reforms that Texas voters clearly vote for when they elect “conservative” Republicans to office every election cycle. 

During the last two legislative sessions (2011 and 2013), every statewide office was held by a Republican. Specifically, during the 2011 session, the Texas House was held by a near super-majority of Republicans (101 Republicans and 49 Democrats). During the 2013 session, there were 95 Republican House members and 55 Democrats. During both the 2011 and 2013 sessions, Republicans held 19 of the 31 Texas Senate seats (12 Democrats). In the upcoming 84th legislative session, which begins in January 2015, there will be 98 Republican House members and 52 Democrats. In the Texas Senate, there will 20 Republicans and 11 Democrats. 

Republicans dominate in numbers, but who dominates legislative action in the Texas Legislature? According to an October 22, 2013, investigative report by Hal Hawkins of Hardhatters.com, “nearly half of all the bills enacted into law in the great Republican, red state of Texas were authored or co-authored by Democrats.” 

Hawkins further explains, “51 percent of the laws sent to the governor’s desk from the House were Democrat-written or co-written. This means the MINORITY party in the House, outnumbered by nearly 2-1, was the MAJORITY when it came to laws passed.” Governor Perry vetoed only 1 percent of the Democrat bills. 

In a June 18, 2013, Texas Tribune column titled “Red State, Purple Legislation,” Mark P. Jones, Chairman of the Department of Political Science at Rice University, describes how Democrats are increasingly successful in a GOP-majority state. This is more than troubling. If Texas voters wanted Democrats leading the Texas legislature, they would vote them in. The November 2014 General Election results clearly underscore this fact. 

Yet, history proves simply electing Republicans does not guarantee conservative results. For those who cannot understand why we in the grassroots conservative movement are not and cannot be satisfied with merely electing Republican majorities to office, drilling down to the issues is instructive. The past two legislative sessions have demonstrated how Republicans can squander opportunities the voters give them to lead on substantive government reforms. 

Since the November 4 elections, Joe Straus and his lieutenants have spent quite a lot of time and money advertising how conservative the Texas House really is, but a review of a list of squandered opportunities to pass truly conservative reforms (supported by Texas GOP Platform) tells a much different story. Strong conservative reform legislation was either held up in committee by Joe Straus’ appointed committee chairs, died due to political gamesmanship, or killed by running out the legislative clock. Under the leadership of Speaker Joe Straus, the Texas House Republican majority failed to:

  • Fully protect religious liberty and parental rights
  • Fully protect the sanctity of life from conception to the natural end of life
  • Close access to social welfare programs to illegal aliens, repeal in-state tuition for illegals, or pass legislation to punish employers who willingly hire illegals
  • Ban sanctuary cities to assist law enforcement in fighting organized crime syndicates of cartels and transnational gangs involved in human smuggling, human trafficking, narco-terrorism, and money laundering
  • End crony corporate welfare (film, music, sports industry subsidies and “big business” handouts)
  • End spending that is beyond the core constitutional functions of state government
  • Enact strict constitutional spending limits, but managed to increase session-to-session spending 26% (as noted by the Wall Street Journal in an article titled, “Texas Goes Sacramento”)
  • End all diversions of the gas tax to non-road use
  • End the use of diversions and accounting gimmicks to balance the state budget on paper
  • Return to pay-as-you go funding for highway projects, reducing dependency on debt and multi-leveraged tolling
  • Restructure state government to eliminate duplicated, overlapping departments, agencies, and programs
  • Implement zero-based budgeting
  • Eliminate the business margins tax
  • Enact meaningful taxpayer protections and property tax reform
  • Pass eminent domain reform, further protecting private property rights
  • Pass transparency for state officials, mandating disclosure of family contracts and conflicts of interest between their personal income sources and pending legislation, committee chairmanships, and assignment
  • Pass campus carry and open carry
  • Hold public education accountable for failed academic achievement and the rising rates of remedial re-education
  • Pass American Laws for American Courts legislation to ban the use of foreign law in Texas courts.

This list of squandered opportunities to make Texas stronger and more independent of the federal government demonstrates failed leadership — plain and simple. A Republican majority under the leadership of Joe Straus has managed to thwart the will of the voters, allowing Democrats to maintain de facto control of our state government.  

Republicans rushing to support the re-election of Joe Straus as Speaker of the Texas House should explain exactly how they intend to keep their campaign promises to pass conservative reform legislation while supporting the same failed leadership. Simply filing bills will not fool conservative Texas voters anymore. When it comes to making Texas strong enough to lead a nation whose federal government daily shreds the U.S. Constitution, only results matter. 

Texas voters deserve a vigorous floor debate and an up or down vote on bold conservative reforms touted by Republican candidates. What they do not deserve is a bunch of Republicans who hold hands with Democrats to paint Texas purple. If Texans wanted Democrats running the state capitol, they would have elected them. If Texans could elect the next House Speaker, it most certainly would not be Joe Straus.