Senators Creighton, Burrows File Bill to End Onerous and Confusing Regulation of Texas Small Businesses “Texas Regulatory Consistency Act”This Bill will Bring Uniformity and Clarity to Regulations Affecting Small Business Owners AUSTIN – Today, Texas State Senator Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) and State Representative Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock) filed SB-814 and HB-2127, the “Texas Regulatory Consistency Act.” These bills will provide regulatory consistency for small businesses across Texas, returning exclusive regulatory powers to the state where they belong. State Senator Creighton said, “The Texas miracle did not happen by chance–it is a direct result of state legislative policies and a regulatory framework where the American dream can still thrive. This legislation will streamline regulations so Texas job creators can have certainty. I am happy to partner with Chairman Burrows on this critical legislation that will give businesses large and small the certainty they need to invest and expand.’ State Representative Dustin Burrows said, “For too long, progressive municipal officials and agencies have made Texas small businesses jump through contradictory and confusing hoops when it comes to the current hodgepodge of onerous and burdensome regulations.” Burrows added “By providing consistency of regulations affecting businesses across the state, our Texas economy will continue to grow, along with higher-paying, higher-skilled jobs. I’m grateful to Senator Creighton for his partnership in helping to level the playing field across Texas for small business owners – the engine of our state’s economy.” Annie Spilman, Texas state director for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) said, “Small business owners across the Lone Star State are grateful for both Chairman Burrows and Senator Creighton’s tireless efforts on their behalf. Amid rate hikes from the Fed, supply chain disruptions, and a worker shortage, job creators’ economic uncertainty continues to be exacerbated by local regulations and mandates. The patchwork of regulations that currently exist in Texas makes it more difficult to own and operate a business and is holding back our economic recovery. This bill would give our small businesses greater certainty so they can continue to do what they do best – meet customers’ needs and create jobs. We hope the 88th Legislative Session delivers a victory for Main Street.” National Federation of Independent Business partner organizations that support the “Texas Regulatory Consistency Act.” include: Associated Builders and Contractors of Texas, Texas Association of Builders, Texas Society of Human Resource Management, Texas Association of Staffing, Texas Construction Association, Central Texas Subcontractors Association, Texas Hotel & Lodging Association, Texas Restaurant Association, Texas Retailers Association, Texas Association of Business, Hispanic Contractors Association, Texas Food & Fuel Association, Texas Apartment Association, Associated General Contractors- Texas Building Branch, Real Estate Councils of Texas, Texas Travel Alliance, Texas Nursery & Landscape Association, and the Theater Owners of Mid-America
Senator Brandon Creighton Appointed Chairman of Senate Education
We will all work together to expand access, opportunity and value for the millions of students in Texas schools.
Austin, Texas–Today, Senator Brandon Creighton (R- Conroe) was appointed to serve as Chairman of the Senate Education Committee for the 88th Legislative Session, creating a powerful committee to oversee education policies from early childhood to the workforce. Senator Creighton will serve as Chairman of Senate Education, as well as the Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Higher Education. He was also appointed to the Senate Committees on Finance, Business and Commerce, Jurisprudence and the Special Committee on Redistricting.
“The future of Texas begins in the classroom, and as Chairman of Senate Education I am committed to advancing policies that will ensure the 6 million students in Texas schools have the foundations for academic success, safe and secure campuses, educators that feel valued, and parents that are empowered to be part of their children’s education,” said Senator Creighton.
Over the last year, Senator Creighton has traveled the entire state and met with hundreds of teachers, administrators, law enforcement officers, parents and students about their goals for Texas schools.
“I want to thank Lt. Governor Patrick for his confidence, and for the committee members for their willingness to tackle these critical issues. We will all work together to expand access, opportunity and value for the millions of students in Texas schools.”
The joining of these two committees builds on Senator Creighton’s work as Chair of Senate Higher Education in the 86th and 87th legislatures when prodigious changes were made for workforce training and cooperation between K-12, community colleges and 4 year institutions. Together, public and higher education make up 53% of general revenue in the state budget.
Senator Creighton’s Committee
- Education — Chair
- Higher Education, Subcommittee — Chair
- Business & Commerce
- Redistricting, Special
STATE REPRESENTATIVE CHARLES CUNNINGHAM RECEIVES COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS
by: Rep. Cunningham, Charles
AUSTIN, TX – On Wednesday, February 8, 2023, the Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, Dade Phelan appointed State Representative Charles Cunningham to the House Committees on Public Education, Urban Affairs, and Redistricting.
In response to his committee appointments, Representative Cunningham issued the following statement: “I am thankful for the opportunity to serve on committees that are of particular importance to my community and I look forward to working with my colleagues to improve our school districts and municipalities. I thank Speaker Phelan for trusting me with these appointments and I am committed to delivering results for the best interests of all Texans throughout the 88th legislative session.”
Lt. Gov. Patrick Announces His Session Priorities
Continuing the quick pace he has taken in the Senate so far this legislative session, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick unveiled his top 30 priorities at the Capitol yesterday. Those include a number of conservative reforms touted by Patrick in the past, including school choice, ending tenure for college professors, and banning children’s exposure to “all-ages” drag shows.
While many of the Republican Party of Texas’ eight legislative priorities are mirrored in the Senate priorities, the list also includes issues Patrick had previously previewed, such as a teacher pay raise and a mandatory 10-year sentence for crimes committed with firearms.
With 104 days left in the 140-day regular legislative session, Patrick has publicly stated he and the Senate will move quickly to pass priority legislation. Of course, both the House and Senate are constitutionally barred from passing bills within the first 60 days of the session unless they are deemed priorities by the governor.
For his part, Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to announce his priorities at his State of the State address this Thursday (Feb. 16).
“A careful definition of words would destroy half the agenda of the political left and scrutinizing evidence would destroy the other half.”– Thomas Sowell
Governor’s Office Memo Urges End to ‘Illegal’ Diversity Hiring
DEI is an issue for Gov. Abbott’s office, with newly released reports showing just how pervasive the DEI initiatives are at multiple Texas medical schools.
Gov. Greg Abbott. (The Texan/Daniel Friend)
The University of Texas (UT) system has long implemented diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) practices, and the underlying philosophy driving them has already taken over — to the dissatisfaction of Gov. Greg Abbott.
A memo obtained by Christopher Rufo highlighted the position of Abbott’s Chief of Staff Gardner Pate, who said that the idea of DEI “has been manipulated to push policies that expressly favor some demographic groups to the detriment of others.”
“Indeed, rather than increasing diversity in the workplace, these DEI initiatives are having the opposite effect and are being advanced in ways that proactively encourage discrimination in the workplace Illegally adding DEI requirements as a screening tool in hiring practices or using DEI as a condition of employment leads to the exclusion and alienation of individuals from the workplace,” the memo reads.
“Rebranding this employment discrimination as ‘DEI’ doesn’t make the practice any less illegal,” said Pate, who accused the policies of violating employment laws.
“Further, when a state agency spends taxpayer dollars to fund offices, departments, or employee positions dedicated to promoting forbidden DEI initiatives, such actions are also inconsistent with the law.”
On the same day as Pate’s memo, Texas Tech University released a statement about their move away from DEI hiring and desire to “always emphasize disciplinary excellence.”
“Recently, we learned of a department that required a diversity, equity, and inclusion statement in addition to the usual applicant materials as part of a faculty search. We immediately withdrew this practice and initiated a review of hiring procedures across all colleges and departments. We will withdraw the use of these statements and evaluation rubrics if identified.”
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are three terms that seem to evade concrete definitions and can be otherwise used as a proxy for instituting a variety of ideological initiatives.
The explicit move towards DEI hiring practices in university systems is not a new issue.
The University of Texas was determined by the National Association of Scholars (NAS) to “espouse a clear ideological agenda” in a report released last year.
In a report from anti-”radical ideology” group Do No Harm (DNH) released on Wednesday, an evaluation of Texas medical schools found that DEI initiatives and “anti-racist” rhetoric have become a key part of many of these institutions.
The DNH report showed how the Dell Medical School at UT Austin has taken on the commitment of “addressing systemic inequities” and instituting health equity “while upholding racial equity as a foundation principle” by integrating their efforts with the Office of Health Equity and Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
Additional details from the DNH report tell of how Southwestern Medical School at UT Dallas “does not set a minimum GPA or minimum MCAT score for consideration” for new applicants to its MD program. Applicants in the 2021-2022 cycle were evaluated on a variety of essay prompts, including:
“Describe a time that you have witnessed someone acting unethically or dishonestly, or an experienced behavior of harassment of discrimination.”
Describe an interaction or experience that has made you more sensitive or appreciative of cultural differences, and/or how you have committed yourself to understanding and aiding in the pursuit of equity and inclusion in your academic, professional or personal life.”
UT San Antonio Long School of Medicine, UT Houston McGovern Medical School, UT Medical Branch John Sealy School of Medicine, UT Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine, Texas A&M University College of Medicine, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, University of Houston College of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, and Texas Christian University Burnett School of Medicine are all included in the report.
According to information in the DNH report, these medical schools are all involved in creating DEI initiatives with everything from a “Gender Unicorn” infographic to describe gender identities to “helpful coping resources,” including articles like “Self-Care Tips for Black People Who Are Really Going Through It Right Now.”
Many of these medical schools promote “implicit bias training” and have actively created curriculum frameworks to “revolutionize the healthcare ecosystem” and focus on “socioeconomic, environmental, and other societal factors.”
State Rep. Carl Tepper (R-Lubbock) has filed a bill to eliminate DEI offices in institutions of higher education, and in 2021, Texas legislators passed a prohibition against teaching Critical Race Theory in public schools.
“Texas Legislator Asks Abbott to Include School Choice, Gender Modification Ban Among Emergency Items
Gov. Abbott is set to announce his emergency item list next week when he delivers his State of the State address.
BRAD JOHNSONFEBRUARY 10, 2023
Gov. Greg Abbott is set to deliver his annual State of the State address on February 16th, during which he’ll unveil his 2023 emergency items. State Rep. Brian Harrison (R-Midlothian) asked him to include school choice, a ban on child gender modification procedures, and other issues among the slate.
“[T]he Legislature is prohibited from acting on legislation during the first 60 days of session unless you specifically designate policy topics as ‘emergency items,’” Harrison said in a letter provided to The Texan.
“It is my understanding that you plan to lay these items out during your State of the State address next week.”
Harrison then asked the governor to include the following items:
- Expand border security.
- Establish a school choice programs.
- Ban child gender modification procedures.
- Ban public and private COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
Abbott has remarked extensively on a few of these issues.
Border security — especially vis-à-vis the Biden administration — has been a frequent hobby horse of Abbott’s, both in rhetoric and through Operation Lone Star.
Abbott himself has backed Harrison’s proposal to create a state version of “Title 42” — a federal provision that allows the expulsion of illegal border crossers under the guise of a public health emergency. The Biden administration has been trying to rescind the rule, which officials say will result in half a million more crossings per month; Harrison says he expects it to be officially revoked in May.
The governor has been bullish on school choice reform’s chances this session, breathing new life into the issue. Earlier this month, he backed Education Savings Accounts — similar to vouchers, except that parents do not possess the money themselves — and appears prepared to go to the mat on the issue this session.
After the appointment of Rep. Brad Buckley (R-Kileen) to chair the House Public Education Committee, pro-school choice activists’ hopes were buoyed even further. Harrison was also appointed to the committee, and both he and Abbott have called school choice “the civil rights issue of our time.”
The other issue Abbott has openly discussed is a ban on vaccine mandates. He said last month that he will preserve the current state executive order prohibitions and emergency declaration until the Legislature codifies those bans in the form of legislation.
That leaves the child gender modification ban. The issue has not pursed the governor’s lips like the others; he’s been in a prolonged legal standoff with activists and parents under investigation by the state for pursuing gender modification procedures for their children.
In 2022, Abbott directed the state to investigate these situations as “child abuse” under current state law. Efforts to explicitly ban these procedures through law all failed in the Texas House last session; a fight over the issue is slated to feature once again this time around.
“Texas has historically led in the defense of liberty, freedom, and conservative values. Unfortunately, in too many areas, we are falling behind,” Harrison told The Texan. “I’m asking the Governor to allow us to act on four items that require immediate action: securing the border, passing education freedom, stopping child gender modification, and banning COVID vaccine mandates.”
When convened in regular sessions, the Texas Legislature may not cast any votes on legislation until the 60th day, effectively truncating a 140-day session down to 80. The caveat is that anything related to one of the governor’s emergency items is exempted from that limitation.
The Texas Legislature convened on January 10 and the 60th day comes on March 10.
Abbott will deliver his address on Thursday, February 16 at 7 p.m.
Texas Comptroller: Harris County Judge Hidalgo, Commissioners Court Defunded Police
The comptroller’s analysis found Harris County reduced at least one constable’s budget by more than $2.3 million for 2023.
HOLLY HANSENFEBRUARY 10, 2023
The state comptroller has determined that Harris County reduced funding for law enforcement this year and will now be subject to sanctions under a Texas ban on defunding police.
Prompted by a complaint from Harris County Precinct 5 Constable Ted Heap, last December, Gov. Greg Abbott’s Criminal Justice division formally requested an investigation by Comptroller Glenn Hegar.
Hegar told The Texan that a team of data and budget analysts in his office concluded that Harris County had reduced Heap’s annual budget by $2,367,444.
“One of the things the county did is they had a short fiscal year and then a full fiscal year, and so that’s been confusing to a lot of people,” said Hegar.
In shifting to an annual budget to run from October to September each year, the Harris County Commissioners Court adopted a “short fiscal year” (SFY) for 2022 of just seven months and then adopted a full year’s budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2023.
“If you take a seven-month budget and divide it by seven, and then multiply to a 12-month budget, it’s pretty simple,” said Hegar.
According to Hegar’s analysis, Harris County officials used a “convoluted approach” that included two different multipliers and excluded two pay periods to argue that they did not reduce funds for Heap’s office.
“We confirmed that the annualized SFY 2022 adopted budget for Precinct 5 was $48,949,795, as compared to $46,582,350 for the Fiscal Year 2023 adopted budget.”
Last August, Hegar’s office warned that the proposed FY 2023 budget would run afoul of 2021 legislation that sanctions large counties for reducing police budgets. Counties in violation must either seek voter approval for the reductions or have tax rates frozen at the no-new-revenue rate.
Harris County responded to Hegar’s warning by filing a lawsuit, but a district court judge approved an agreement that allowed the county to proceed with setting a budget and tax rate while acknowledging that the comptroller’s office would scrutinize allocations for compliance with state law.
With Hegar’s official determination announced Friday, the commissioners court may not adopt a tax rate that exceeds the no-new-revenue rate until the county either rectifies the funding reduction or obtains voter approval for the decrease to law enforcement.
Hegar said his staff had frequent communications with county officials over the past months in hopes they would resolve the issue without state action.
“From day one, we communicated with the budgeting department and the county,” said Hegar. “We encouraged the county staff and the constables to engage in conversation, which they did for a while, until commissioners court politicized this to such a degree that it appears no further communication has really occurred to try to find a local resolution.”
Heap confirmed to The Texan that his office had met with County Administrator David Berry to seek a resolution, and thought they had come to a mutual agreement prior to adopting the 2023 budget.
“We met with Berry, Constable [Alan] Rosen, Constable [Mark] Herman, and myself back in May,” said Herman. “I met with Berry again on August 29 and I thought we had this all worked out.”
“It seems to be the goal of the state for us to work this out locally and I am very amicable to sitting down and figuring this out since this is not a good use of taxpayers’ money and our time on either side,” added Heap.
Heap explained that the county’s reluctance to fund law enforcement made it difficult to hire officers.
“A starting officer with Baytown Police is paid $74,000 per year compared to $54,000 for Harris County constables and sheriff’s office,” said Heap. “An eight-year officer at Baytown makes $95,000, while an eight-year officer at the county makes $61,800.”
Heap emphasized that he believed the funding issue is “fixable,” adding, “This is not about who gets to take victory lap, but let’s get to where we can all do our jobs protecting the citizens of Harris County.”
Despite Hegar’s warning last fall, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo sought to move forward with the budget proposed by Berry with reductions for the constables as well as a new tax increase. After Republican Commissioners Tom Ramsey (R-Pct. 3) and Jack Cagle (R-Pct. 4) boycotted meetings to prevent the necessary quorum, the county was forced to default to the no-new-revenue tax rate for FY 2023.
While acknowledging the debate in Harris County over law enforcement funding last fall, Hegar noted that the issue remained unresolved.
“Judge Lina Hidalgo and the Harris County Commissioners Court are defunding the police.”
Harris County constables and District Attorney Kim Ogg also protested last year after commissioners court took back so-called “rollover funds,” but Hegar says his analysis did not consider rollover funds, only year-over-year budgeting.
Hegar confirmed there are additional complaints that Harris County is violating the police defunding ban, but no complaints for any other jurisdiction have been referred to his office.
After the Harris County attorney’s office suggested last year that the district attorney is not a true law enforcement agency, Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) filed legislation this week that would add prosecutors’ offices to the list of agencies large counties may not defund.
Neither the county administrator’s office nor the attorney’s office returned a request for comment by the time of publication.
Update: Harris County Administrator David Berry sent the following statement:
“The numbers speak for themselves. Constable Heap’s budget grew from an annualized $46,582,350 to $48,519,429 in the budget adopted last fall. Continuing these games will prevent millions of dollars of future investments in public safety, similar to what occurred last year when the County was forced to scrap the proposed budget that contained almost $100 million in additional funding for the Sheriff, Constables, District Attorney, and Criminal Courts. The no new revenue rate made it impossible to make these investments. Despite these challenges, Harris County continues to invest in law enforcement agencies, and more critical investments will be needed next year. Forcing the County to once again adopt the no new revenue rate would limit the investments that can be made. We remain committed to the residents of Harris County and are exploring all of our options at this time.”
The Democrat In Charge Of Corrections
Despite Texas Republicans rallying against placing Democrats in leadership positions in the state legislature, House Speaker Dade Phelan did so anyway. Here is a profile of the Democrat placed in charge of the House Committee on Corrections.
State Rep. Abel Herrero (D-Robstown) has been a member of the Texas House since 2005, serving seven nonconsecutive terms. He has a history of making money off state contracts and actively opposing school choice efforts. Herrero has an “F” rating with Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, and he scored a 30 out of 100 with Texas Right to Life.
On the other hand, Herrero has high ratings with leftist organizations.
Democrats want to decriminalize illegal aliens, eliminate “mandatory minimums,” abolish the death penalty, and for prisons to accommodate “LGBTQ+” lifestyles.
Notably, Herrero was not one of 68 Democrats who busted quorum in 2021 to avoid passing election integrity legislation. At the time, however, he said he “fully supported” their efforts but had to stay behind due to “responsibilities in the district.”