Texas Republican Frustration
It’s time to remind our Texas Republican legislators who brought them to the dance, and that we are supposed to lead. They seem to have heard our Conservative song at times; even going so far as to dance all around their own filed Bills in order to appear in step with us. But they still dance to a beat we don't like, far too often.
Conservative Republicans from my home town and all over Texas have made it a point to tell me that they are frustrated. We worked so hard last year to send a Republican majority to Austin and Washington, only to have the people that we elected pay too little attention to us and our Party Platform on the budget, abortion, toll roads, and the Constitutional Convention. Republicans have a majority in both Houses in Austin, but they continue to waste time filing too many Bills, engaging in sound bite fights and competing for media attention.
While I hear similar complaints about the Republicans in Washington, we wonder why 101 Republicans can’t pass a viable Conservative Bill out of the House in Austin more efficiently. It appears to me- and the people who complain to me - as though our elected officials don’t respect the voters who put them in office.
The frustration began back on the first day of the 82nd Legislative Session, with the re-election of Speaker Straus. While it does seem that Mr. Straus, at least, noticed the controversy and is making an effort to be one of the most conservative members in the House, we still remember whether our own Representative ignored our calls and emails. We could point to the Republicans who voted against the Ultrasound Bill (SJR 15 and HB 16), to the Bills advocating a Constitutional or “Article 5” Convention (HJR 34 and HJR 100) the Republican-authored pro-gambling Bills (SB 1118 and SJR 33), the take-anything-from-anyone-for-private-profit Bill (HB 2432), the Bill (SB 1700) which would allow traffic check points all over Texas, looking for people without driver’s licenses or insurance and another, (SB934) which added failure to pay toll road fees to the list of tax crimes in Texas.
I recently blogged on HB 2443, which would have made it illegal to stand or park on the side of a State road. The Republican Representative responsible for the Bill introduced a substitute at the Committee hearing on March 30, but what possessed him to introduce the first version and why didn’t someone stop him?
Speaking of the Committee hearings, I haven’t even touched on the rude and condescending way that our legislators treat the citizens who come to Austin to testify on these Bills. If you have a few hours, watch the Committee hearings online at www.capitol.state.tx.us. Watch as substitute Bills are routinely introduced in Committee, without copies available for the citizens in attendance, either online or in paper form, at the hearings or in advance. Watch as members wander in and out, give preferential treatment to officials and lobbyists who support them and occasionally engage in grilling the witnesses who do not. One House member made it a practice to read texted and e-mailed questions that he was receiving from his supporters in the audience!
When I’ve asked Legislators about their conduct and the bad Bills, they blame the long hours during the Legislative Session and the need to rush through the process in 120 days.
We need to remind our Legislators that what we do is not our job – it is in addition to our daily work. It’s not only about the hours we gave to their campaigns, but about the times we spent 13 hours working the polls on Primary Day and then attended our Precinct Conventions. We were delegates to our Precinct and County Conventions, giving up hours on Primary election night and a Saturday later in the month. Before these meetings, we work to craft carefully worded resolutions and then defend them at our Precinct, County and or State Convention. Some of us serve on Committees at the County and State level, giving our time to sift through the Resolutions, put them in order and then finally come up with a Platform that our Delegates approve at the State Convention. When we testify in Austin, we give up a day at home or at work to spend uncomfortable hours waiting for the House or Senate to adjourn and begin the hearings and then more uncomfortable hours in the crowded hearing rooms, waiting for our turn. (Hint: pack drinks and snacks, an extra sweater and bring your laptop or a book to read.)
It is time to remind our Republican elected officials that this time next year, they’re going to want our support again.