On Wednesday & Thursday last week I was in Austin to meet with Legislators and state official staffers as the State Republican Executive Committee Legislative Committee hosted our Legislative day.
We are blessed in Senate District 8 to have all Republicans representing us so well in the Legislature (and of course in every state-wide office). It was fun to watch Senator Van Taylor sign some official copies of bills that he is proposing. Representative Jodie Laubenberg caught me up on some of the Elections Committee bills and Election rules. Both Representative Jeff Leach and Representative Matt Shaheen took time out of their busy schedules to sit down with me and run through the Texas GOP Legislative Priorities and their progress in the House. It was nice of Representative Linda Koop to spend time with me (going over bills) when she saw me in the Capitol hallway. I was sorry to miss a couple of others, but since this was my third visit to Austin this session (and I’m going again in a couple of weeks) they all certainly know where I stand on our issues by now. By no fault of our local Legislators, most of the 8 Texas GOP Priorities seem to not be making a lot of progress in the Texas House, but the Texas Senate appears to be making an effort to pass those bills at a very good rate.
On Friday, the State Republican Executive Committee met in committees. As the Chair of Resolutions this was a busy time for me. We had 9 Resolutions submitted for consideration, and we passed 5 on to the full SREC on Saturday. These were adopted:
- Resolution to Urge Votes on RPT Legislative Priorities—this Resolution asks for Chairmen of the House and Senate Committees to hear the bills pertaining to our Priorities, vote on them, and send them on to the full body for a vote.
- Resolution Dignifying the Humanity of the Unborn—This Resolution asks for Legislation to pass that protects the dignity of unborn children from dismemberment while alive, and for the remains of aborted children receive a proper burial or cremation. (This Resolution is in addition to the Legislative Priority that calls for an end to Abortion).
- A Resolution calling for Election Integrity legislation protecting Mail-in Ballots from fraud.
- A Resolution calling for Citizenship Verification legislation for Registered voters.
- A Resolution calling for the end of the EPA overreach in the State of Texas during the transition of power in Washington.
There was a lot on information presented at the Saturday meeting of the SREC. Here are some highlights:
The Texas GOP had our annual audit, and received a completely clean audit…again! The firm that conducts our audit expressed just how unusually efficient our Audit is compared to most—everything is in order and ready for them. Between all the regulations for Federal and State Campaign accounts and the use of certain money only for certain things, the ability to keep all that straight is amazing. I’m proud to be associated with an organization that does such a complex business in such an exemplary manner.
Speaking of accounts, the Republican Party of Texas has a cash balance on hand of $700,107 with all of our bills paid to zero. Not bad after all the expenses and expenditures in a Presidential election year. There was a major fundraiser in Austin last night with our Legislators, so those funds will rise.
The Republican Party of Texas has a new Finance Director, Thomas Gleason of Dallas. The Finance Director is a volunteer officer for the Party who raises money for us. Thomas has just gotten started and already has a plan to raise the funds needed to fund the party and expand our Engagement abilities.
General Counsel Patrick O’Daniel gave an update on the Voter ID suit against the State of Texas. The Appeals Court gave the Legislature a specific path to correcting what they see as the problems in the bill. We want to be careful to comply so that we will not be put back under the “Voters Rights Act” in any way. The recommended remedy is in the form of Senate Bill 5. It is my understanding that all the Legislators have signed onto that bill.
Associate General Counsel Eric Opeila reported that under the Obama Administration the state and county parties were overwhelmed with onerous compliance regulations for conducting election mailings and Get Out the Vote efforts. For instance, if a local party wanted to say “Vote Republican” in a mailing, or even just give the time and place of voting locations, these overreaching regulations required Federal Campaign Funds be used at least in part, since this was a Federal election year. Actually, every two years are Federal Election years since Congressmen run every two years. Most local parties do not have Federal Accounts, so the Texas GOP had to use our funds to help pay for those efforts and file those forms. Our General Counsel for the Texas GOP has sent a letter to the FEC asking for a rollback on those regulations (which mainly are an every-expanding use of McCain-Feingold). Hopefully the new administration is more in tune to the Constitution than the last one and we will have relief from these ridiculous and unconstitutional regulations.
We filled 3 County Chair vacancies bringing the number of Republican County Chairs to 251 out of 254.
We also filled a vacancy on the SREC. Elijah Casas is the new SD27 Committeeman. The former Committeeman won a race for Constable, so is now ineligible to serve on the SREC.
Our own SD8 member Jody Rushton was reappointed to serve on the Candidate Resource Committee. Thank you, Jody, for helping raise funds to help down ballot races across the state.
We’ve already had four elected officials in Texas switch from being a Democrat to being a Republican since the election. A good start to our year.
National Committeewoman Toni Anne Dashiell has been very busy. She is working with the “New Leaders on the Rise” which promotes training and recruiting Republicans to run for office, especially in target outreach groups (minorities and young voters).
Speaking of candidates, the Republican Party of Texas will be hosting a 3-day Campaign School in Austin. Also, one-day Candidate Development and Campaign Management Training schools will be hosted across the state this summer. The dates of these trainings has not been decided so watch the www.Texasgop.org website for more information.
The Republican Party of Texas has been busy. It was exciting to hear all the on-going work on behalf of our Outreach efforts and how our numbers are growing in these groups. Steven Wong, the Asian-American Engagement Director gave an update on all the work going on around the state reaching out to the Hispanic, Black, and Youth Voters. At a recent event in Houston 113 showed up as the result of Hispanic outreach. For many it was their first Republican event.
We had a very interesting presentation on Millennial Engagement by “The Conservative Millennial” Blogger Allie Stuckey. Since Allie lives in Dallas I hope to have her up to our area soon to do this presentation for us. Good information with concrete ideas on reaching the newest generation of voters.
Speaking of young voters, we heard from Colton Duncan of the Texas Federation of College Republicans (TFCR). Colton is a Political Science major at Texas State and reported that our TFCR volunteers held 50 Voter Registration drives on College Campuses across Texas and Registered 3000 Republican voters prior to the election. They also participated in Phone banks and Block walks—reaching thousands of voters. If you know of a school without a College Republican group, a new one can form with as little as 10 members.
National Committeewoman Toni Anne Dashiell and Vice Chairman Amy Clark have a new 501c4 organization- Right2Speak -that advocates for Republican Women to speak up and be heard. Their theme is: Engage. Educate. Elevate. They are encouraging Republican Women to wear turquoise on March 8 and post “We Show Up!” on social media in response to the Democrat “stay home day” that is planned. Check out www.right2speak.org for more information.
National Committeeman Dr. Robin Armstrong talked about the Republican National Committee’s newly elected Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel, a former Michigan Republican Chair and Vice Chair Bob Paduchik. Both Toni Ann and Robin expressed great confidence that the new leadership will do a good job. Robin was recently elected to serve on the Executive Committee of the RNC, and Toni Anne reelected to the Budget Committee. There is also a new RNC Finance Chair, Steve Wynn, who owns the chain of hotels and casinos, to help with fundraising. Dr. Armstrong reported that Republicans now have full control of 25 States’ House, Senate and Governor’s seats. By Comparison, Democrats only control 5. There are 33 Republican Governors. He encouraged us to support and pray for President Trump. As we start looking toward the 2018 Elections, Republicans will be defending only eight US Senate Seats while Democrats will be defending 23 seats– plus two seats held by Independents that caucus with Democrats. Many of these Senators live in states that voted for President Trump. No rest for us, but great opportunities for excellence.
We picked San Antonio for the site of the 2018 Texas Republican Convention at our December meeting, but we are already hard at work deciding where the 2020 Convention will be held. As of now the two cities that have availability and have submitted proposals are Houston and San Antonio.
The Grassroots Club membership for Senate District 8 is down a bit. Check to see if your membership in this vital funding of our party as expired. If you haven’t yet joined, today is a good day to do so: www.grassrootsclub.com Remember, together we make the Texas GOP strong, and it only takes $8.25 a month.
We did spend a lot of time working on our own SREC Bylaws and Rules.
An adopted new Rule is one, according to the Texas Election Code, that is only the SREC may decide. Here is the rule that was adopted: If someone wants to run for Republican County Chairman in a County with more than 300,000 population, then that individual will need to have at least 10% of the currently filled Precinct Chairs sign a petition to allow them on the ballot. The Democratic Party has had this rule for a number of years, and we were encouraged to pass this by the Texas Republican County Chairman’s Association. This avoids a Democrat (or a crazy person) from adding their name to our ballot and being elected as a County Chair, as happened in one large Texas County back in March. Talk to me if you want to hear bizarre that story.
Next, we took up a Bylaw change (again) on the majority percentage required to make a Bylaw Change. I gave an extensive explanation of this debate which occurred at our last meeting, so if you want to know the details check out that blog post. The two sides where a choice between a Majority of the Membership or by a 2/3 vote. To make a long story short, 2/3 won. We also spent a great deal of time discussing who in attendance at our meetings may photograph, video, or livestream our proceedings. That is an hour of my life I will not get back. Here’s the short version. Basically, here’s Richard Hayes’ (our RPT’s Registered Parliamentarian) read on our Rules, and in the end a Majority vote agreed: Rules state that pictures and videos are allowed by Executive Committee members only, and that this right is not transferable to others. Did you know that the SREC meetings are livestreamed? They can be found each quarter at ustream.tv/channel/republican-party-of-texas and anyone may watch us there, or attend in person.
We also changed our Bylaws to make the Legislative Committee a Permanent Committee.
This newly formed Legislative Committee has been hard at work following Legislation that pertains to our Legislative Priorities. They have been hosting webinars at regular intervals. If you would like to participate, watch for an email from the Texas GOP, or let me know and I will forward the invitation to you when it is scheduled.
At the Saturday meeting of the SREC we heard from several elected officials including Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick (about the funding of the Railroad Commission), State Representative Dustin Burrows and State Representative Cecil Bell. Of course, we saw many others as we visited the Capitol. It was a good four days of work.
On a personal note, thanks to all of you that sent such kind words following my Chairing of the Texas Electoral College back on December 19. It was an honor to serve the State of Texas and the United State of America as I had the privilege of announcing that President Trump had the needed Electoral College votes. Indeed, he would not have won without Texas—he would have been two short. God Bless Texas.
I also wanted to let you know that I have added an additional responsibility, as in January I was appointed by Governor Greg Abbot to serve on the Texas Juvenile Justice Board. I am honored to be one of the “Public” members on that board, and am enjoying this vital new place of service.
Thank any of you who read all the way down to here, as I know your time is precious and my words are many. Thank you for the honor of serving you on the State Republican Executive Committee.
State Republican Executive Committee Senate District 8