Legislative Tea Party Caucus Makes Great Strides
The TEA Party Caucus has been very active this Legislative session. The caucus, third largest in the legislature with 57 members, held an orientation for TEA Party groups from all across Texas. Over 300 TEA Party organizers, representing hundreds of thousands of voters, came to Austin last month to participate in a four hour overview covering the legislative process, an outline of the budget, healthcare, redistricting, and a question and answer session with members of the caucus. “The idea was to have a first ever citizens’ orientation similar to what newly elected legislators receive before session,” explained caucus vicechair Rep. Phil King.
”From the beginning, one of the goals of our caucus was to help citizens become more empowered by learning the legislative process,” stated caucus founder Senator Dan Patrick. “The more knowledge the people have about how government works, the better government will be.”
”Saturday’s orientation was a great opportunity for those of us around the state to learn more about the legislative process from our elected officials,” stated Leslie Haight, TEA Party Caucus Advisory Committee. Dean Wright, TEA Party organizer agreed, “This presentation provided valuable insight to the legislative process that can be used by the grassroots attendees to impact legislation much more effectively.”
In addition to the orientation, since January the caucus has met with many TEA Party organizers from around the state. The purpose was to listen to what they believe are the major issues they want the legislature to address this session. Topping the list was balancing the budget without raising taxes. “The TEA Party Caucus is a great way to stay in touch and communicate on real issues. Fiscal responsibility can be reached and accomplished with such an effective caucus,” said caucus board member Rep. Todd Hunter.
The caucus has set an agenda for the session that reflects their support for the issues supported by the TEA Party. With one exception, the agenda supports broad principles. With many bills filed on the same issues supported by the TEA Party, the caucus decided it was too soon to get behind specific legislation. “The committees need to hear testimony and members need to study and discuss the various bills that have been filed,” said caucus board member Rep. Allen Fletcher. “The list of issues the caucus will support focuses on the major ones presented to us, but were not the only issues presented to us,” clarified caucus member Rep. Dan Flynn.
Texas Legislative TEA Party Caucus Statement of Principle
It is the purpose and intent of the members of the Texas Legislative TEA Party Caucus to promote and secure:
• A balanced budget without increased taxation;
• A secure Texas border and an end to illegal immigration;
• The reassertion of the 10th Amendment and repeal of all federal laws in contradiction thereof;
• Election integrity, including passage of voter identification legislation;
• Advancement of Texans’ 2nd Amendment rights.
“These issues were the top five issues presented to us,” remarked caucus vice-chair Rep. Beverly Woolley. The one specific bill the caucus did agree to support was House Joint Resolution 50, by Rep Creighton, and the companion legislation, Senate Concurrent Resolution 14, by Senator Patrick. These bills affirm the sovereign rights of Texas under the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Rep. Creighton passed this measure with almost unanimous support in the House in 2009. So far, all 19 Republicans have co-authored SCR 14 in the Senate.
State Representative Tim Kleinschmidt, remarked, “As a member of the Texas Legislature Tea Party Caucus, I am looking forward to the passage of many important conservative issues, such as voter ID and immigration, in addition to working towards passing a conservative budget this session.”
At this time, the Senate has already passed a photo voter I.D. bill. The House Select Committee on Voter Identification and Voter Fraud voted the bill out this week and it is currently waiting to be heard on the House floor. “We are off to a quick start on the issues brought to us by the TEA Party,” noted Senator Patrick. “But, we are just beginning.”