By Bethany Jarrell, Guest Writer and current Texas Eagle Forum intern.
Texas Eagle Forum Devotionals (#TEFDevo)
What would you do if you took a month to completely unplug? No screens. Not a movie, a TV episode, a quick Facebook scroll or an Insta-story. For a solid month. Could you do it?
For as long as I can remember, my family has made it a point to do exactly that during the month of August. Growing up, my friends mourned with me as August approached. As an adult, most look at me strangely when I attempt to explain why I disappear from social media for so long.
Even as I write this, I am on day 14 of our month turned off. And it is glorious.
The first week is torture.
I delete all of my apps that would tempt me to distract myself and I find my thumb hovering over a spot where an icon should be. After those first days, I start to notice a few more details in my interactions that amuse me and I find I am no longer looking for a way to phrase my “noticings” to humor the few hundred followers I have accumulated on Instagram.
Halfway through, I might check into Facebook to make sure I hadn’t missed a message, only to realize that the noise and clamor of political posts, those weird quizzes to find out what herb you are, and videos of people trying to smear lipstick all over their faces no longer holds as much entertainment as it did a few weeks before. (No offence, lippies. I’m sure your product is still fabulous.)
It is in this time I reflect on the changes in my life since deleting my apps, turning off my notifications, and generally avoiding the mindless distraction that is so readily available.
And here is what I found:
- I feel infinitely more creative – Given back the time no longer wasted away on my phone, I am looking for more outlets of productivity. I built a bookcase, bought a set of watercolors, and have actually written more like I said I would ‘if only I had more time’.
- I am more focused – Not at first. The initial struggle of not falling into old habits is a tedious battle. The weekends are even harder. No Netflix binging or Twitter Trolling for this girl. Instead, I sit to read the book I bought at the beginning of the year and organize my planner for the upcoming semester of grad school.
- I am more intentional with my friendships – I may not know what they ate for lunch or what funny little thing their toddler said. I might miss an engagement announcement or an occasional invitation. But the connections that bring me life are given the opportunity to be poured into and shaped into something no Facebook post could accomplish. The other night, I had an hour-long conversation with my fourteen and twelve year old brothers about leadership and bravery. We got out the book of Joshua and counted the number of times the Lord told Joshua to be strong and courageous.
- I pray more – There is nothing I love more by the end of August than paying attention to the little changes in my relationship with my Heavenly Father. Inevitably, He uses this time to help me process the previous months and prepare for those ahead. I spend more time reading and memorizing scripture and watching it impact my decisions and relationships. My prayers are less drive-thru demanding and more five-course dine-in satisfying.
And all of those changes are what make September so hard. As long as it is August, I have a compelling reason to stay “disconnected”. But the first days of September are a tussle between the side of me that wants to pull a Kuzco and boom-baby my way back onto social media and the side that is desperate to hold onto what August brought me.
By the end of the month my life is not extraordinarily different. Only exceptionally fuller, purposed, and peaceful.
I promised myself I would not end this with a challenge for you to do the same thing I do. You wouldn’t have the exact same experience anyway. But I will attempt to summarize my thoughts with this:
Our world is full and the noise can be overwhelming, and the stillness we long to have even briefly is harder than ever to find. Tragedy, celebration, and victory will all come in waves but fighting to clear the air and settle our souls is a worthy endeavor.
Appropriately paraphrased in The Message, Psalm 46:10 says:
“Attention, all! See the marvels of God! He plants flowers and trees all over the earth, Bans war from pole to pole, breaks all the weapons across his knee. ‘Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.’”
This week’s top 5 is again a bit different, lengthy, but so important. Please prayerfully read #1, watch the video, and then you will find 4 more action items to work through.
#1 – We Must Have the Knowledge of the Truth – Last week was one of many twists and turns and I look forward to sharing the truth as to what played out. I hope by now those of you that know and follow Texas Eagle Forum, and those that know me, realize I want truth based in facts. We all have opinion and styles, but at the end of the day – truth bares itself out.
We started this week last Saturday as my youngest daughter and I waited in the gallery to hear HB 45 what many refer to as ALAC (American Laws for American Courts) pass a third reading with 135 votes. HB 45 has since made its way to State Affairs in the Senate but more on that later (#2 below).
As I have been sitting in the gallery many days, I was witness to some interesting turn of events including one Representative taking it upon himself to bring back a dead bill that he was not even the author of. It was brought in the debate using an unusual move that has never happened in the history of the Texas State Legislature. Was this a life bill? No! Was this bill about education or better roads? NO and NO. The bill had more to do with chasing federal dollars and adding more regulations on citizens. We must wonder, what was the point of all of it?
As the week went on, the Democrats were able to chub daily at the microphone and the strong conservative delegation could get NOT one bill put on this general calendar – this covered the ENTIRE session. Yes, you read that correctly – not one bill out of hundreds! (Another little known fact is the current member that has had the most legislation passed this session is a Democrat.) So where is all this heading?
Elizabeth Graham of Texas Right for Life sums it up well:
This 85th Session of the Texas Legislature has been dominated by the political games and personal attacks on the conservative members, many of whom belong to the House Freedom Caucus, orchestrated by the leadership cabal of moderate Republicans and pro-abortion Democrats of the Texas House of Representatives.
With Thursday’s midnight deadline looming for the passage of House bills, House leadership once again did not disappoint, again singling out and punishing members for no other reason than their conservative voting records and proclivity to expose the vindictive tactics of House Leadership. In order to achieve an important legislative goal and left with no other recourse after respectfully enduring months of abuse and the thwarting of conservative legislation, the Freedom Caucus successfully organized and executed an effort that killed scores of bills anointed by House leadership.
The open disdain of the speaker and his chairmen toward the mainstream Republican House members already had tensions rising. The majority of House members, including some Democrats, support conservative reforms for Texas, real reforms that impact Life, faith, freedoms, the protection of our women and daughters, fairness in education, family equality, and other measures. These measures would all pass 90-60 if a vote on the House floor was ever allowed. But House leadership has systematically stalled all such legislative proposals while prioritizing bills that are antithetical to the conservative movement.
Pre-born children are being torn limb from limb in the womb while House leadership ceaselessly claims to be Pro-Life. Yet with only three weeks left in the session, not one single bill that reduces the 55,000 annual Texas abortions has been heard on the floor of the Texas House of Representatives.
On Thursday, May 11, in another coercive procedural maneuver, House leadership suspended the rules of the House to schedule votes on 200+ bills on the Local and Consent Calendar for the following day. Historically, the Local and Consent Calendar includes bills that are non-controversial, unopposed, and apply to limited jurisdictions (such as a new local library or naming a building). But under the current progressive House leadership, the Local and Consent Calendar has become a tool to ram through questionable measures that would otherwise be debated and defeated. As such, House members have often selectively killed specific bills on the Local and Consent Calendar on the basis of principled, studied objections. The main objection Thursday night was the quantity; properly vetting and reading 120+ bills would have been impossible after working until midnight and then needing to be on the House floor at 10:00 a.m.
However, after conservatives and members of the Freedom Caucus objected to the rules suspension for the Local and Consent Calendar, dozens of their bills were removed from the Local and Consent Calendar—a blatant act of political retribution ensuring the death of the conservatives’ bills. This attack from leadership was personal and severe.
Subsequently, the Freedom Caucus called a press conference to shed light on the ever-changing rules of the House. Representative Jeff Leach (R-Plano) described the move as “another direct shot at the conservative members of this House” by leadership. Representative Matt Shaheen (R-Plano) elaborated, “Our bills have been targeted for weeks…for conservative legislators, their bills have been targeted because of the voting record of those legislators. If you are too conservative, you cannot represent your district.”
After the press conference, the Freedom Caucus masterfully used parliamentary procedures and debate tactics to break free from the suffocating hands of House leadership. The Freedom Caucus spent time at the back microphone of the House, methodically deliberating the policies before the full House, and thereby burning the clock with protracted debate (called “chubbing”). In doing so, the Freedom Caucus killed bills that House leadership wanted to pass by the midnight deadline. Leadership was given a lethal dose of their own bitter medicine Thursday night.
Once the Freedom Caucus achieved the goal of killing those House bills, similar proposals that are still viable in the Senate will likely emerge as much stronger policy reforms, e.g., the Sunset bills that reauthorize state agencies. In sessions past, Pro-Life amendments have been successfully added to Sunset bills related to health and medical agencies. The Sunset bills under consideration in the State Senate reflect more conservative policy, which is a main reason the Freedom Caucus wanted to kill the limp versions scheduled on the House calendar Thursday night.
The process of writing Sunset bills is another example of draconian leadership. The House versions of these measures have been so watered-down that no substantial reforms or reorganizations are offered in the Sunset bills. House leadership demanded that the meaningful provisions of the Sunset bills be removed so that Pro-Life amendments would be rendered non-germane, thus squashing another opportunity for Pro-Life dialogue and victories. Conservative, Pro-Life members had no choice Thursday night but to take dramatic and drastic action to kill the remaining bills, clearing the way for these Senate bills.
More importantly, House leadership controls the pace of the session. They are responsible for killing their own bills AND also for killing Pro-Life bills that they intentionally set at the end of the calendar for Thursday. Leadership could have used the time since January to prioritize and pass not only their bills, but also important bills that reflect the Texas Republican Party Platform, like the Dismemberment Abortion Ban, which received overwhelming grassroots support. The blame and responsibility of Thursday’s events in the Texas House of Representatives ultimately lies solely with House leadership who not only set the pace and the calendars, but also the tone and the collaboration—for better or worse.
Yours For Life,
I share all this with you because I cannot know all of this and in good faith watch the lies and distortions that are being passed off as the truth. I have to speak up! I have been keeping files and files on votes, press releases and various moves on the floor (video clips etc.) on folks that stand for liberty and for those that are obstructionists. I want the facts and will always search for the truth.
So how can you make an impact and help support conservative legislation?
#2 – Thank the Texas Freedom Caucus – Please reach out to the Texas Freedom Caucus by sending them an email at email@example.com to encourage them and thank them for having the courage required to speak up and require the rules to be observed in the House. www.freedomfortexas.com
#3 – American Laws for American Courts – HB 45 – which has been called ALAC is now in the Senate State Affairs Committee and we need your action today. We need you to please email or call the Chairwoman Joan Huffman, if you have not already and POLITELY request a hearing as soon as possible.
Please call the State Affairs Committee Members and your own Senator to ask for his or her support. We pray that we will be on the floor for a vote by next week.
#4 – The Fight for LIFE – Please take a moment and read this article from Texas Right to Life. Please pray that the Dismemberment Abortion Ban is amended onto a bill this week. You can always reach out to your state Representative and let them know your concerns on this issue. We need this ban.
#5 – Securing our Grid – PLEASE pray for the Securing our Grid legislation. There is a lot of developments there and we will update you soon. As you know SB 83 is Senator Hall’s legislation and it is so important for the State of Texas. You can read about what has been happening on this issue here.
We have so many great Women Wednesday blogs on our website that we highlight on social media each week. Check them all out here.
Thank you so much for helping us get the word out on these important issues and being a part of Texas Eagle Forum. Together – we can make a difference.
Trayce Bradford – President
Happy Monday! Usually we do Top 5 each week but from here on out, we may have more like the Top 7 or 11, so bear with us as we go into the final stretch of the Texas Legislative Session.
I don’t know how many of you were watching the House Floor debate on the Sanctuary City bill SB 4 but it was an interesting time, to say the least. Thank you to those that stood strong, especially Rep. Matt Schaefer and Rep. Matt Rinaldi that put up amendments that were adopted to put some teeth back in this legislation. Here is a great article from Empower Texans about what happened.
As this session has poked along, we have seen a number of bills that Texas Eagle Forum has either asked for in the past or asked for this session- that are quietly moving through both houses. These bills pertain to fighting the heinous work of human traffickers and legislation concerning our relationship with Israel as a trade partner and taking a stand against countries that back state-sponsored terrorism such as Iran and Sudan. These have been passing both houses with strong support from both sides of the aisle.
Below is a list of priorities that must move this week. It is painfully clear when you check the daily floor calendars for the next week that strong religious liberty bills, pro-life bill and our “securing our grid” bill are nowhere to be found. You also won’t find many of the more conservative members with legislation listed on these calendars. It is sad – because I know for a fact that the legislation I have had the blessing to work on – brought some of the nation’s most incredible experts on the subject matters to help craft these bills. This along with our top-notch legislators that have worked long and hard with humility to do what was best to get this legislation through the process. For some of them, it meant taking their names off the bill so the Speaker and the Committee Chairs will move it through the process.
Something that TEF is so very grateful for is the coalition of grassroots groups working together this session. As you will see in the action items listed we each have particular bills we have taken the lead on. We are working together to support those that Texas Right to Life support and letting them take the strategy part. Texas Eagle Forum is thrilled to dovetail in with these groups and not try to recreate the wheel. That is why this session has been a bit different in our calls to action. We have not forgotten you and how valuable your voice is but we have had to be very strategic when to call upon you. The time is NOW.
We now NEED for you all to start calling and sending emails to try to move this legislation. Today is the day. This week is the week! Many of these bills are just getting into calendars and that is why you have not been asked to call prior to this.
Here are the action items we need your help on as well as please pass this email along to get others involved! We need you!
***1) HB45 Texas Foreign Law Policy Act – What in the past has been referred to as ALAC is now known as HB 45. It is still focused on keeping foreign law out of Texas courtrooms – where that law encroaches on our constitutional rights. This session the approach was a little different than before. After the interim hearing on ALAC last summer, we feel the information that was presented shined light on this issue and the legislators started to see the validity in this piece of legislation. It was voted out of the Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee 9-0 last week. Chairman Dan Flynn is the author of the bill.
It landed in Calendars this week and this is where you all come in!
We would like you to call the committee members (see numbers at the end of this email) and ask them to please get Chairman Flynn’s bill HB 45 pertaining to foreign law in Texas Courts to the floor for a vote as quickly as possible. Remind them that bill was voted out of committee 9-0 and is one that needs a chance to be heard on the floor.
Remember to please be brief and courteous. If they ask for more information just say the efforts of several legislators deciding to unify behind Chairman Flynn and working with others concerned with the wording of this bill has brought about a good piece of legislation and good faith effort on all involved. Keep it simple and just encourage them to give the body a chance to vote.
2) Securing the Texas Grid – Several pieces of legislation pertaining to the Texas grid are moving and we hope to see that continue! HB 787 authored by Rep. Tan Parker was voted out of the State Affairs Committee 10-0. We need to call and ask for that important piece of legislation to be moved to the floor quickly for a vote. You will again be calling the Calendar Committee. (see numbers at the end of the email)
As for the Senate Bill – Senator Hall’s bill SB 83 passed out of Business and Commerce this week 8-0. We need to call Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s office and please ask that bill be brought to the floor for a vote as soon as possible. His numbers are: 512-463-5342, 512-463-0001 or email LTGConstituent.Affairs@ltgov.texas.gov
3) PRO-LIFE legislation is being held hostage in the State Affairs committee and it is inexcusable. Please read this excellent article from Texas Right to Life to get the latest as well as action items. https://www.texasrighttolife.com/house-inexcusably-delays-dismemberment-abortion-ban/
4) Privacy Act (SB 6 and the House bill 2899) – One would have to be living under a rock to have not heard about this issue. Please read this press release from Texas Values and follow the action steps provided. Notice the obstructionist in these important issues.
From Texas Values:
BREAKING: Coppell ISD, Home District of House Privacy Bill Author, Allows Boys in Girls’ Bathrooms
While the leadership of the Texas House, including State Affairs Chair Byron Cook, sits on privacy legislation (such as HB 2899), battles over “gender identity” continue to be waged in our public-school restrooms, costing taxpayers time and resources, as well as putting our schoolchildren at risk.
The most recent example of this unfortunate (and avoidable) trend is occurring in the Coppell ISD, a school district located in the suburbs north of Dallas. The CISD includes a portion of the legislative district for Rep. Ron Simmons, author of the House privacy act, HB 2899. CISD Students have reportedly been allowed to use the restroom of the gender they identify with at the moment, as long as school administrators agree.
The CISD’s employee and student handbooks contain several “gender identity” provisions (see attached). Local media picked up on this after it was brought to light by several parents and a school board candidate who have reported hearing stories of a boy dressed as a girl exposing himself to others. One report says that the CISD Superintendent is relying on President Barack Obama’s 2016 bathroom directive, which was struck down by a Texas federal court judge and was later rescinded by President Donald Trump.
“This latest example of local school districts making a mess of the bathroom and locker room privacy issue is more evidence of why the Texas Legislature must enact a statewide consistent law on this issue now,” said Jonathan Saenz, president of Texas Values. “Hiding information from parents and shutting the public out of the process of drafting these rules are putting children at all ages at risk. If the Texas Legislature does not address this major issue now, it is only going to get worse. Situations like with Fort Worth ISD, Dripping Springs ISD, and now Coppell ISD will replicate themselves all over Texas in both small and large districts.”
According to Star Local Media (which owns several community newspapers in suburban Dallas-Fort Worth), the Coppell ISD is not responding to media replies, citing possible privacy law violations such as FERPA (Federal Education Rights & Privacy Act).
“It’s ironic that the school district only cares about the privacy of the identity of some students but not the bathroom and locker room privacy of everyone else. Laws designed to prevent discrimination should not be interpreted in a way that puts children in harm’s way,” Saenz continued.
“You simply cannot put a price on this important issue. It’s time for State Affairs Committee Chairman Byron Cook to take a vote on HB 2899, and for Speaker Joe Straus to assign SB 6 to a committee. It’s becoming apparent that our local school districts are unable to withstand the tremendous amount of pressure put on them by special interests from the LGBT left. Our legislative leaders are needed to stand in the gap in order to protect privacy.”
A list of privacy violation incidents from across Texas may be read at the following link: http://tinyurl.com/SB6Texasincidents (PDF).
· Six Essential Facts About Senate Bill 6: http://tinyurl.com/sb6Facts
· List of businesses and organizations which support SB 6: http://tinyurl.com/sb6businesses
· Testimonial videos in support of SB 6: http://tinyurl.com/sb6videos
Texas Values is a nonprofit organization dedicated to standing for faith, family, and freedom in Texas. More information is available at txvalues.org.
5) – Texas HOME Act SB 892
For over 100 years, Texas churches and faith based organizations have placed thousands of Texas children in loving homes. Now, their future is threatened by lawsuits seeking to restrict their First Amendment right to practice their faith when placing children in those loving homes. Faith based providers have stopped operating entirely in other states after being sued and some have already closed their doors in Houston and San Antonio.
SB 892 by Senator Charles Perry would provide faith based providers – who comprise 25% of all adoption providers in Texas – with the protection they need to keep operating and helping Texas children.
But radical, left wing groups are making wild claims that protecting the basic first amendment rights of faith based providers and churches would lead to discrimination or child abuse. These radical groups want to further their own agenda at the expense of following well respected national and Texas based providers that have helped Texas children for decades such as: Buckner International, Children’s Home of Lubbock, The Catholic Conference, Baptists Children’s Homes, and many, many more.
A hearing was held on Wednesday, April 19th in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. Please call the members as soon as possible, and let them know you expect Texas to protect our children and our religious liberty by passing SB 892. Please thank Senator Charles Perry for authoring the bill and Senator Charles Schwertner for hearing it in his committee.
***6) – Church Security Bill
From our Coalition Partners at Concerned Women for America
The Church Security Protection Act, House Bill 421 by Rep. Matt Rinaldi, will allow churches and other places of worship to utilize volunteer security teams. Many churches in Texas aren’t aware that the The Texas Occupations Code currently prohibits houses of worship from having volunteer security unless the people providing security are licensed as a private security company. Under the current law, churches and their volunteers who violate this law could be fined up to $10,000 and face criminal charges. HB 421 would make a small change to the Texas Occupations Code exempting churches and other places of worship from this troublesome code. House Bill 421 currently has 37 joint/co-authors and has been in the House Calendars Committee since April 10th.
Another similar church security bill, House Bill 981 by Rep. John Wray, was heard in the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee on Tuesday, April 25th and voted out of that committee the same day. This bill is much more narrow and specific than House Bill 421, but would do pretty much the same thing for churches and places of worship.
House Bill 981 currently has 3 joint authors and no co-authors and is on its was to the House Calendars Committee.
Since so many churches have now been made aware of the guidelines set forth by the Texas Occupations Code through the promoting of these two bills, we need the Texas Legislature to act now more than ever before. With the current climate of violence against churches, we need to give churches the tools they need to freely protect themselves and their property.
Please contact the House Calendars Committee and ask them to vote HB 421 or HB 981 out of committee and to the floor for a vote. While HB 421 is the favored bill given the number of current co-authors and the strength of the bill language, we would still be pleased to see HB 981 voted out of Calendars and sent to the floor.
7) – Texas Sovereignty Act HB 2338 and the similar Senate Bill 2015
This legislation will support tenth amendment enforcement in Texas and protects us from unconstitutional acts of the federal government. It basically defines a new joint legislative committee that reviews federal decisions whether judicial or congressional and provides determination on it Constitutionality based on US Constitution original intent and Texas Constitutionality. Basically, it allows for Texas to nullify federal overreach and give sovereignty back to Texas according to 10th Amendment SB 2015 has been referred to the State Affairs Committee and needs a hearing and HB 2338 is left pending in committee. Please call the members of the State and Federal Power & Responsibility Committee and ask them to please vote this bill out of committee this week. The chair of the committee is Rep. Drew Darby and the Vice Chair is Rep. Andrew S. Murr, so please call them.
Chair Drew Darby – (512) 463-0331
Vice Chair Andrew Murr – (512) 463-0542
Rep. Cecil Bell says about this legislation “Statewide elected officers in those separate states must formally affirm where they stand regarding this egregious erosion of state sovereignty and of the sovereignty of the people of the separate states.”
8) – Toll Roads
From Terri –TexasTurf.org
We have made significant progress in the Senate, but like most conservative legislation, our pro-taxpayer, anti-toll bills are being stymied in the House.
1) Ask the Chair of the House Transportation Committee, Geanie Morrison, to call for swift hearings to vote out our anti-toll bills coming over from the Senate (SB 399 by Kolkhorst to prevent the conversion of free lanes to toll lanes. More bills are coming).
Chairwoman Geanie Morrison – (512) 463-0456
2) Call your House member and ask them to vote ‘No’ on HB 2861 and HB 1589 to hand our Texas highways to foreign toll operators in 50 year sweetheart deals that put taxpayers on the hook for the private company’s losses, which amounts to corporate welfare. Toll rates can exceed 75 cents a mile and commuters in the Metroplex report having to pay $30-$40/day to use such foreign-operated toll lanes. (For more, read here.)
We expect one or both of these BAD bills to come to the House floor for a vote this week.
Capitol switchboard: (512) 463-4630 (open M-F, 8 AM – 5 PM)
3) Call your state senator and ask him/her to support our anti-toll bills (SB 812, SB 637, SB 1437, SB 740). Two will be up for a vote Monday and the others are expected later in the week.
Capitol switchboard: (512) 463-4630 (open M-F, 8 AM – 5 PM)
Background on the bills:
SB 812 (Kolkhorst) – This requires toll entities to repay any funds they receive from TxDOT. Currently, TxDOT grants billions in our gasoline taxes to subsidize toll roads that can’t pay for themselves. Over $10 billion in your gasoline taxes have gone to prop-up loser toll projects already. SB 812 would prevent this double taxation and require the taxpayers to be repaid.
SB 637 (Huffines) – To authorize the State Auditor to conduct audits of the Regional Mobility Authorities. These are unelected, unaccountable toll authorities that are rife with ethics problems, conflicts of interest, and delivering projects late and over budget.
SB 1437 (Schwertner) – Reforms toll collection procedures, making them more fair and transparent to consumers and forces toll entities to promptly refund drivers for erroneous toll bills.
SB 740 (Kolkhorst) – Reforms many eminent domain abuses and gives landowners more rights in eminent domain proceedings.
4) Call these members of the Senate Finance Committee to support swift passage of Senator Bob Hall’s SB 84 to help fund major road projects without raising taxes. SB 84 is up for a hearing in the Senate Finance Committee Monday morning. It offers a way to prevent our Texas roadways from being handed to these private toll operators. TxDOT is trying to blackmail our legislators into passing HB 2861 and HB 1589 saying it’s the ‘only’ way to fund these big projects (the price tag exceeds $20 billion). Sen. Hall’s bill, SB 84, is another way to get these big projects funded without tolls, without raising taxes, and it needs to be voted out of committee Monday!
(Note: We’re not having you call the more conservative members of the committee since they already support the bill.)
Chair – Jane Nelson (512) 463-0112
Vice Chair – Juan Chuy Hinojosa (512) 463-0120
Sen. Robert Nichols (512) 463-0103
Sen. Joan Huffman (512) 463-0117
Sen. Kel Seliger (512) 463-0131
Sen. Larry Taylor (512) 463-0111
Sen. Carlos Uresti (512) 463-0119
Sen. Royce West (512) 463-0123
Sen. Kirk Watson (512) 463-0114
Sen. John Whitmire (512) 463-0115
Other more conservative members if you have time to call:
Sen. Kelly Hancock (512) 463-0109
Sen. Paul Bettencourt (512) 463-0107
Sen.Brian Birdwell (512) 463-0122
Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (512) 463-0118
Sen. Charles Schwertner (512) 463-0105
9) SB 1415 Protect Families from Unjust CPS Investigations.
This is from our friends at Texas Homeschool Coalition. SB 1415 is currently pending in the Health and Human Services Committee. Please consider emailing the committee and asking them to please move it out of committee this week.
***10) See Something Say Something HB2069 – This short bill will help protect those that report suspicious behavior pertaining to terrorism or human trafficking in good faith from being sued. This is an important bill for the State of Texas and we encourage you to call or email the Calendar Committee to send this bill to the floor for a full vote.
Pray and Stay – Please pray diligently for the rest of session and that strategy is given to these law makers that are fighting for the things that are good, noble and principled.
Please stay engaged, your voice must be heard and this takes all of us staying plugged in to the end.
Please remember you are not trying to convert these folks or train them on these subjects. Many of them are very familiar with these issues. They just need to hear from us. Here are the phone numbers.
Calendar Committee contact info is here:
- Chairman Todd Hunter firstname.lastname@example.org 512 463-0672
- Donna Howard email@example.com 512 463-0631
- Roberto R. Alonzo firstname.lastname@example.org 512 463-0408
- Trent Ashby email@example.com 512 463-0508
- Byron Cook firstname.lastname@example.org 512 463-0730
- Sarah Davis email@example.com 512 463-0389
- Charlie Geren firstname.lastname@example.org 512 463-0610
- Helen Giddings email@example.com 512 463-0953
- Kyle J. Kacal firstname.lastname@example.org 512 463-0412
- Ken King email@example.com 512 463-0736
- Linda Koop firstname.lastname@example.org 512 463-0454
- Poncho Nevárez email@example.com 512 463-0566
- Chris Paddie firstname.lastname@example.org 512 463-0556
- Dade Phelan email@example.com 512 463-0706
- Toni Rose firstname.lastname@example.org 512 463-0664
Thank you so much!!!!! God Bless You and God Bless Texas!
President of Texas Eagle Forum
By Emily Horne (Guest Writer – From Texas Right for Life)
Like many others, I often find myself in the craziness of everyday life without having looked up in a while. Without having taken the time to thank God for where he has placed me, and the work he has given me. I work full-time in the Pro-Life movement lobbying for Pro-Life policy, and in many ways, landed here unexpectedly. But if I am honest when I look back, I can see the building blocks had been laid my entire life while I was making other plans, and I thank God now that he knew what he was doing. Trayce asked me to write about what led me to where I am now, so this is my best attempt to explain God’s path for my life thus far and to thank him for all the times he has persistently directed me back to that path.
I always assumed I would spend my life as my mother did, raising a lot of kids. I’m one of nine children, and no, we were not Catholic or Mormon as we were frequently asked – my Dad loved to embarrass us in front of strangers by saying we were “passionate Protestants.” I loved being a part of a big family and still do, I’m forever thankful my mother chose to pour her life into raising us. Faithfully living out her calling to give us a Christ-centered foundation.
Perhaps it was having three older brothers and having to fight to be heard, but I found my voice early and had a strong sense of justice as a child. I would like to think I used it to stick up for my younger siblings, but I think my Dad would say I used my argumentative skills to my own benefit most of the time. I knew what was right, and even if you disagreed with me, you would have to listen to me loudly argue my case before I let any matter rest. There are lingering accusations that I was the most stubborn child of the nine, but it is hard to prove these things. My favorite bible story (my Dad read this to me at my request countless times before I finally started reading it myself) was Esther. I was in awe of her courage to do what was right at the risk of her life, crusading for the lives of her people.
When I was 15, I vividly remember the Scott Peterson case that dominated the news. He was suspected, then convicted of murdering his wife Laci who was 8 months pregnant at the time. What made this case so unique, as many of you remember, is that Laci and her son Connor’s bodies were found separately, leading Scott to be tried and convicted of two murders. This later led to the passage of the Unborn Victims of Violence Act which punished anyone injuring or murdering an unborn child, also known as the Laci and Connor Peterson Act. This was the first time since Roe v. Wade that unborn children had ever formally been recognized as persons worthy of protection. At 15, many of the deeper levels were lost on me, but my sense of justice had been awakened. I thought I knew my life plan. I wanted to go to law school to become a prosecutor, to achieve justice by fighting for vulnerable people like Laci and Connor, and bring due punishment to murderers like Scott. I thought I knew the specific plan for my life. Thank God that was settled.
My high school graduation verse was Psalm 96:10, Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns; The world also is firmly established, It shall not be moved; He shall judge the peoples righteously.” (NKJV) No Jeremiah 29:11 for me, I didn’t need to be assured of God’s plan, I already knew what it was! Psalm 96:10 told me that God was in this justice thing with me, that I was firmly established with God bringing justice to the world. I had a plan.
Perhaps it’s wise now to contrast this verse with a more widely known verse about justice, Micah 6:8 – He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness [or mercy], and to walk humbly with your God? (NASB)
Justice is a concept invented by Christ. He was establishing justice for the most vulnerable (orphans and widows) in the very first written law, in Exodus. Why then, does he couple justice with mercy and humility when he instructs us on what he requires of us? Could it be that our human sense of justice without mercy and humility is an incomplete and poor reflection of his idea of justice? I shudder to think of where we would be if we justly paid the price for our sins. But for his mercy and humility, justice would be a dark concept. And yet, our earthly understanding of justice can often lead us to shed mercy and humility when executing earthly justice, or what we understand it to be. Our sense of justice can leave us blind to other perspectives, blind to the possibility that we don’t have all the answers, because crusading for justice means we are on the right side, pay no mind to the naysayers! At least this was my high school self – I had little patience for other perspectives, and knew that I was right most of the time. Mercy and humility were not the most apparent traits in my life at the time.
I’m thankful God began the long process of changing and softening my heart before I landed in the Pro-Life movement. Because you do need that sense of right and wrong, the conviction that can carry you through fierce battles, but this is not all you need. Ask anyone in the Pro-Life movement what the most important character component is that you’ll need and they will say compassion, or that sense of mercy for the women most deeply affected by abortion and unplanned pregnancies. You’ll need the humility to shut up and realize your words and sense of justice do not matter to a scared young woman in crisis. She needs kindness and a listening ear before she can hear anything you might have to say.
Throughout college, God began to open my heart towards children and motherhood, leading me to question if I wanted to put myself in debt and three more years of school before starting my career path. I had the vague idea that I didn’t want to be paying off law school if I was going to be raising kids just a couple of short years later. There were some clear moments of direction that led me to slowly move away from my plans of law school, but those moments did not clearly lay out my direction following graduation. By the time I graduated Texas A&M with a business degree, I was fairly certain I wanted to work for a non-profit. Again, not because I had a clear vision, but because I knew I wanted to be working for a cause, something bigger than myself. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a category on the job search engine. So, I worked a year for my Dad’s small business, unsure of what would follow.
Less than a year later, Texas Right to Life, an organization my parents had supported for many years, announced they were looking for an additional person to join their lobby team working to pass Pro-Life laws. Thankfully my Dad realized this was the cause I had been seeking, the place for my passion. And thankfully Texas Right to Life was willing to give me a chance, someone that knew nothing about Texas politics and even less about public policy.
Now in my fourth legislative session, I’ve come to love studying and influencing policy, and fighting for the unborn. Living without that law school debt doesn’t hurt either! I’ve been blessed to be part of the team lobbying for the Sonogram law, the defunding of Planned Parenthood in Texas, and the 2013 Pro-Life omnibus bill HB 2. I recently began to wonder why it was God had changed my course from law school, thinking I would be parenting young children, since God has still not called me to marriage and motherhood. God gently pointed out that had he not changed my course, I would have been in law school or paying off law school during all those great gains made for Life in Texas – the 2011 Sonogram law, and all that followed.
God has continuously shown me his plan for me despite my stubborn attempts to chart out my own path. I’ve grown more and more thankful for that, knowing that I am not owed even the roadmap he has shown me thus far. I do my best to approach my life with unclenched fists and an open heart to his path, knowing now that even if my heart isn’t open, he will eventually place me where he wants me despite my best efforts. Thank God for his mercy in caring for us despite our self-destructive efforts! So that’s how I got to where I am now, and I face my path forward with joyous anticipation.
After spending only 5 days’ home of the last 22 – President Trayce Bradford – wants to remind us that things are not always as they seem. Please keep this in mind if-and-when you decide to send some friendly fire toward someone that is fighting for us and stands with principled, godly conservative values, but they have a vote or two you dislike. Let’s keep in mind the whole body of someone’s legislative work as we head into a week where MAYBE something that we can cheer for makes it to the floor. Make sure you get all the facts before shooting off at someone. These issues can be contentious – but we don’t have to be contentious.
#1 – Senator Bob Hall’s Protecting our Grid Bill – SB 83 needs to move out of committee. Please reach out again to the Business and Commerce Committee and ask them to vote it out this week and allow the floor vote. The Grid bill in the House – HB 787 – did get voted out of State Affairs 9-0 last week. Please call the head of the calendars committee, Chairman Todd Hunter, and ask that it be added quickly to the floor calendar.
#2 – Bills dealing with the privacy issues for victims – SB 256 and HB 2222 are moving at a good pace through the House and the Senate. These bills deal with the privacy issue for victims of sexual abuse, trafficking and stalking. It helps shore up some loop holes when it comes to keeping personal privacy for these individuals intact. This is an important bill for many including children in those abusive situations. Please tell your Senators and House Members to support these bills.
#3 – Senator Perry’s HOME Act – SB 892 (Hope for Orphans and Minors Expansion Act) relates to the protection of the rights of conscience for child welfare services providers.
Please call Chairman Schwertner and thank him for giving it a hearing and then ask him and those on the Health and Human Services Committee to please vote this bill out this week.
#4 – Sanctuary Cities, ethics reform, religious liberties – so much going on. Currently, there are 4 identical pieces of legislation that are serving as companions with SB 4 – Sanctuary cities. As of the online status today, all for have been referred to the State Affairs Committee and are awaiting to be scheduled for a hearing. Please call the Chair of the Committee – Chairman Byron Cook and ask that these bills be heard ASAP!!
To read Senator Van Taylor’s Ethic Reform bill – see the full text here and guess what – it was voted out of committee 9-0, voted out of the senate and is currently sitting in the House unassigned. This is one of the Governor’s priority items. Tell your Senator to please support it.
It would take pages and pages to lay out all the twists and turns on religious liberty legislation or the lack thereof passing in the House at this time. The best action now is to contact your state legislator and state senator and ask them – “Where are you supporting religious liberty?” Saying they will vote on whatever makes it to the floor is NOT a good answer. Please ask them what they are personally doing to forward this issue. There are some stalwarts out there and they are working hard but we need everyone on this.
#5- Anti-toll roads legislation – for updates on these important subject, we want to give you the full information from Terri Hall – Founder/Director of Texans Uniting for Reform & Freedom (www.texasturf.org) Priority bills from Terri are here:
Help us stop HB 2861 authorizing 18 Texas roads to come under the control of a private, foreign toll operator
Call your House member to vote ‘No’ on HB 2861 (by Larry Phillips) that would hand 18 Texas highways to a private, foreign toll operator in sweetheart deals that last for a half century. Foreign control of our infrastructure cedes our state’s sovereignty over critical roadways to a private, for-profit entity. These deals use billions in taxpayer subsidies, putting taxpayers on the hook for the private corporation’s losses. It’s corporate welfare on a massive scale. By granting a government-sanctioned monopoly to a single entity for over 50 years, these toll contracts are designed to extract the highest possible toll rates from the traveling public, making Texans pay a premium to drive and causing everything we buy to cost more. Commuters in the Metroplex report having to pay $30-$40/day to take two such privately operated toll lanes. Keep Texas roads in Texans’ hands and help us stop HB 2861 in the House!
>Ask your State Representative to vote ‘No’ on HB 2861. We expect a floor vote this week or next.
1) To protect the highway fund from being raided for toll roads.
If a road is built with tax money, it should be a freeway not a tollway, otherwise, it’s double taxation. We’re just asking for the same protection as was put on Prop 1 and Prop 7 funds.
- A) Huffines/Campbell– HJR 35/SB 639/SB 1909/Leach– HJR 65/HB 1518
None of these bills have even had a hearing! However, Leach offered this as an amendment to the budget. It got thrown into Article 11.
>Ask budget conferees to keep Leach Amendment #257 in the final budget.
B) Kolkhorst/Pickett – SB 812/HB 303 – A compromise bill that would at least require a toll entity to repay any money it received from the highway fund. This would keep TxDOT from simply ‘granting’ money to toll projects (which is double taxation) and allowing the roads to built with state funds and allow local toll entities to pocket all the revenues. The taxpayers should, at the very least, get their money back!
SB 812 is up for a hearing this week in the Senate Transportation Committee Wednesday (if you’re at the Capitol Wednesday, come register in favor of this bill). Pickett also offered this as an amendment to the budget. If the Leach Amendment above is not adopted, Pickett’s Amendment #258 & #259 should be included in the final budget.
>Ask your senator to support the swift passage of SB 812!
2) To make the toll come off the road when the debt is paid for.
Kolkhorst/Shaheen – SB 668/HB 1282
None of these bills have gotten a hearing.
3) To prevent the conversion of free lanes or HOV lanes into toll lanes, making you pay twice to use a road you’ve already paid for — which is double taxation.
Kolkhorst/Hall/Taylor, V. – SB 399/SB 1127/SB 1143/SB 891/Sanford – HB 1311
SB 399 and SB 1143 had a hearing last week. SB 399 got voted out, but SB 1143 is still pending. Toll agencies are trying to water down the SB 399 to wiggle around this protection. They want to toll your highway main lanes and downgrade your free option to a frontage road.
>Ask your senator to support SB 399 AS FILED, and NOT amend it to make toll agencies happy (which effectively guts the bill).
PRAY PRAY PRAY PRAY! Yes, we mean pray that much and when you are done please pray some more. Please pass on the word how much we need prayer covering everything that is going on in Austin. We are not a weak and apathetic people and we serve a mighty and righteous God. Let us go boldly before His throne and ask for His strategy and wisdom on behalf of our leaders. Cry out for protection and provision for them as well. Thank you for being the answer in so many ways to our prayers.
Written by Cindi Castilla (President of Dallas Eagle Forum)
I fell in love with reading quite young. My mind would create pictures of the landscapes and people and I would sometimes imagine myself in the situations the story explored. When reading Johnny Tremain, I wondered if I would be willing to risk capture and maybe even death to spread pamphlets about the Revolution? Yes!
Reading The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom, I promised myself that I too would hide Jews if I lived in Germany. I would have been part of the Resistance during the Nazi occupation.
I would endure hardship, live on the prairie and help do the hard work to survive! I would help slaves along the underground railroad! If I lost use of my hand and legs, I would write with my mouth (like Joni E. Tada and several others!) Books helped me not want to miss any worthy opportunity.
How in the world did reading lead me to politics?
My parents were always supporting people for office while I was growing up. We would collate flyers for distribution at polling places as a family. Long car rides became discussions of political issues. I became a Christian in High School and transferred to a private school where I began to understand God’s amazing design for man and for me. I had a standout government teacher in 12th grade who introduced me to Adam Smith, Milton Freedman, our amazing Constitution and the fact that Time Magazine was liberal!
There was a moment when I realized I could make a difference… I wanted to live out the novel or the biography. I could dive into issues and politics and do something rather than only read about how others made a difference.
I joined conservative groups at college, made calls for trusted candidates, handed out material at the polls. I got my friends to register to vote. When we were a young couple, my husband and I offered to help our precinct chairman. I became my precinct chair. We joined a republican club. I became an officer in that club. We got elected to attend the state convention over and over. I was asked to serve on committees at the Senatorial district and State level. All I had to do was step up and say, Yes!
I joined Texas Eagle Forum and other groups to educate me on issues. Just knowing a little bit about people representing us or running for office – while also understanding some issues has allowed me to educate my children, friends and neighbors. They now look forward to my endorsements of good people who will represent their conservative values in office.
I won’t go on to be a heroine in a book or to star in a movie, but I do know that I will leave a small footprint of effort on the future of my state and nation. I just want to write my own story and help our good leaders write theirs – in any way that I can.
Written by Jennie Krause (Guest Writer & wife of State Representative Matt Krause – HD 93)
When I imagined my life many years ago, my dreams did not involve politics in any capacity. I didn’t give much thought to my husband’s career except that I knew I wanted him to be home as much as possible. Just a regular, average job that paid the bills, but ended at five every day and never carried over into evenings or weekends. That’s not too much to hope for, right?! Apparently, God had bigger plans for my husband, Matt, and I needed to get on board quickly. After just two years of marriage, we moved across the country so Matt could attend law school. Law school required the majority of his time, but I stayed busy with work and my own education and I knew this was only temporary. In reality, this was merely the beginning! I knew God had planted the seed in Matt’s heart many years prior to become involved in politics, but I didn’t have a clear picture of what that life would look like. In 2010, Matt pursued political office for the very first time. After a long campaign season, he lost that first race. I was very sorry for him, but a little relieved at the same time. I simply wasn’t sure a political life was right for us, especially with babies, babies, and more babies! I thought maybe once our kids were older (and even out of the house), it would be a more appropriate time. Matt sought God’s will for the next months and years and strongly believed he should run again. In 2012, he won his 3 way race outright. I knew only God could have orchestrated this sequence of events. A man with barely any name recognition, very little money in the campaign account, and no extensive political background was headed to Austin! I was thrilled to see the Lord move in our lives so clearly, but also unsure how to keep our family strong with Matt away so often.
“Now unto Him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that worketh in us.” (Ephesians 3:20 KJV)
Fast forward to the present… we are in the midst of his third session. Although there have been some challenging seasons, God has been faithful every step of the way to give me grace for the moment.
“…My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness…” (2 Corinthians 12:9a KJV)
I still think at times I would be able to better partner with Matt if this political life would have started in about 20 years. Nevertheless I trust God’s plan and timing. I am humbled and grateful to report that our family is strong, my love and respect for Matt grows daily, and we are a solid team. I believe the key to our success in this area is knowing Who is in control. Matt is free to make decisions based on right motives rather than political moves to get ahead. The stress of re-election or future political endeavors is non-existent as we have complete faith that God will direct our path and open or close doors as He sees fit.
“And He changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:” (Daniel 2:21)
This perspective has led me to the realization that this “political thing” is our Kingdom work. It is our ministry, not our identity. God has positioned us to be salt which will hopefully bring some encouragement and change to a lost world.
“Ye are the salt of the earth… Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.” (Matthew 5: 14a, 16 KJV)
We are in desperate need of a revival in Texas and in America. My heart’s desire is to say “Yes” to the Lord and be in a state of readiness to serve Him. Revival begins with inner examination and conviction. We need local and statewide leaders who refuse to compromise when the pressure intensifies. With eternity in mind, it becomes clearer and easier to have the right priorities. People are more important than issues and that’s why we must find common ground with others to show love and compassion while not giving into the middle ground/tolerance movement.
I previously believed there were only one or two political issues that actually affected my personal life. I thought we could merely keep to ourselves and the government would never intrude on my faith as a Christian woman or as a Christian mom raising my children with a Biblical Worldview. As our culture is rapidly changing, I find it difficult to view any political issue without seeing how it may shape my life and the future of my children. The only people our society seems unwilling to stand up for and protect are vulnerable women and children. This is why we desperately need elected officials like my husband in the Capitol making these important decisions. I joyfully make sacrifices wherever necessary to support and encourage Matt in his endeavors. This is my political ministry… to pray for Matt, to encourage and support him, to share wisdom, to give him a happy home where he can return.
This has also been an amazing opportunity to educate my children in government and current issues. It is incredible to see them think critically about an issue and come to their own conclusion based on their Biblical Worldview. This reminds me how clear right and wrong, good and evil are to children (and should be to all of us). It is the handiwork of sin, corruption, and sometimes a political agenda that desensitizes people to immorality over time. One of the practical ways I engage my children in the political process is watching the proceedings of the Texas House live online. They are thrilled to see “Daddy” on the computer and it also affords a time for us to discuss the issues being debated and laws being voted on. For example, it is mind-blowing to my children to think that someone wants to allow men in women’s restrooms or a boy to use the same shower as a girl. It is also unfathomable to them that it is legal in our country for a mother to choose to end the life of her baby. The list goes on and on.
“Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another;” (Romans 2:15 KJV)
I don’t have a list of awards or achievements; I’ve not authored books or blogs; I am not a sought after orator or performer, but I do know God has positioned me perfectly to be a homeschooling mom of 5, wife to a lawyer and politician, and a student of God’s Word. I am proud to be a Christian stay-at-home homeschool mom and wife! I look forward to continuing to be involved in politics in whatever capacity God allows. After all, it is vitally important to our present life and future. Will the next revival begin in the halls of our Capitol in Austin? Maybe! I want to be ready to serve where God is working and I bet you do too! Thank you for supporting my husband and family with your prayers, love and encouragement. God bless each of you!