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Below is Texas Eagle Forum’s 2017 Legislative Scorecard with Senate and House vote explanations and conservative ratings of your legislators. Click below to view:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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