Posted on by Tim Hardin
Last week, Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont), released his list of interim charges to all House committees.
Every legislative cycle, the leaders of each respective legislative chamber issue interim charges for each committee to study in preparation for the next legislative session. Every lawmaker has the ability to request specific charges to be included on the list, but in the Texas House of Representatives, it is ultimately the Speaker of the House who makes the final decision on which charges or priorities will be studied. Here are some highlights from the House list:
Areas of Concern:
Committee on Agriculture and Livestock
- Study the access of the state’s agricultural industry to available capital through loans, grants, or other sources. Make recommendations to ensure the agricultural industry has sufficient access to available capital, as well as how the Texas Department of Agriculture can educate farmers, agricultural producers, and others about available sources of capital.
- This is corporate welfare, plain and simple. The terminology, “Access to available capital” is simply a euphemism used to deceive taxpayers from what this actually is, corporate subsidies on the taxpayer’s dime.
Committee on International Relations & Economic Development
- Examine current economic development incentive programs and identify opportunities to enhance job creation in Texas. Make recommendations to promote transparency and enhance the effectiveness of such programs.
- This is studying how best to make available additional corporate subsidies and welfare programs, like the existing Texas Enterprise Fund, which TFR has sounded the alarm on for years. Programs like these defeat the idea of free enterprise and instead pick winners over losers.
- Evaluate Texas’ current efforts to attract semiconductor investment to the state. Identify potential strengths and vulnerabilities that could impact the success of Texas’ semiconductor industry and the ability to create and maintain a reliable semiconductor supply chain.
- This is studying more corporate welfare specifically to Samsung to manufacture semiconductors in Texas at taxpayer expense.
Committee on Transportation
- Study the impact of the increasing sale and use of electric and alternatively fueled vehicles on revenue predictions for the state highway fund. Recommend a road use revenue equalization methodology to create fairness and parity between gasoline, electric, and alternatively fueled vehicles.
- This is a charge specific to studying how much more they need to tax Texans to pay for transitioning to Electric Vehicles.
Committee on Urban Affairs
- Evaluate the availability of workforce housing to support the dynamic economic growth of the state. Study the use of public-private partnerships and other tools to incentivize the development of housing that meets Texas’ expanding workforce demands. Develop and
include measures to ensure accountability and transparency associated with these tools.
- Anytime we are talking about Public-Private Partnerships, we should be worried. Incentivising economic growth this way boils down to one thing, corporate welfare from taxpayers.
Committee on Ways & Means
- Conduct a comprehensive review of the impact of not renewing Chapter 313, Tax Code. Evaluate tax incentives offered by other states and make recommendations for incentivizing manufacturers and other capital-intensive businesses to locate to Texas.
- Speaker Phelan has publically stated his intention to replace 313 abatements with something else this coming session. The Legislature chose not to continue Chapter 313 in the last legislative session beyond its set expiration date of December 2022.
- Study and consider methods of providing additional property tax relief, including the use of $3 billion in available American Rescue Plan Act funds that were held for future tax relief by the 87th Legislature, and other sources of revenue. Explore options to reduce business property tax burdens and options for limiting the growth of property tax bills
- This charge reveals the intentions of State legislative leadership regarding property tax relief. There is no plan to actually reduce property taxes, but only to continue the trend of providing gimmicks to slow their growth. TFR supports the elimination of property taxes altogether and considers its levy immoral.
After reviewing the list of charges, it is apparent that major conservative legislative priorities are left out completely. This tells us that at least one chamber of the legislature has no intention of dealing with these issues next cycle and signals to grassroots activists that they need to start applying pressure now. Here are major policy issues that are both legislative priorities of activists and poll extremely high with conservatives that Republican leadership in the Texas House appear to be ignoring:
- A Ban on Taxpayer-Funded Lobbying
- TFR has spoken openly about this issue and advocated for a ban on the practice. TFR believes it is immoral for government jurisdictions to use taxpayers’ money to work against their own interests. This issue has also been a longtime legislative priority of the Republican Party of Texas.
- Eliminating the Property Tax
- Despite major outcries from taxpayers to end the immoral practice, the Texas House has decided to continue to ignore Texas taxpayers and instead address the issue by “slowing the growth,” despite a growing number of Texans who have reported being priced out of their homes.
- Critical Race Theory in School
- This is a major issue for voters and a reason we have seen Texans fleeing our “woke education system.” The Texas House appears poised to inject more money into the public education system without dealing with the indoctrination of our children.
- Vaccine Passports
- The list has no mention of this atrocious attack on the civil liberties of all Texans. The Texas House is already complicit in enabling thousands of Texans to lose their livelihoods because they refused to be a part of forced medical experiments. The Texas Legislature chose not to address this issue last legislative session, despite thousands of Texans complaining about the issue.
- Voter Fraud and Election Integrity
- In a recent Special Legislative Session, the House decided to decrease the penalty on voter fraud for what was dubbed as the omnibus ‘Election Integrity’ legislation. There was no mention of correcting this issue or further securing our elections at all in these charges.
- Gender Modification
- Despite the Texas Attorney General declaring gender modification on children as child abuse, leadership in the Texas House has decided that it again has no plans to take action to end this barbaric practice on children. In the last legislative session, the House killed efforts to end this practice multiple times.
- School Choice
- For parents coming off of two horrific years of policies related to COVID-19, combined with the forced indoctrination of “woke” ideology on our children, an increasing number are demanding they be given the choice to educate their children as they see fit with their tax dollars.
What is made abundantly clear from these charges is that taxpayers can likely expect more of the status quo from the leadership of at least one chamber of the State Legislature, who seem obsessed with the idea of corporate welfare and continuing to ignore issues deemed legislative priorities from within their own party.
The good news is that this gives grassroots activists a headstart in attempting to force the hand of elected officials to prioritize and pass legislation prioritized by them. The first step is making sure your voices are heard in the party convention processes. If interested, check out our series on how you can help as we inch closer to the conventions this summer.