Joe Straus Comes Out Swinging for Local Control
Did you catch this opinion editorial in the SA Express News by Joe Straus? “Local control essential to keep students safe.” The Texas GOP failed to defend its own principles. Atoning is the first step. So thanks, Joe. The second step is leaving the Texas GOP with a declaration of political independence. That’s totally up to Joe.
We would add two things to Former Texas House Speaker, Joe Straus’ statement on local control.
First, it has become clear that the Governor (we independents like to call him King Greg) doesn’t have the power to stop local school boards from requiring masks. The Attorney General so much as admitted this in his filings.
To our second point: the idea of local control turned into controlling the locals, when Joe Straus was House Speaker in the 2015 legislative session when local control was usurped by the Legislative branch dominated by Republicans. Mind you, Democrats also helped this along.
The attacks on local control hit a high point in 2015 after residents of the city of Denton (mind you, primarily Republicans) passed setbacks for fracking facilities via a citizens petition. Oil and gas lobby interests vastly outspent the citizens to try to defeat the measure. But citizens passed the Denton setback rules handily. Nevertheless, the Legislature, heavily lobbied by oil and gas interests couldn’t wait for a court ruling to overturn the law. They quickly overturned the citizen’s amendment with H.B. 40, a frontal attack on the rights of cities to protect their citizens’ property rights and quality of life.
The King Lobby was on such a high off the HB 40 victory, they couldn’t stop themselves from going for the jugular. That’s when they moved aggressively to gut Texans’ 100-year constitutional protections for the right to petition in Texas municipalities for a public vote — HB 2595. HB 2595 was introduced by Rep. Jim Keffer (R-Eastland), a Straus lieutenant. Keffer snuck the bill over to the Environmental Committee (rather than the Elections Committee) then chaired by Houston Democrat, Carol Alvarado. The Texas Municipal League jumped on the bandwagon to stop those pesky petitioners. All combined, the fix was in. When it got to the Texas House, it passed with overwhelming support from members of both parties.
LIV brought together tea partiers to green partiers to stop HB 2595 when it got to the Senate Committee. Again, it was in the wrong committee. We at LIV testified following Todd Staples, former Ag Commissioner turned President for the Texas Oil and Gas Association in this Senate Committee meeting, where HB 2595 died: testimony video here.
Joe is, so far as we know, still a Republican. We know he will make his own decision. We hope he will consider helping to lead the independent political movement, first, by getting out of the Texas GOP. We’re here if and when you’re ready, Joe!
Jim Keffer was last seen as a lobbyist immediately following his departure from the Legislature in 2017. This is what’s known as the “revovling door” at the Lege. We hope all candidates in 2021 will be running to close that door for politicians for at least 5 years following serving in public office.
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