The Conservative Roundtable of Texas is pleased to release the 2015 Conservative Effectiveness Index, TxCR’s third biennial assessment of the Texas Legislature, and recognize TxCR’s 2015 Exemplary Conservative Lawmakers.

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The Conservative Roundtable of Texas is pleased to release the 2015 Conservative Effectiveness Index, TxCR’s third biennial assessment of the Texas Legislature, and recognize TxCR’s 2015 Exemplary Conservative Lawmakers.

2O15 Conservative Effectiveness Index

The 2015 Conservative Effectiveness Index strives to accurately inform Texans by providing a meaningful, comprehensive evaluation of legislator performance during the 84th Legislative Session. TxCR emphasizes economic conservatism and encourages reasonable regulations, reliable infrastructure, low taxation and efficient government. TxCR recognizes each legislator who receives a “B” or better as a 2015 Effective Conservative Lawmaker.

The 2015 Conservative Effectiveness Index considers over 50 substantive bills across 7 key policy areas, provides summaries and position statements for each bill, primarily examines bills that became law, and recognizes the diligence of lawmakers by noting authorship and absences. The Index refrains from scoring amendments or double-counting a vote on leadership—and TxCR abstains from seeking to directly influence the legislative process either by threatening to punish lawmakers for supporting or opposing certain legislation, or making financial contributions to legislators during their campaigns for primary or general election.

2O15 Summary of Considered Legislation

The 2015 Conservative Effectiveness Index considers over 50 substantive bills in 7 key policy areas, recognizes lawmakers who author or sponsor considered legislation that becomes law, objectively describes each bill and explains TxCR’s position.

SB 1: 2018-2019 Budget

The Texas Legislature passed a two-year, $216.8 billion budget, which the Governor signed after vetoing about $120 million.  When compared to total 2016-2017 spending of $216.4 billion, the 2018-2019 budget represents an increase of $500 million, or less than two-tenths of 1 percent.  Notably, the 2018-2019 budget spends $8 billion less than the $224.8 billion available according to the Biennial Revenue Estimate, giving lawmakers the budgetary flexibility to address such potential issues as school finance reform, property tax relief or greater-than-expected health care costs.  Budget writers also withdrew $1 billion from the Rainy Day Fund and delayed $2 billion from the state highway fund.  S.J. of Tex., 85th Leg., R.S. 3786 (2017).  H.J. of Tex., 85th Leg., R.S. 5613 (2017).

Amend. 8, SB 2: Property Tax Reform Benefiting All Texans

Texas is home to four of the five fastest-growing cities in the United States. The state also leads the nation in number of farms and ranches, with rural lands accounting for over eighty percent of total land area. Amend. 8 to SB 2 would balance the interests of Texans throughout the state by allowing taxpayers to more easily petition for a rate election when property tax revenues increase 5 percent or more and implementing an automatic election if revenues increase 8 percent or more. S.J. of Tex., 85th Leg., R.S. 599 (2017).

Amend. 4 to SB 669: Increased Transparency in Property

Under Texas law, local governments levy property tax based on appraised property value and tax rates set by local taxing units such as school districts, counties, cities, community colleges and special districts. By providing taxpayers with the property tax rate proposed by each local taxing entity and a “No New Revenue” rate, Amend. 4 to SB 669 would allow Texans to see how the budgetary choices of each taxing entity affect their property tax bill. H.J. of Tex., 85th Leg., R.S. 3938 (2017).

SB 5: Improvements to Texas Voter ID Law

In 2011, Texas adopted the requirement that before casting a ballot, a voter present valid photo identification, such as a driver’s license, election identification card, passport, U.S. military identification card, citizenship certificate, personal identification card or concealed handgun license. In an effort to ensure that the Texas voter ID law did not unduly disenfranchise voters or have a discriminatory or disparate impact, SB 5, an emergency item of Governor Abbott, revised the voter ID requirements to expand acceptable forms of identification and comply with constitutional requirements recently articulated by federal district and appellate courts. S.J. of Tex., 85th Leg., R.S. 3797 (2017). H.J. of Tex., 85th Leg., R.S. 5704 (2017).

HB 25: Elimination of One-Punch Voting

In banning straight-ticket voting, Texas joined 41 other states in electing to encourage more thoughtful, knowledgeable ballot-casting.  In addition, eliminating one-punch voting also reduces the likelihood that an unpopular candidate at the top of a ballot will result in a wave election for down-ballot legislative, county and judicial races.  S.J. of Tex., 85th Leg., R.S. 2085 (2017).  H.J. of Tex., 85th Leg., R.S. 3982 (2017).

SB 4: Prohibition of Sanctuary Cities in Texas

Between 2011 and 2017, over 225,000 criminal aliens were booked in Texas jails, charged with over 600,000 criminal offenses, and convicted of over 269,000 crimes, according to data compiled by the Texas Department of Public Safety (see graph below). In this period, the State of Texas spent over $1.5 billion for border security operations to supplement federal efforts to curb illegal immigration. SB 4, which was a Governor Greg Abbott emergency item, enhances public safety by prohibiting city, county and college law enforcement officials from adopting policies that forbid enforcement of federal and state immigration law. S.J. of Tex., 85th Leg., R.S. 1616 (2017). H.J. of Tex., 85th Leg., R.S. 2021 (2017).

HB 903: Investing Rainy Day Fund Assets Prudently

Instructs the Comptroller to invest a percentage of available Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF) assets according to specified investment standards, and requires the Comptroller to include the fair market value of the Fund’s investment portfolio in ESF cap calculations and when determining allocations from general revenue to the ESF and State Highway Fund. TxCR supports HB 903 because it preserves the ESF’s purchasing power, grows the state’s savings account by prudently investing roughly $4 billion in available ESF funds, annually increases the state’s savings amount by an estimated $60 million and protects sufficient funds for use in the event of an emergency.

HB 187: Extending the Statute of Limitations for Unlawful Employment Practices

Increases the statute of limitations for an unlawful employment practice to five years after the date of the alleged offense or 180 days after the plaintiff discovered the alleged offense. TxCR opposes HB 187 because it would overly burden businesses, especially small businesses, unnecessarily increases lawsuits against employers, and improperly interferes with the employer-employee relationship. (Note: This bill did not pass the Legislature during the 84th Session.)

HB 1295: Compelling Disclosure of Sponsored Research & Certain Contracts with Governmental Entities

Requires an employee of a public institution of higher education disclose certain research sponsors in public communications relating to research and provides that a contracting business disclose any conflicts of interest to the governmental entity and that the governmental entity give a copy of the disclosure to the Texas Ethics Commission (TEC). TxCR supports HB 1295 because it promotes appropriate disclosures and greater transparency in government contracts.

SB 293: Expanding Eligibility for the Major Events Trust Fund

Broadens Major Events Trust Fund eligibility to include ESPN, NASCAR and the Ultimate Fighting Championship among such currently eligible organizations as the National Football League, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League and Major League Baseball. TxCR supports SB 293 because it expands participation in a fund that attracts tens of thousands of out-of-state tourists, generates millions in tourism revenue for Texas businesses, enables Texas to compete with incentives offered by other states, and amends existing law to properly reflect the legislative intent of prior reforms to the Major Events Trust Fund.

SB 722: Ensuring the Integrity of Unemployment Benefits

Amends the Labor Code to disqualify an individual from receiving benefits under the Texas Unemployment Compensation Act if the individual refuses to submit to or fails to pass a pre-employment drug test for certain jobs. TxCR supports SB 722 because it promotes personal responsibility for those seeking employment, encourages a healthy work environment and ensures the integrity of unemployment benefit payments. (Note: This bill did not pass the Legislature during the 84th Session.)

SB 837: Improving the Ability of a Municipality or Public Improvement District to Attract Business

Permits Arlington, Austin and San Antonio to create tourism public improvement districts (PID) to compete for convention business and raises the requirements to create a PID. TxCR supports SB 837 because it increases the number of Texas cities that are authorized to more effectively pursue convention business and authorizes these municipalities to pursue the tourism success that the Dallas PID has made possible.

SB 860: Updating the Business Organizations Code to Reflect Current Business Practice

Clarifies portions of the Business Organizations Code relating to corporations and fundamental business transactions so that the statutory framework reflects current business practice. TxCR supports SB 860 because it provides greater legal certainty in commercial transactions in Texas and promotes the continuation of a pro-business economic environment in Texas.

SB 899: Revising Regulations of Money Transmitters & Currency Exchangers

Implements revisions to the Finance Code based on recommendations from the Texas Department of Banking that include narrowing and clarifying the language of the Money Services Act and modifying certain security requirements to be based on transaction type and volume of business. TxCR supports SB 899 because it provides for statutory updates that increase consumer protections and resolve potentially detrimental issues with current statutes relating to the banking industry.

SB 1639: Forcing Unnecessarily Restrictive Limits on Municipal Annexation

Prohibits a city from annexing a surrounding area through limited purpose annexation and requires a municipality complete a petition or election process prior to city-initiated annexation. TxCR opposes SB 1639 because it would unnecessarily modify municipal annexation procedures, inappropriately burden local taxpayers and prevent a municipality from ensuring that residents pay for the city services they use. (Note: This bill did not pass the Legislature during the 84th Session.)

HJR 26: Imposing an Inappropriately Burdensome Compensation Mandate on Businesses

Amends the Texas Constitution to require a business pay each employee the greater of $10.10 per hour or the federal minimum wage. TxCR opposes HJR 26 because it would increase unemployment, particularly for low-skilled workers, raise prices for consumers and likely have little effect on reducing poverty. (Note: This bill did not pass the Legislature during the 84th Session.)

HB 4: Supporting High-Quality Pre-K Education

Encourages school districts in Texas to provide half-day prekindergarten instruction by establishing a $130 million grant-funding program available to public school districts, open-enrollment charter schools and private providers who meet the stated curriculum, teacher and reporting requirements. TxCR supports HB 4 because it implements research-based reforms designed to measurably improve education outcomes and significantly reduce state expenditures, helps reduce disparity in educational opportunities for young Texans, increases opportunities for parents in the workforce, encourages familial involvement in childhood education, and provides for transparency and accountability to ensure the program delivers expected results.

HB 18: Encouraging Postsecondary Success & Career Planning for Public School Students

Provides for expanded participation in the Texas High Performance Schools Consortium and the development and distribution of public outreach materials to promote awareness of curriculum changes, directs the University of Texas Center for Teaching and Learning to develop a postsecondary education and career counseling academy for school counselors, and prohibits the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) from limiting the number of dual credit courses in which a high school student may enroll. TxCR supports HB 18 because it encourages student academic achievement and high school, college and career readiness, expands the state’s educated workforce, allows high school students to save time and money while earning college credits.

HB 506: Increasing the Tax Rate Limitation on School District Bonds

Allows a public school district to exceed by 20 percent the cap of 50 cents per $100 property valuation for debt service on bonds issued for school construction if the district meets certain criteria. TxCR opposes HB 506 because it weakens limitations on public school bonds, one of the largest categories of debt in the state, and could result in increased debt and higher taxes for homeowners. (Note: This bill did not pass the Legislature during the 84th Session.)

HB 743: Improving Public School Curriculum & Standardized Testing

Requires the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to conduct a study of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), statewide standardized tests and end-of-course tests and to report the study’s finding to the State Board of Education (SBOE) for recommendations, limits the duration of a statewide standardized test, and requires an independent third-party determine the validity and reliability of all statewide standardized exams. TxCR supports HB 743 because it reforms current test practices, reduces the amount of test preparation and stress on students, teachers and parents, and promotes a more efficient test contracting system.

HB 2804: Evaluating Public School District & Campus Performance

Establishes a new method for evaluating school districts and campuses using an A through F performance scale based on five achievement metrics: three metrics use State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) scores, the fourth incorporates measures unrelated to standardized testing, such as dropout and graduation rates, and the fifth relies on indices that measure student and community engagement and is individually developed by each district and campus. TxCR supports HB 2804 because it more clearly evaluates public school performance, gives districts and schools greater control of performance ratings and reduces the importance of STAAR scores in district and campus ratings.

SB 149: Allowing Alternatives to State High School Graduation Requirements

Requires public and charter schools to establish an individual graduation committee to determine whether a student who fails to pass one of the five STAAR end-of-course (EOC) exams may nevertheless qualify to graduate if they passed all of their coursework and meet additional requirements for remediation and coursework. TxCR supports SB 149 because it allows local educators and parents to participate in the process that determines whether a student is qualified to graduate high school, allows for the consideration of student success measurements other than STAAR EOC exams such as college placement exams, and promotes higher education and occupational success by giving students an alternative to dropping out of high school because of one failed exam.

SB 925: Training for Public Elementary School Teachers

Establishes Literacy Achievement Academies that support teacher training and the implementation of scientific, research-based programs to better develop the reading skills of primary grade students. TxCR supports SB 925 because it promotes development of teaching skills that increase student achievement, especially for students who are educationally disadvantaged.

SJR 5: Creating a Dedicated Revenue Stream for the State Highway Fund

Proposes an amendment to the Texas Constitution to dedicate over $2.5 billion of sales and use tax revenue as well as motor vehicle sales tax revenue to the State Highway Fund and authorizes appropriate uses of dedicated funds. TxCR supports SJR 5 because it uses existing revenue to provide a predictable, constitutionally dedicated, sustainable and long-term funding solution for transportation and promotes continued economic growth in Texas.

HB 20: Improving Transparency & Accountability at the Texas Department of Transportation

Requires the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to develop and implement a performance-based planning and programming process for funding transportation projects, instructs local transportation entities to submit funding prioritization guidelines to TxDOT, and creates House and Senate select committees to examine issues relating to transportation planning and assess how well TxDOT achieved its goals and objectives. TxCR supports HB 20 because it helps ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent appropriately, increases transparency and oversight, and encourages an objective and accountable allocation of transportation funds.

HB 122: Promoting Fiscally Responsible Use of the Texas Mobility Fund

Prohibits the Texas Mobility Fund (TMF) from issuing bonds and requires the Texas Transportation Commission exclusively use available TMF money to pay for the construction and maintenance of state highways with an expected life of at least 10 years, create debt service accounts, pay interest on bonds for less than two years or refund outstanding obligations. TxCR supports HB 122 because it promotes a return to the fiscally prudent “pay-as-you-go” method of funding transportation projects and reduces the state’s debt burden.

HB 1833: Increasing Local Government Authority with Respect to Toll Bridges

Removes a current population limit to allow any county along the United States-Mexico border to contract with a private or governmental entity to acquire, construct, maintain or operate a toll bridge. TxCR supports HB 1833 because it encourages local control and allows a county to construct and manage a toll bridge in the manner that is most effective and efficient and best serves local needs.

SB 678: Improving Capabilities of a North Texas Transportation Authority

Requires that a coordinated county transportation authority provide assistance for property relocated through an exercise of eminent domain, changes the conditions under which an authority’s board of directors may authorize contract negotiations without competitive, sealed bids and caps at $125 million the total liability that the Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA) may assume in an agreement to provide certain passenger rail services. TxCR supports SB 678 because it allows a North Texas transportation authority to more effectively and affordably serve transportation needs in the D/FW area.

SB 219: Improving Health and Human Services in Texas

Clarifies and updates health and human services statutes to provide a more orderly, accessible, up-to-date and accurate body of legislation that citizens and lawmakers can better understand. TxCR supports SB 219 because updated and understandable statutes promote adherence to the law and allow lawmakers to make policy changes that improve the provision of health and human services in Texas.

HB 19: Establishing Preventative Services and Mental Health Programs for Veterans & Military Families

Requires the Texas Veterans Commission and Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to coordinate the administration of mental health programs for veterans, including a community collaboration initiative, and establishes a pilot program that provides preventative services for veterans and military families who may be at risk of family violence, abuse or neglect. TxCR supports HB 19 because it enhances the network of preventative programs and mental health resources available for veterans and military families.

HB 764: Notifying Patients of the Collection of Health Care Information

Requires health care providers give written notice to a patient if the Texas Health Care Information Collection (THCIC) or Department of State Health Services (DSHS) collect the patient’s health care data and imposes certain standards with respect to the use and security of their health care data. TxCR supports HB 764 because it increases transparency and security with respect to the collection and use of health care data by THCIC or DSHS.

HB 3014: Utilizing “Pay for Success” Contracts to Promote Cost-Effective Solutions to Social Problems

Creates the Success Contract Payments Trust Fund, authorizes a state agency and the Comptroller to jointly enter into a pay for success contract with private service providers, conditions payment on contract completion and provides for a third-party verification of performance. TxCR supports HB 3014 because it encourages innovative, bottom-up solutions to social problems, allows for the provision of governmental services without the expansion of government, and injects competition, transparency and accountability into the provision of government services.

SB 200: Providing for the Continuation and Functions of the Health and Human Services Commission

Consolidates certain functions of the state health and human services system, requires the executive commission of the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) develop a transition plan for the transfer and consolidation of the functions of abolished state agencies, and creates the Health and Human Services Transition Legislative Oversight Committee to facilitate the transfer of regulatory functions from the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) and Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to the HHSC and to study whether to continue DFPS and DSHS as independent state agencies. TxCR supports SB 200 because it takes a graduated approach to reorganization and implements reforms designed to improve accountability, efficiency and consistency among the state health and human services agencies.

SB 481: Protecting Patients from the Unfair Practice of Balance Billing

Expands consumer access to health care information and dispute resolution procedures, revises the content of billing statements to require additional conspicuous, plain-language explanations, and lowers from $1,000 to $500 the amount for which a consumer may be liable under balanced billing practices. TxCR supports SB 481 because it ensures that patients and health care consumers receive important information about their rights under Texas law, curtails unfair billing practices, and encourages a more fair, effective and transparent approach to health care.

2O15 Summary of Considered Legislation

The 2015 Conservative Effectiveness Index considers over 50 substantive bills in 7 key policy areas, recognizes lawmakers who author or sponsor considered legislation that becomes law, objectively describes each bill and explains TxCR’s position.

2O15 Exemplary Conservative Lawmakers

The Conservative Roundtable of Texas recognizes the following 2015 Exemplary Conservative Lawmakers for successfully advancing conservative policy solutions during the 84th Legislative Session. Their accomplishments reflect the leadership of Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives Joe Straus and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, President of the Texas Senate.

Charles-Schwertner

Sen. Charles Schwertner

Sen. Charles Schwertner

Exemplary Conservative for
Health Care & Human Services

Four-Price

Rep. Four Price

Rep. Four Price


Exemplary Conservative for
Health Care & Human Services

Susan-Lewis-King

Rep. Susan King

Rep. Susan King


Exemplary Conservative for
Health Care & Human Services

Jimmie

Sen. Kel Seliger

Sen. Kel Seliger


Exemplary Conservative for
Higher Education

John-Zerwas

Rep. John Zerwas

Rep. John Zerwas


Exemplary Conservative for
Higher Education

Lois-Kolkhorst

Sen. Lois Kolkhorst

Sen. Lois Kolkhorst


Exemplary Conservative for
Public Education

Jimmie-Don-Aycock

Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock

Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock

Exemplary Conservative for
Public Education

Kelly-Hancock

Sen. Kelly Hancock

Sen. Kelly Hancock


Exemplary Conservative for
Energy & Natural Resources

Drew-Darby

Rep. Drew Darby

Rep. Drew Darby


Exemplary Conservative for
Energy & Natural Resources

Robert-Nichols

Sen. Robert Nichols

Sen. Robert Nichols


Exemplary Conservative for
Transportation

Ron-Simmons

Rep. Ron Simmons

Rep. Ron Simmons


Exemplary Conservative for
Transportation

Kevin-Eltife

Sen. Kevin Eltife

Sen. Kevin Eltife


Exemplary Conservative for
Business & Economic Development

Tan-Parker

Rep. Tan Parker

Rep. Tan Parker


Exemplary Conservative for
Business & Economic Development

Giovanni-Capriglione

Rep. Giovanni Capriglione

Rep. Giovanni Capriglione

Exemplary Conservative for
Business & Economic Development

jane

Sen. Jane Nelson

Sen. Jane Nelson


Exemplary Conservative for
Budget, Taxes & Governance

Dan-Flynn

Rep. Dan Flynn

Rep. Dan Flynn


Exemplary Conservative for
Budget, Taxes & Governance

Dennis-Bonnen

Rep. Dennis Bonnen

Rep. Dennis Bonnen


Exemplary Conservative for
Budget, Taxes & Governance

John-Otto

Rep. John Otto

Rep. John Otto


Exemplary Conservative for
Budget, Taxes & Governance

Patrick-Dan

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick


President of the
Texas Senate

speaker

Speaker Joe Straus

Speaker Joe Straus


Speaker of the
Texas House of Representatives

2O15 Exemplary Conservative Lawmakers

The Conservative Roundtable of Texas recognizes the following 2015 Exemplary Conservative Lawmakers for successful advancing conservative policy solutions during the 84th Legislative Session. Their accomplishments reflect the leadership of Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives Joe Straus and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, President of the Texas Senate.

speaker

Speaker Joe Straus


Speaker of the
Texas House of Representatives

Patrick-Dan

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick


President of the
Texas Senate

John-Otto

Rep. John Otto


Exemplary Conservative for
Budget, Taxes & Governance

Dennis-Bonnen

Rep. Dennis Bonnen


Exemplary Conservative for
Budget, Taxes & Governance

Dan-Flynn

Rep. Dan Flynn


Exemplary Conservative for
Budget, Taxes & Governance

jane

Sen. Jane Nelson


Exemplary Conservative for
Budget, Taxes & Governance

Giovanni-Capriglione

Rep. Giovanni Capriglione

Exemplary Conservative for
Business & Economic Development

Tan-Parker

Rep. Tan Parker


Exemplary Conservative for
Business & Economic Development

Kevin-Eltife

Sen. Kevin Eltife


Exemplary Conservative for
Business & Economic Development

Ron-Simmons

Rep. Ron Simmons


Exemplary Conservative for
Transportation

Robert-Nichols

Sen. Robert Nichols


Exemplary Conservative for
Transportation

Drew-Darby

Rep. Drew Darby


Exemplary Conservative for
Energy & Natural Resources

Kelly-Hancock

Sen. Kelly Hancock


Exemplary Conservative for
Energy & Natural Resources

Jimmie-Don-Aycock

Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock

Exemplary Conservative for
Public Education

Lois-Kolkhorst

Sen. Lois Kolkhorst


Exemplary Conservative for
Public Education

John-Zerwas

Rep. John Zerwas


Exemplary Conservative for
Higher Education

Jimmie

Sen. Kel Seliger


Exemplary Conservative for
Higher Education

Susan-Lewis-King

Rep. Susan King


Exemplary Conservative for
Health Care & Human Services

Four-Price

Rep. Four Price


Exemplary Conservative for
Health Care & Human Services

Charles-Schwertner

Sen. Charles Schwertner

Exemplary Conservative for
Health Care & Human Services