2012 CRT Scorecard
The Conservative Roundtable of Texas is a nonpartisan coalition of concerned business leaders and citizens who have come together to ensure that Texas remains a national and world leader for economic activity and quality of life. We expect our elected officials to maintain low taxes, a streamlined and predictable regulatory environment, a reliable infrastructure, and a transparent and efficient government.
As part of educating the public on which state legislators met those expectations during the last legislative session, the Conservative Roundtable is proud to release our inaugural legislative scorecard. We believe this scorecard accurately reflects which state legislators could be counted on to stand up for responsible, conservative solutions to the challenges facing the Texas economy and the Texas business community. These legislators made difficult choices under enormous pressure, and continually declined to cast the easy or politically expedient vote, instead opting to stand up and be conservative stewards of Texas.
THE 82nd LEGISLATIVE SESSION
Last year’s legislative session was by any honest measure one of the most conservative in history. That success is even more remarkable given the enormous economic challenges facing the state at the start of that session. Despite a $27 billion budget shortfall and increasing regulatory pressure from the federal government, the Texas legislature managed to complete its work without raising taxes and without damaging the economic climate in the state. In fact, Texas continues to be recognized as a national and world leader in job creation and economic development. That success is no accident; it is due to the long list of conservative honorees recognized by this scorecard who displayed leadership and courage during the 82nd Legislative Session.
While this scorecard recognizes those members of the Texas House and Senate who protected and advanced business and economic interests in Texas, we would be remiss if we did not recognize that last session’s successes were achieved under the leadership of Governor Rick Perry, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst in the Senate, and Speaker Joe Straus in the House. Due to constitutional and procedural limitations, the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Speaker do not cast votes except on the rarest of occasions, and therefore do not have a voting history to examine. Those officials do, however, set the agenda for the legislative session and have a great deal of influence on its success or failure. Governor Perry, Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst, and Speaker Straus deserve an enormous amount of credit for guiding the 82nd Legislature through extraordinarily rough economic times.
The Conservative Roundtable recognizes the following LONE STAR CONSERVATIVE LEADERS who received a score of 90-100% on our scorecard:
The Conservative Roundtable recognizes the following LONE STAR CONSERVATIVE GUARDIANS who received a score of 80-89% on our scorecard:
|Rep. Doc Anderson
Rep. Leo Berman
Rep. Craig Eiland
Rep. Gary Elkins
Rep. Will Hartnett
Rep. Bryan Hughes
|Rep. Sid Miller
Rep. Ken Paxton
Rep. Raul Torres
Rep. Randy Weber
Rep. Bill Zedler
In compiling the scorecard, the Conservative Roundtable selected votes on bills and amendments from the 82nd Regular and Special Sessions that reflected conservative budget choices, protected the infrastructure of the state, helped ensure a healthy and educated workforce, and improved the efficiency and transparency of government. In our opinion, these bills best represent the responsible, conservative public policy that makes Texas the best state in which to do business.
HB 1 – State Budget: Adopted a state budget for 2012-13 that addressed a $27 billion shortfall without raising taxes. Legislators instead used a combination of targeted budget cuts, downsized state government, and across-the-board spending reductions.
HB 275 – Use of “Rainy Day” Fund: Paid existing debts by appropriating money from the Rainy Day Fund to cover a shortfall in the state’s obligations during the fiscal biennium.
HCR 18 – Balanced Budget Amendment: Urged the federal government to not spend more than it receives in revenue.
SB 934 – Tax Fraud: Improved the ability of the state to investigate and prosecute crimes of tax fraud by expanding the comptroller’s power to investigate tax fraud, expanding the number of potential venues for prosecution of tax fraud, and clarifying the definitions of fraudulent activity.
HB 3328 – Fracking Disclosure: Created a hydraulic fracturing fluid disclosure system, providing certain limited trade secret protections to allow operators and service providers to protect their intellectual property, while also providing information to the public and to environmental groups about the safety of such fluids.
SB 875 – Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Created an affirmative defense for Texas businesses against enforcement actions that are based on nuisance and trespass claims arising from greenhouse gas emissions if the permit holder is in general compliance with an authorization issued by TCEQ or the federal government.
SB 1134 – Air Quality: Required TCEQ, before promulgating any permit for oil and gas production facilities, to conduct a regulatory analysis regarding costs and alternatives, give special consideration to existing air quality monitoring data, utilize modeling that is consistent with the air quality monitoring data, and tailor air quality requirements to different parts of the state.
SJR 16 – Water Stewardship: Incentivizes landowners to invest in projects to improve water quality and quantity for the state by including water stewardship as an eligible tax exemption on open-space and agricultural land.
SB 7 (S1) (House only) – Healthcare System Efficiency: An omnibus healthcare bill designed to improve the administration, quality, and efficiency of healthcare, health and human services, and health benefit programs. The bill included cost-containment measures, public safety improvements, and programs designed to improve patient outcomes.
SB 23 – Health Care Cost Reform: Implemented various cost-saving and efficiency measures in health and human services and health benefits programs. The savings and efficiencies are achieved by measures such as adding prescription drugs into Medicaid managed care, allowing the state to leverage federal matching funds while maintaining current services, implementing cost-effective technology to prevent duplicative benefits, repealing prohibitions against certain managed care, and preventing overutilization of waiver services.
SB 420 – Indigent Health Care for Resident Aliens: Prevented abuse of the indigent healthcare system by allowing a county to include the assets and income of a resident alien’s benefactor as well as the benefactor’s spouse when determining eligibility for the sponsored alien.
HB 9 – Success-Based Higher Education Funding: Required “success-based” funding for institutions of higher education, including funding based in part on criteria such as course completion, graduation rates, and degrees awarded in critical fields.
HB 33 – Textbook Affordability: Required institutions to provide students with information relating to textbook costs and available financial assistance, and requires textbook publishers to provide the institutions with data regarding cost and available editions of textbooks.
GOVERNMENT EFFICIENCY & TRANSPARENCY:
HB 14 – Unemployment Benefit Eligibility: Disqualified a person from receiving unemployment benefits if the person is also receiving severance pay at that time, and returned the person’s eligibility after the severance pay ends.
HB 654 – Local Government Tax Transparency: Improved transparency of local government taxation by requiring the comptroller to produce a public report before each legislative session that contains the amount of revenue remitted to the comptroller by each county and municipality for each tax collected by the comptroller.
HB 710 – Welfare Fraud Reform: Allowed the state to use the most cost-effective method of accurately determining whether an application for welfare assistance is fraudulent.
HB 2817 – Election Integrity: An omnibus election procedures bill designed to ensure that voter rolls are accurate and updated, that applications, records, and ballot materials are protected, and that elections are conducted in a secure manner.
SB 14 – Voter ID: In an effort to ensure the security and integrity of elections, required voters to show government-issued photo identification at the polls, required the issuance of free IDs to voters who cannot afford one, and required education efforts by the state to inform the public of the new voting requirements.
LEGAL AND REGULATORY REFORM:
HB 3 (Special Session) – TWIA Reform: In an effort to improve the agency’s performance and address the thousands of claims being filed by coastal residents in recent years, the bill created new timelines and procedures for claims handling, developed alternative dispute resolution procedures for claims, clarified TWIA’s ability to fund certain claims, and required TWIA to conduct studies designed to improve future performance.
HB 274 – “Loser Pays” Lawsuit Reform: Required parties who lose a motion to dismiss their claims to pay the other sides’ court costs and attorneys’ fees, and penalized some litigants for rejecting a settlement offer that is greater than what a judge or jury awards at trial.
HB 2592 – Credit Services Organizations: Improved the notice and disclosure requirements related to fees and rates charged by credit services organizations that offer loans and cash advances to consumers.
SB 321, Motion to Adopt Amendment 4 (House only) – Employer Liability for Guns: In a bill allowing employees to transport or store guns in their vehicles on their employer’s property, the amendment attempted to add stronger language to the bill to protect employers from liability related to the guns.
SB 766 – Shooting Range Liability: Protected the ability of sport shooting ranges to operate and allowed civil damages against the owner or operator of a sport shooting range only if a preponderance of the evidence, including expert witness testimony, shows that the owner or operator deviated from the normal standard of care.
HB 2510 – Incandescent Light Bulbs: In response to a federal law banning the sale of incandescent light bulbs, the bill provided that an incandescent light bulb manufactured in Texas that remains within the borders of Texas is not subject to federal law or federal regulation.
HCR 50 (House only) – Tenth Amendment: Asserted the sovereignty of Texas under the 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution and urged the repeal of all federal laws that interfere with that sovereignty.
The Conservative Roundtable scorecard was calculated using votes on the bills listed in the following tables. A YES vote was counted as 1. A NO vote was counted as 0. An absence without an excuse was counted as 0.5. An absence with an excuse (including presiding as Chair on the House or Senate floor) was counted as a 0, but not counted against the member’s total score. All votes were weighted as 1, except that the budget, due to its unique nature and importance, is weighted as 4. Unless otherwise noted, all votes were on third reading of the final bill in both the House and Senate. Due to its much larger size and to procedural differences between the House and Senate, the House votes on more bills and amendments than the Senate; as such, this scorecard includes 25 House votes and 22 Senate votes. All bills included in the scorecard were finally passed by the legislature and became law; amendments and resolutions were considered by only one chamber of the legislature.
DISCLAIMER: This scorecard, the designations “Lone Star Conservative Leader” and “Lone Star Conservative Guardian,” and all other content included herein are not an actual or intended endorsement of any candidate or ballot measure, but are only informational and educational in nature. The scorecard was prepared by the Conservative Roundtable of Texas without coordination with any candidate for public office and was not created for the purpose of influencing the outcome of any election or ballot measure.