2013 Conservative Solutions Scorecard
At the beginning of the 83rd regular session, Legislative Leaders joined our Policymakers Conference in Austin to outline their goals and priorities for the coming months. Our leaders remained solutions-oriented, allowing a robust debate to address the issues that matter to Texans.
Their numerous accomplishments deserve recognition, as evidenced in our 83rd Conservative Solutions Scorecard.
This scorecard is a measurement of how lawmakers performed on issues consistent to our principles, missions, and goals of responsible, conservative solutions for our government.
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 2013 Conservative Solutions scorecard. We believe this scorecard accurately reflects which state legislators could be counted on to stand up for thoughtful, effective 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 83rd LEGISLATIVE SESSION
During this year’s legislative session 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 83rd 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 this 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 continuing to guide the Legislature through this period of growth for Texas.
This scorecard intends to honor our Legislative Leaders for their effective and conservative leadership. It is intended to be used in collaboration with other sources when evaluating a Representative or Senator’s performance this session.
The Conservative Roundtable recognizes the following LONE STAR CONSERVATIVE LEADERS as our top ranking legislators:
The Conservative Roundtable recognizes the following LONE STAR CONSERVATIVE GUARDIANS as crucial members of the legislature:
In compiling the scorecard, the Conservative Roundtable selected votes on bills and amendments from the 83rd Regular and Special Sessions that reflected conservative and effective choices. In our opinion, these bills best represent the public policy that makes Texas the best state in which to do business.
SB 1, HB 10, and HB 1025 – These budget and spending bills as passed by our conservative Legislature will ensure Texans continue receiving effective and efficient services that matter most, while remaining mindful of spending and accountability.
HB 4 –Establishes a responsible funding mechanism that modernizes the state’s water management efforts and dedicates revenue to addressing the state’s long-term water needs.
HB 5 –Reforms and modernizes education in the state of Texas and offering more flexibility to students. While we appreciate the work that went into HB 5, we are disappointed the legislature weakened the State’s math and science curriculum. We express our concern that this bill will ultimately lower standards for students, insufficiently preparing them for the challenges they will face in our high-tech society. We urge the Governor and the Legislature to continue to work toward enhancing the state public school curriculum in order to equip our students with the skills necessary to meet our 21st Century challenges.
HB 6 – Improves budget projections and prevents unappropriated tax dollars from being redirected to general revenue use, streamlining the state’s business tax code and fueling continued job growth.
HB 7 – Improves government efficiency and provides conservative stewardship by reducing the amounts of certain dedicated fees and assessments and returning excess monies to ratepayers.
HB 12 – Increases transparency in state government by restricting external donations from being used to supplement state employee salaries.
HB 13 – Increases transparency in state government through the expansion of reporting requirements for retirement systems. The new guidelines will ensure that information is easily accessible to the public.
HB 29 – Provides fixed four year tuition plans to help undergraduate students plan and achieve their higher education goals in a timely manner, while maintaining fiscal responsibility. We applaud Chairman Branch for his vision and willingness to lead Texas toward an educational path that places greater emphasis on accountability and student choice.
HB 86 – Reforms and improves the efficiency of government providing state services. The Sunset Advisory Commission will now have the ability to review whether or not an agency, which licenses or regulates occupations, is best serving the public interest through its current regulatory and licensing criteria.
HB 500 – Provides necessary tax relief and clarification for the state of Texas. This change to the State Franchise Tax will provide relief to industries and businesses grossing under $1 million annually, while also clarifying definitions of certain retail trade categories that were previously unclear or unequal. This piece of legislation is a step in the right direction, and will allow Texas businesses to continue to flourish and grow under the guidance of conservative leadership.
HB 800 – Provides tax relief and stimulates economic growth by allowing for sales and use tax exemptions and franchise tax credit for research and development-related activities.
HB 1600 – Improves and streamlines the delivery of energy services by allowing the transfer of certain functions from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to the Public Utility Commission.
HB 1675 – Fosters good government and efficiency by subjecting agencies and regulatory bodies to the sunset review process.
SB 2 – Reforms and advances education in the state of Texas. This bill expands the number of charter schools in the state while establishing additional requirements to ensure accountability. We applaud the legislature for continuing to provide more educational choice and increased projected graduation rates while maintaining a rigorous academic program for our students.
SB 7 – Streamlines service delivery and quality of Medicaid acute care and long-term services, providing long-term solutions for our state.
SB 8 – Reforms and improves health and human services through additional Medicaid fraud detection measures. This will help to further limit waste and abuse under the current system.
SB 21 – Prudently mandates drug screening or testing as a condition for the receipt of unemployment compensation benefits by certain individuals.
SB 169 – Increases transparency and good government in the electoral system by requiring additional details to be provided on ballot statements for municipal or county-financed projects, ensuring voters can make a choice based on all the facts.
SB 328 – Allows state agencies to hire “entrepreneurs-in-residence.” This will help agencies to maintain pro-economic growth and business-minded policies, as well as continue to foster a pro-business culture in Texas.
SB 441 – Creates the Texas Fast Start Program will help students find alternative means of gaining a quality education and entering the workforce, and encourage further business development and economic growth statewide.
SB 900 – Reforms and restructures statutes governing the pipeline industry. This will bring state law into line with current federal statutes, and clarify certain industry definitions, allowing for good business practices, while supporting pipeline companies throughout Texas. Maintaining an effective and vibrant oil and gas economy is key to the continued growth of Texas.
SB 971 – Allows local port authorities to designate transportation reinvestment zones and source funding based on projected revenues.
SJR 1 -Intends to find a solution for our state’s water needs. The bill proposes a constitutional amendment creating the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas and the State Water Implementation Revenue Fund for Texas, providing for our future infrastructure
SB 2(1), SB 3(1), and SB 4(1) – We support the passage of court-amended Texas Senate, Texas House of Representatives, and United States House of Representatives district maps that ensure voters across the state are given adequate representation, providing for equal and fair electoral systems.
HB 1(3), and SJR 1(3) – Our conservative Legislature was successful in finding a solution to meet increased transportation needs without raising taxes. Increased funding for transportation, delivered in this thoughtful and responsible manner, is an investment in the future of our state. It helps to provide the necessary resources for building and maintaining a transportation system that will keep our economy growing and our population moving. This helps to send a strong message that Texas is committed to the continued growth of our economy and commerce, while protecting taxpayers.
HB 217 – Limits the freedoms and rights of students on public school campuses from purchasing certain types of beverages, and campuses from providing these items.
HB 613 – Increases unnecessary regulations, and increase penalties and fees for foundation repair contractors, will unnecessarily burden our state’s contractors and small businesses. We oppose this bill.
HB 950 – Amends current laws governing unlawful employment practices and the payment of compensation. As Governor Perry stated in his veto letter, this measure would only serve to duplicate federal law.
HB 1790 – Jeopardizes public safety in the state of Texas and places an unnecessary burden on our courts.
HB 1809 – CRT opposes this effort to further the authority of cultural education facilities to acquire and finance certain public property projects.
HB 3238 – CRT opposes the effort to create a needle exchange program in the state of Texas. The program, whose efficacy has yet to be determined, would have an added cost and create unnecessary legal ambiguities.
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. 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 36 House votes and 33 Senate votes. Bills included in the scorecard were primarily passed by the legislature and became law.
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.