HB 3 Government Powers During A Pandemic, Social Media Censorship, Antisemitism

March 15, 2021
  60th Day of Session: Bill Filing Deadline 

Friday, March 12th, marked the 60th day of our 140 day legislative session.  This is a critical deadline for the legislature as it is the last day a bill can be filed for consideration during the 87th Legislative Session.  A total of 7,467 bills were filed in the House and Senate.  This is a decline of more than 30% from what what we see during a typical legislative session.  

These last few weeks have been very busy as we have been finalizing my legislative package and attending formal committee hearings which are now in full swing.

  HB 3, Limiting Executive Powers and Pandemic Response 

This week the State Affairs Committee, on which I serve, held a hearing to receive testimony on the committee substitute to HB 3, the Texas Pandemic Response Act.  We listened to a long day of panelists, including citizens from all over Texas, as they shared their varied opinions and heartfelt reactions to this bill. 

I know many of you have called our office and expressed your opposition to HB 3 in its current form.  I’d like to give an update and provide some clarity on the status of HB 3. 

First, it is important to note, that this legislation is evolving and has not yet been voted on by our committee.  It is in the earliest stages and is very much a work in progress.  I have been in frequent communication with the bill author.  I am expecting additional changes to be made in response to expressed concerns of both committee members and the public. 

While the committee substitute to HB 3 is a step in the right direction from the original filed bill, there is still much work to be done. I hope to see a new revised committee substitute sometime this week.  For a great synopsis of the committee substitute to HB 3, please refer to the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s testimony.  It’s a very interesting read.  

I still have serious concerns with this bill.  HB 3 will need additional revisions in order to earn my vote.  For starters, it is essential that the bill prescribe a process to allow the Texas Legislature to call itself into a special session whenever a statewide disaster (such as a pandemic) occurs and continues for an extended period.  While this authority is now reserved to the Governor alone by the Texas Constitution, I believe it is important that this right be granted to the Texas House and Senate in very limited circumstances.  
My focus, as always, will be on limited government and individual liberties.  During emergencies we need clear boundaries for state and local government.  With this in mind, I really appreciate (and need) your input on HB 3.  Please submit any thoughts or recommendations here.  
 
Social Media Censoring Free Speech 

A hearing was held last week on SB 12, a bill that prohibits social media companies from censoring Texans. This is a critical bill for the legislature that I strongly support.  I know I’ve had posts wrongfully blocked or removed and many of you have had similar experiences. Just last week Newt Gingrich was locked out from Twitter for a post about the crisis on the border.  No matter what platform you use (Facebook, GAB, Parlor, Twitter, etc) we must protect all speech and viewpoints, even if it is something with which we disagree. 
 
Antisemitism – HB 3257 

American Jews face a higher percentage of attacks and hate crimes than any other faith group in the country according to the Department of Justice.  Because of this, I have filed a bill to address the growing area of crime and religious persecution.  HB 3257 adopts the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism and it’s examples.   Additionally, it establishes a Texas commission to study antisemitism and identify educational opportunities to combat and reduce antisemitism.  

  Other Legislation  

I have filed numerous other bills which I will detail in future reports.  These cover a wide variety of prominent issues in Parker and Wise counties such as pro-life, election integrity, law enforcement, 10th amendment, the recent blackouts and upholding 2nd amendment rights.  Until then, please reach out at anytime.  I always learn from your input.