Border Security, Combating Campus BDS, Coach Dungy and More

March 4, 2023

Next week is the deadline for legislation to be filed by any member of the Texas House or Senate, so we will soon know all bills that can be considered for passage. 
Here is a summary of some of the events over the past week in Austin. 

Coach Tony Dungy Visits to Promote Fatherhood Initiative 

 This week I had the chance to meet former NFL coach Tony Dungy, a former professional football player himself who guided the Indianapolis Colts to a Super Bowl victory in 2007. Coach Dungy is a Pro Football Hall of Famer and NBC Sports analyst, and I have always admired him for publicly sharing his faith. He stopped by my office to share his work with All Pro Dad and Family First to promote the importance of fathers in the home. A dad to eleven children, Coach Dungy believes firmly that being a father is his most important job, and he works to equip men in becoming better in leading their families.

Meeting with former NFL Coach Tony Dungy, joined by Former Florida Speaker of the House Chris Sprowls

Meeting with Texas DPS Director Steve McCraw; First Hearing of Senate Border Security Committee

As I begin my service on the Senate Border Security Committee, it’s important to stay abreast of how Texas’ substantial investments of funds are being used to secure the border. In preparation for the first hearing of this committee this past Thursday, I met privately with Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw. As DPS Director, Col. McCraw oversees Operation Lone Star, Texas’ own border security initiative. In recent sessions, we have provided substantial funding to deploy more surveillance aircraft, gun boats, state troopers and Texas Rangers to protect the Texas border.  On this committee, it will be important to learn what kind of progress are we making with this funding. Furthermore, what additional steps can we take to secure the border in light of the federal government’s abject failure and dereliction of responsibility to do so?  

During his testimony before the committee, Col. McCraw stated that the most significant vulnerability from a public safety and homeland security standpoint remains the unsecure southern border with Mexico. Six Mexican cartels dominate there and are moving cash, people, weapons and drugs.  The director described the situation as a “Global Mass Migration Event”, with over 1.2 million illegals crossing the border last year. The U.S. Border Patrol is simply overwhelmed, with the cartels using sophisticated intelligence networks and unmanned aerial vehicles to monitor their activities.

Col. McCraw testified that Mexican cartels have always been involved in the cocaine and heroin business, but they have now taken over the Fentanyl trade which is highly lucrative and profitable to them.  The proliferation of Fentanyl, and the danger it poses, is driven in large part by the fact that it is becoming difficult to tell the difference between an authentic pharmaceutical drug and one manufactured by the cartels. 

In one of his most chilling comments, he stated that there is nothing that ISIS has done in the Middle East, from a torture and brutality standpoint, that the cartels haven’t done to accomplish their goals – or even worse.   Col. McCraw made a point to acknowledge that no state has done more to secure the border than Texas. I asked him to consider what additional steps the legislature can take to help support him do even more.  These options will be explored as the session progresses.

Meeting with Col. Steve McCraw to discuss how Texas can improve border security 

First Meeting of the Education Committee and Subcommittee on Higher Education

This week marked the first hearing of the Education Committee and the Subcommittee on Higher Education. We heard initial testimony from Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath, as well as Commissioner Harrison Keller from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. THEC oversees all community colleges and four-year universities in the state.

Senate District 10 is home to important institutions of higher learning including TCU, University of Texas at Arlington, Weatherford College, Howard Payne University, Tarrant County College, and the Texas A&M School of Law. Additionally, the Tarleton State University Fort Worth satellite campus is located along the Chisholm Trail Parkway near Crowley.  

 Filing Legislation to Combat Anti-Israel Boycotts on College Campuses

Back in 2017, Gov. Abbott signed into law House Bill 89, known as the Anti-BDS (Boycott, Divestments, and Sanctions) bill, which prohibits all state agencies from contracting with, and certain public funds from investing in, companies that boycott Israel. I was honored to sponsor this legislation, which at the time was hailed as one of the strongest anti-BDS laws in the nation.

Governor Abbott signing legislation I sponsored to prohibit boycotts of Israel

Recently, the Texas Holocaust, Genocide, and Antisemitism Advisory Commission conducted a study which found Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) as a tool of antisemitism on college campuses is evident in many ways. The study found that the BDS movement often targets Israel alone for boycotts, while turning a blind eye to the world’s worst human rights violators. On Friday, I filed SB 1517, which aims to stop these academic boycotts of Israel on college campuses.  Specifically, students who have sought the opportunity to conduct studies or research in the nation of Israel have been denied that opportunity. SB 1517 would remedy these situations and require that institutions of higher education prohibit academic boycotts that deprive students or faculty members of the opportunity to study or conduct research in Israel.  

The Texas Economy Rolls Along

This week Governor Abbott accepted the “Governor’s Cup” award for a record 11th year in a row and 19th win overall. Established in 1978 by Site Selection Magazine, the Governor’s Cup recognizes the nation’s top performing state for job-creating business relocations and expansions.

Governor Abbott accepting the award recognizing the robust Texas economy

Supporting the Cleburne Pregnancy Center

On Friday night in Johnson County I attended the annual Boots and Booties fundraising event benefiting the Cleburne Pregnancy Center, which offers free services and resources for pregnant women including ultrasounds, pregnancy testing, and counseling.  I appreciate the invitation from my friends Dr. Joel and Elizabeth Victory to attend and deliver remarks on the remarkable progress we have made in Texas to promote a culture of life and virtually eliminate abortions. Organizations such as the Cleburne Pregnancy Center are vital in providing alternatives to abortion to women facing an unplanned pregnancy.  As more unborn babies are being saved, the role of these organizations becomes even more important.

 It was an honor to support the work of the Cleburne Pregnancy Center on Friday evening