My basic philosophy when considering a new Texas law is this: will this law give people more freedom or less freedom? If the answer is less freedom, then a high burden of proof is necessary to justify my vote. The new law must not only be constitutional, it must be so critical to our Texas way of life that it outweighs any loss of liberty. And when in doubt, err on the side of freedom.

 


 

Taxpayer Money & Common Sense

 

We should never forget that the money in Austin doesn’t belong to Austin, and taxpayers want good value for their dollars. I oppose tax increases because Austin has a spending problem, not a revenue problem.We must eliminate non-essential agencies and overlapping programs. I have experience working with the Texas Sunset Commission, which requires agencies to justify their existence on a periodic basis. If agencies are no longer needed, the law says they “sunset” and are eliminated. Yet too often, politics keeps them around. Common sense says if you don’t need it, stop paying for it. This means getting Austin out of areas where individual Texans and the private sector can take care of things themselves.

Common sense also means telling the truth about budgeting in Austin. The budget process has become so convoluted and complex even legislators have a hard time understanding it. Let’s change the process to make it easier for taxpayers and lawmakers to understand. Part of this conversation should be zero-based budgeting, which means building an agencies’ budget from the ground up instead of starting with the previous year’s spending. If last year’s budget was marked with wasteful spending, why build upon that again in the next budget?

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Restore Career & Technology Training in Public Schools

 

A university degree is not the only way to succeed. But it seems like that has been the message and policy forced upon our public schools by Austin bureaucrats. I disagree. We need to refocus on career and technology training in public schools now! Students need skills training that will motivate them to be productive and earn a living. The skilled trades offer great opportunity and great rewards. Learning to turn a wrench, might turn a life around. Culinary skills might spark a career. University degrees remain an option later in life, and should be the first goal for many. But too many students are going to college and aimlessly pursuing a degree that doesn’t turn into a job. They spend 5 or 6 years in college and pile up student loan debt that takes decades to repay. Restoring vocational training to a respected level in our public schools is one of my primary goals. Learning to work and to earn a living should be taught at much earlier ages. Let’s expose our students to more learning options. Give them a reason not to drop out of school and to stay motivated to learn, and to earn. Letting students try, fail, and succeed in a safe and structured environment will save them money in the future, and be a better use of our tax money now.

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Education Excellence and Efficiency

 

My mother, my wife, my mother-in-law, and my sister-in-law are all teachers or educators, so conversations about the classroom are common in my family. I have a deep appreciation for the challenges teachers face, and education will always be a top priority for me as a legislator.John Adams once said, “There are two types of education… One should teach us how to make a living, and the other how to live.” The first kind of education is the kind the local school districts and the State of Texas should be primarily concerned with. The second kind should be the job of parents, families, and churches. There is much our schools can do in educating children to make a living, but we cannot pass a law to make parents teach their children the right way to live.

A good education is critical to success. Our economic competitiveness depends greatly upon a well-educated citizenry. We must adequately fund our schools and colleges to ensure the foundation of our economy, but we must also recognize that taxpayers deserve efficiency for the dollars they provide. Education spending should be tied to accountability and high-standards. At the same time, we need to give educators the flexibility to implement those standards and ensure student achievement.

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Life; Protecting the Unborn

 

I will do everything a State Representative can do to protect life. From the elderly person facing sickness to the unborn baby, we must defend the dignity of each person. Texas must always be a state where every God-given life has the highest value in law.

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Opposing Same-Sex Marriage

 

Marriage was established by God for one man and one woman.  The institution of marriage has proven itself throughout history to be the best way to build a family. I will oppose any effort to erode traditional marriage.

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Illegal Immigration; A Nation of Laws, Not Men

 

Who should decide who lives here and enjoys the benefits of Texas: Texans and their duly elected representatives, or someone willing to sneak in under the cover of darkness?While in Afghanistan near the Iranian border, I witnessed first-hand an extreme case of insecurity that comes when there is no border control. The Afghan people lived under a cloud of worry due to a constant flow of illegal activity from Iran and Pakistan. Drugs, weapons, and smuggling were a major problem. I also saw how corruption had destroyed the rule of law and shattered any trust in local government.

Texas has been largely abandoned by Washington when it comes to securing our border and dealing with illegal immigration. However, there are still things we can do at the state level, and I will address these issues with firm resolve and respect. I will not ignore the rule of law in order to satisfy political interests.

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Water – Protecting East Texas’ Rights

 

Our water rights in East Texas have been threatened by bureaucratic authority. In 2011, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality exercised newly granted “emergency” authority from the Legislature to force the City of Tyler to let water flow downstream out of Lake Tyler and Lake Tyler East to cities on the Gulf Coast. TCEQ claimed the drought was causing an “emergency” downstream and therefore its actions were required. However there was no hearing, no due process, and no opportunity for Tyler city officials to examine the evidence prior to the decision. Most water flowing downstream evaporates before it reaches the farthest points and the conservation efforts of those cities claiming the water were questionable. A drought is not like a wildfire, it doesn’t happen in a flash. East Texans are concerned for our fellow Texans downstream, but there was ample time to hold hearings and make sure that decisions were being made based upon evidence – not politics. I filed legislation to require future actions by TCEQ to include due process and an evidence based hearing. The Texas Constitution requires due process before a property right can be taken. Our bill received a hearing and raised the alarm among fellow East Texas law makers. Fortunately, the Farm Bureau had filed a lawsuit which raised the same issue. Thankfully the judge has ruled in favor of due process and property rights. However, TCEQ is appealing. Regardless of the outcome of that lawsuit, we must remain vigilant in protecting our East Texas water rights.

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Health Care Decisions for Texans, by Texans

 

I strongly oppose the federal takeover of our health care system. ObamaCare is a misguided Washington knows best approach. Economists predict that health care will soon be the number one spending item in the Texas budget, surpassing education. Medicaid spending is breaking the bank, and ObamaCare makes it worse. If the new health care law is fully implemented, it will push thousands of Texans into the Medicaid system with many federal strings attached. The federal rules prohibit Texans from properly managing health care expenses in the face of tight budgets. For instance, able-bodied, employed Medicaid patients pay nothing out-of-pocket. They cannot be asked to contribute as little as the price of a McDonald’s value meal for doctor’s visits. We have to push for more flexibility so Texans can have more say in how we spend our health care dollars.I believe Texans deserve the opportunity to receive the best health care available. The trouble is that health care costs are exploding. It is difficult for the average person to afford health insurance by themselves, and without it the burden of uninsured health care falls on taxpayers. One of the cost drivers is utilization of new life-saving technologies. So how do we control costs without sacrificing quality of care? One approach is to give consumers an incentive to think about cost when they seek basic medical services. We like the fact we can choose a laser eye surgeon based upon advertised cost and experience, so why don’t we do that for routine care? Let’s expand the use of medical savings accounts and other cost conscious measures. The answers aren’t always simple, but we have to do better.

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Promoting Free Enterprise

 

I will look for ways to re-open markets in areas where Austin has said government knows better than Texans. I agree with Milton Friedman who said, “Many people want the government to protect the consumer. A much more urgent problem is to protect the consumer from the government.”I believe in the freedom to take risks.  Markets should be largely free from government interference.  Austin shouldn’t be the one to tell East Texans whether we will pay a certain price for a certain product.  People know how to compare prices and quality.  When people are free to choose, markets respond favorably.

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Regulation Relief

 

One of the fastest growing agencies in Texas has been the Department of Licensing and Regulation. Every time a new regulation is passed or a new license is required, it becomes harder for people to start businesses. Liberals often talk about more regulations to protect those with low incomes. However, more regulations actually hurt low-income sole proprietors who don’t have staff to fill out forms or monitor rule changes. I know what it is like to run a small business and to be worried about understanding all the rules and regulations. Often our businesses are working in an environment that is really only “mostly free,” instead of “free.” We have to do better in Texas.

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2nd Amendment & Open Carry

 

The Supreme Court has finally recognized what Texans already knew:  the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is an individual right guaranteed by the Constitution which should not be infringed by the states or the federal government.  As a veteran I have carried a weapon in service to my country overseas, and I proudly support our right to bear arms in Texas.

I believe we need to embrace the 2nd Amendment a little more closely. We need an Open Carry law which would allow Texas Concealed Handgun License holders to carry pistols in a holster unconcealed. Oklahoma has such a law and they haven’t turned into the Wild West. Responsible Texans exercising their 2nd Amendment rights makes Texas a safer and freer place to live.

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10th Amendment & Local Control

 

The 10th Amendment states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Unfortunately, we have sold our state’s 10th Amendment rights to Washington one federal dollar at a time. From education, to roads, to health care, we have slowly eroded our ability to govern ourselves locally.We have given too much power to Washington. The Environmental Protection Agency is perhaps the most dangerous example. The federal takeover of air quality standards threatens to shut down power plants right here in East Texas. I will fight the EPA in an effort to restore environmental authority to Texas where it belongs.

Education is another example. Our schools and colleges should be free to operate under state and local supervision without federal interference. The U.S. Dept. of Education should be eliminated and federal education dollars returned to the states.

The government closest to the people governs best, as noted by Thomas Jefferson. It is time to push back against Washington, and stop chasing federal money. Federal dollars are not “free” and are adding to an immoral debt which burdens our children and grandchildren. Let’s start cutting some of those federal strings and see if Texans can’t do better.

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Lawsuit Abuse

 

The purpose of the civil court system is to allow a person or business that has been harmed to obtain a remedy from the responsible party. This system has roots going back to the Old Testament. Access to courts is vitally important to the free enterprise system and private property rights. But lawsuits without merit and excessive claims for damages should be discouraged. Such abusive lawsuits effectively create a tax on businesses, doctors, and ultimately consumers. The law should allow cases to go to trial based solely on the merits of each party’s case. I will oppose efforts to give plaintiffs an unfair advantage in court. Furthermore, I will defend the reasonable steps the Texas Legislature has taken to reform tort litigation.

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