Wednesday, February 27, 2019

#TXLEGE: Taxpayers OVERWHELMINGLY Dominate hearing to Abolish Taxpayer Funded Lobbying

"Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord,
But a just weight is His delight."
Proverbs 11:1

[Note: The hearing can be viewed here; our testimony is 4ish hours in.]

About an hour ago, we testified in the House state affairs committee in favor of HB 281:  Relating to the use by a political subdivision of public money for lobbying activities.

The biggest takeaway is that nobody has the guts to come out and defend this wretched practice.  Dozens of speakers showed up in support.  Only two people opposed.

Supporters discussed abuses they've witnessed in their communities.  Most detailed their irritation at seeing local governments fund positions they oppose.  It was very practical, and very tangible.

That's great.  It's completely true.  But what was even more interesting was to watch some of the Democrats wrestle with it from a different angle.  Democrat reps. Richard Pena Raymond and Joe Deshotel both seemed to understand how taxpayer funded lobbying is compelled speech, regardless of whether the speech in question is "anti-taxpayer" or "pro-taxpayer."

During our testimony, we wanted to build on the points Raymond and Deshotel had made.  Taxpayer funded lobbying taxes all citizens to fund political speech expressing one point of view.  No matter the content of that political speech, that process is wrong.  As an example, we pointed out that Chairman Phelan and Deshotel (ie. an R and a D) both represent Jefferson county.  If Jefferson county were to hire a lobbyist, the position that lobbyist took would disenfranchise one or the other.  Either way is wrong.  The same principle applies statewide.

Raymond discussed something else interesting: Local governments, and the state of Texas, lobbying the federal government.  Specifically, Raymond proposed expanding the bill to cover hiring lobbyists in D.C. as well as Austin.  Personally, we think that's a great idea as long as it doesn't make passing the bill unnecessarily complicated.

Bottom Line: There's a long way to go between here and the Governor's desk, but today's hearing went great...

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