Rinaldi Report June 5th, 2015
June 08, 2015

Hi Friends,

This past Monday marked Sine Die–the final day of the Regular Session of the 84th Legislature.  While we did not accomplish all the conservative reforms we should expect from a Republican-dominated legislature, this session was nonetheless the most conservative we’ve seen in recent years. You deserve the credit for this success.  Your hard work electing conservatives in the 2014 elections paid off.  But there is still much to be done, and we must continue to pressure our state government to both protect and expand freedom and liberty. 

Great Strides

Fiscally Responsible Budget with Tax Cuts: I was proud to vote for our 2015 State Budget, HB 1–a fiscally-responsible budget which was a marked departure from the spending spree of the 83rd legislature.  HB 1 limited budget increase to inflation plus population growth, while still funding $800 million to secure our border and increasing public school funding by $1.5 billion over enrollment growth. We also provided Texas property owners and small businesses much needed tax relief by way of $3.6 billion in cuts to property taxes and the franchise tax.

Pro-Life Wins:  Two substantive pro-life laws made it to the governor’s desk.  HB 3994 closes loopholes in the process by which a minor may obtain an abortion without parental consent or notification.  I was proud to play a significant role in working with the House and Senate authors of this bill in producing the strongest version possible of this important legislation. HB 3074 prohibits physicians from withholding food or water from a patient undergoing life sustaining treatment without the consent of the patient or surrogate.

Second Amendment Protection: Texans scored two wins in the Second Amendment arena with the passage of Open Carry and Campus Carry legislation.  During the Open Carry debate, I successfully added an amendment protecting gun owners from random police stops.  This amended bill passed both the House and Senate by large bipartisan margins, but in a controversial decision was removed from the final version of the bill by a small group of lawmakers in conference. Though the final bills were substantially watered-down, in the end, Texas became the 45th state to permit Open Carry and the 31st state to permit Campus Carry.

Other Legislative Victories: I am proud to have joint- and co-authored and sponsored many successful pieces of legislation this session, including the following:

  • SB 1 gives much needed property tax relief to Texas homeowners.
  • HB 11, sent to the governor’s desk Saturday, authorizes an additional 300 DPS troopers for border security and strengthens smuggling laws to target cartel activity.  
  • HB 283 increases government transparency by requiring certain governmental bodies to make audio and video recordings of open meetings available online.
  • SB 2065, the “Pastor Protection Act,” protects religious organizations’ right to deny marriage services or to refuse sale of goods, if providing those services or goods would violate a sincerely held religious belief.
  • HB 1690 takes the Public Integrity Unit out of the hands of the Travis County DA.  For far too long, liberal district attorneys elected only by Travis County voters have targeted Republicans in political witch hunts.  Now local DAs, working with the Texas Rangers, will have responsibility for holding elected officials in their area accountable. 
  • SB 652 protects franchisors from frivolous lawsuits by excluding them as employers of a franchisee’s employees in an attempt to ensure that these franchisors are not held unfairly liable for the independent actions of franchisees.

Additionally, though my bill to prohibit shopping bag bans and fees did not make it to the floor for a vote, it was credited as a significant factor in the repeal by the Dallas City Council of the Dallas shopping bag tax on Monday.

Killing Bad Legislation

Killing bad bills is just as important as passing good legislation. In the waning days of session, I successfully worked to kill several pieces of legislation that increased the size and scope of government and 

constituted bad policy, including a $15,000 per month insurance mandate on restaurants and bars, a bill that would increase lawsuits against small businesses, and a bill increasing government regulation of the sale of precious metals. In addition, initial opposition by 

conservatives to two unfunded mandates on our local public school districts caused the bill authors to amend the legislation before passage by removing the mandate or providing state funding for the projects.

Work Left to Do
Despite the successes of this session, there is a lot of ground left to be covered.  Important legislation such as a strong Constitutional spending cap, legislation protecting traditional marriage, bills removing illegal immigration magnets such as in-state tuition for illegals, ethics reform, and pro-life legislation prohibiting insurers from covering abortion failed to even make it to the floor of the House for a vote.  Furthermore, the House failed to take up legislation providing meaningful reform of our educational system, including bills I filed ending or reducing recapture of local tax dollars from districts like Coppell ISD. While this is disappointing, this session was definitely a step in the right direction for Texas conservatives, and our election victories in 2014 made it possible. If we build on our success with continued conservative victories in 2016, we will celebrate even more victories for our great state. 

In liberty,

 

Matt

 

 


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