Last week we talked about Constitutional Carry, one of the legislative priorities voted on by the Republican Party of Texas state delegates at the state convention held this past June in San Antonio. The delegates selected five issues they want the Legislature to address without fail in the session beginning in January 2019.
This week our priority is “End Taxpayer-Funded Lobbying”. The issue involved includes “Pass legislation to abolish all forms of taxpayer-funded lobbying and end the automatic payroll deduction of union dues by the government.” Why is this important to the average citizen?
According to reports filed with the Texas Ethics Commission by lobbyists who are required to register with the state of Texas, approximately $376 million was spent in 2017 in an effort to influence legislators in 2017. Much of this money comes from private organizations in an effort to influence government on their behalf. When privately funded it is considered a fundamental right to free speech and protected by the First Amendment in our Bill of Rights.
But most folks are not aware that many local governments, including school districts, cities and counties hire both internal and external lobbyists to represent their interests before the increasingly large state government. Why should this matter? It is reasonable to consider that an elected local official might appear and testify before a state elected official to express the concerns and needs of the local agency. Voters can hold the elected official accountable for the actions of that official through their vote.
When the local government hires a lobbyist, the actions of the lobbyist are not as transparent making it difficult for people to clearly define their actions. In fact many local governments have employed lobbyists who have actually worked against the very citizens they represent. An example of this is found in our appraisal or school districts that utilize their funds for lobbyists who then work against property tax reform! The funding for these lobbyists come from, you, the taxpayer. The lobbyists may even donate some of “their” money to elected officials’ campaigns— money that originated with the taxpayer!
This is just one example of how taxpayer-funded lobbying can negatively affect your and my families’ budgets. Republicans urge the next Texas legislature to pass legislation to end this practice that results in taxpayer dollars being used, in many cases, to take more taxpayer dollars.
MARIAN KNOWLTON is the Atascosa County Republican Party Chairman and the Committeewoman for the State Republican Executive Committee for Senate District 19. You may E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.