Conservative grassroots leaders held a press conference in Farmers Branch on Wednesday urging Governor Greg Abbott to call a special session to secure the southern border, protect Second Amendment rights, and increase protections for families and unborn children.
The Lone Star Agenda lists eleven legislative priorities for the governor to include in his call. The priorities fall into three main categories: family rights and personal liberty, transparent and representative government, and justice and security.
Additionally, several leaders called for Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen to relinquish his role and allow for a new Speaker to be elected.
“If Dennis Bonnen is left in place as Speaker, he will be the poster child for Democrats to say Republicans are the party of corruption in Texas,” said JoAnn Fleming, executive director of Grassroots America and the chief spokesperson at the press conference.
Article 4 of the Texas Constitution grants the governor authority to convene a special session of the legislature, but the call must “state specifically the purpose for which the Legislature is convened.”
“Texas is exceptional and our politicians need to act like it. Texans need to lead the nation in policies that help everyday Texans,” Fleming said.
“These eleven priorities represent the least they can do,” Michael Quinn Sullivan of Empower Texans said, adding that “there is no reason why they can’t be done.” He also urged the governor to convene the session sooner rather than later but suggested January as a possible time frame.
Sullivan has been at the center of a controversy this year in which a secret recording revealed that Speaker Dennis Bonnen offered his group press credentials for the House floor in exchange for targeting 10 State House Republicans in primaries.
Sullivan rejected the quid pro quo and two weeks ago, he released the recording to the public, leading to the Speaker’s announcement that he would not seek reelection.
The groups first made their plea to Abbott in a letter dated September 12. In it, they asserted that passing the items in the Lone Star Agenda would “unite and inspire everyday Texans heading into a critical election season to stand and fight for Texas.”
The agenda has been endorsed by 288 grassroots political leaders from across the state.
Jeremy Newman of the Texas Home School Coalition said that the 2019 legislature was presented with opportunities to pass bills that would have addressed recent cases about family and parental rights, like the James Younger and Drake Pardo cases.
“These were not unknown issues and they weren’t solved,” Newman said. “We can’t afford to wait until 2021 to protect the rights of families.
Daniel Greer of Direct Action Texas called for legislation to secure elections, like mandatory paper ballot back-ups and stricter penalties for mail-in ballot fraud and voter intimidation. He acknowledged that some reforms had been passed in 2017.
“An opportunity to build on these needed reforms was presented to lawmakers in 2019 but was passed up in the purple session,” Greer said.
Texas Right to Life, another advocate for the Lone Star Agenda, is calling for Texas to ban all abortions and repeal the Texas Advanced Directives Act.
“If we lose Texas in 2020, we will lose the country,” Fleming emphasized. “We are asking our friends who signed the pledge to ask elected officials to make a public statement that they will support the Lone Star Agenda.”
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Kim Roberts is a reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.