The Back MicThe Back Mic: Hispanic Voters Evenly Split in Poll, Phelan Backs Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform, GOP Admonishes Proposed Oil Export Ban

This week — a national poll indicates Hispanic voters are up for grabs in 2022, civil asset forfeiture reform gets the speaker’s backing again, and 13 Texas Republicans push back on a Biden energy proposal.
December 10, 2021

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U.S. Hispanic Voters Divided Between the Two Parties

Hispanic voters, like all groups of voters, are not a monolith — and they are increasingly up for grabs in a way they haven’t been at any point in recent memory.

A Wall Street Journal poll pegged Hispanic partisan support as a dead even heat between the Democratic and Republican parties. Going into the 2022 midterms, an election that historically tends to bruise the party of the sitting president, Hispanic voters are tied at 37 percent support between the two parties in congressional races.

Twenty-two percent are undecided.

On a hypothetical rematch in 2024 between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, 44 percent said they’d support Biden and 43 percent said Trump had their support. That’s nearly a 30-point swing from Hispanic voters’ divide during the 2020 election, of which Biden won nearly two-thirds support.

The Texan Tumbler

However, across the nation and most emphatically in Texas, the 2020 election signaled an uptick in GOP support among Hispanics. South Texas, especially, featured a large swing toward the GOP — nine of the 10 U.S. counties with the largest swing from blue to red were in South Texas.

Texas Republicans have heightened their focus on South Texas and the border regions of the state to curry support, hoping to capitalize further on the trend that this poll identifies.

Texas Speaker Backs Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform for 2023 

A Dallas incident in which an individual’s pot of over $100,000 cash was seized by officers after their K-9 unit homed in on the passenger’s luggage sparked a fury after the Dallas Police Department boasted about it on Facebook.

“We need to get him some treats! K9 Officer Ballentine does it again! On 12/2/21, the Lovefield Interdiction Squad seized over $100,000 with the help of Ballentine. Good job Ballentine!” the post said.

The cash is now part of the civil asset forfeiture (CAF) process, a procedure that allows law enforcement to seize the property of citizens they believe is being used or may be used in a crime.

Challenging a CAF seizure is difficult, and individuals must prove they were not involved in a crime — starkly different from the burden of proof being on the state in criminal proceedings.

In reaction, Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) said, “Saddle up, [Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler)]. The House is going to pass civil asset forfeiture reform again.”

Schaefer authored House Bill (HB) 1441 that would have raised the burden of proof to “clear and convincing” rather than a “preponderance of evidence” — the highest in civil law. It also shifted the burden of proof to the state rather than the citizen whose property was seized.

It passed the House on April 22 by a vote of 143 to 5 but did not advance past the committee process in the Texas Senate.

The Texas GOP platform calls not just for reform, but the abolishment of the practice entirely. HB 1441 was part of the House’s criminal justice reform package of priority items.

The legislature will next convene, barring another special session, in January 2023.

13 Texas Republicans Push Back on Oil Export Ban Reinstatement

Over 60 Republicans in the U.S. House signed onto a letter calling for the Biden administration to suppress its desire to reinstate the crude oil export ban.

“We are extremely concerned about the comments [Department of Energy] Secretary Granholm made regarding the possibility of reinstating a ban on exporting American crude oil,” the joint letter reads.

“Domestic oil and gas producers are already feeling the burden of the Biden administration’s reckless energy policies, such as canceling the Keystone Pipeline and pausing leasing on federal lands, which further harms the industry and American consumers.”

The 13 Texas representatives that signed the letter are:

  • Jodey Arrington (R-TX-19)
  • Brian Babin (R-TX-36)
  • Kevin Brady (R-TX-08)
  • Michael Burgess (R-TX-26)
  • Michael Cloud (R-TX-27)
  • Beth Van Duyne (R-TX-24)
  • Kay Granger (R-TX-12)
  • Ronny Jackson (R-TX-13)
  • August Pfluger (R-TX-11)
  • Chip Roy (R-TX-21)
  • Van Taylor (R-TX-03)
  • Randy Weber (R-TX-14)
  • Roger Williams (R-TX-25)

The crude oil export ban was lifted in 2015 as part of the spending bill compromise between President Barack Obama and House Republicans. It was a large contributor to Texas’ energy renaissance last decade, leading to a 500 percent increase in U.S. oil exports in four years, much of which was produced in Texas.


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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.