The Back MicThe Back Mic: Straus Hints at Future Campaign, Texas GOP Priorities Make Progress, Paxton Lobbies Against Budget Cuts

This week — a look at Texas politics this week as committee hearings rapidly heated up.
March 26, 2021

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Former Speaker Hints at Future Run

Joe Straus (R-San Antonio), former Texas House Speaker, told the Texas Tribune’s Evan Smith in a podcast this week, “I don’t have a plan right now. But I do enjoy public service and I do think that in the future people in this state are going to be looking for a different type of leadership than we’ve had.”

Asked if he would rule out a run in 2022, Straus remarked, “What I’m saying is I don’t have a plan right now.”

“We need to see how the legislature performs in the last 70 days; see what the pulse of the voters is; see whether real solutions are being offered or whether they’re going to wander off into the culture wars again.”

Straus further criticized the Fair Play Act, filed in the House by Rep. Valoree Swanson (R-Spring), that would prohibit biological males from competing in women’s sports. Straus lamented that legislation’s potential effect on Texas’ ability to attract events like the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Women’s Final Four tournament currently being held in San Antonio.

The Texan Tumbler

A moderate Republican, Straus stated of his party affiliation, “For the moment, I’m a stay and fight Republican, but I admit my place in the party is not what it was once.”

Half of Texas GOP’s Legislative Priorities Heard 

Below is a list of bills heard on Thursday in House committee hearings that are on the list of the Republican Party of Texas’ legislative priorities.

Election Integrity

Constitutional Carry

  • HB 1238 by Reps. Kyle Biedermann (R-Fredericksburg) and James White (R-Hillister)
  • HB 1911 by Reps. James White (R-Hillister), Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock), Terry Canales (D-Edinburg), Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler), and Cole Hefner (R-Mt. Pleasant)
  • HB 1927 by Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler)
  • HB 2900 by Rep. Cole Hefner (R-Mt. Pleasant)

Religious Liberty

  • HB 525 by Reps. Matt Shaheen (R-Plano)
  • HB 1239 by Reps. Scott Sanford (R-McKinney), Will Metcalf (R-Conroe), Richard Peña Raymond (D-Laredo), Shelby Slawson (R-Stephenville), and Candy Noble (R-Lucas)
  • HB 1487 by Rep. Jay Dean (R-Longview)
  • HB 1691 by Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington)
  • House Joint Resolution 72 by Reps. Jeff Leach (R-Plano), Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound), and Candy Noble (R-Lucas)

Ban on Taxpayer-Funded Lobbying

  • HB 749 by Rep. Mayes Middleton (R-Wallisville)
Attorney General Pushes Against Budget Cuts

Last month, Attorney General Ken Paxton faced a barrage of questions from the Senate Finance Committee. This week Paxton lobbed back, issuing a call to action to his constituents: “Fellow Texans: Ensure your legislator is FULLY RESOURCING my Office. Any cuts are a loss for TX and in turn a loss for USA.”

Paxton has positioned himself and the agency he leads as a bulwark against federal overreach, promising to “fight against the many unconstitutional and illegal actions that the new administration will take.”

“My Agency is better positioned than anyone in the country to beat the Biden agenda,” he added on Wednesday.

Supplementing his call was a letter from the Conservative Action Project — a group of conservative legal activists led by former Reagan administration staffer Edwin Meese.

The group appealed to the legislature, stating, “As Texas considers its budget this session, we respectfully ask that Attorney General Paxton’s office — and the vitally important work he and the Texas legislature is doing to stand up for conservatives — be given full resourcing.”

“Any reduction to the Office of the Attorney General Budget will result in tremendous harm to the state and nation.”


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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.