Last fall, prior to the convening of the 82nd Texas Legislature, I was one of 79 conservative Texas lawmakers who signed a conservative legislative agenda that included a promise to support legislation to limit federal intrusion on states’ rights. I am pleased to say we held fast to our promises, pushing through several significant measures to limit federal intrusion into the state’s authority and responsibility.
Specifically, we pledged to advance, support and vote for legislation that reasserts the limited role of the federal government and those rights guaranteed to Texas in the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution; reject new federal funds with strings attached as an enticement to create new programs; and support health care freedom legislation that guarantees the right of Texans to make their own health care choices. We also promised to support a balanced budget agreement to the U.S. Constitution that would apply in the absence of a national emergency.
These promises were embodied in the second plank of the Texas Conservative Coalition’s “Pledge with Texans,” which was developed in 2009 and 2010 with significant input and feedback from Texans across the state. Governor Perry and Texas Comptroller Susan Combs also signed the pledge.
In the First Called Session of the 82nd Legislature, my conservative colleagues and I passed Senate Bill 7, a particularly strong, conservative health care reform bill proposing that Texas join an interstate health care compact, which is a constitutional vehicle to free the state from prescriptive federal health care mandates and a substantive response to the challenge of the federal government’s increasing disregard for states’ constitutional authority and prerogatives.
We also passed House Concurrent Resolution 18, calling for a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. While Texas operates within a spending limit contained in the Texas Constitution, the absence of a constitutional requirement to balance the federal budget has allowed the federal government to engage in deficit spending, resulting in the record levels of debt U.S. taxpayers must eventually repay. With the recent extension of the debt limit, and with more protracted debates over spending looming, a balanced budget amendment is an immediate priority to stop our nation’s self-defeating cycle of debt.
Finally, we passed House Bill 2510, which exempts incandescent light bulbs from federal regulation. In 2007, Congress passed a law outlawing certain incandescent light bulbs beginning in 2012. It is my strong feeling that the state should have the authority to regulate products within its borders when such products are not used in interstate commerce. This bill requires the Texas Attorney General to defend a citizen of Texas who is prosecuted for a violation of a federal law concerning an incandescent light bulb manufactured and retained in Texas.
Federal intrusion against our state prerogatives and authority is a significant threat to the constitutional rights of Texans, and to the State of Texas. I believe every encroachment of the federal government on state sovereignty is a step away from individual liberty and toward centralized and ineffective government. That’s why I am proud my fellow TCC members and I passed bold legislation this year to uphold the liberty of all Texans.