Republican Party platform and Texans win during special session

Texas Republicans study the proposed party platform as the debate plays out in Dallas on May 13, 2016. Photo by Bob Daemmrich

Gov. Greg Abbott’s special session call included 10 items from the Republican Party of Texas platform. With so much work being done, the party was singularly focused on advancing its legislative priorities and making the platform relevant to the work of the Legislature.

We began the session by meeting with legislators and their staffs, offering applicable background information and context on the various planks and priorities approved by over 8,000 Texas Republican delegates and outlined in the call. The party utilized our outstanding volunteers by having several of them testify on every item related to our platform. I submitted written testimony on a number of the bills and personally testified on behalf of the RPT on seven of them.

We also galvanized grassroots Republicans by alerting subscribers to the progress of specific platform planks and priorities they cared about, providing detailed steps on how to get involved in the process. This group — called the Strategic Texas Activist Team (STAT) — was a first of its kind for the party and directly engaged constituents with legislation in accordance with our platform.

This level of involvement during a legislative session was unprecedented for the Republican Party of Texas. It is representative of a trend to assure our Republican delegates, supporters and policymakers that we take our legislative priorities and our outlined objectives in the platform seriously — and the work showed. During the special session, the Texas Legislature made significant strides on policy positions outlined in the party platform, securing and advancing liberty for all Texans.

Mail-in ballot security represented the first platform victory during this special session. Election integrity is absolutely fundamental to our republic, and submitting a ballot by mail is the only voting option for some Texans. That is why we are strong advocates for increased scrutiny and security in balloting by mail. By increasing penalties for fraudulent mail-in ballots, we can better ensure all Texans have the freedom to vote in elections.

During this special session we also saw two important advancements in support of our pro-life stance — changing insurance provisions and strengthening reporting requirements.

Our platform calls for abortion insurance coverage to be treated as supplemental and billed to the beneficiary. This ensures Texans are no longer required to purchase policies with abortion coverage unless they want to do so. Strengthening the reporting requirements in cases of abortion complications ensures that accurate data is collected regarding pro-life measures in Texas. With these two steps, the Texas Legislature has made important progress to help protect the lives of mothers and their unborn children, moving us closer to the goal of saving all unborn Texans.

In addition to protecting the life of the unborn, we also took steps to protect the life of the elderly and ill.

Our platform stipulates that do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders must require the consent of the patient or his/her family. The rights of patients to make life-or-death decisions about the treatment and care they receive should absolutely be respected. I am proud that the Republican Party continues to fight to uphold the rights of the individual and the sanctity of human life.

Other victories include important protections from unlimited municipal annexation and increased potential for school finance reform, and I am optimistic about continuing discussion on our legislative priorities and platform in interim hearings.

With the spotlight now clearly on the platform goals and the need for the Legislature to make those a reality, we can and should expect much greater results in the next legislative session on unresolved issues such as property tax reform and school choice. I am proud of the engaging role the party played during this special session and am grateful to all the Texas Republicans who fought hard for the principles of liberty and limited government in order to make Texas an even better place for everyone.

James Dickey

Chairman, Republican Party of Texas