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A conservative wave swept the Texas Legislature, but it wasn’t big enough for the tea party

(AP Photo/Austin American-Statesman, Ricardo B. Brazziell)

Despite right turn,lawmakers have misses, some say

AUSTIN – Five months ago, when Texas’ new governor and lieutenant governor rolled into town on a tea party wave demanding change, their checklist for action looked to many like a political IED waiting to go off.

 Cut taxes. Curb spending. Secure the border. Pass school vouchers. Abolish the franchise tax. Allow open-carry of handguns and licensed guns on college campuses. Repeal in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants. Stop sanctuary cities. Fight same-sex marriage. End additional abortions.

On Saturday, as the Texas Legislature began ……….. read more

Angela Box RERop-ed: The 46 Texas Traitors

Photo: trekkingtracy.com

Last week, the Texas legislature preemptively covered their posteriors in lieu of the July release of the American Phoenix Foundation’s sure-to-be scintillating and scandalous undercover videotaping of over 800 hours of footage of Texas legislators engaged in…well, we don’t know yet.

But 46 of your Texas Republican representatives decided that their possible involvement in said videotapes was more pressing an issue than supporting lowly citizens’ First Amendment rights—you know, the ones protected in the Constitution.

SB19, hereafter known as the Censorship Bill, would criminalize any private citizen who videotaped any legislator even in public areas of the Austin capitol building—with fines reaching up to $10,000. In essence, our legislators—who work for US, not the other way around, remember—want to shield themselves from any citizen journalist wielding a camera who might have some tough questions for them. Questions like, oh, I don’t know, why didn’t this legislature do more to secure the border as promised? Or pushed for Constitutional Carry? Or stopped public money going to toll roads? Or, to those who voted to weaken Texas abortion laws, why did you do so? Or why ALAC (American Law for American Courts) couldn’t make it out of committee? Or why the law promoting electric grid security died on the vine? Or why Texas legislators got bullied by the LGBT mafia and refused to pass a religious freedom act? Just stuff like that.

Now, what on EARTH could have all these *staunch* Constitutional conservatives’ panties in such a twist? Could it be that Hannah Giles and her husband Joseph Basel, with their American Phoenix Foundation, dug up some nasty and down-low dirt on the legislators who voted “yes” on the bill? I wonder—will the footage show philandering spouses, backroom deals, outright lies told on camera, and essentially the seedy underbelly of Austin politics? (Side note: how I WISH I had thought of this first! Bravo, Hannah and Joseph.)

The pesky thing these legislators don’t seem to understand is that regardless of this truly bad bill, citizens of Texas and the United States still *bitterly* cling to their First Amendment rights. The first time one of these blowhards tries to civilly punish or prosecute a non-threatening citizen journalist from asking questions of his or her elected official, on camera, I would expect every First Amendment lawyer in the country to beat a line to their door. And in the end, the citizen journalist will prevail.

The sad thing is, as you will read, there are a handful of usually quite solid conservatives on the List of 46 Texas Traitors. No matter—they must be held accountable as well.

You want a fight?

Bring. It. On.

———————————————–

Below are the 46 Republican legislators (many more Democrats joined them) who voted in favor of curtailing your First Amendment rights. The number next to that legislator and his/her email is their Raging Elephants Liberty Score. Thanks to www.clashdaily.com for compiling the original list.

  1. Trent Ashby (HD 57) @TrentAshbyTXtashby@communitytitle-tx.com  61
  2. Jimmy Don Aycock (HD 54) @Aycockjdajim@jimarenterprises.com   54.5
  3. Cindy Burkett (HD 113) @CindyBurkett_TXburkett@hotmail.com   78.1
  4. DeWayne Burns (HD 58) @BurnsForTexas   N/A
  5. Angie Chen Button (HD 112) @AngieChenButton   69.4
  6. Giovanni Capriglione (HD 98) @VoteGiovannicap@gmail.com   93.8 (THIS ONE HURTS)
  7. Travis Clardy (HD 11) @TravisForTexas   59.4
  8. Byron Cook (HD 8) byron@byroncook.com    54.3
  9. Tony Dale (HD 136) @TonyDaleTX  71.9
  10. Drew Darby (HD 72) @drewdarby4Txdrew@suretytitleco.com   53.6
  11. Sarah Davis (HD 134) @SarahforHD134sdavisatty@aol.com   51.1
  12. Gary Elkins (HD 135) gary@garyelkins.com   71.8
  13. Wayne Faircloth (HD 23) @WayneFaircloth   N/A
  14. Marsha Farney (HD 20) @DrMarshaFarneymarsha@marshafarney.com   54.2
  15. John Frullo (HD 84) @FrulloForTexasjohn@johnfrullo.com   68.3
  16. Rick Galindo (HD 117) @GalindoForRep   N/A
  17. Charlie Geren (HD 99) @charliegeren    56.2
  18. Larry Gonzales (HD 52) @larrygonzales52larry@larrygonzales.com   59.8
  19. Patricia Harless (HD 126) @PatriciaHarlessphar77379@aol.com    51.2
  20. Dan Huberty (HD 127) @DanHubertydan@danhuberty.com   61.6
  21. Todd Hunter (HD 32) @toddahunter@Dist32StateReptodd@hunterhandel.com   63
  22. Kyle Kacal (HD 12) @KyleKacalkyle@tonkaway.com   48.2
  23. Jim Keffer (HD 60) @RepJimKefferlbkeffer@sbcglobal.net   54.1
  24. Ken King (HD 88) @KingForTexasken@kingwell.com    51.2
  25. Linda Koop (HD 102) @LindaKoopHD102   N/A
  26. John Kuempel (HD 44) JLKcampaign@hotmail.com   59.9
  27. Lyle Larson (HD 122) @RepLyleLarsonlyle@lylelarson.org   55.5
  28. Jose Manuel Lozano (HD 43) @RepJMLozanotexasreplozano@gmail.com   36.7
  29. Morgan Meyer (HD 108) @MorganMeyerTXmorgan@morganmeyerfortexas.com   N/A
  30. Doug Miller (HD 73) @DougMiller73doug@miller-miller.com    58.5
  31. Rick Miller (HD 26) @Vote4Rickrick4tx26@gmail.com   76.8
  32. Jim Murphy (HD 133) @JimMurphy133jim@votejimmurphy.com    62.3
  33. John Otto (HD 18) @RepJohnOttoj-otto@comcast.net    53.1
  34. Tan Parker (HD 63) @tparker63tanparker@rr.tx.com    84.7 (Et tu?)
  35. Larry Philips (HD 62) shmdad@yahoo.com    77.7
  36. Four Price (HD 87) @FourPriceTX    59.9
  37. John Raney (HD 14) @RaneyForTexastxag@txag.com    56
  38. Debbie Riddle (HD 150) @debbieriddle   66.1
  39. J.D. Sheffield (HD 59) @dr_sheffieldjsheffield@cmhos.org   37.5 (This is Democrat Score-Land)
  40. Ron Simmons (HD 65) @RonSimmonsTexasrsimmons@raa.com   86.6 (Sad.)
  41. Wayne Smith (HD 128) waynesmith128@comcast.net    51.6
  42. Ed Thompson (HD 29) @RepEdThompsoned@edthompson29.com    83.6 (Really?)
  43. Gary VanDeaver (HD 1) @GaryVanDeaver   N/A
  44. Jason Villalba (HD 114) @JasonVillalbajvillalba@sbcglobal.net    58.7
  45. Paul Workman (HD 47) @PaulWorkmanpaulworkman@austin.rr.com   67.8
  46. John Wray (HD 10) @wrayfortexas10   N/A

 

Angela Box

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TeamRER: TxDOT = NSA? Using Bluetooth to Track Texans’ Travel Patterns & Data Mine

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, June 2, 2015

CONTACT:
Terri Hall,
Texans for Toll-free Highways and Texas TURF,
(210) 275-0640, terri@tollfreehighways.com
terri@texasturf.org
www.tollfreehighways.com and www.texasturf.org

TxDOT tracks drivers to mine data without their consent 

Bluetooth reader used to stalk motorists’ travel patterns      

(San Antonio, TX – Tuesday, June 2) At a recent stakeholders meeting on the I-35 bypass study, it came to light that a consultant hired by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) used a Bluetooth reader to collect the trip origination and destination data involuntarily from innocent travelers. Such data mining by government invades a motorist’s privacy and violates one’s Constitutional rights.

“Whether it was TxDOT or its consultant doesn’t matter, it’s all being done with taxpayer dollars and for a government agency. Didn’t they learn from the NSA wiretapping scandal how much Americans detest government spying on the private lives of innocent, law-abiding citizens?” notes Terri Hall, Founder and Director of Texans for Toll-free Highways and Texas TURF.

When pressed, the consultant claimed the data could not be traced back to individuals, but since the data was collected via Bluetooth enabled smartphones, it’s not hard to trace a phone number back to a specific individual. They gave no assurances that this data was being discarded after the trip information was collected and no assurances that this data isn’t being given to or sold to other entities for other uses, particularly law enforcement agencies.

“No matter what excuse they come up with, warrantless snooping and tracking is a violation of our rights. They need to get consent,” contends Hall.

From checkpoints to covert snooping

Just a few years ago when it was collecting trip information for the US 281 and Loop 1604 toll projects, TxDOT set-up checkpoints where its consultants asked motorists to voluntarily provide trip origin and destination information. But after getting flack for the checkpoints and being called the ‘gestapo,’ now it has turned to covert, involuntary collection of information on Texans’ travel patterns.

The data includes time of day and location information which could be used for ill against those travelers  – whether by 4th amendment violations by law enforcement or by a criminal element should the information fall into the hands of those wishing to prey on those travelers.

Think about it. With this data, any common criminal could figure out where the smartphone owner lives and see when they’re not home and break in to their house. Someone could lie in wait for a vulnerable female when she arrives at work or on an errand or at home in the dark. Third parties are known to sell such information and TxDOT nor its consultant had no answers as to where it derived its authority to do this or whether this information is protected from its contractor selling or disclosing this information to others.

TURF and Texans for Toll-free Highways asked TxDOT to give an immediate accounting of why the decision was made to collect involuntary trip information for this I-35 bypass study using a private contractor, where this information is being stored and for how long, if this information is being barred from disclosure to any other entities (whether public or private), and when and how this information will be discarded.

Past infringements met with swift legislative action

In 2007, TxDOT came under fire for keeping a database of all license plates that used its toll roads, allowing travel data to be collected unbeknownst to the vehicle owners with no protection from the data being sold to private parties. The outrage prompted former San Antonio State Representative David Leibowitz to pass a bill to prohibit such information from being sold to private parties. House Bill 570 specifically states that license plate information gathered manually or by automated enforcement technology can only be used for toll collection, toll collection enforcement, and law enforcement purposes, and can not be sold to private entities for commercial purposes. There is no such law to protect travelers from trip data collected by Bluetooth readers.

Hall concludes, “It’s too bad this revelation didn’t come to light in time for a bill to be filed in the Texas legislature that concluded its 84th session yesterday. But rest assured, there will be legislation at the earliest opportunity to protect Texans from such an infringement on their individual rights. Indeed, TxDOT should cease and desist immediately on its own.”

TURF is a non-partisan, grassroots, all-volunteer group defending citizens’ concerns with toll road policy, public private partnerships, and eminent domain abuse. TURF promotes pro-taxpayer, pro-freedom, & non-toll transportation solutions. For more information or to support the work of TURF, please visit www.TexasTURF.org.

Where applicable, a political advertisement paid for by Texans for Toll-free Highways, PO Box 29254, San Antonio, TX 78229.

 

 

 

Straus Files for Another Term as Speaker

House Speaker Joe Straus, right, with state Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, on June 1, 2015.

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus is officially seeking another term wielding the gavel.

The San Antonio Republican on Monday filed papers with the state Ethics Commission to run for speaker again, according to his office. If re-elected, he will bid for a fifth term at the helm of the lower chamber, rivaling Pete Laney and Gib Lewis as the longest-serving speakers.

Straus easily won a fourth term as speaker in January, earning the ………. read more here. 

by Patrick Svitek

With Senate election, East Texas’ Eltife 3rd in line for governorship

Photo: Longview News Journal 

State senators in Austin hailed state Sen. Kevin Eltife as their president pro tempore Monday in one of their final actions of the 84th Legislative Session.

The president pro tempore assumes the duties of the lieutenant governor in that office holder’s absence or disability. Lieutenant governors spend much of the time between legislative sessions naming interim committees and assigning them topics to probe in preparation for the next session in Austin.

The seat also is third in line to ……….. read more here.

By Glenn Evans

Questions continue as bikers call for action, release of those jailed

A May 17 shootout left nine dead, 18 wounded and more than 170 individuals jailed on $1 million bond.
The national media has moved on from the deadly May 17 brawl at Waco’s Twin Peaks that left nine dead, 18 wounded and more than 170 individuals jailed on $1 million bond. Local interest, however, remains and as the “bikers being bad” narrative originally put forth continues wearing increasingly thin and the biker community along with others share concerns over questionable legal maneuverings, potential civil liberty and property rights violations as well as government overreach.

The Waco Police Department initially controlled the message.

“What I want you all to understand: This is not a ………. read more here.

By Lou Ann Anderson

Thomas Ratliff will not seek re-election to State Board of Education

Photo: Longview News Journal 

A State Board of Education trustee who campaigned on righting a ship he felt had listed too far to the right announced Monday he will not seek re-election to represent Gregg and Northeast Texas counties.

Republican Thomas Ratliff of Mount Pleasant said he will serve the remainder of his term to December 2016.

“I’m not going to go quietly in my last 18 months,” he added. “I may be a duck, but I’m not considering myself lame.”

Read more here………

By Glenn Evans

Abbott: House Hijacking of Ethics Bill Unconstitutional

Photo: drudgeretort.wordpress.com

In an interview with reporters yesterday about the death of his landmark ethics legislation, Gov. Greg Abbott laid the blame for the bill’s death squarely at the feet of State Rep. Byron Cook (R–Corsicana) and the leadership of the Texas House.

“It’s important for legislators not to try and pass laws that have already been ruled unconstitutional,” said Abbott.

Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick both supported a major ethics bill, Senate Bill 19. Passed unanimously out of the Senate, the legislation would have, amongst other reforms:

  • barred legislators who were ………. read more here.

by Tony McDonald

 

Why the Texas Legislature Didn’t Stop Pro-LGBT City Ordinances

Photo: uspastorcouncil.org

Many reasons were given to us as to why SB 1155 in the Senate and HB 1556 in the House never even had a hearing – except the real reasons.  It is important that pastors know the truth so we can be better prepared going forward.

We had difficulty finding a “senior” Senator who was willing to author this bill that would put the brakes on the proliferation of “bathroom bills” in every city in the state  like those in San Antonio, Houston and Plano. We ran into a general fear of what the national media and pro-LGBT jihad did in Indiana.  Sen. Bob Hall, a freshman in tenure but a solid and seasoned man agreed to ……. read more here. 

By Rev. Dave Welch, President, TXPC Action

State Sen Troy Fraser Announces Retirement

Photo: texasmonthly.com

A day after the conclusion of the 84th legislative session, State Sen. Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay) has announced his retirement from the Senate. Fraser leaves office with a lifetime rating of C- on the Fiscal Responsibility Index, and a cumulative 80% on Young Conservatives of Texas’s legislative ratings.

“Today, it is with a heavy heart, an overwhelming sense of pride, and not one ounce of regret, that I am announcing that I will not seek another term for Texas Senate,” wrote Fraser in a letter to friends and colleagues.

In the letter, Fraser takes credit for measures that ….. read more here.