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Senator Taylor Contact:

Lonnie Dietz

(512) 463-0108


Representative Sanford Contact:

Katherine Munal

(512) 463-0356

AUSTIN, TX – State Senator Van Taylor and State Representative Scott Sanford filed the Keep Free Lanes Free Act. Filed as S.B. 891 and H.B. 1311 respectively, these bills would prohibit the conversion of any free lanes into tolled or managed lanes.

Senator Taylor stated, “The people of Senate District 8 have spoken loud and clear that they are fed up with the excessive tolling that engulfs our communities. Tolls are just a tax by another name. The people’s tax dollars funded ‘free’ lanes to begin with and converting those lanes into tolls is simply government trying to orchestrate double tax.”

Representative Sanford added, “Tolls are extracting an additional tax on our families and businesses.  Collin County is surrounded by tolls, making us a gated community with one large transportation bill.”

Collin County represents the most heavily tolled county in Texas. In the 2016-2017 biennium, Texans pay an estimated $7,055,828,000 in gas tax. Divided by the estimated 27,862,596 Texans, every man, woman, and child accounts for about $126 per year in gas tax. Collin County residents pay an additional $288 million, or approximately $265 per man, woman, and child in tolls each year.

Senator Taylor continued, “The state should not force Collin County residents to front the infrastructure bill for the state and pay over triple the transportation tax compared to many other Texans. Over the course of a work life, the average commuter who uses a toll road twice a day in North Texas will pay over $100,000 in tolls. Collin County families could spend that money on buying a home, putting their children through college, or saving for retirement — not subsidizing the transportation needs for the rest of state.”

Over the past two sessions, the Texas Legislature approved historic transportation funding including: $1.3 billion by ending diversions from the Highway fund, $3.4 billion to date from Proposition 1 that passed in 2013, and an estimated minimum of $2.5 billion a year starting in 2018 from Proposition 7 which passed in 2015. Importantly, the Legislature accomplished this by prioritizing funding and not increasing taxes.

In 2014, the Collin County legislative delegation consisting of Senator Taylor and Representatives Jodie Laubenberg, Scott Sanford, Jeff Leach, Matt Shaheen and former Representative Scott Turner successfully blocked efforts to covert free lanes on US 75 into tolled lanes.

A seventh generation Texan, local small businessman, and decorated Marine Officer, Van Taylor serves the majority of Collin County and a portion of Dallas County in the Texas Senate where he is widely recognized as a conservative leader. Taylor serves as Vice-Chairman of the Sunset Advisory Commission and is also member of the Natural Resources and Economic Development, Education, Health and Human Services, Intergovernmental Affairs, and Nominations Committees. Van and his wife, Anne, married after his return from Iraq and are the proud parents of three young girls. Van and his family reside in Plano near the land his great-grandfather farmed during the Great Depression.

Representative Sanford is a life-long Texan, and a Baylor Bear for about half of that time. He earned BBA and MTax degrees, and maintains a CPA license in the State of Texas. His career path includes positions at Ernst & Young, and ownership in two franchise endeavors. Scott has served Cottonwood Creek Baptist Church in Allen, TX (formerly First Baptist Church in Fairview) since 1997 and is currently the Executive Pastor. He married Shelly Parks in 1987. They live in McKinney, the heart of the 70th House District. Their son, Ryan, graduated from McKinney Boyd High School. He is a sophomore at Baylor. Lauren, their daughter, is a junior at McKinney Christian Academy. Scott enjoys fishing, but likes catching even better. He is a water and snow skiing enthusiast, but not at the same time. In Austin he serves on the House of Representatives Urban Affairs Committee and the Human Services Committee.




A February 21, 2017 story by Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard has ignited a media scrap between three chairs of the Harris County Republican Party.  Former Harris County GOP Chairs, Gary Polland and Jared Woodfill, ripped into the current Chairman, Paul Simpson.  The 2016 general election cycle in Houston was a GOP catastrophe.

The Barnes article in the Weekly Standard rightly points out the election results from November 8, 2016.  While Republicans around the nation and Texas were in an election night state of euphoria with the election of Donald Trump as president, in Houston GOP voters looked like the attendees of Hillary Clinton’s victory party in New York City when Trump went over 270 Electoral College votes.

Woodfill, the longest serving GOP Chair in Harris County history before his defeat in 2014 by Simpson, was quoted in the Barnes article, “”This is the worst defeat for Republicans in the 71-year history of Republican party of Harris County.”

Trump only won Texas by nine points. It’s been a long time since any GOP candidate’s victory on the top of the statewide ballot was single digits.  But, Hillary Clinton won Harris County by 13 points.

Clinton’s massive smashing of Trump in Houston meant a massacre down ballot.  All the way down the ballot.  Every GOP countywide candidate was vanquished.

Gary Polland, who preceded Woodfill as Harris County GOP Chair, was quoted in the article, “It could be back to the 60’s.”

In the Weekly Standard article “Houston, Republicans Have a Problem”, the point of view of current chairman, Paul Simpson, wasn’t taken into account.  Via an HCRP press release and email blast, Simpson put up a defense and shot back with allegations of a “fake news” conspiratorial collaboration between Polland, Woodfill, and Barnes.

The first rebuttal made by Simpson was that the above Woodfill quote came directly from an article published on Polland’s Texas Conservative Review in November of 2016.  The post was written by Marc Coward, a former assistant executive director for HCRP under Woodfill.

Then Simpson took direct aim at Polland’s ever-present Achilles heel. “Weekly Standard columnist Fred Barnes was apparently tricked again, because the article  seems to interview former Harris County GOP Chair Gary Polland – the same Gary Polland who now publishes a for-profit candidate ‘slate’ and once wrote a glowing editorial endorsement that helped elect former liberal Mayor Annise Parker.  The same liberal mayor who attempted to force her radical bathroom policy into law without voter approval.”

The Simpson-HCRP press release then points out a second “plagiarism”? The Fred Barnes article in the Weekly Standard contained another quote from a previous Polland post on his Texas Conservative Review.

Simpson’s direct statement within the press release did some name calling. “Mr. Barnes never contacted me or anyone who works with or for the Party before publishing this hit piece. It cited only two alleged direct sources: two former disgruntled county chairs who have seen their days as king-making profiteers coming to a close.”

This is more than a very public battle between political personalities in the third-largest county in the country.  It’s a battle in the shadows of Houston politics of some very powerful factions.  That’s the real scrap.

More to come.


Copyright©2017 Raging Elephants Radio LLC

RERsports — Transgender wrestler booed after winning female competition he didn’t want to be in

Mack Beggs, 17, who is transitioning from female to male, had wanted to compete against other boys in the Texas state championship.

But officials refused to allow it because state sport regulations require athletes to wrestle according to their gender at birth.

Despite this Beggs was booed by people who thought he had an unfair advantage when taking on girls because he was taking drugs that increased his testosterone.

This had led to a parent of a girl trying to block him competing by filing a lawsuit.

But it didn’t work and Beggs beat Chelsea Sanchez 12-2 on Saturday to win gold at the Texas girls state championship in the 110-weight class.

‘That’s honestly what the spotlight should’ve been on, my teammates,’ he said after he won.

Read More Here

RERsports — Transgender teenager taking testosterone wins Texas state girls’ wrestling tournament

CYPRESS, Texas (AP) — A 17-year-old transgender boy completed an undefeated season Saturday by winning a controversial Texas state girls wrestling title in an event clouded by criticism from those who believe the testosterone he’s taking as he transitions from female to male created an unfair advantage.

The family of Mack Beggs has said he would rather be wrestling boys, but state policy calls for students to wrestle against the gender listed on their birth certificates. So the junior from Euless Trinity beat Chelsea Sanchez 12-2 in the 110-pound weight class to improve to 57-0 and earn the championship.

Beggs fell to his knees for a moment after the win as a mixture of cheers and boos rained down on him. He then hugged his coach and left the mat.

He had a bit of fun with his fellow wrestlers at the medal ceremony when he counted down from three and all six of the top finishers posed by doing a dab on the medal stand.

Read More Here

Federal Judge: Texas Must Fund Planned Parenthood


AUSTIN, Texas — Amid the controversy over investigative videos appearing to show illegal activities at Planned Parenthood, a federal judge has temporarily barred Texas from denying Medicaid funding to the abortion provider.

Attorney General Ken Paxton said the decision is “disappointing” and “flies in the face of basic human decency.”

“The raw, unedited footage from undercover videos exposed a brazen willingness by Planned Parenthood officials to traffic in fetal body parts, as well as manipulate the timing and method of an abortion,” he said Feb. 21. “Even the remains of the most vicious criminals are treated with respect.”

“No taxpayer in Texas should have to subsidize this repugnant and illegal conduct,” Paxton added. “We should never lose sight of the fact that, as long as abortion is legal in the United States, the potential for these types of horrors will continue.”

U.S. district court Judge Sam Sparks issued a preliminary injunction stopping the state from defunding the abortion provider’s 30 health centers, which receive $4 million for services not related to abortion, The New York Times reports.

On Dec. 20, 2016, the inspector general for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission ruled that Planned Parenthood was unqualified to provide medical services “in a professionally competent, safe, legal and ethical manner.”

Read More Here

RERsports — Track boss wants NASCAR at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas

If NASCAR truly is looking to interject something different, something exciting, the racing series should look at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas. That’s the opinion of COTA chairman Bobby Epstein, who says he’s ready to make his pitch to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

“I’ve had contact with NASCAR officials, and we’ve heard from their fans and drivers,” Epstein told the Austin American-Statesman for a published article. “Everyone seems to want to be here, so I see no reason why it couldn’t come together.

“It’s something fans are asking for in droves. We hear it, and I’m assuming (NASCAR) hears it, too. They are continuing to tweak their product, looking for new ideas. This would be something different, a change of pace. I’d be pretty optimistic it could happen, because NASCAR said they want more road courses, more non-ovals. Now that they’ve said that, this is the best one in the country. So if enough fans want them here, I think they’ll be here one day.”

NASCAR currently has just two road courses on its 36-race schedule — Watkins Glen, New York, and Sonoma, California.

Read More Here

PRESS RELEASE — Senator Lois Kolkhorst Comments on Federal Decision to Rescind Obama Mandate

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Matthew Russell February 22, 2017 512-463-0118

“I am grateful for the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education’s decision to rescind the mandates issued by the Obama Administration that rewrote a great deal of Title IX and redefined gender which would have allowed men in women’s restrooms, showers, locker rooms and dressing rooms in our public schools, colleges and universities. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions acknowledged that ‘there must be due regard for the primary role of the states and local school districts in establishing educational policy.’ Therefore, we will continue to work diligently in crafting the Texas Privacy Act to ensure that our state provides a nondiscriminatory solution for all Texas students and the general public in these most intimate settings. The people of Texas must define for ourselves what boundaries are expected in our public facilities.”


PRESS RELEASE — Sen. Campbell Statement on President Trump Rescinding Obama Bathroom Policy

Committees: Veteran Affairs – Chair Education Business & Commerce IGR DONNA CAMPBELL, MD DISTRICT 25 District 25 Counties: Bexar (part) Comal Guadalupe Hays Kendall Travis (part)

For Immediate Release: Contact: Nathan McDaniel Thursday, February 23, 2017 512-463-0125

“I applaud President Trump’s decision to rescind President Obama’s unprecedented and overreaching public school bathroom policy, which would have turned Title IX on its head and weakened civil rights laws for the very individuals it was designed to protect. Public school bathrooms and locker rooms should be safe spaces – not social experiments that allow our children’s privacy to be violated by members of the opposite sex. Under the Tenth Amendment, Texas should be left to determine our own policies in the best interest of Texans, and I am encouraged by the actions of my colleagues in the Senate to pass a Texas Privacy Act where the privacy, safety, and dignity of all individuals is respected.”


State Senator Donna Campbell is an emergency room physician who represents Senate District 25, which includes all or parts of Bexar, Comal, Guadalupe, Hays, Kendall, and Travis Counties

Seliger hopes his legislation lowers tuition costs

Simone Jasper

Texas universities will be more affordable for students if state Sen. Kel Seliger has his way. The chair of the Senate Committee on Higher Education filed bills this legislative session aimed at lowering tuition costs.

“We would like college to be both accessible and affordable,” Seliger, an Amarillo Republican, said. “Texas is competitive in tuition. We want to make sure it remains that way.”

The lawmaker shared his comments with the Midland Reporter-Telegram during a public meet-and-greet and lunch on Friday. His office provided free meals for up to 400 people at Mac’s Bar-B-Q.

The event celebrated Governor for a Day, a tradition that honors the president pro tempore of the Texas Senate, according to a press release from Seliger’s office. He also planned to meet Senate District 31 constituents in Odessa, Big Spring and Amarillo.

“Normally, Governor for a Day is on the capitol grounds and has big lunches and speeches,” Seliger said. “I wanted to go to the places where I have a lot of friends and interact with the people who sent me to the Senate.”

J.D. Faircloth, former mayor of Midland, has attended other Seliger events. He appreciates that the lawmaker chose to meet with constituents face-to-face.

Read More Here

Texas Democrats say emphasizing voter ID fears could drive up turnout in 2018

Melissa Thrailkill witnessed Republicans in Texas win the messaging battle and elections for years by using immigration as a unifying issue for the party’s base.

She said it’s now time for Democrats to unify around a single issue that evokes strong emotion and turnout in midterm elections.

And in Texas that issue is voter ID.

“It’s time not to be so nice,” Thrailkill said. “The whole conversation around Voter ID and voter fraud is b.s. from Republicans and that could be a rallying point for Democrats in 2018.”

The 38-year-old Democratic Party precinct chairwoman and lawyer from Dallas said Democrats in blue areas like Dallas aren’t unified around one or two issues, and instead complain about the Trump administration or Republicans in the state capital of Austin. She said the conversation needs to change, and scaring some voters could be the spark that’s needed for Democrats to make gains next year.

Read More Here