Image: Texas Senator Brandon Creighton, Republican of Conroe.
The Golden Hammer Staff Reports
Conroe and Austin, February 4 – Texas State Senator Brandon Creighton, Republican of Conroe, has focused on passage of priority issues during the 87th Texas Legislative Session, including several of the Republican Party of Texas Legislative Priorities. Creighton sat down with The Golden Hammer for an exclusive interview yesterday afternoon to discuss his legislative agenda.
Senator Creighton acknowledged that the Texas Senate has gotten off to a slow start this year. “Everything is behind because, when bills aren’t drafted quickly enough for all of the requesting legislative offices, they’re not going through the necessary steps required for a Member of the Senate to introduce them,” Creighton explained. “The House is completely reorganizing its committees, while the Senate is adjusting to new protocols to deal with COVID-19. I expect we’ll get in the rhythm of the Session within a few weeks, but there’s no doubt we’ll have less bills this session, less referred to committee, and less bills passed. It’s a good thing because it’s less government and fewer Senators and Representatives trying to impress their districts with money and promises.”
The Legislative Priorities of the Republican Party of Texas are:
- Election Integrity
- Religious Freedom
- Abolishing child and gender modification
- Abolition of abortion
- Constitutional Carry
- Monument Protection
- School Choice for All
- Ban Taxpayer-Funded Lobbying
Creighton is working on passage of several of those priorities, particularly Election Integrity and Monument Protection.
As for his overall priorities for this Session, “We don’t want more bills passed. We want a lean budget. We want a redistricting map that makes sense and will reflect current state of the state,” Creighton said. “My entire package revolves around the Tenth Amendment, which is an issue I’ve always been concerned about. Legislators -need to understand why we have state sovereignty, now under Biden more than ever.”
The Senator intends to author a bill to limit the authority of the Governor and the Executive Branch during a disaster declaration to restrict gun and ammunition sales. “We want the free market to work as it should. We want Texans to be able to practice their Second Amendment rights.”
Creighton has doubts that Constitutional Carry will receive enough votes in the Texas Senate to pass. “I passed a Constitutional Carry, which Governor Abbott signed into law last session, but it only protected our freedoms during a disaster declaration. I’d love to remove the language which limits that right to ‘during a disaster declaration.'”
As he did during the 86th Legislative Session, Creighton intends to introduce legislation to protect monuments in Texas, its counties, and its cities, which are more than 25 years old. If the state or any of its departments propose removing such a statue, an approval by the Texas Legislature would have to occur first. If a monument exists on city or county property and is more than 25 years old, the removal will require a public hearing and vote in the city council or commissioners court first. “We need to protect longstanding statues, including ones of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., President Lincoln, and the Alamo, among others,” Creighton said.
This newspaper asked the Senator whether he believes Texas has an election integrity problem. “We can absolutely improve the election process,” Creighton remarked. “We’re one of the best states in the country for election intergrity. We still have lawbreakers and fraud, however. We’ve gotten rid of Dominion. We’ve voted down elections on college campuses and mobile voting. We’ve turned down requests that every voter receive a mail-in ballot. We’ve prevented a lot of bills that would have allowed fraud and nefarious data systems.”
“My agenda for election integrity is to require a watermark on all mail-in ballots, require voter ID for all mail-in ballots, and to pass a Constitutional Amendment that neither the State government or any subdivision of it can solicit mail-in ballots,” Creighton said. “That’s what other states, including Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Michigan, and Georgia, fell into. It’s mainly, because we’ve killed bills in previous sessions.”
Creighton relayed that he met with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Tuesday, February 2, to discuss creation of an enforcement arm of the Attorney General’s Office to investigate and prosecute voter fraud complaints. Creighton is “studying” that issue right now and will determine during the next few weeks whether to author legislation. “A lot of the shenanigans during this election in 2020 occurred under the guise of COVID-19 concerns,” he said.
Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick appointed Creighton to chair the Senate’s Higher Education Committee. “I’m going to look at a number of issues related to higher education both as Chairman of the Senate Committee and as a member of the Senate Finance Committee. Those issues include looking at how universities are funded, their top 10% admission requirements, finding a better balance between building construction and online learning, protecting conservative free speech, and examining he money trail to understand fully where the $20 billion we spend on higher education actually goes,” the Senator explained.
As for limiting the Governor’s authority during disaster declarations, Creighton expressed doubts Governor Abbott would sign such measures into law. “Representative Mayes Middleton is the author of those bills in the Texas House. I don’t think they’ll become law, but we at least need to have the conversation.”
Creighton also said the Senate Finance Committee will examine the issue of the $500 million contact tracing contract the Texas Department of State Health signed during the COVID-19 disaster declaration. “The subject of contact tracing is completely under review, because it’s very disconcerting to some of the Senators,” he said.
Creighton said other issues that are part of the legislative agenda include:
- Sunset review of the San Jacinto River Authority. “SJRA is not out of the woods by any means, even though COVID has delayed the process,” Creighton said.
- Strengthening the Texas border with Mexico to pick up the wall construction where the federal government has topped construction with physical fencing and technology, such as the use of drones, in hot spots where the initial wall was to be built.
- Passage of anti-abortion legislation.
- An ethics bill to prevent former members of the Legislature from becoming lobbyists for at least one or two sessions after they have retired.
- An Appraisal District reform package, which would require election of the Appraisal Review Board members and would outlaw use of the income approach for property tax appraisals.
Senator Creighton acknowledged that the State faces a $1 billion shortfall of taxes for the coming biennium. “We will need to balance the budget with zero-based budgeting, vendor reviews, and spending cuts,” Creighton said.
He explained that delays in getting redistricting data from the U.S. Census Bureau will likely cause the Legislative Session to extend beyond the regular session which will end around the end of May.