Conroe, June 5 – State Republican Executive Committeeman Mark Ramsey spoke to the Montgomery County Tea Party meeting on Monday, June 3, 2019, and provided a statistically-laden talk about the 86th Texas Legislature, which adjourned one week earlier in Austin. “While Republican Legislative Priorities didn’t come out of the session in that great a shape, the session itself was actually a good one,” Ramsey said.
Ramsey, a Professional Engineer, is serving in his seventh year as the State Republican Executive Committeeman representing Senatorial District 7 (north Harris County). In response to a question about the new Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives Dennis Bonnen, Ramsey explained, “When you look at how legislation got passed, in comparison with his predecessor, we were able to do a lot of good things that would never have been done under the previous administration. It’s been a much better session than anything we saw under [former House Speaker] Joe Straus.”
Ramsey commented that the 86th Texas Legislature began with two setbacks. First, some of the legislative leaders “came out at the very beginning and spent all of the money, so there wasn’t any leverage left.” Ramsey was clearly referring to Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and others in leadership roles who proposed to spend the entire state fund surplus before the session had even begun. Second, Ramsey noted, “we lost a lot of votes in the last election, so we didn’t have all the votes in the House and the Senate we’d had in the last session.”
Ramsey noted that, during the 86th Texas Legislative Session, which lasted 140 days from January 8 to May 27, 2019:
- State Representatives filed 4,765 bills in the Texas House;
- Senators filed 2,559 bills in the Texas Senate;
- The House passed 969 bills or 20.3% of those filed;
- The Senate passed 460 bills or 18.3% of those filed;
- There are 334 Platform Planks in the Platform of the Republican Party, while 61 bills related to specific planks passed both the House and the Senate;
- Of the five (5) Republican Legislative Priorities, nine (9) related bills passed the House and the Senate.
Ramsey explained that Texas’ continued use of taxpayer-funded lobbyists, a practice which many other states have outlawed, creates an enormous disadvantage for citizen-activists during the legislative process. “Citizens are enormously outnumbered 1000 to 1 by paid Austin lobbyists. We’re really outgunned; we’re outnumbered.”
“Citizens are enormously outnumbered 1000 to 1 by paid Austin lobbyists. We’re really outgunned; we’re outnumbered.” – State Republican Executive Committeeman Mark Ramsey.
Ramsey said, “An enormous amount of taxpayer money leaves the other 253 counties and goes to Travis County…Grassroots activists in both political parties want taxpayer-funded lobbying banned…Many other states have bans or severe restrictions on taxpayer-funded lobbying.”
Legislation to ban taxpayer-funded lobbying passed the Texas Senate during the Legislative Session but failed on the Floor of the Texas House.
The four giant pieces of legislation which passed the Texas Legislature were:
- House Bill 1, the “spending omnibus” (as Ramsey called it);
- Senate Bill 2, which established certain property tax reforms, including a “hard” 2.5% spending increase on school districts and a 3.5% cap on city and county spending increases (although cities and counties may pass such increases with a voter referendum);
- House Bill 3, which provided some school finance reform, including an 8 cent reduction in school district maintenance and operations budgets, and some additional reductions after 2019;
- Senate Bill 11, which was a school mental health treatment and safety bill, which will cost taxpayers $200 million.
Ramsey also noted that, if Texas were to abolish property taxes altogether, and replace property taxes with sales taxes, the sales tax rate would only be 4.8%, if the state eliminated all exemptions from sales taxation.
Ramsey is the author of the popular Practical Wellbore Hydraulics and Hole Cleaning: Unlock Faster, more Efficient, and Trouble-Free Drilling Operations (Gulf Drilling Guides), which Gulf Professional Publishing published in February and which is available for purchase on Amazon.