To say Texas is a big state is an understatement—there are over 800 miles between Beaumont and El Paso and another 760 between Amarillo and Harlingen. Because the state is so large it’s no surprise there is diversity in cultures, norms, political beliefs, and legislative priorities in the Lone Star State. In fact, there are few things universal in the state of Texas beyond the belief that Texas barbecue reigns supreme.
That’s why it’s incredible that 86% of Texans can agree that lawmakers should put an end to tax dollars being used to hire contract lobbyists. These lobbyists advocate for higher taxes, more regulation, and more government. Not only that, often these contract lobbyists don’t live in the counties or cities they claim to represent.
As I travel the state of Texas and speak with Texan grassroots members, what I hear most often is that they have had enough of government growing at their expense.
Fortunately, there is legislation that would level the playing field, just as Texans demand—Senate Bill 10 by Senator Paul Bettencourt. This bill would prohibit a county or municipality from using tax dollars to hire contract lobbyists.
Now, it’s important to understand that this would not prohibit local officials from lobbying on behalf of those who elect them. In fact, they have every ability to call, meet with, or send a message to their state officials, just like grassroots Texans do with the added benefit that they are local elected officials and state officials are unlikely to turn down a meeting with them.
Counties or municipalities can, however, hire an in-house lobbyist. These folks would be subject to transparency measures which would allow the taxpayers to see just what their government is advocating for—and against.
What Texans want more than anything is transparency in the process. Counties or municipalities paying a third party to advocate for or against a bill all while local officials can plead ignorance is the opposite of transparency. Texans want to know where they stand. Fortunately, there are opportunities this session that would provide that transparency and level the playing field for Texans.