Republican Ideals Proudly On Display During Party Platform Debate

Jun 15, 2018

Texas' top Republican lawmakers spent the morning Friday revving up the crowd at their convention in San Antonio. Now the heavy lifting of this biennial event begins.

The delegates vote on a party chairman and then begin debate on the state party platform. The (currently) 38-page document lists the party's priorities, plans and ideals.

Here's a breakdown of different sections of the platform and a few highlights.

Principles

These basically explain what is means to be a Republican. If you've ever heard a Republican candidate on the campaign trail, you've got a good idea what's on this list: sanctity of life from fertilization to death, strict adherence to the original language and intent of the Constitution, preserving freedom, limiting government power, stressing personal accountability, and honoring the military and law enforcement. It's pretty much a "greatest hits" of the GOP.

Business, Commerce And Transportation

The GOP, as you probably know, is very pro-business. Any regulations that infringe on the ideals of capitalism won't get much love in the party platform. The document has lines against "cap and trade" legislation, the federal minimum wage and a municipality's ability to "interfere with the State's sovereignty over business, employees, and property rights."

This section also includes support for "reparative therapy," the controversial practice of using therapy to change a person's sexual orientation.

But then there are a couple things you might not expect. The document supports the end to "antiquated blue laws," which restrict the sale of alcohol, and it encourages the state Legislature to support the production and use of hemp.

There's also this head-scratcher: One item supports the strengthening of the state's electric grid to increase reliability, but a few lines later it supports an opt-out for so called "smart meters," which experts say help with reliability.

Warrington Lee Austerman shows his support during Abbott's address at the convention.
Credit Julia Reihs / KUT

Constitutional Issues

This section is an affirmation of the constitutional amendments Republicans love and the things they'd like to see amended.

  • Likes: Second and 10th amendments
  • Dislikes: Anything that diminishes those amendments

Much of this section focuses on gun laws, including efforts to pass laws allowing people to carry any firearm without a permit, as well as a national reciprocity law, which would require any state gun law to be honored in any other state.

This section also proposes eliminating the 17th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. If you haven't had time to listen to a 12-minute story by Matt Largey explaining the amendment, I'll sum up: It took the power to elect U.S. senators away from state Legislatures and gave it to residents. Texas Republicans want to take that vote away from the people.

Oh, and the party wants to abolish the Transportation Security Administration.

Finally, this section includes pushback against Gov. Greg Abbott's school-safety proposal to pass so-called "red flag" laws that would allow courts to remove guns from a person who is deemed a threat.

Criminal And Civil Justice

As stated in the "principles" section of this document, the GOP isn't a fan of regulations, and that really shows in this section. There are calls to eliminate several sections of the penal code.

The first item supports repeal of the "abortion homicide exemption" for physicians. This could make performing an abortion a criminal offense unless done to save the life of a mother. It also wants to repeal the "obscenity exemption" that the GOP says allows obscene material to be shown to children "under the guise of education materials." Texas Republicans also want to repeal any hate crime language that provides additional penalties to a crime against a protected class.

The party wants to abolish the state's Child Protective Services agency, as well.

There are a couple items here on ending incarceration due to the inability to pay a fine. The party also promotes a standard protocol in rape cases that includes the expectation of a resolution within 90 days and funding for rape-kit processing.

Delegates at the convention are debating the state party platform.
Credit Julia Reihs / KUT

Education

School choice and student freedom play big roles in this section. While school vouchers – state money that follows a student to any other public, private or home school – have received support in the past, this year the platform specifically says that money would come from grants or tax credits, not tax dollars. Why? Well, many homeschool supporters testified they are worried that taking tax dollars would require them to follow state standards and accountability measures.

Later this section pushes a state constitutional amendment that would exempt private- and homeschoolers from "any curricular or academic regulation whatsoever."

This section also supports challenging scientific theories on the creation of life and climate change. The party also wants to ban all sex education from schools and includes a section on "harmful school policies regarding mixed gender students in bathrooms and locker rooms."

Here, the party lays out its opposition to in-state tuition for college students who came to the U.S. without documentation and have lived in Texas for a few years.

Finance

Again, if you look back at the party ideals, you'll know that the Texas GOP doesn't like taxes or debt. This section reinforces that.

In an earlier section, the party urges the passage of a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This section continues the push for less government spending. It urges Congress to adopt zero-based budgeting, which makes agencies justify every penny spent. It encourages government divestment and ownership of all companies that "should be run in the private sector."

The party wants to block legalization of gambling and calls on the abolishment of property taxes. It doesn't provide an alternative to funding government, other than to say not through an income tax. It also wants to abolish the current school finance system, under which school districts with more money help support districts with less.

Government And Foreign Affairs

This section kicks off with a call to limit a municipality's ability to issue debt through bonds for construction projects. It supports elected appraisal district boards, which would set home values used to determine property taxes. The party also supports increases in cybersecurity "while respecting civil rights."

This section includes several points on voting, including support for voter ID laws and the ability of the state to take away voting rights for convicted felons. It also calls for English-only election ballots.

The second half of the section addresses how the U.S. deals with foreign countries. There are sections on China, North Korea, Israel, Taiwan and the United Nations.

Finally, the party proposes having potential candidates post their positions on platform planks on the Texas GOP website before they're accepted to the ticket.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick tells delegates that if Democrats win in November they will raise taxes, support amnesty, support sanctuary cities and "force boys and girls to take showers together."
Credit Julia Reihs / KUT

Health And Human Services

Welfare reform is a big topic in this section, which lists seven points, including requiring all welfare recipients to undergo random drug testing and have jobs.

The party, of course, calls for an end to the Affordable Care Act. But it supports the use of marijuana for medical use and calls on Congress to change marijuana from a schedule 1 drug to a schedule 2.

This section says the LGBTQ community should have no special legal status and opposes any criminal or civil penalties against people who "oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values." Here, the party also lays out its position on gender identity, saying, "We oppose all efforts to validate transgender identity."

Oh, and the party wants to ban the use of fluoride in water.

National Defense And Border Security

This section has several items supporting the military – from a basic statement of thanks to those who serve to a call for a strong national defense, to more specific calls to protect the state's bases from closure. It opposes women serving in combat.

The party also wants to eliminate or at least amend the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution by saying only people born to a U.S. citizen are citizens. It wants to require all employers to screen employees using the E-Verify system.

It supports legislation banning so-called sanctuary cities and would eliminate what it calls "illegal immigration magnets" like laws providing in-state tuition and non-emergency medical care.

The party wants to abolish abortion and removed the "abortion homicide exemption" for physicians in the penal code, meaning they could be criminally charged for performing the procedure in some cases.
Credit Julia Reihs / KUT

State Affairs

Remember the Alamo (just the way it is).

That's the first part of this section. The platform doesn't want the historic landmark to be reimagined or have any group other than the state of Texas run it.

This section also includes several points on religious freedom, freedom of speech and freedom to worship as you choose.

There's another section on transgender use and bathrooms, opposing any efforts to tell a private company how to determine bathroom use. The platform stands against "sexuality indoctrination" and defines marriage as between "one natural man and natural woman." The GOP's anti-abortion ideals – including a call to abolish abortion – are also laid out here.

The party also wants to protect Confederate monuments.

Resolution

Finally there's a resolution at the end of the platform calling on the censure of state Rep. Byron Cook. The Corsicana Republican, a supporter of House Speaker Joe Straus, would not allow the so-called bathroom bill move out of the State Affairs Committee. Like Straus, he announced he would not seek re-election in November. The resolution calls on the party to censure Cook "for committing three or more acts in contravention of the Republican Party of Texas Core Principles."