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Setting the Record Straight

February 12, 2016

My opponent has been playing a deceitful game of cherry-picking in an effort to slime me with misleading allegations based on my voting record. The reality is that I base all of my votes on the clear, conservative principles that I hold.

I do not vote for legislation that is redundant, disproportional, based on emotion over facts or gives unchecked power to government that expands its ability to interfere in our lives. Sometimes other representatives file feel-good legislation because they want to be seen as doing something when it comes time to run for re-election. This is as dangerous as it is disingenuous and often comes with unintended consequences that expands government and persecutes good people.

The law should focus on prosecuting criminals and protecting the innocent, however, far too often the effect of these bills is to make the innocent into criminals. That is not conservative.

Voting against these kinds of bills is about keeping my promise to maximize freedom and limit the power of government over our lives. The voters of House District 92 elected me to show reason and judgement, not to follow the crowd and pass popular bills that ultimately expand government and undermine liberty. That may not always make me popular, but it doesn’t make me wrong.

For Liberty,

HB 1010 – A poorly written attempt to keep district attorneys from withholding evidence in the courtroom.

  • This bill as presented on the Texas House floor was too vague in nature. As written it could have led to the imprisonment of an innocent individual based solely on an accusation/interpretation of another and not on actual evidence.
  • The issues that this bill sought to fix already currently exist in statute when a crime is committed against a child.
  • This bill was so poorly written that the Texas Senate never even gave it a hearing in committee, and it died.

HB 189 – A dangerously ambiguous bill to remove the limitation on severity of punishment for sexual assault that could lead to anyone accused of sexual assault potentially given the death penalty.

  • In spite of good intentions, this bill was poorly written.
  • The bill eliminates due process in cases with no physical evidence increasing the likelihood of false convictions and frivolous lawsuit abuse.
  • Under current law there is no statute of limitations for rape cases where physical evidence exists, or a minor is involved. It only would remove the statute of limitations in a “he said she said” situation.
  • This law removes the 10-year statute of limitations where there is no physical evidence.
  • This opens the door for an accusation 40 years later, with no physical evidence, producing a wrongful conviction.
  • No individual should be expected to recall details of an event that took place 10 years prior or more and it is unfair for them to be able to mount a defense in a “he said she said” situation.

HB 777 – A bill that sought to increase the severity of punishment for indecent exposure, but would lead to an immature high school kid being given a punishment equal to a pimp that sexually exploits others for profit.

  • Current statute makes indecent exposure punishable by 6 months in prison and/or a $2000 fine.
  • This measure would have changed current statute for someone who was convicted of indecent exposure more than once, to a year in prison and a $4,000 fine. This is a huge jump.
  • This is an example where juvenile high jinks could cause someone to spend up to a year in jail.
  • This bill was not crafted narrowly enough to preclude a disproportionate punishment in some situations.
  • For instance, current statute states that a pimp would face the same penalty as someone who was convicted of indecent exposure. I don’t think these crimes are equal and should not be punished equally.
  • If the bill would have been narrower in scope to target more serious instances of the crime, I would have voted for it.

HB 603 – An attempt to outlaw revenge pornography, but was written so broadly the bill would have created a pathway for the state to restrict freedom of speech.

  • Some of the definitions are so broad that common situations could be captured under the crime.
  • For example: “exposed intimate parts” means clothed in a manner that leaves any portion of someone’s intimate parts uncovered or visible through less than fully opaque clothing, and this could describe commonly seen street attire that might appear in visual images.
  • The state should be cautious about creating new crimes for nonviolent behaviors. Making such actions a state jail felony is too punitive given the nonviolent nature of these actions.
  • SB 1135 was a much better solution (which I voted for) to the problem than this bill and has been signed by the Governor into law.
  • Making kids who make dumb mistakes felons is not a good solution to this problem. I supported reform in this area of the law and made my intentions clear in my vote for SB 1135, which creates a new liability within the penal code of “unlawful disclosure or promotion of certain intimate visual material.”
  • This is a content based restriction on free speech which would be presumptively unconstitutional.

HB 1168 – An ineffective effort to establish a defense of citizens from unlawful search and seizure.

  • This bill DOES NOT prevent prosecution for resisting arrest.
  • This bill allows a defense to prosecution in instances of unlawful arrest and unlawful (warrant-less) search.
  • We have the right under the 4th amendment preventing illegal search without probable cause and a warrant.
  • This bill would have simply given someone who had been unlawfully searched or arrested a defense to prosecution. This is the same standard that existed at common law.

HB 773 – An ill-conceived bill that would restrict an individual’s right to free speech, while the pledge is important, the Constitution is fundamental.

  • To imply that I am against the pledge of allegiance is absolutely false.
  • I voted in favor of an amendment that was offered that would have made this bill constitutional. I cannot vote for a bill that has already been ruled as unconstitutional.
  • This was a political stunt instead of good policy. Local school districts should have more control over their own policy instead of top down mandates from the federal government and Austin.
  • No evidence was ever provided that our schools are not already reciting the pledges on a daily basis or that this bill solved any real problem.

HB 910 – An amendment providing protection of citizen’s 4th amendment rights regarding officers stopping people to check for gun licenses.

  • This amendment only codified what exists in common law – there should be no “stop and search” of innocent civilians.
  • This amendment would have prevented police from stopping and demanding the ID of a law abiding citizen who was open carrying. Again, this is the current case law.
  • This is a common sense amendment that would have protected the rights of lawful gun owners exercising their right to bear arms.
  • The amendment was adopted, with only ten democrats voting against it.
  • It was later stripped out in conference through underhanded means by house leadership.
  • Voting against this amendment (as my opponent has said he would have) was scored as an anti-gun vote by pro-2nd amendment groups.

SB 97- An emotion-driven bill that regulates e-cigarettes the same way as cigarettes and cigars despite the objective health and scientific differences.

  • Electronic cigarettes are a proven method of smoking cessation and have helped millions of people help quit cigarettes. It is not at all clear they have the same negative health effects as smoking.
  • I supported an amendment that would have banned e-cigarettes for children 18 years old and under. The amendment failed to pass and I could not support the bill because it regulated e-cigarettes for parents and teachers.
  • Local school districts should develop and enforce their own policies in regards to e-cigarettes, not be mandated from Austin or Washington DC.
  • For this reason they should not be regulated in the same way as cigarettes which is why I voted against this bill.

SB 236 – A disproportionate bill that might have been found to violate equal protection clause by targeting people in poor and minority communities for increased the punishment for possession or use of controlled substances in drug free zones.

  • This lengthens an already substantial punishment for a non-violent crime.
  • There is also a problem with basing the sentencing of a crime on geographical location. Geographic-based laws lead to arbitrary and unfair enforcement.

HB 3916- A bill filed to stop illegal government spying by cutting off water and electricity services to any federal building involved in such activities that was rendered moot due to congressional action.

  • This bill was a creative way to stop the warrant-less search and collection of personal information from innocent Texans by the NSA.
  • This issue was resolved at the federal level this year when congress put a stop to the NSA’s unlawful search of innocent Americans after an outcry from the American people.
  • This bill sought to cut off water and electric utilities to the NSA facility in San Antonio that effectively would have stopped the data collection in Texans.
  • I am thankful this issue was resolved at the federal level, stopping 4th amendment violations on millions of innocent Americans. This bill was a way for Texas to use its sovereign powers under the 10th Amendment to push back against federal overreach.