Senate Bill 10 Concerns
There are nine key problems with this bill:
- Increases government.
- Establishes a new level of state bureaucracy with zero accountability to taxpayers.
- The consortium’s executive committee is insulated from voters and taxpayers.
- There is no voice within the Consortium for family, parental, and medical rights.
- This bill allows meetings and activities without parental involvement.
- There is zero requirement for public input.
- The consortium and its executive committee may receive gifts, grants, and donations from any and all sources.
- This consortium and its executive committee can in turn provide grants to academic psychiatry departments at the 12 enumerated universities in Texas.
- The consortium is mandated to propagate the use of evidence-based tools and educate judges on resources available.
Concern #1: SB 10 expands the size and scope of government
Nowhere in the text of SB 10 does the bill claim to reduce governmental inefficiencies, or reduce redundancies of effort across the bureaucratic landscape. Rather, this bill very simply increases the size and scope of government. Worse, it adds new powers into the hands of unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats, primarily from the university environment.
For this reason alone, this bill should die without the support of legislators.
Concern #2: SB 10 establishes a new level of state bureaucracy with unelected, unaccountable, vaguely defined, and wide-open membership.
There are very few problems in Texas that are the result of having too little government in place. As noted above in Concern #1, this bill expands the size and scope of government, and the composition of this new Texas Mental Health Consortium is very loosely defined.
For example, the bill defines membership in this new bureaucracy as being composed of twelve universities across Texas, plus a vaguely defined, “not fewer than three nonprofit organizations that focus on mental health care” and “any other entity that the executive committee considers necessary.” This sort of language allows at least three nonprofit organizations, but in truth can allow as many as deemed necessary.
It is important to remember that universities, academia, and most mental health professionals take a dim view of 2nd Amendment rights, and such organizations often use their power to draw fallacious connections between typical non-violent mental health challenges and the use of red flag seizure type orders.
But the problem is deeper than this. The bill also allows the executive committee to add any other organization that the “executive committee considers necessary.” Note: there is a disturbing lack of boundaries on this. Can the executive committee add a rabidly anti-2nd Amendment organization to this Mental Health Consortium? Yes.
Can this organization add an aggressively anti-family and anti-traditional-marriage organization to this Mental Health Consortium? Yes.
At the very outset, because this bill creates a Consortium that can be easily populated by those without regards for traditional Texas values of family, marriage, and guns (as an example), this bill should be allowed to die without support of legislators.
Concern #3: The Consortium is led by an Executive Committee that is insulated from voters and taxpayers.
The executive committee will be composed of members of the 12 universities defined in the bill, plus “a representative of an organization that represents the interests of community centers…”
This is code language that is being used to describe some existing community mental health provider association. Essentially, imagine an industry special interest group that represents the interests not of Texans, but of community mental health centers as an entity. That’s what this provision is describing as a key part of the executive committee of this consortium. Make no mistake, this sort of “organization” does not represent your values, or traditional Texas values. Rather, the bill itself makes clear they represent “the interests of community centers.”
Such an entity no doubt lobbies for more taxpayer funding for community health centers. No doubt, this sort of organization lobbies for an ever increasing role for their community centers in your life, the life of your family, the lives of your children and their schools.
And, furthermore, this consortium’s executive committee will also include, “any other representative designated by the majority of the members.” Would this permit the executive committee of this new layer of government to include a member of an organization that stands opposed to gun rights, family rights, parental rights, medical rights, and traditional marriage? Absolutely!
Because this consortium is led by an executive committee that is unelected, unaccountable, and utterly unanswerable to taxpayers, this legislation should be allowed to die without support by legislators.
Concern #4: There is no voice within the Consortium for family, parental, and medical rights.
Mental health issues can be complex. But it is imperative that any such work in this area fully respect parental, family, and medical rights. Yet there is a complete absence of any perspective within the leadership of this consortium for family, parental, and medical rights.
This is not surprising, as many in academia and mental health organizations have little regard for traditional family values, the rights of families, the inviolable rights of parents, and medical rights.
For this reason, this bill must be allowed to die without support.
Concern #5: This bill allows meetings and activities without public involvement.
This bill establishes that the executive committee shall meet as called by the presiding officer, but does not establish that all such activities and meetings of this consortium and its executive committee shall be governed by the Texas Open Meetings Act.
It is imperative that all such governmental bodies, commissions, committees and consortiums shall be governed by the Texas Open Meetings Act. This law ensures that the public is properly notified of the date, time, and location of meetings, as well as the agenda of all such meetings. Additionally, under the Texas Open Meetings Act, it allows the public to be engaged and informed in the process.
Yet, such protections are not included anywhere in this act and this is a telling indicator that this executive committee and consortium is not answerable to the taxpayer.
Concern #6: There is zero requirement for public input in the activities and decisions of this Executive Committee and Consortium.
It is vital that the public be allowed to participate in this process. Yet, this bill makes no such provision. Is this an oversight? No. This is done intentionally because this committee and consortium is not about public engagement and public accountability.
Concern #7: The Consortium and its Executive Committee may receive gifts, grants, and donations from any and all sources.
Independence and zero tolerance for conflicts of interest must be one of the highest goals of any such public health organization. Yet this bill authorizes any and all sources to give gifts, grants, and donations to this new layer of state government.
Mental Health solutions are often found in both drug-based solutions and counseling-based solutions. It is no secret that pharmaceutical organizations will seek opportunities to influence this sort of organization so that its recommendations, findings, and new approaches promulgated throughout Texas can favor the pharmaceutical industry.
Doors like this are so wide open, that millions of dollars from the pharmaceutical industry will be money well-spent in their goal of securing greater state blessings, recommendations, and adoption for their latest mental health drug.
This creates a corrosive and corrupting influence within what should be a very independent and unbiased organization.
Concern #8: The Consortium and its Executive Committee can in turn provide grants to academic psychiatry departments at the 12 enumerated universities in Texas.
This creates a sort of legalized money-laundering apparatus whereby any and all sources can give any amount of gifts or grants to this consortium and its executive committee, and this executive committee can then turn around and “launder” those gifts and grants to their favored university psychiatry department.
There’s nothing transparent or independent about this sort of grant laundering scheme.
Concern #9: The mandate for the consortium to use “evidence-based” tools is poorly defined and dangerously vague.
Who decides what tools will be used and how and when and for whom they will be implemented? Especially when SB 10 requires that a training program be developed to educate and inform designated judges and their staff on mental health care resources available within the geographic region in which the judges preside.
Governor Abbott expounds on his intent for such legislation in the State of the State Address: “Programs like the telemedicine wellness project at Texas Tech. It partners with school districts in West Texas to identify and remove students who pose a potential threat. And it provides students the help they need.”
Also, Abbott does not limit it to schools. He adds: “And as we all know, mental health issues are not confined to our schools. They touch our entire society. To better address these needs, Senator Nelson provides a broad-based plan. A plan that creates the Texas Mental Health Care Consortium to collaborate on statewide mental health needs.”
Jane Nelson also states in her bill analysis, ”About 75 percent of children and youth with mental health issues are seen in a primary care setting, underscoring the need to empower pediatricians with guidance about treatment options.”
So who decides what tools will be used and how and when and for whom they will be implemented?
S.B. No. 10, page 1, Subchapter B, Sec. 113.0051
S.B. No. 10, page 6, Subchapter D, Sec. 113.0152
S.B. No. 10, page 6, Subchapter D, Sec. 113.0153
S.B. No. 10, page 7, Subchapter D, Sec. 113.0154
S.B. No. 10, page 9, Subchapter E, Sec. 113.0201
S.B. No. 10, page 2, Subchapter B, Sec. 113.0052
S.B. No. 10, page 4, Subchapter C, Sec.113.0101
S.B. No. 10, page 2, Subchapter B, Sec. 113.0052
S.B. No. 10, page 5, Subchapter C, Sec. 113.0103
S.B. No. 10, page 5, Subchapter D, Sec. 113.0151
S.B. No. 10, page 5, Subchapter C, Sec. 113.0105
S.B. No. 10, page 5, Subchapter D, Sec. 113.0151 (a)
S.B. No. 10, page 6, Subchapter D, Sec. 113.0151 (b)
Abbott’s State of the State Address, Transcript, February 5, 2019:
Bill Analysis by Jane Nelson, et al., page 1, paragraph 2:
SECOND READING MONDAY, FEB 25.
CALL YOUR SENATOR TODAY!
CALL YOUR SENATOR TODAY!
Attorney General Ken Paxton today issued the following statement after the Secretary of State’s office discovered that about 95,000 individuals identified by the Department of Public Safety as non-U.S. citizens have a matching voter registration record in Texas, and roughly 58,000 of them have voted in one or more Texas elections:
“Every single instance of illegal voting threatens democracy in our state and deprives individual Texans of their voice. We’re honored to have partnered with the Texas Secretary of State’s office in the past on voter initiatives and we will spare no effort in assisting with these troubling cases. My Election Fraud Unit stands ready to investigate and prosecute crimes against the democratic process when needed. We have obtained a number of successful non-citizen voter fraud convictions, including prison sentences for Rosa Ortega in Tarrant County and Laura Garza in Montgomery County. And earlier this month, investigators from our office arrested Marites Curry, a non-citizen charged with illegal voting in Navarro County. Nothing is more vital to preserving our Constitution than the integrity of our voting process, and my office will do everything within its abilities to solidify trust in every election in the state of Texas. I applaud Secretary of State Whitley for his proactive work in safeguarding our elections.”
Texas law allows lawfully present noncitizens to obtain driver’s licenses by showing proof of lawful presence to DPS. However, only citizens are eligible to vote. And Texas law currently does not require verification of a voter’s statement that they are a citizen. The Texas Secretary of State provided the information to the Office of the Attorney General this week, which has concurrent jurisdiction to prosecute election crimes.
From 2005-2017, the attorney general’s office prosecuted 97 defendants for numerous voter fraud violations. In 2018, Attorney General Paxton’s Election Fraud Unit – with assistance from a criminal justice grant from the governor’s office – prosecuted 33 defendants for a total of 97 election fraud violations. Last February, the attorney general announced a significant voter fraud initiative and addressed key problems and policy areas related to election law.
To view the Texas Secretary of State press release, click here: https://www.sos.state.tx.us/about/newsreleases/2019/012519.shtml.
Third Biennial Upshur County Inaugural Reception
An estimated seventy-five elected and re-elected Upshur officials with family and friends attended the reception.
Special thanks to Judge Dean Fowler, Judge Todd Tefteller, Joyce Dolle, Drew & Matt of Gilmer Brewing Company, Lori Metcalf of Lori's Eats & Sweets, Lisa Sneed with Ladyfingers Cakes, the generous sponsors, and the ET4L team.
For more photos, see our Facebook page post on the reception.
Best wishes to all of the elected and re-elected Upshur County Officials!
Yesterday, Texas Scorecard covered Texas’ “Big 3” Announce Agreement on State’s Priority Issues with Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, and new House Speaker Dennis Bonnen.
by Dustin Sensky
A top issue to East Texans for Liberty discussed in the article is teachers.
“Next to the parent, the teacher is the single most important person in the life of the student,” said Patrick. “Not enough money spent on education is spent on our teachers.”
Bonnen echoed that sentiment, mentioning that he has heard many teachers say the only way they could get increased pay was to take on an administrative role at the district level. “The path to more money in education should not be outside the classroom,” Bonnen said. “Teachers will be the focus.”
We could not agree more!
For years, teachers have been asked to accept lower pay, make significant cuts in their departments, and forced to cover the costs of supplies in their classrooms, while funding for education, allocated through the state, failed to funnel past ISD administrations.
ET4L will be watching this legislation closely in hopes that the “Big 3” can get it done for our Texas teachers during the 86th Legislative Session.
A federal judge in Texas on Friday struck down the Affordable Care Act, throwing a new round of uncertainty into the fate of the law just one day before the deadline to sign up for coverage for next year.
U.S. District Court Judge Reed O'Connor ruled that the law's individual mandate is unconstitutional, and that because the mandate cannot be separated from the rest of the law, the rest of the law is also invalid.
The ruling is certain to be appealed, and legal experts in both parties have said they ultimately expect the challenge to the health law will not succeed. ObamaCare will remain in effect while the case is appealed.
President Trump took to Twitter on Friday night to tout the judge's ruling while calling on congressional leaders to work on a new law, despite the chances of Congress passing a replacement law that both parties can agree being essentially zero.
"Now Congress must pass a STRONG law that provides GREAT healthcare and protects pre-existing conditions. Mitch and Nancy, get it done!" Trump tweeted, referring to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and expected incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
O'Connor, an appointee of President George W. Bush, acknowledged in his ruling that health care is a "politically charged affair — inflaming emotions and testing civility."
But he added courts "are not tasked with, nor are they suited to, policymaking." Instead, he said they must determine what the Constitution requires. In this, case O'Connor said the Constitution does not allow the mandate to stand.
The reasoning of the ruling states that in 2012, the Supreme Court upheld the mandate to have coverage because of Congress's power to tax. But, last year, Congress removed the fine for failing to comply with the mandate, which, he argues, means the mandate is no longer a tax and therefore is unconstitutional.
In a controversial move, the judge added that because the mandate is "essential" to the rest of the law, without the mandate, the entire law is invalid.
Legal experts in both parties have denounced that argument, saying it is obvious that Congress wanted the rest of the Affordable Care Act to remain when it repealed only the mandate penalty last year.
Democrats accused the judge of waiting until after the election to issue the ruling, saying he knew striking down the law before the election would harm Republicans.
The court case, brought by 20 GOP-led states, was at the center of this year's campaign after Democrats attacked Republicans for supporting the lawsuit and seeking to overturn ObamaCare's protections for pre-existing conditions.
The Trump administration, in a rare move, declined to defend the law in court and instead argued the pre-existing condition protections should be overturned.
Nicholas Bagley, a law professor at the University of Michigan, wrote on Twitter Friday night that he thinks the ruling does not prevent the Affordable Care Act from remaining in effect while the appeals process plays out, because there is no injunction from the court.
"Everyone should remain calm," he wrote.
— Updated: 9:38 p.m.