Taylor Pushes Forward on Major Ethics Reform Package

Speaking before a crowd of conservative donors and activists at the Texas Public Policy Orientation, State Sen. Van Taylor (R-Plano) released the details of what items will be contained in the ethics reform package he will be fighting to pass this session.

Taylor has the explicit backing of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Gov. Greg Abbott on the bill.

Though his efforts to pass a similar bill last session were defeated in the Texas House, Taylor has shrewdly designed a strategy to push forward with the legislation by using lawmakers’ own words and votes against them.

He’s also lined up a powerful partner in State Rep. Charlie Geren (R–Fort Worth) who has committed to preserving the bill from being hijacked as it was last session, when lawmakers killed the bill by attaching unrelated restrictions on free speech.

In a recent interview with the Texas Tribune, Geren argued that the legislature’s failure to pass ethics reform could be blamed on his colleague, State Rep. Byron Cook (R–Corsicana). Cook perverted the bill in his committee by gutting out its substance and attaching a provision that unconstitutionally attacked the free speech rights of citizens.

Although Geren often opposes conservatives, he has pledged to keep such a “poison pill” from being inserted into the legislation again. Adding the unconstitutional baggage to the bill allowed lawmakers to create a smokescreen they could use to kill genuine ethics reform.

“We’re going to have some single-shot bills that address individual issues and you’re not going to be able to decorate them like a Christmas tree with other subjects,” said Geren.

Taylor’s bill will include:

  • Barring politicians convicted of a felony from holding elected office or drawing a pension
  • Disclosing government contracts, bond counsel, and referral fees
  • Greater reporting on lobbyist-legislator wining and dining
  • Banning elected officials from being employed as lobbyists while in office and instituting and ending the “revolving door” by adding a one session cooling off period

A presentation of Taylor’s identified cornerstone reforms can be viewed here.



Tell the Legislature: We Demand Genuine Ethics Reform!

Gov. Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick have made genuine ethics reform for lawmakers one of their top priorities this year. We must eliminate and expose conflicts of interest and self-dealing. We need to restore the public trust in state government by removing those legislators who are abusing their offices for their own private gain.

Genuine ethics reform will require legislators and other public officials to disclose the contracts they and their families have with state and local governments. It will ban public officials from working as lobbyists while in office and will end the revolving door between the legislature and the lobby by requiring former public officials to undergo a cooling-off period before advocating for private causes.

Ethics reform will require public officials who are attorneys to disclose the fees they earn as bond counsel and any legal referral fees they receive. Reform will also impose a hard cap on the amount of undisclosed gifts a public official can receive from a lobbyist.

Finally, ethics reform should eliminate pensions for legislators and, until that can be done, the pensions should be de-coupled from the salaries of district judges. Legislators should not be allowed to hide pay raises for themselves behind salary increases for judges.

Will you help us continue the fight for genuine ethics reform like State Sen. Van Taylor?

Spread the message! We need genuine ethics form in state government!

Cary Cheshire

Cary Cheshire serves as Vice President of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, the premier project of Empower Texans. A 6th Generation Texan, Cary attended Texas A&M University was active in a number of conservative causes including Ted Cruz's Senate campaign. He has also worked on campaigns to elect conservatives to Congress and the Texas Legislature. Cary enjoys college football, genealogy research, and the occasional craft beer.

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