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Border Security?

Mar 24, 2015 @ 09:38:11


Want to LISTEN instead of read? Click here.
The Texas House passed House Bill 11 this past week in the name of providing and supporting border security or fighting transnational gangs or stopping human trafficking, at least that is what is being claimed.

I support TRUE and TRANSPARENT measures with PROPER PRIORITIES to secure the border, but not "conducting a study" that really is an untethered authorization. I believe HB 11 is more about politics than good policy. It is a dangerous, open-ended measure that is focussed on securing the border INTO Mexico, not into the U.S. For these and other reasons, I voted “No.” Let me explain.

A key to my vote was a provision on the bill stating:

“To prevent the unlawful transfer of contraband from this state to the United Mexican States and other unlawful activity, the department shall investigate the feasibility of providing to federal authorities at international border checkpoints assistance in the interdiction of weapons, bulk currency, stolen vehicles, and other contraband, and of fugitives being smuggled into the United Mexican States.”
 
The bill went on to authorize the checkpoints without the department coming back to the legislature explaining how the checkpoints would be established, who would be targeted, or how much it would cost. Why does that matter?
  1. Because the “border checkpoints” may be located as much as 75 to 100 miles from the actual border crossing;
  2. People traveling with cash will be expected to prove where their money came from or risk having it forfeited; and
  3. This expenditure of money would do nothing to stop illegal immigrants, unaccompanied minors, the flow of drugs, human trafficking, or potential terrorists coming into the state. That should be our priority.  
Since Mexico tends to have a cash economy, U.S. citizens, legal residents, business men and women, and tourists traveling into Mexico will be exposed to additional scrutiny because they are carrying cash. The use and abuse of civil asset forfeiture in other parts of the state and nation give reason for concern that this “shared cost of staffing” is more about qualifying for proceeds from civil asset forfeiture than fighting crime. The Border Patrol already has checkpoints, and according to debate on the House floor, state troopers can already assist at those checkpoints in a criminal situation.
 
If the legislature wants to stop the flow of money, contraband, and fugitives going south into Mexico, they should plug the holes where the drugs, human traffickers, cartels, and transnational gangs are coming north into the country.

To its credit, the bill does provide for measures for the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to recruit and hire additional personnel to replace the state troopers currently being pulled from other areas of the state to work along the border and the National Guard troops currently deployed. That, along with corresponding funding to be provided by the appropriations bill, should be useful. However, DPS still could have hired more staff without this bill.

 
Thank You for Attending!
This past weekend I completed another round of town halls in Kilgore, Pittsburg, Gladewater, and Mt. Pleasant. There is nothing like filing a bill where both sides of an issue have strongly held positions, and I have the opportunity to interact with all. I am thankful to those who turned out to listen, comment, and ask questions.
 
At each town hall meeting I presented an update on the session and reviewed some of the bills I have filed with a special focus on HB 2165, repealing prohibition of marijuana. Overall, of those who have attended and expressed support or opposition, a significant majority are in favor of the bill.
Even among those who disagree with the approach I have taken with HB 2165, nearly all concede that marijuana should be accessible for medical purposes. And that is my primary reason for this approach. I do not want more nanny state government dictating how we care for our health, especially when it comes to uses of natural products or plants. I do not want to create a state level "FDA" or "ATF" to dispense or license marijuana nor our use of essential oils, natural supplements, aloe vera, etc. Man-made or manufactured substances are very different.
I want to give a special thanks to Jon-Eric and Rachel Johnson for attending the Gladewater Town Hall meeting with their son, Lleyton. Jon-Eric shared their story about everyday life with their precious son, who currently suffers from epilepsy and endures 50-100 seizures a day. Even with five pharmaceutical drugs, Lleyton will experience 30 or more seizures per day and the drugs make him very lethargic. Please pray for this family as they seek a possible remedy with cannabis. If you want to help, go to Love for Lleyton on Facebook.
In case you missed the town halls, we have included an audio recording and slides of one of the town halls below. 
March 14, 2015 Town Hall at the VFW 4002 in Longview.
 

Expanding Liberty and Limiting Government

In my first newsletter of the legislative session, I mentioned that my staff and I would seek to apply the principles of liberty and proper limited government to thousands of pieces of legislation. We are continuing to pursue that goal, but it is often difficult. If fear is allowed to infringe upon freedom, the nanny state grows unchecked. In this regard, I side with Thomas Jefferson who said, "I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it." Let's replace fear with facts and leave people alone unless they harm their neighbor.

I welcome your input and covet your prayers. Thank you for the privilege of representing District 7 in the Texas House.

For Texas and liberty,
David Simpson


PS. You can follow along each week with any bills of interest by watching the process. Links to committee hearings and floor activity can be found hereBills that I have filed may be found here.
 
 
Left: Tanisha Bush, a law school student at Lewis and Clark, is one of my policy interns who assists me with analyzing legislation and helping constituents. Tanisha has worked for me every legislative session since I have been in office. When Tanisha is not attending law school and reading policy, she enjoys hiking, rock-climbing, and writing music.
 

In Case You Missed It!

 
"The Christian case for drug law reform" Op-Ed published by The Texas Tribune, March 2, 2015

"A Conservative Christian's Case for Legal Marijuana" published by The New York Times, March 3, 2015

"The Republican argument to end marijuana prohibition" published by The Washington Post, March 3, 2015
 
"Medical marijuana - where does the debate stand now?" published by Medical News Today, July 24, 2014 

"Holding Marriage in HonorOp-Ed published by the Longview News-Journal, February 28, 2015

 

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It's about Liberty!

Mar 18, 2015 @ 08:47:42

 


It's about Liberty!

Want to LISTEN instead of read? Click here.
The last day to file a bill without suspending the rules was Friday, March 13th. With all bills having now been filed, the House is progressing into a more intense part of session. Knowing the schedule from this point forward will be much more hectic, I held three town hall meetings in the district this past weekend to give a legislative update on the session and the bills I have introduced, and to listen to constituents and answer their questions.
The town hall meetings included a general update on the session and a review of the bills I have filed with a special focus on HB 2165, repealing prohibition of marijuana (and for which a significant majority expressed support). We enjoyed an open discussion of that bill and others both pro and con. Other bills and issues of special interest included open carry and forced vaccinations of minors.

In case you missed the town halls, we have included a audio recording and slides of one of the town halls below. 
March 14, 2015 Town Hall at the VFW 4002 in Longview.
My thanks to the many citizens who attended and participated in Saturday's town hall meetings in Gilmer, Judson, and Longview. And to all in District Seven and those who receive this, please know that I value your input and look forward to hearing from you throughout the legislative session.
As we say in East Texas,
"Fences Keep the Honest People Honest"

 
Civil asset forfeiture, or forfeiture of contraband as it is referred to in Chapter 59 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, is the process by which the state may confiscate assets of an individual that are alleged to be proceeds or instruments of crime. Essentially, this allows the state to seize property by presuming guilt and examining innocence later. What happened to the concept of innocent until proven guilty?

Civil forfeiture provisions, though a well-intended tool for law enforcement, have eroded the constitutional rights of individuals. To end this practice, I have filed HB 3171 to repeal civil asset forfeiture and establish criminal asset forfeiture so that the ill-gotten gains of convicted criminals may be taken from drug dealers, cartels, human trafficking rings, and other criminals while protecting everyone's 4th and 5th amendment rights.

 
 
Our constitutional restraints on government are like fences—they keep the honest people honest. Where our fences of presumed innocence and due process have been torn down, we should rebuild them. 

To read more about civil asset forfeiture, see my opinion pieces published in December by the Longview News-Journal and Dallas Morning News. Also see "Taken" published in The New Yorker or Jon Stewart's exposé on the The Daily Show.
 
Want to Attend a Town Hall Meeting this Weekend?

If you missed the opportunity to share your thoughts at last week's town hall meetings, there will be more town hall meetings this Friday and Saturday, March 20th-March 21st.

The purpose of the town halls is to provide a legislative update about the session with a special focus on HB 2165 and to listen to comments and answer questions. Following is the schedule:
 
Friday, March 20th
 
5:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Meadowbrook Golf & Event Center
1306 Houston St, Kilgore, TX 75662


 
Saturday, March 21st
 
9:00 AM – 10:30 AM
Pizza Inn with Camp County Republican Party
1000 N. Greer Blvd, Pittsburg, TX 75686



11:30 AM – 1:00 PM
Tejas Cafe with Gregg County Libertarian Party
1414 Broadway Ave, Gladewater, TX 75647
 


2:00 PM – 3:30 PM
Herschel's Restaurant with Titus County Republican Women
1612 S Jefferson Ave, Mt. Pleasant, TX 75455



6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Northeast Texas Community College Whatley Center
2886 FM 1735, Mt. Pleasant, TX 75455


Full Speed Ahead!

My staff and I are moving full speed ahead as legislation moves through committee hearings. Although only a portion of the thousands of filed legislation will actually get a vote by the House, we are continuing to analyze all legislation so I may be well prepared to make wise, principled votes for House District 7 and Texas.

I welcome you to follow along each week as session progresses and the fight for liberty continues! You can follow along each week with any bills of interest by watching the process. Links to committee hearings and floor activity can be found here
Bills that I have filed may be found here.

I welcome your input and covet your prayers. Thank you for the privilege of representing District 7 in the Texas House.

For Texas and liberty,
David Simpson
 

Reviewing bills to be heard in the committee with staff & interns

 
Left to right: Emily Nicholson, Carrie Smith, Caleb Kirkpatrick, Zach Hellen, Cade Palmer, Michael Bullock, Kathi Seay, and myself. (Not shown are Eli Stephens, Tanisha Bush, and Leigh Uranga.)
 
Legislature by the Numbers
Last day bills were filed: March 13th
House Bills Filed: 4,247
Senate Bills Filed: 2,058
Total: 6,305
 


In Case You Missed It!

 
"The Christian case for drug law reform" Op-Ed published by The Texas Tribune, March 2, 2015

"A Conservative Christian's Case for Legal Marijuana" published by The New York Times, March 3, 2015

"The Republican argument to end marijuana prohibition" published by The Washington Post, March 3, 2015
 
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It's not about getting HIGH!

Mar 12, 2015 @ 09:56:36

 


It's Not About Getting High

Rather listen than read? Click here!
There is nothing like filing a bill where both sides of an issue have strongly held positions, and I have the opportunity to interact with all. I appreciate and respect those who have called, emailed, or posted on my Facebook page with their opinions on HB 2165 which would repeal all marijuana offenses in Texas statutes.
 
I do not advocate the irresponsible use of marijuana or any substance, but those are choices that should be made by individuals, not the state. We have plenty of laws to deal with those who harm their neighbor and these will remain in force if this law is passed.
 
Some of those in opposition to the concept have inferred that my comment in the op-ed that “as a Christian I see the innate goodness in all that God created” as approval of marijuana’s recreational use. That was not my point.
 
My point is that government has gotten it wrong when it comes to marijuana.  Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug, meaning that it is defined by the government as a drug with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. However, since that classification, at least 23 states have legalized the plant for medical use. Marijuana, used irresponsibly, can have some bad side effects. But many pharmaceuticals, used as intended, have even worse side effects. Compare the side effects of prescription painkillers
, antidepressants, or chemotherapy drugs to the side effects of marijuana. Should people be allowed to make a choice between the two? Also, compare the side effects of marijuana to the countless substances and activities, which may not be the best choice for the individual, but which we tolerate and do not prohibit.
 
When marijuana was originally outlawed most scholars agree that the laws were motivated by hype, racism, and perhaps an industry or two seeking to control competition from hemp in some commodities markets. Hemp, coming from the same plant as marijuana (but from a strain with extremely low THC), is the strongest and most durable of all natural fibers. It produces four times as much fiber per acre as pine trees and could be an ideal source of biomass for fuel. To this day, cultivation of industrial hemp requires a permit from the Drug Enforcement Agency (rarely given out) with conditions that the crop be surrounded by security measures such as fences, razor wire, security guards, or dogs.
 
Thus, we are missing out on both the medicinal and economic value of a plant God has given us that, coincidentally, can also be abused. Comments in emails and Facebook posts have focused on the fact that God also made poisonous snakes and hemlock, but that does not mean we should use them recreationally. That is so true, and I no more suggest that people should use marijuana recreationally than I suggest that people play with rattlesnakes. The difference is, the state does not prohibit playing with rattlesnakes, and some people actually bring them to the Capitol and let other people play with them.

 
 
Of course, another difference is that no one has ever died from the use of marijuana. It is nontoxic. This fact does not mean it’s a good idea for a person to use it recreationally, but it does underscore the fact that it does not need intense government regulation.
 
Meanwhile, I do not think it is right that we punish citizens who are not harming their neighbor. We may disagree with their use of the plant, but when should the state step in? We have 70,000 people incarcerated in Texas simply for possession of marijuana.

I understand the desire to send the right messages to our children. However, prohibition does more than send a message. It creates many problems. We may not want a teenager to experiment with marijuana, but would we rather that discussion be between parents and the child or the child and the police? 
 
What motivated me to file the bill at this time is a desire to help constituents who desire access to the natural plant for treatment of seizures, PTSD, cancer, etc. I want to expand liberty and restore personal responsibility without creating another bureaucracy like the ATF on the state level to regulate it, nor a registry that a future federal administration might use as evidence of breaking federal law.
 
Getting back to the basics on this issue will put parents in charge of their children’s lives and adults in charge of their own. It is time to reject nanny state policies and restore limited civil government, individual liberty, and personal responsibility.

 

HB 2165 Frequently Asked Questions


Is marijuana a gateway drug? Perhaps, but is it a gateway because of the chemical influence or because of the criminal element that a person is involved with in obtaining the plant?
 
What can I do to help get the bill passed? Contact your elected officials and express your support for the bill. Pray for me.
 
Why do you encourage recreational use of marijuana by saying all things created by God are for good? What I said in my op-ed is that “As a Christian, I recognize the innate goodness of everything God made and humanity’s charge to be stewards of the same.” I do not encourage the irresponsible use of any plant, chemical, or other substance. I do not allow my children to consume caffeine until they are in their teenage years and then only in moderation. I instruct them on its addictive nature and potential abuse. Anything can be used for evil, but that does not make it evil. Cannabis can be used for much good.
 
Why do you want to legalize the plant that can harm you just because God made it? Many plants aren’t good for human consumption. Some of them can even kill you. However, we do not need to outlaw them to avoid their irresponsible use. To my knowledge there are no confirmed reports of dying from marijuana, unlike synthetic marijuana.
 
Won’t this increase impaired driving accidents?
The research on driving accidents does not support any special fear about marijuana. While most studies will agree that the number of people who test positive for marijuana use in driving accidents has increased, there is less evidence to indicate that the drug use was directly related to the accident.  Colorado accident rates were at a near historic low in 2013The federal government recently conducted a study and concluded that marijuana potential contribution to accidents was not statistically significant.
 
Have you researched what legalization has done in Colorado? Yes. It is mixed. I encourage you to do your own research of the issue and look at the information from both sides of the argument.  
 
Do you believe that there should be some regulatory scheme to protect children from getting marijuana? My favorite regulatory scheme for minors is parents. They have the greatest opportunity of preventing bad behavior. Prohibiting the sale of tobacco and alcohol for minors has not stopped the use and abuse of those products, though education has.
 
Why are you bringing this bill up now? I filed the bill to help constituents who desire access to the natural plant for treatment of seizures, PTSD, cancer, etc. I want to expand liberty and restore personal responsibility without creating more bureaucracy. There are other bills promoting the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes, but they create a regulatory scheme that would be counter productive and create more government. They also create a registry of all medical users. Should the federal government choose to come into the state and enforce federal statutes, we would be giving them the information needed to prosecute.
 
What happens if someone smokes marijuana and has a car crash killing someone? Driving impaired is illegal, whether it be under the influence of cough medicine, alcohol, or marijuana. This bill would not change any penalties for harming another person currently in statute.
 
Why do you keep saying there are medical benefits when there are so many studies saying there aren’t? There are studies on both sides of this issue. To date, 23 states have legalized marijuana for medical use. I am not a medical expert, but I have heard numerous first hand accounts from people in Texas and across the country that have said it has helped them, including veterans. I believe people should be given the freedom to make responsible decisions about their health without being criminals, and I trust them more than I do government to keep them safe from themselves.
 
Were you smoking marijuana when you came up with this idea? No, and I never have. 

 

Join Me at a Town Hall Meeting
Saturday, March 14th

The purpose of the town halls is to provide a legislative update about the session, to listen to comments, and to answer questions. 
 
9:00 AM – 11:00 AM
Yamboree Hall
1300 N Wood St., Gilmer, TX 75644




12:30 PM – 2:30 PM
Judson Community Center
1129 FM 1844, Longview, TX 75605




 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM
VFW Post 4002
401 Ambassador Row, Longview, TX 75604


 

Other Issues of Importance


I have filed 11 bills this session addressing a wide range of topics and issues currently affecting liberty in our state. The legislation I have filed tackles issues of accountability, repealing corporate welfare, repealing egregious retroactive tax penalties, protecting property rights, water rights, and state sovereignty. Below are three of my bills that have not been mentioned in previous newsletters:

HB 133 would repeal a retroactive, exorbitant tax penalty for simply changing the use of agriculturally appraised land. 

HB 134 would require increased transparency for ballot propositions authorizing state and local general obligation bonds.

HB 632 would require cooperation in the planning and funding of water projects to be constructed in a region other than the region proposing the project. 
 
 
 

Keeping on!

We begin hearing bills in the criminal jurisprudence committee this week. Friday is also the last day to file a bill.

Please continue to tune in each week as session progresses and the fight for liberty continues! You can follow along each week with any bills of interest by watching the process. Links to committee hearings and floor activity can be found hereBills that I have filed may be found here.

I welcome your input and covet your prayers. Thank you for the privilege of representing District 7 in the Texas House.

For Texas and liberty,
David Simpson

In Case You Missed It!

 
"The Christian case for drug law reform" Op-Ed published by The Texas Tribune, March 2, 2015

"A Conservative Christian's Case for Legal Marijuana" published by The New York Times, March 3, 2015

"The Republican argument to end marijuana prohibition" published by The Washington Post, March 3, 2015
 
"Medical marijuana - where does the debate stand now?" published by Medical News Today, July 24, 2014 

"Holding Marriage in HonorOp-Ed published by the Longview News-Journal, February 28, 2015

 

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