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Above the Law?

Apr 30, 2015 @ 08:17:28

 


Are Legislators above the Law?
Want to LISTEN instead of read? Click HERE.

Last week, I voted against House Bill 1690 because it created a special, protected class for elected state officials. Under this bill, crimes against public administration such as bribery, perjury, or conspiracy that we may commit in our jobs as state officials will no longer be prosecuted in the county where the crimes often are committed. Now they will be tried in the counties in which we reside. This gives state officials a home field advantage, which is a luxury that is NOT given to the constituents we serve.

HB 1690 was filed to overcome the perceived partisan politics of the Travis County District Attorney's Public Integrity Unit, currently held by Democrats. However, this bill does not fix the problem; it just substitutes one set of politics for another.

To overcome the issue of "home field advantage," I offered an amendment to expand the venue for prosecuting state officials to include the county in which the crime occurred in addition to the county in which they reside. This, as well as other amendments broadening venue for prosecution, FAILED.

I believe there should be more scrutiny for public officials, not less. Due to the sensitive nature of indicting an elected official, there is probably less prosecution than what is actually warranted. 

Mark Twain famously said, "It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native criminal class except congress." Perhaps the truth in that statement is what makes elected officials so paranoid. Elected officials should not be held above the law that applies to the constituents they serve. 

The Senate finally returned the state budget to the House with amendments that increased proposed spending from $209.6 billion to $211.4 billion. In preparation to take a final vote on the state budget, each house appointed representatives to a conference committee to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill.

House rules dictate that a conference committee shall limit their discussions and actions solely to the matters in disagreement between the two houses. Should a conference committee want to discuss items not in disagreement, the rules provide a process whereby conferees return to their respective chambers and request permission from the body to address the issue. The process is intended to guarantee ALL 180 members an opportunity to give their input on the finalized state budget. However, having a rule and following it are two very different things.

Last session, we were given a detailed 248-page document explaining instances where the conference committee had "gone outside the bounds" of committee authority. Instead of seeking permission to make certain changes to the budget, the conference committee asked for the House's forgiveness for breaking the rules.

To avoid facing the same issue again, I made a motion to instruct the House conferees to follow the rules we all agreed to when we first began session.

The motion failed - 31 in favor, 110 opposed - to following the rules.

Duty is ours; results are God's.

Thanks for stopping by!
On Monday, the House recognized history teacher, Barbara Barton, and the entire 7th grade class from St. Mary's Catholic School located in Longview. Every year, Barbara and the 7th grade class travel to our state capitol to tour and witness the events occurring on the House floor. It was a pleasure meeting and visiting with this year's class! Thank you, Barbara, for all you do for the students of St. Mary's. 
It was a pleasure to meet and greet with the Longview Texas Bank and Trust professionals. It was good to learn more about the issues they currently face, to answer questions, and to discuss bills that I have introduced. Thank you for coming to your state capitol and taking time to visit with me!
Other Issues of Importance


House bills 1199 and 1200 were voted out of committee last week and are now on their way to the House floor for a vote by the entire body. These bills hold the makers and sellers of synthetic drugs (K2, Spice, etc.) accountable for their deceptive trade practices and the personal injuries that they cause.

House Bill 3175, a local bill for Gregg County's health care services, is set for a vote on the local and consent calendar for Wednesday, April 30. 

 
It was also a momentous week for the pro-life cause. Rep. Matt Schaefer successfully amended the Texas State Health Services sunset bill to make the reporting of abortions more efficient and timely. Another amendment eliminated the provision to allow the abortion of a baby with fetal abnormalities after 20 weeks.

The author withdrew the bill from consideration when opponents threatened to kill it on a point of order. That means we will have to repeat the process all over again, but it was good to see we had the votes to protect the most defenseless among us.

Kudos to Rep. Schaefer for his defense of life and liberty.

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

 
P.S. 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.
LEGISLATURE BY THE NUMBERS
As of Monday, April 27, 2015

House bills passed: 306
Senate bills passed: 369
Bills sent to Governor: 2
House and Senate bills still pending in committees: 2,159
Total number of bills filed this session: 6,461
Bills introduced that have passed out of committees:   HB 134HB 1199HB 1200HB 2540HB 3175

In Case You Missed It!


"Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Bill Offered in Texas" published by the Heartlander Magazine, April 23, 2015

"Simpson plans to amend civil asset forfeiture billpublished by the Longview News-Journal, April 17, 2015

"A Pro-Life Defense of Marijuana Legalization" published by the Texas GOP Vote, April 10, 2015

"Texas Young Republicans Support Marijuana Decriminalization" published by the Dallas Morning News, April 10, 2015


"Simpson bills get attention this week" published by the Longview News-Journal, April 4, 2015

"Longview family seeks medical marijuana for son's seizure disorder" published by the Longview News-Journal, March 27, 2015

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

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Presumed Guilt

Apr 23, 2015 @ 09:50:03

 


Presumed Guilty?

Want to LISTEN instead of read? Click HERE.

It should not be easier to take someone's property than it is to convict them of a crime, but it is happening all the time with our current laws.

Section 2.01 of the Texas Penal Code states: "All persons are presumed to be innocent and no person may be convicted of an offense unless each element of the offense is proved beyond a reasonable doubt. The fact that he has been arrested, confined, or indicted for, or otherwise charged with the offense gives rise to no inference of guilt at his trial."

The same is not true for a person's property, which law enforcement can currently seize and have forfeited through a civil process which requires the state to prove only by a preponderance (50.01%) of the evidence that the property was used in or the result of criminal activity. 
Under current law, property may be seized and forfeited even if the property owner is never charged. Outrageously, in cases of dismissal or acquittal, the property DOES NOT have to be returned to the owner.  

For this reason, I introduced HB 3171, which would repeal civil asset forfeiture and require a criminal conviction before someone's property is forfeited in Texas.

As I explained in the hearing before the the Committee on State Affairs last Wednesday, HB 3171 protects the ability of law enforcement to continue to seize property that is suspected to be the ill-gotten gains from a crime or used in a crime, but the property would not be forfeited until after a criminal conviction is obtained. My proposed bill respects and reinforces our Fourth and Fifth Amendment constitutional rights which protect innocent third parties and give due process to those suspected of criminal activity.

To learn more about some of the injustices that have occurred under these current civil asset forfeiture provisions, please take a look at the video below, "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Civil Forfeiture."

 

Four More Bills Heard by Committees

Other bills I have authored received hearings in committees last week as well. House Bills 1581 (notification regarding fluoridation of public water supplies) and 1200 (establishing civil liability for synthetic drugs) were heard last Tuesday. House Bills 1582 (transparency in compensation for elected officials) and 2540 (designation of Spur 63 in Gregg County as the Texas Ranger Glen Elliott Memorial Highway) were heard last Thursday.

My thanks to everyone who traveled to the Capitol last week to testify on behalf of these bills which I introduced.

So far three bills I have authored have been passed out of committees and are now on their way to the House floor for a vote by the whole House.

House District 7 Honorees!

It was a great pleasure for the Texas House to honor Gilmer native, Deborah Bell, founder of Refuge International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving lives in areas where adequate health care and nutrition are lacking or non-existent. Under Deborah's guidance, the group leads numerous mission trips each year and establishes medical clinics in various parts of the world. Thank you, Deborah, for your outstanding service to those both locally and abroad! (Pictured to the left of Deborah is her brother, Representative Lyle Larson of San Antonio.)

It was also a pleasure to meet and honor the Kilgore High School boys soccer team last Thursday. The Bulldogs went undefeated in district, claimed their fifth straight district title, and advanced all the way to their second state tournament since 2011. Congratulations to Head Coach Austin Walker and the entire Bulldogs team on a great soccer season!


Property Rights & Open Carry

Members of the legislature spent the majority of the day Friday debating two controversial bills, which had been bumped off of calendars earlier in the week due to technicalities. 

House Bill 40 would restrict the regulations that municipalities and other political units may enact to only those that affect surface activity, which is incidental to an oil and gas operation, is commercially reasonable, does not effectively prohibit oil and gas operations, and does not otherwise come into conflict with state or federal law. The bill specifies that regulation of oil and gas operations is the exclusive jurisdiction over the regulation of oil and gas operations.

The bill was prompted by regulations some local entities have passed that would effectively prohibit the development of their mineral rights. While local control is crucial for good government, private property rights are a cornerstone of a free society. The power exercised by local governmental entities is delegated state authority. HB 40 specifies that the state is reserving this authority.

House Bill 910 relating to the authority of a person who is licensed to carry a concealed handgun to openly carry a holstered handgun was passed by a vote of 96 to 35. Efforts to amend the legislation to allow for open carry without a license were thwarted and amendments were blocked from consideration.

More than Ever, Vigilance

Though only 40 days are left in session, most of our work remains. My staff and I are working around the clock to expand liberty and increase justice for all. We cannot do this alone. We need the Lord's favor and his blessings on your watchful eye as well as ours. Our freedom and proper government depend upon maintaining constant vigilance. We need your continued help. Many of you have joined the fight by expressing support, spreading awareness, testifying on behalf of my introduced legislation, as well as praying. I appreciate your participation and please continue!
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.
 
Two bills I have introduce are being heard this week:  

HB 1199, which applies The Deceptive Trade Practices Act and Consumer Protection Act to Synthetic Drugs, will be heard by the Business & Industry Committee on Tuesday, April 21. 

HB 1751, which will allow non-compliance with unconstitutional federal laws that violate the Bill of Rights of the Texas Constitution, will be heard by the State & Federal Power & Responsibility Select Committee on Thursday, April 23.

If you come to testify at the the hearings, please stop by E2.502 if you have time or need a place to rest or wait.

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In Case You Missed It!

"Simpson plans to amend civil asset forfeiture bill" published by the Longview News-Journal, April 17, 2015

"A Pro-Life Defense of Marijuana Legalization" published by the Texas GOP Vote, April 10, 2015

"Texas Young Republicans Support Marijuana Decriminalization" published by the Dallas Morning News, April 10, 2015


"Simpson bills get attention this week" published by the Longview News-Journal, April 4, 2015

"Longview family seeks medical marijuana for son's seizure disorder" published by the Longview News-Journal, March 27, 2015

"Holding Marriage in Honor" Op-Ed published by the Longview News-Journal, February 28, 2015
 
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The Road to Freedom

Apr 15, 2015 @ 06:48:10

The Road to Freedom

By justice a king builds up the land,
but he who exacts gifts tears it down.

— Proverbs 29:4
Want to LISTEN instead of read? CLICK HERE
Before I recap what happened over the last week, I want to tell you about something that happened on Monday.

Following the road to freedom requires keeping a good conscience—buying the truth and selling it not, as Proverbs puts it. I am afraid, however, we are still on the road to serfdom. So today I made the following personal privilege speech on the enactment of SB 293 before the Texas House of Representatives:

"Mr. Speaker and members: 

I don’t wish to take much time today, but there is an issue that I cannot let go unnoticed. 

As we press forward through this legislative session, I want us to remember that each and every one of us is responsible for upholding the rule of law—not just its letter but its spirit. 

Sure, we can play games with words and effective dates, as we used to do with the clock. But who are we kidding? The Lord knows and, more and more, the people know when we violate our rules or our constitutions. 

I want to get right to the point, and pull the “Band-Aid” off quickly, not slowly and painfully. Two weeks ago we debated Senate Bill 293, which was presented to this body as a “clarification of the law” that would have NO retroactive effect. I brought multiple points of order on Section 2 of the bill that clearly requires a retroactive application, but I was overruled. I also appealed to the governor.

Last Wednesday, April 8, the governor signed Senate Bill 293 into law. That same day the City of Fort Worth submitted a letter to the comptroller’s office, requesting that a previously denied application for a NASCAR event beginning the next day should be reconsidered. 

Even though it was only a day before the event’s activities commenced, not the 45 days required by statute (See Vernon’s Civil Statutes, Article 5190.14, Section 5A, and especially b-1.), the comptroller, based upon the retroactive language of Section 2 of the bill and in keeping with its letter of March 20, approved the February 19 application RETROACTIVELY.

And what is all this for? Is it to increase the eligible reimbursement for this event from $1,007,900 to $1,824,796? Have we as leaders of this state (this house, the senate, the governor, and the comptroller), really sacrificed our oaths for $816,896, for one city and one event? Have we sold our birthright of liberty and limited government for a bowl of political pottage? I believe we have. 

We’ve played games with the rule of law, and it is obvious. We have trampled on our U.S. Constitution and the Texas Constitution that both specifically forbid ex post facto or retroactive laws. 

This is why people don't trust politicians. 

Ladies and gentlemen, when we consciously violate our oath of office or intentionally work around the plain spirit of our laws and our constitutions, we reinforce the beliefs of every cynic that we have proven our profession and all we do here is negotiate price.

May God have mercy upon us and help us." 


In case you want to share this, I have attached the speech below.
Hearings & More Hearings!
Last week, citizens from all over Texas traveled to the Capitol to continue fighting the good fight for liberty by giving testimony before committees on HB 133, HB 1037, or HB 2165

HB 133, which would repeal a tax penalty for changing the use of agricultural land, received a lot of positive testimonials in the Agriculture and Livestock Committee hearing. I look forward to seeing this bill move forward.
 
HB 1037, abolishing the Emerging Technology Fund, received positive feedback in the Texas Economic & Small Business Development Committee hearing. Many individuals expressed support for ending corporate welfare and dedicating government funds toward crucial priorities, such as securing our border. Government needs to stop meddling with the free market and start focusing on protecting the liberty and safety of citizens. Thanks to all who testified on behalf of HB 133 or HB 1037. Both bills remain in committee awaiting a vote.
 


I want to thank everyone who took time out of their busy schedules last week to testify on my bills. I especially thank Jon-Eric, Rachel, and Lleyton Johnson, Zoe Parks, Commissioner Daryl Primo, and others from HD 7 and from across the state who stayed up late to testify on HB 2165, which would repeal marijuana prohibition in Texas. We heard gut-wrenching testimony from people on both sides of the issue. It takes immense strength and courage to share your personal stories and convictions in front of a crowd of witnesses. A total of 195 people registered on the bill: 22 were against it; three were neutral; and 170 were in favor. 

Now that all of the testimonies have been heard, HB 2165 remains pending in the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee. In the meantime, I encourage you to continue spreading awareness about the bill so we can help citizens gain access to the natural marijuana plant for medical treatment without creating more government. Not only will this benefit those who need it, but also it will benefit all Texans by stopping much of the drug cartel's illicit trade.

Freedom is Gaining Public Support!

The Texas Young Republicans, a group affiliated with the state GOP, are publicly backing legislative efforts to decriminalize marijuana possession. Rep. Moody's HB 507, which would reduce possession of less than an ounce of marijuana to a civil offense, has gained the most widespread support among the GOP group.

My bill, HB 2165, takes things a step further than HB 507 by removing all marijuana offenses out of Texas state statute. Although an official survey indicates that a majority of the Texas Young Republicans group would support HB 2165, they are unable to take an official position on it because the Texas Republican Party's platform does not quite support it. But are not personal responsibility, limited government, medical freedom, and individual liberty core principles of the Republican party? Would not the passage of this bill undermine the drug cartel's trade?
 
 
According to Brian Bodine, the policy director of the Texas Young Republican Federation, a majority of the Texas Young Republicans seem to align with basic liberty principles. Bodine even released a statement to The Dallas Morning News explaining why group members support the marijuana decriminalization bills, "People have different reasons, but freedom is probably the big one—and personal liberty and responsibility." 

These Young Republicans are not attempting to change the party platform; they are merely sticking to it. Liberty is not a progressive or flexible term; it holds true to its meaning at all times. We need to get back to the basics by restoring our core values of limited civil government, individual liberty, and personal responsibility. If you are not harming your neighbor, the government should leave you alone.
 

Bills Up for Public Hearings


Several bills that I introduced will be heard in committees this week.
 
Tuesday, April 14
 
HB 1200 establishes civil liability for synthetic drugs. Spice, K2, and other synthetic drugs often have caused serious bodily injuries including blindness, paralysis, and death. This bill is designed to work with HB 1199 and should be effective even if contraband laws are not effective. The bill will be heard by the Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee. 
 
Wednesday, April 15
 
HB 1581 requires disclosure of artificial fluoridation of drinking water. This measure does not ban fluoridation but requires disclosure of artificial fluoridation sources, amounts, and costs. The bill will be heard by the Natural Resources Committee.

HB 3171 repeals civil asset forfeiture provisions and establishes criminal asset forfeiture in this state where criminal conviction is required to take a person's property, and innocent owners are protected.
The bill will be heard by the State Affairs Committee.

Thursday, April 16
 
HB 1582 requires disclosure of all compensation to elected officers. All governmental entities must publish all forms of compensation and reimbursements to elected officials. The bill will be heard by the General Investigating and Ethics Committee.

HB 2540 designates the Texas Ranger Glenn Elliott Memorial Highway in Gregg County on Spur 63.
The bill will be heard by the Transportation Committee.
Again, 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.


In Case You Missed It!


"A Pro-Life Defense of Marijuana Legalization" published by the Texas GOP Vote, April 10, 2015

"Texas Young Republicans Support Marijuana Decriminalization" published by the Dallas Morning News, April 10, 2015


"Simpson bills get attention this week" published by the Longview News-Journal, April 4, 2015

"Longview family seeks medical marijuana for son's seizure disorder" published by the Longview News-Journal, March 27, 2015

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

 

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