Voting Records, New Grassroots Lobby Strategy Announced
Heritage Alliance Recognize 21 'Leaders of Excellence'
Former legislators assure fairness of report
DALLAS -- Heritage Alliance (formerly Free Market Committee) President Richard Ford today announced the release of the group's voting records for the 78th Legislature, as well as a new strategy for influencing state legislators with the group's conservative philosophy.
In releasing the voting records, Ford praised the Legislature for its fiscal responsibility in passing a biennial budget with no tax increase, and for finally passing long-awaited social legislation such as the Defense of Marriage Act and the Woman's Right to Know Act.
"Without the strong new leadership in the House of Representatives and a leadership change in the Senate, these and other conservative accomplishments would not have been possible," Ford said.
He singled out for praise 21 of the House's 150 representatives for voting conservatively at least 85% of the time during the 78th Legislature. Heritage Alliance is conferring the designation of "Leaders of Excellence" on those representatives (all Republicans):
Talmadge Heflin, Houston (93%); Joe Crabb, Atascocita (90%); Rob Eissler, The Woodlands (89%); Dan Flynn, Van (89%); Corbin Van Arsdale, Cypress (89%); Linda Harper-Brown, Irving (88%); Kenny Marchant, Coppell (88%); Fred Brown, College Station (88%); Warren Chisum, Pampa (88%); Leo Berman, Tyler (87%); Betty Brown, Terrell (87%); Wayne Christian, Center (87%); Will Hartnett, Dallas (87%); Jim Pitts, Waxahachie (86%); Dan Branch, Dallas (86%); Byron Cook, Corsicana (86%); Glenda Dawson, Pearland (86%); Gary Elkins, Houston (86%); Glenn Hegar, Katy (86%); Fred Hill, Richardson (86%); and Larry Taylor, Friendswood (86%).
Ford noted with disappointment the fact that Heritage Alliance could not confer the "Leader of Excellence" designation on any of the Senate's 31 members. The highest rating received in that body was by Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, with a 79%. The next two highest rated senators were Mike Jackson, R-La Porte, with 67% and Todd Staples, R-Palestine, with 67%.
Ford noted that the system for deciding the award winners has changed. "In the past, we have given awards to those in the top 20th percentile," he said. "However, we decided that was a faulty method of recognizing legislators. It does not make sense to grade on the curve when you are talking about issues such as freedom, limited government and traditional values."
Even though there were major changes in the Texas Legislature, resulting in the Republicans having an almost 60% majority in both the Senate and the House, the voting records were quite different, with a majority of members not voting in a consistently conservative way.
"Many of the legislators are hard-working and very likeable, but it is up to the individual citizens to monitor their performance based upon philosophy and not popularity," Ford said. "After all, Texas families, finances and freedoms are on the line, and individual Texans must obey the laws that these legislators pass."
To assure a fair and unbiased evaluation of legislator's voting records a panel of former conservative legislators looks at every record vote cast in the House and the Senate and decides which votes to include in their voting record and what is considered the conservative vote in each instance. This session's panel included former Representatives Jim Horn (Denton), L.B. Kubiak (Rockdale), Glenn Repp (Duncanville) and M. A. Taylor (Waco). In addition, the panel evaluates each legislator's votes without knowing the identity of the legislator in advance. This is to maintain their unbiased perspective and to assure that vote records included are based on philosophy, not personality.
In the past, Heritage Alliance would have had a special event to announce the voting records; however, this time they spent the money on mailing the voting records into most of the House and several Senate districts that are represented by moderate Republicans.
"Dick Armey, the former Majority Leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, has said he lost more legislative battles to moderate Republicans than to Democratic President Bill Clinton. Undoubtedly, several of the battles here in the Texas Legislature could be characterized the same way," Ford said. "We want people in these districts to know how their Republican legislators actually voted so they can properly evaluate their legislators' philosophy and performance."
In the voting record, Ford also reveals that Heritage Alliance, for the first time, is developing a grassroots lobby network to increase the conservative influence on the Legislature. The initial phase of the network seeks to recruit active citizens in over a dozen House and Senate districts where moderate Republicans received a rating of under 75%. It also has an offer of employment to those who would like to help build a lobby network in these targeted districts.
Heritage Alliance, based in Dallas, is committed to empowering conservative Texans with the tools to defend the bedrock conservative principles of free enterprise, limited government, limited taxation, and the traditional Judeo-Christian values on which our nation was founded.