Liberty in Crisis

Liberty in Crisis

Socialist State Rising in the West?
The prolonged government reaction to the Chinese virus has done more to turn the US toward socialist state status and has done it faster than Bernie Sanders or AOC could have ever envisioned. 

Democrats, poised to exploit the economic wreckage long after the Chinese virus has gone, intend to make the crisis payouts permanent. Hear the clamor rising for a taxpayer-funded guaranteed “living” salary? 

In Texas, we are well on our way with the waiving of “looking for work” requirements in state unemployment benefits.  Not only are the unemployed no longer required to look for work, but they can refuse to go back when their employer calls them back. Owners of businesses are contacting us with the predictable news that some workers will make more on unemployment and do not wish to return to work.

Friday, May 2, 2020 State of the Lone Star facts that hurt:

  • More than 75% of Texas businesses remain shut down.
  • There are more than 1.94 MILLION Texans out of work.
  • Sales tax collections are down 9.3 percent from April 2019, the steepest decline since January 2010. Other state revenue declines are steep…
  • Motor vehicle sales & rental taxes — $164 million, down 45 percent from April 2019, the largest monthly drop on record in data going back to 1983;
  • Motor fuel taxes — $284 million, down 12 percent from April 2019, the steepest drop since 1991;
  • Natural gas production tax — $67 million, down 48 percent from April 2019;
  • Oil production tax — $191 million, down 45 percent from April 2019;
  • Hotel occupancy tax — $24 million, down 63 percent from April 2019, the deepest drop in data going back to 1990;
  • Alcoholic beverage taxes — $57 million, down 55 percent from April 2019.
  • TX Attorney General Ken Paxton has sided with Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins et al against The People. Paxton doubled down on Abbott’s executive order Thursday after some county judges and district attorneys said the order was “vague” (true) and “unenforceable” (true – if your intent is lawful enforcement) relating to hair and nail salons, barbershops, bars and gyms.

AG Ken Paxton said the governor’s order was “neither vague nor unenforceable, and local governments are prohibited from allowing businesses to reopen unless they are recognized as essential or reopened services under the Governor’s order.”  In the past Ken Paxton has refused many times to defend state laws (TX Advance Directives Act, Ethics Commission rules) that conflicted with his interpretation of the Constitution. Where did THAT Ken Paxton go? See the full article here:

In Case You Missed It

If you are as sick as I am of anything related to COVID-19, social distancing, gov’t officials telling you to wash your hands for the five thousandth time and everybody and his dog Skyping, Zooming and FaceTiming, you may have tuned out and missed these important articles that rose above the noise this week.

Click on the article title to read.  Click on the source to read more and bookmark. If you don’t have time now, save for later. The contents are well worth pondering and sharing.

If You Are Still Wondering How Death Camps Happen, Just Take a Look Around You

The Story that Broke My Heart

Cruz to Trump: Don’t Put American Taxpayers on Hook for Blue State Bailouts

Texas Is Open for Business…Kinda…For Now

Day 47 of the Shutdown – parting thoughts…

Before I close this laptop and turn off the phone (the one that I dream of sailing off my back deck like a Frisbee), here’s one last sobering thought for the week sent to me by a thoughtful patriot:

Our State Legislative Branch defines a crime in statute.
The Executive Branch enforces the statute.
The Judicial Branch ensures it is applied and interpreted fairly.
If Gov. Abbott can define a crime and also enforce it,
we have violated the Constitution.

Think about it… 
If the governor can define a crime and then also
send his troopers to arrest you, that is called a banana republic.

Texans, we must stay in this fight.  Have a peaceful Sunday.

Freedom is murdered – not in one fatal blow – but by a thousand disloyal cuts.

Dangers of Big Government | Lessons Learned

Dangers of Big Government | Lessons Learned

DAY 24 of the National Wuhan Virus Shutdown…

In Texas, what have we learned?

We have discovered yet again that there are broad and vague laws on the books that conflict with the State Constitution.  Reported methods used by some (not all) local officials to enforce powers given to them under state statutes also appear to be violations of the US Constitution.  We will address only state and local issues herein.

Governor Abbott – with the best of intentions to protect the people of Texas from a highly contagious and life-threatening disease – has suspended various laws pursuant to Tex. Gov. Code § 418.016, which says the governor may suspend “certain laws and rules” during a declared disaster.  Gov. Abbott and his advisors based their actions on a set of federal government guidelines that relied on COVID-19 models that have been very, very wrong.

Likewise, city and county officials followed, relying upon Tex. Gov. Code § 418.108 Declaration of Local Disaster and The Texas Communicable Disease Prevention and Control Act found in HEALTH AND SAFETY CODE, CHAPTER 81. COMMUNICABLE DISEASES and CHAPTER 122. POWERS AND DUTIES OF COUNTIES AND MUNICIPALITIES RELATING TO PUBLIC HEALTH

Under the powers granted by the state legislature – a city can take any action necessary to promote health and suppress disease under Texas Health & Safety Code Sections 122.005 (general law) and 122.006 (home rule). These actions could include quarantine, examining and regulating hospitals, regulating ingress and egress from the city, and fining those who do not comply with the city’s rules.

What does the State Constitution say?

Article I, Sec. 28 of the Texas Bill of RightsSuspension of laws: “No power of suspending laws in this State shall be exercised except by the Legislature.”

Article I, Sec. 29 of the Texas Bill of RightsBill of Rights Excepted from Powers of Government and Inviolate. “To guard against transgressions of the high powers herein delegated, we declare that everything in this “Bill of Rights” is excepted out of the general powers of government, and shall forever remain inviolate, and all laws contrary thereto, or to the following provisions, shall be void.”

While Article III, Sec. 62 of the Texas Constitution provides for continuity of government following an “enemy attack,” it only allows temporary suspensions of regular order, but plainly states, “Provided, however, that Article I of the Constitution of Texas, known as the “Bill of Rights” shall not be in any manner affected, amended, impaired, suspended, repealed or suspended hereby.”

Remedies & Solutions

The failure to abide by the Health and Safety Code orders is a third-degree felony.  Third-degree felonies in Texas carry a possible punishment of two to ten years in prison and a fine up to $10,000, per criminal charge.  Not an option.

Texas Scorecard’s Tony McDonald said it best, “…there is a difference between authority and power. Just because these current orders are not authorized doesn’t mean that government agents don’t have the power to fine or imprison citizens for noncompliance.”

Counselor McDonald also appropriately stated, “…appealing to the judicial branch is no sure thing, even when one is correct. There are various doctrines, such as standing—the requirement that a person have a particularized injury different than that of everyone else in the community—that regularly work as a bar to judicial relief from unauthorized government action. Moreover, the courts have traditionally been especially poor guardians of liberty in times of crisis. (One need only think of the free-speech cases in WWI, the Korematsu internment decision in WWII, or post-Katrina and post-9/11 judicial decisions as chief examples of judicial abdication of duty in crisis).”

This is not the first time we’ve seen government overreach and it won’t be the last.  This is not the only discovery of state laws that conflict with the Texas Constitution. 

So, what do we do?  As outlined in my interview with Texas Scorecard’s Brandon Waltens, it would be a great exercise in civic responsibility for liberty-loving Texas grassroots leaders to review the existing statutes – in light of what you have experienced in your own county and city – and determine where the laws should be amended and/or repealed.  Prepare to discuss specifics with your state legislators as soon as we can get businesses open and people back to work.

Now is also the time to evaluate the methods your local officials have used to enforce emergency powers.  Applaud those who have done a good job leaning toward liberty, but for those who took this crisis as an opportunity to be onerously heavy-handed, it’s time to fire them.  Start looking for candidates to replace them!

Your call to action – starting NOW:

President Trump wants to get the US open for business.  We could not agree more! 

Contact your state legislators and your local officials with this message:

1) We want you to publicly plan now to get businesses open and Texans back to work.
2) We want you to prioritize current spending based on core essential services and institute an immediate hiring and salary freeze.
3) We want you to cut spending on all items outside of core essential services. 2020 sales and hotel/motel tax collection projections are now useless – through the floor.  Cut your spending now! Texans don’t need, don’t want and don’t deserve any property tax hikes!  Period. 

We’ll be back next week with more practical ideas about how to cut spending in local government.

Until then, be safe.  Tell your family and friends how much you love them. Pray for your community, Texas, and our nation.  Be thankful. Evaluate your priorities.

Soldier on,

Don’t Torch Your Reputation!

Don’t Torch Your Reputation!

The Problem:  There’s way too much misinformation being passed around about the authority state and local officials have (or do not have) to deal with the Chinese virus.  Some reputations will be blown to bits if this continues and the conservative grassroots movement will be harmed.

We are inundated with questions regarding local government authority to combat the virus. This is an effort to help you discover the answers for yourself – a great exercise in personal responsibility and civic duty. I respectfully urge you to be calm and use this as an opportunity to educate yourself and others on facts.

In this blog, I have laid out a process to arrive at factual information and provided links to the controlling legal authority in these mattersHear me – I am not saying that you don’t have a right to object. You absolutely do, but for Heaven’s sake, please do so from an educated position!

This is a longer piece, but a matter like this
cannot fit on a bumper sticker.
If you care about facts, take a little time
to step through this with me. 

The federal trigger – Once President Trump made declarations and issued executive orders to deal with the virus, those federal actions set off a series of “trickle downs” to the state and local levels. What each state and local authority did in response varies from state to state and from locale to locale. Keep in mind that once the President made his declaration and passed his executive orders, state and local government were in many ways compelled to act – both in the interest of public safety and to reduce risk of litigation.  However, we must examine certain sections of statutes (laws) to determine whether state and local officials are overstepping their bounds. Look for the “shalls” versus the “mays.”

After you have equipped yourself with these jurisdictional and statutory facts, you will be better prepared to engage your local elected officials about the actions they are taking. 

The rule of law matters.  You need to know the laws on the books first and work from there to evaluate the methods used by your local officials. Maybe they are following the law but are using horrific, bungling, heavy handed and unnecessary methods.  Know the difference.

From the facts, develop a reform strategy instead of unknowingly spreading misinformation through social media and emails. That does not help the Great Cause of Liberty!  

This can be a highly instructive moment
in time, or it can be utterly destructive.
Your reputation and credibility
 can be blown to bits.

I certainly don’t want that to happen to any of you; therefore, I strongly advise against jumping to conclusions and using 24/7 news cycle policy pundits and “legal scholar” contributors as your sole source of information.  

First, the baseline – conservatives say they value facts and the rule of law, right? Then, we need to arm ourselves with facts by 1) determining the controlling legal authority (jurisdiction) in a specific situation and then 2) review the statutes – laws on the books – that the jurisdictional authority must rely upon to deal with a given situation.

In other words, don’t go telling God and everybody
that your county judge and mayor
don’t have the authority to do XYZ
unless you are sure there is not a state statute
that gives them that authority! 

Second, if the State of Texas does not give local government a power, local government officials CANNOT make that power up for themselves!  You need to know the difference so that you can hold your elected officials accountable to the rule of law as well as the manner in which they carry out their duties!

After you read through the following statutes
that empower cities and counties
during public health and safety “emergencies,”
many of you will be shocked
as you learn some surprising things. 

You may discover laws that you believe need repealing or changing. If so, there is a lawful process – the legislative process – to make changes in the law. Start making a list that you and/or your organization can use to start talking to your state representatives and state senators. 

If you believe a current law on the books is unconstitutional, you can absolutely seek legal representation if you believe your constitutional rights have been violated.  We have no doubt that there are some elected officials in both parties and certainly in “non-partisan” city government who will try to take advantage of any crisis. That’s what the power-hungry do.

Just please, please, please do not act
like Leftists who think the rule of law
only applies to laws they like! 

And to elected officials – the way you communicate through the spoken and written word makes all the difference in the world.  You can save yourselves and your constituents heartburn by 1) citing statutes that you believe give you the authority to take any given action listed in an order; and 2) tell the community that you do not intend to just take or commandeer private property under the law without compensation. Nobody likes a tyrant – so don’t act like one.  

Instead, let the public know the needs of the community.  If you need property for a temporary health care facility or testing station, communicate the need first.  Explain it. If you need help from the private sector, ask.

The Golden Rule really works when it’s tried. Here in Smith County (population 230,000) our local officials are doing a great job of holding televised news conferences stressing personal responsibility and neighbor helping neighbor.  Around here, the officials ask for help and they get it. Nobody threatens to commandeer anything.

As a self-term-limited former county official,
I always respected citizens who had done their homework
before they addressed the Court.
Those who were prepared got my attention
much faster than the folks just shooting from the hip! 

To help you with your “homework,” I’ve assembled relevant sources where you can learn much about Emergency Declarations for Public Health and Safety and the statutory authority given to local government by the state legislature.  Don’t rely on hearsay or what a commentator says on television.  Read it for yourself. Then educate and empower others to work for any needed reforms. 

There are many statutes, rules, and regulations related to emergency management by different governmental entities. The following are the Texas State Statutes, which include relevant language for local governments dealing with the spread of communicable diseases.  (Click on the colored links to open the documents.)

The Texas Communicable Disease Prevention and Control Act is found here: HEALTH AND SAFETY CODE, CHAPTER 81. COMMUNICABLE DISEASES

A city can take any action necessary to promote health and suppress disease under Texas Health & Safety Code Sections 122.005 (general law) and 122.006 (home rule). These actions could include quarantine, examining and regulating hospitals, regulating ingress and egress from the city, and fining those who do not comply with the city’s rules.

The Texas Disaster Act of 1975 is found in Chapter 418 of the State Government Code.  It includes language concerning the powers of the Governor when managing a state of emergency. This chapter includes language about declaring a state of disaster and the Governor’s power to commandeer private property (418.017). In Sec. 418.108. DECLARATION OF LOCAL DISASTER, you will find language regarding restriction of travel and under what conditions the powers of a county judge supersede those of a mayor!

More information can be found in the implementation guide published by the Department of State Health Services titled, “A Guide for Health Authorities in a Public Health Emergency.”

Respectfully serving,

PS If you will discipline yourself to speak from a position of authority – from facts – and not raw emotion, you will earn credibility with those you are trying to influence.

A dear, departed, wise mentor quoted this Louis Pasteur-ism to me often, “Chance favors the prepared mind.” 

“So, prepare your minds for action, be completely sober [in spirit—steadfast, self-disciplined, spiritually and morally alert], fix your hope completely on the grace [of God] that is coming to you when Jesus Christ is revealed.” 1 Peter 1:13