TYLER — State Sen. Bryan Hughes, R- Mineola, was the featured guest Tuesday as the Americans for Prosperity - Texas hosted a panel discussing recent legislation.
AFP - Texas is a grassroots organization that uses campaign-style tactics to push legislative issues at the local and federal level that will help improve people's lives, according to Sam Sheetz, AFP - Texas legislative director.
“At the end of the day that's what we want,” Sheetz said. “To pass legislation that’s going to break down barriers standing between people and the American dream."
AFP - Texas prides themselves on demonstrating a contrast between how things are done in Texas versus in Washington D.C., he said. They often say Texas achieves results, while D.C. offers nothing but one size fits all solutions.
Texas senators showed they get things done for people of Texas at the recent legislative session, Genevieve Collins, AFP -Texas state director, said. Hughes passed countless bills, proving himself a policy champion for all of Texas, she added.
Hughes said his conservative values align with Texans, adding that, “I don't have to worry about how you want me to vote, I know how you want me to vote.”
America is the only place left where the government works for the people and not the other way around, he said. The bills he was a part of recently passing show just this, he added.
The "Heartbeat Bill" bans abortion at the sixth week of pregnancy, once a heartbeat can be detected. Hughes authored the bill, which went into effect in September.
“There’s nothing more important than protecting innocent human life,” he said.
Hughes said it is common that such bills don't advance to legislation. Out of the 15 states that have tried passing such bans on abortion in the past, none of them have make it past the courts.
“Your Texas heartbeat law is the first pro-life law ever to take effect, not to be blocked by courts,” he said.
There were many topics discussed at the Legislative session that the passing of the heartbeat bill overshadowed, Hughes said. The impact of the bill could be seen all over social media.
Other states will be following the lead of Texas, he added. Already many state representatives have been calling and within the next few weeks or months he projects that Americans will see other states passing heartbeat laws much like the one in Texas.
The "Election Integrity Bill" tightens election laws in Texas with things such as restrictions on mail-in ballot applications, changes to early voting, monthly citizenship checks, new ID requirements for mail-in ballots and more.
“That right to vote is too precious and costs too much,” Hughes said. “There are people who have worn the uniform, still wear the uniform, to protect that right we’ve paid a dear price for.”
He said that he and Texas strongly believe in one person, one vote, which is why it was necessary to pass this law. In Texas protecting and securing the right to vote is a top priority, he added.
A big thing the bill does is prevent ballot harvesting, where paid political operatives try getting between the voter and their ballot, Hughes said. This can be done through stealing from a mailbox, foraging signatures or miss-informing someone who is unsure about the voting system.
Now it is illegal to do and those caught can go to jail.
“It took two special sessions,” Hughes said. “It took the Democrats going to D.C. and finally coming back, and when they got back we had the same Election Integrity Bill waiting for them.”
He added that the Republicans are not afraid of a fair election or a good debate. This law is not to help Republicans or Democrats win but ensure that every vote counts.
Hughes said fundamentally the "Critical Race Theory Bill" says in Texas schools will not teach that one race or gender is more superior than another or that because race you are an oppressor or victim.
“We teach In America we’ve had challenges, we’ve got challenges ahead but we overcome them by trusting the Lord, by working harder,” he said. “We teach the American dream.”
Critical race theory used to be something found in the lounges of liberal law schools, but now it is flying through our education system, Hughes said. He said it teaches white children that they should feel guilty for what past generations did and kids of color that they will always be second class.
“What a horrible thing to say,” Hughes said. “What a horrible way to curse our children.”
This theory is not what Martin Luther King Jr. wanted us to follow, he added. He wanted Americans to live up the true meaning of their creed that all people are created equal.
The truth about American history needs to be taught, including the dark things like segregation, slavery, all the terrible things done to people during the civil rights movement and so much more, Hughes said.
“We’re going to teach the whole truth, but we’re going to teach that we came together and overcame those things as Americans,” he said.
Hughes also said was excited that a conservative budget was passed that suits the state's needs.
For now, the people that have been elected understand the need for a conservative budget, but that may not be the case in the future, he said. As such, it is important to put things in place to limit the Legislature's power to take more money from the people than necessary.
The Texas budget has limitations in place where it cannot grow faster than the population growth plus inflation. For it to grow beyond this does not seem logical, Hughes said.
For about 20 years AFP - Texas has pushed legislation for a budget like this and are glad to finally have it, Sheetz said.
The government has constant responsibilities such as public education, transportation, public safety and higher education, but there is also room for local things such as the new medical school being built at UT Tyler, Hughes said.
HB 20 makes it illegal for large social media platforms to ban users based on their political or religious beliefs.
Today there are several big-media companies who have deemed themselves gatekeepers of free speech, Hughes said. For them to decide what can and cannot be said is not right, he added.
Other states have tried putting rules into effect to prevent media giants from doing this but have not succeeded, he said. However, Texas has been successful and the law will officially go into place in about 60 days.
In Texas no these large social media groups will not be able to block someone for their religion, political views, healthcare beliefs or anything along these lines without repercussions.
“If they block you, for the first time you will have recourse to get back online and make them pay your attorney fees to do it,” Hughes said.
In all, Texas is leading the way when it comes to putting laws in place that protect Texans and their freedoms, Hughes said. Many things Texas is doing paves the way for other states to follow.