The week of March 14-20, 2010 saw our nation experience more to our nation than just the climatic debate on the national healthcare reform bill. It also marked our annual sunshine week, a national movement to promote greater public transparency and open government initiatives. This public awareness campaign was born from the belief that citizens deserve the ability to easily access understandable information from our various government entities.
Open and transparent government is achieved through the cooperation of many individual elements. It means adequate notice to the public of upcoming government actions, thoroughly documenting those activities, making those documentations publically available in a timely manner and, of course, record votes. It is this last element that, especially right now at this point in our American history, hits home for me.
I find it ironic that our celebration for sunshine week was muted while we instead found ourselves enthralled in the debate surrounding Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plan to try and adopt a healthcare overhaul in the US House without a record vote. Fortunately, the opposition to this ill conceived strategy was too strong, and the approach was abandoned. Still, though, that this avenue was even seriously considered further demonstrates that democrat leaders in Washington would be well served to more closely watch the leadership taken by Texas.
The healthcare bill reorganizes one-sixth of our economy, places unprecedented government mandates on both individual families and private businesses, increases spending and contains an enormous tax hike. Put simply, it is the exact type of legislation that record votes were intended to address. Yet, had democrats in Washington gotten their way it would have been rubberstamped without a single Congressman having to go on the record on this issue which will forever mark the Obama Presidency.
Fortunately, this closed door travesty would never happen in your Texas Legislature. Record votes at the state capitol on the final passage of any legislation is constitutionally protected through actions that lawmakers took in 2007. Recognizing the need to better protect transparency in government, lawmakers during the 80th legislative session passed a resolution adding the record vote language to the state constitution, which was then overwhelmingly ratified by the voters of Texas.
I was proud to support this major accomplishment in government transparency twice, first as a then member of the State Affairs Committee to promote it to the floor of the House, where I then voted for its final adoption into our state constitution. Rest assured that no legislation coming from your state government will ever be passed without you being able to know where your local lawmaker stood on the matter, a concept that I strongly support.
Time and time again, Texas has proven that we have the more sound approach when compared to the current leadership in Washington. Our state economy is much healthier than that of the nation. We balance our state budget without raising taxes or practicing deficit spending. And to this list, we can now add that Texas would never try to pull the wool over the eyes of its citizens, an option that Washington clearly will not take off the table.
As always, it is an honor to serve you in the Texas House of Representatives, and I welcome any questions or comments you may have on this or any other critical state issues. Please feel free to call my capitol office at 512.463.0688 or call the district office at 972.724.8477. You can also send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, the first Saturday of every month I hold open office hours from 8 – 10am at my district office located at: 800 Parker Square, Suite 245, Flower Mound, TX 75028.