STATE SENATOR VAN TAYLOR FILES MAJOR ETHICS REFORM BILL

Taylor Ethics Reform Motto: “Wide Support. No Excuses. Let’s Get this Done!”
 
AUSTIN, TX – State Senator Van Taylor today filed SB 14, the Ethics Reform and Anti-Corruption Act of 2017. Taylor filed this legislation in close consultation with, and the full backing of, Governor Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick. Chairman Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth) filed identical legislation in the House. This bill figures to be the major ethics reform legislation for the 2017 legislative session.
 
“This is not Van Taylor’s bill, this is not Governor Abbott’s, Lt. Governor Patrick’s, or Chairman Geren’s bill. This is the people’s bill,” stated Taylor. “Texans expect and deserve a transparent government that serves the people and weeds out politicians serving for any reason other than representing their constituents. When I knock on doors and talk to voters in my district, I have yet to hear a single person who thinks politicians should be in entitled to undisclosed, grand scale, meals and trips from lobbyists, or that corrupt and criminal politicians sitting a jail cell really deserve a taxpayer-funded pension. These are straightforward, commonsense measures that the vast majority of both the House and Senate support – and more important the people of Texas.”

Taylor filed SB 14 this morning with 20 other joint authors. Significantly, the number of Senators with their name already on the bill represent enough votes to clear the parliamentary threshold needed to get the bill passed out of the Senate.

The provisions within the Ethics Reform and Anti-Corruption Act stand upon four major pillars:
 
  1. Felon politicians losing their pension and office
  2. Disclosure of government contracts, bond counsel, and legal referral fees
  3. Shining light on lobbyist wining and dining
  4. Establishing a clear line between elected officials and lobbyists
 
Versions of each pillar earned overwhelming support last session, but for a variety of reasons ultimately did not make it to the Governor's desk to become law. Recognizing the legislative vulnerability of an omnibus ethics reform bill, Taylor and Geren also separated SB 14 into six very specific bills in order to give the Legislature multiple opportunities for passage and less excuses for failure. Each article within SB 14 was also filed today as: Senate and House Bills 500, 501, 502, 503, 504, and 505.
 
Taylor quipped, “For those of you scoring at home, we matched up the Senate and House bill numbers to make it easier for the people to track the legislation and hold their elected officials accountable.” 
 
Taylor continued, “While there is no sugar coating last session’s ethics reform failures, it did provide the Legislature with a clear roadmap forward. Votes were cast and politicians are on the record. What we filed today already has wide support so there are no more excuses to cheat the voters out of meaningful ethics reform – let’s get this done.”
 
Earlier this year Taylor penned a commentary piece for the Dallas Morning News in which he discussed last session's ethics reform failures and first outlined his plan for ethics reform in the 2017 legislative session.
 
Throughout his tenure in the Texas Legislature, Senator Taylor has been an outspoken champion for ethics reform, increasing transparency, terminating conflicts of interest, and eliminating corruption in state government. During the 2015 legislative session Taylor authored Governor Greg Abbott’s ethics reform legislation and got the bill passed out of the Senate unanimously.
 
A seventh generation Texan, local small businessman, and decorated Marine Officer, Van Taylor serves the majority of Collin County and a portion of Dallas County in the Texas Senate where he is widely recognized as a conservative leader. Taylor serves as Vice-Chairman Sunset Advisory Commission and is also member of the Natural Resources and Economic Development, Education, Health and Human Services, Intergovernmental Affairs, and Nominations Committees. Van and his wife, Anne, married after his return from Iraq and are the proud parents of three young girls. Van and his family reside in Plano near the land his great-grandfather farmed during the Great Depression.
 
  
BACKGROUND AND KEY VOTES ON THE ETHICS REFORM PILLARS:
  
1) Felon Politicians Lose Pension and Office
 
o HB 681 (84R- Authored by Representative Sheets) passed House UNANIMOUSLY
o Senator Van Taylor Amendment #1 to HB 408 (84R) passed Senate UNANIMOUSLY
o Senator Birdwell Amendment #8 to SB19 (84R) passed Senate UNANIMOUSLY
o Representative Canales Amendment #17 to SB19 (84R) passed House UNANIMOUSLY
 
<> SB 14 legislative language based on HB 681 (84R) + Birdwell Amendment #8/ Canales Amendment #17 to SB 19 (84R). Also filed as SB 500 and HB 500.
 
2) Disclosure of Government Contracts, Bond Counsel, and Legal Referral Fees
 
o HB 1294 (84R- Authored by Representative Capriglione) passed House UNANIMOUSLY
o SB19 (84R- Authored by Senator Van Taylor) passed the Senate UNANIMOUSLY
Senator Huffman Amendment #13 to SB19 (84R) passed Senate UNANIMOUSLY
 
<> SB 14 legislative language based on HB 1294/ SB19 (84R) + Huffman Amendment #13 to SB19 (84R). Also filed as SB 501 and HB 501.
 
3) Shining Light On Lobbyist Wining and Dining
 
o SB 585 and SB 586 (84R- Authored by Senator Watson) passed the Senate UNANIMOUSLY
o Senator Watson Amendments #10 and #11 to SB19 (84R) passed the Senate UNANIMOUSLY
o Greater reporting of lobbyist meals were included in both the House passed version of SB19 and in Representative Rinaldi Amendment #27 to SB19 (84R). Added together, a total of 125 HOUSE MEMBERS voted for a version of this provision
 
<> SB 14 legislative language based on SB 585 (84R) + SB 586 (84R). Also filed as SB 502 and HB 502.
 
4) Clear Line Between Elected Official and Lobbyist
 
o No elected lobbyists passed Senate in SB19 (84R) UNANIMOUSLY
o Both chambers identified the revolving door of elected official to lobbyist as a cornerstone issue for reform. Within the different versions of SB19 (84R), the Senate passed a one-full legislative session cooling-off period and House passed a one-full legislative session freeze on using campaign account for lobbying. When combined, the Senate UNANIMOUSLY supported revolving door reform, as did 125 HOUSE MEMBERS
 
<> SB 14 legislative language for no elected lobbyist based on SB 19 (84R – Senate Passed). Also filed as SB 503 and HB 503
<> SB 14 legislative language for cooling-off period based on SB 19 (84R – Senate Passed). Also filed as SB 504 and HB 504
<> SB 14 legislative language for freezing campaign account to lobby based SB 19 (84R – House Passed). Also filed as SB 505 and HB 505.