2018 Legislative Priority:
End Taxpayer-Funded Lobbying
Understand the Issue
“Pass legislation to abolish all forms of taxpayer-funded lobbying and end the automatic payroll deduction of union dues by the government.”
— Republican Party of Texas legislative priority
- Under current state law, political subdivisions may spend public funds to hire lobbyists for the purpose of supporting or opposing measures under consideration by the state legislature. According to the Texas Ethics Commission, political subdivisions spent an estimated $16 million on lobbyist compensation in 2015.
- Also under current state law, governments can automatically deduct union dues from their employees’ paychecks, and these dues can then be used to fund political activity. These political activities may be contrary to the preferences of the taxpayers, who are, in essence, funding the dues collection and distribution.
- Taxpayers and ratepayers of political subdivisions and special districts that hire lobbyists are forced to pay for lobby efforts of their jurisdiction, even if these efforts take positions contrary to their policy preferences. As an example, homeowners may prefer lower property taxes or even the complete replacement of property taxes, while a taxing jurisdiction may be employing lobbyists to protect or even raise property taxes.
- Given that the interests of citizens may differ from those of their local governments, citizens’ legislative lobby efforts toward state elected officials might be adversely affected by the distinct disadvantage they face when contending with the agenda of taxpayer-funded lobbyists hired by political subdivisions.
- Many lobbyists participate in the political process through campaign contributions, fundraising, electioneering, and other political activities. The receipt of public dollars by these individuals presents the possibility that public funds could be used to directly or indirectly fund political activity.
- Ban political subdivisions with taxing authority from hiring lobbyists, from paying dues to an association of similarly-situated entities which lobbies, and from automatically deducting union dues.
What People Are Saying
“I believe the public has a right to know that their locally elected officials and associations could be using their taxpayer dollars to directly or indirectly influence the legislative process against the best interest of the Texans they represent. We should do everything we can to ensure that the public trust is never broken and do away with taxpayer-funded lobbying.“
–Konni Burton, Texas State Senator
“In 2017, lobbying disclosure forms also reveal an interesting data point: 11 percent of lobbying dollars spent that year—as much as $41 million—was spent by government to hire outside lobbyists to lobby government. This ﬁgure excludes government employees who may spend some of their time lobbying other parts of government or their agency. This taxpayer funded lobbying is problematic. How can one part of a representative government petition itself or a “redress of grievances” to another part of government?”
-Chuck DeVore, Vice President of National Initiatives
Talk to Your Community
Are you all in? Share these sample social media posts to start the conversation with your friends. Use the talking points to drive your message home when talking with friends or reporters. Send the sample Letter to the Editor to your local newspaper to spread the word.
- Taxpayers should not be paying for government to lobby against them. #EndTaxFundedLobbying
- Government should not be collecting and distributing union dues for the unions. #StopGovernmentCollectionOfUnionDues
- Using tax dollars to advocate policies that are not in the taxpayers best interest should be made illegal #EndTaxFundedLobbying
- I don’t want my tax dollars being used to lobby against my best interests! #EndTaxFundedLobbying
- Tax dollars should be used to help the people, not lobby against their best interests! #EndTaxFundedLobbying
- State agencies are banned from using taxpayer money for lobbying. Local taxing authorities should be as well.
- Taxpayer money should not be diverted for helping government grow.
- Taxpayer money should never be permitted to be used directly or indirectly for campaign contributions.
- Many states ALREADY ban taxpayer funded lobbying. Texas is long overdue to do so. http://www.ncsl.org/research/ethics/50-state-chart-limits-on-public-funds-to-lobby.aspx
Letter to the Editor:
Please submit a letter to the editor of your local paper(s) and become active on social media on this issue. Below is a sample letter to the editor that you can customize, personalize, and submit to your local newspaper. Be sure to check and follow your paper’s guidelines for length and submission.
Paying Austin Lobbyists should NOT be a part of the local taxpayers burden
Did you know that a portion of your property taxes are funding Austin-based big government lobbying firms? As tragic as it sounds, many counties, cities, school districts and other taxing jurisdictions employ high-priced consultant lobbyists. This not only drives up the cost of government, but more egregiously, the lobbyists may be tasked with working AGAINST the very taxpayers that are paying for them! Additionally, they may well be working against those very taxpayers for other clients. Last, in Texas, unlike many other states who ban or restrict outside lobbyists being paid by government, there is nothing to prevent those lobbyists from donating a portion of their taxpayer “pay” back to elected officials!
Daytime phone number
Talk to Your Legislators
Make a Phone Call
It’s easy — find your state representative and senator and their contact info using the resource list on this page. Call their district office and/or their Capitol office. You’ll speak to an office staffer. Tell them you’re a constituent. Tell them what issue interests you and why. Ask what your legislator plans to do to promote the issue.
Visit the Capitol — or your local district office!
When you call, ask for an appointment with your legislator (or alternatively, their chief of staff or legislative director). Or just drop by their district or Capitol office during regular business hours — leave your card or a note with the staffer.
Testify in a Hearing
The year and a half in between legislative sessions is called the “interim” period. During this period, the House and Senate committees hold hearings to study specific issues, or “charges” that are assigned by the Speaker and Lt. Governor.
This year’s interim charges include important items such as health care reform, reducing the tax burden, school choice, Second Amendment rights, and religious freedoms. Many of the charges relate to planks or priorities from the RPT platform.
Although bills cannot be passed since we’re not within an actual legislative session, these interim hearings are the Legislature’s way of reaching out to you for your opinion on important issues. By studying these issues now, our Senators and Representatives can be prepared to pass bills in 2019 that address the specifics you’ll bring to their attention.
Most of these hearings will include a time for public testimony — that’s your chance to make your voice heard.
- Texas Legislature Online — http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/ — your resource for committee hearings, bills from current & past legislative sessions, committee membership, and more
- Who Represents Me — www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/ — enter your address and find your elected officials
- Texas Tribune Legislative Directory –– www.texastribune.org/directory/ — find phone numbers, office locations, contact info, & social media accounts for all the Texas legislators & other electeds
- Interim Hearing Tracker — www.texasgop.org/85interim/ — see all the current interim charges that relate to RPT platform planks & committee hearing information
- STAT — www.texasgop.org/stat/ — join the Strategic Texas Action Team to receive alerts when your help is needed to promote conservative policy