Schaefer and the Texas House Freedom Caucus block bills in protest of treatment by leadership

Published on Friday, 12 May 2017 15:46 - Written by ROY MAYNARD, rmaynard@tylerpaper.com

State Rep. Matt Schaefer said not taking a stand - and blocking bills favored by the leadership of the Texas House - would have long-term consequences for conservatives in Texas.

“We have to do something,” he said. “That’s what it came down to.”

In a Friday interview following Thursday night’s delay of a number of bills important to House Speaker Joe Straus and others - a delay that resulted in the death of many of those bills - Schaefer said the House Freedom Caucus was responding to legislative bullying.

“Throughout this session, a significant bloc of conservative members - and not just the Freedom Caucus, but others as well - have had their consent bills stymied by the leadership,” said the Tyler Republican. “It reached a head with the Local and Consent Calendar. The leadership took the Local and Consent bills belonging to conservative members, and moved them to the General Calendar, where they’re going to die because of the midnight deadline.”

Those Local and Consent bills are usually noncontroversial bills of concern to local districts, Schaefer explained. They’re often about getting state help on some specific local issue.

“We believe that has got to stop,” said Schaefer. “When you allow it to happen, you take away a legislator’s ability to represent their district on important matters.”

That’s why the Freedom Caucus targeted the Local and Consent Calendar themselves on Friday, resulting in the death of more than 100 bills on the Local and Consent Calendar.

“We took it all down. All of it,” Schaefer said. “Because this isn’t how conservative members - and conservative ideas and conservative issues - should be treated.”

There will be fallout from the Freedom Caucus’ campaign, Schaefer acknowledges.

“But we have to do something,” he said. “The conservative agenda has been blocked in this session. That’s everything from property tax reform to women’s privacy to school choice.”

Schaefer said the Freedom Caucus is getting support from throughout the state.

“It’s been incredible,” he said. “We are echoing the sentiments of the grassroots movement night now, and the positive response has been overwhelming. They’re saying we’re glad you’re standing up to the bullies.”