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Texas Values: Top Victories of 2021

Texas Values: Top Victories of 2021

The year 2021 (which is dominated by legislative stories because the Texas Legislature only meets on odd numbered years) is nearing end and the top stories and significant events of Texas deserve reflection and discussion. The top story of the year without question is the Texas Heartbeat Law. 

This year Texas has already witnessed over 18,000 lives saved because of the Texas Heartbeat Law since its effective date of September 1, and after prevailing twice at the U. S. Supreme Court. The passage and prevailing of the Texas Heartbeat Law continues to make history and remain the one of the most important state and national policies of the year. In fact, Texas Values is launching a fully updated and comprehensive website today: texasheartbeatlaw.com.  Information includes how women and families can connect to resources for the mother and baby, how Texas has allocated $100 million dollars for these related services and resources and the latest legal and policy updates on the Texas Heartbeat Law. Below contains more information of the top stories and victories Texas Values proudly celebrates.

Jonathan Saenz, President and Attorney of Texas Values, released the following statement: “The people of Texas made it clear in 2021 that they wanted to see life, churches, fair play for girls, and parental rights protected. This past year was a special year for Texas Values, because we accomplished many of the goals we set out to see. Our work is not over, but the momentum of 2021 victories will carry us into 2022 with confidence.”

*Texas Heartbeat Law: Most Historic and Significant Pro-Life Law in Texas History

The passage by a bipartisan group of Texas legislators and the prevailing of the Texas Heartbeat Law twice at the U. S. Supreme Court and numerous other courts continues to be an issue that makes history and remains one of the most important state and national policies of the year.  The 2021 year will end with the Texas Heartbeat Law in full effect after the Texas Heartbeat Law prevailed twice already at the U.S. Supreme Court within months. The U.S. Supreme Court also heard another abortion related case this year called the Dobb’s v Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, which presents a direct challenge to the Roe v. Wade case (a 1973 case that started in Texas). Texas Values was involved in a legal amicus brief that was filed with the U. S. Supreme Court in support of this Mississippi pro-life state law.

https://texasheartbeatlaw.com/

Texans Speak: No More Shutting Down Our Churches (Freedom to Worship Act) and Constitutional Amendment Election 

Many local government officials in Texas abused their power by attempting to shut down churches as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic while allowing secular businesses to remain open. Texas legislators passed two state laws with bipartisan support (including the Freedom to Worship Act by Rep. Scott Sanford and Senator Angela Paxton) and a constitutional amendment. These two laws make it clear in law that a government agency or public official is prohibited from issuing an order that closes or has the effect of closing places of worship or restricting the charitable actions of religious organizations. On November 2nd, Texas voters approved the new church freedom constitutional amendment by an overwhelming 62% at the statewide ballot. More information can be found here.

Save Women’s Sports Bill Passes: No Boys in Girls Sports 

The Save Women’s Sport bill, House Bill 25, prohibits biological males from competing in University Interscholastic League (UIL) sports meant for biological females, specifically in middle school and high school. This bill defends the rights of women and girls to not be forced to compete against biological males in women’s sports. Title IX was designed to stop discrimination and create equal athletic opportunities for women. This bill recognizes and protects the advances that have been made in the last 50 years for women. Texas Values remained relentless in the focus to see this bill get passed. At least seven other states have now passed similar laws.

https://txvalues.org/gov-abbott-signs-save-womens-sports-bill-into-law/

Parental Rights Win: State Board of Education Rejected Radical LGBT and Abortion Sex-Ed Textbooks & Sex-Ed Changes to “Opt-In”

Texas Values attended meetings, spoke with the State Board of Education members and informed the board members of research on the textbooks and instructional materials with the support of thousands of phone calls and emails from parents and Texas Values supporters. As a result, the Board rejected radical LGBT and abortion focused textbooks and approved abstinence focused books and materials for public schools. Much of the materials and textbooks faced major criticism by parents and board members for its graphic and highly controversial content discussing LGBT issues, abortion and at least one scenario that specifically described a sexual encounter between children. Texas Values also worked for and testified on behalf of a policy that would require Sex-Ed to be opt-in. In the 87th Regular session, Senator Bryan Hughes was able to change state policy on sex education to “Opt-in” and made this policy into law by amending H.B. 1525, the School Finance and Public Education bill. The amendment makes any Sex-Ed and Human Sexuality instructional courses be offered as an Opt-In course rather than an Opt-Out course. This was a crucial win for parents and children of Texas, because it offers more control to the parents.

https://txvalues.org/breaking-radical-lgbt-and-abortion-sex-ed-textbooks-rejected-by-state-board-of-education/

No-Mail Order Abortions Law

This past year, the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 4, the No-Mail Order Abortion bill, which protects women from deadly side effects by creating a statewide standard for regulating chemical abortion drugs and setting criminal penalties for prescribing such pills for women who are more than seven weeks pregnant. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott held a bill signing ceremony for this new law at the Texas Values policy event in September.

Attorney General Overrules Texas Behavioral Health Commission LGBT policy that would punish Christian counselors:

Texas Values testified in opposition and submitted a detailed legal brief in 2020 after the Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council (BHEC) exceeded their authority by providing special protections to social workers based on “sexual orientation and gender identity” (SOGI). The legal brief detailed that BHEC lacked the authority of state and federal law to pursue implementation of “sexual orientation and gender identity” policies without going through the Texas legislative process. In January of 2021, the Attorney General released an official legal opinion that agreed with Texas Values’ concern. https://txvalues.org/controversial-gender-identity-policy-is-invalid-says-attorney-general/

Supreme Court Upholds Religious Freedom of Faith-Based Child Placement Agencies 

Texas Values wrote an amicus brief in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia in support of the religious foster-care organization who was disqualified from serving families and children because of its religious beliefs. The Court ruled in favor of adoption agencies that have sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage and family. https://txvalues.org/in-unanimous-ruling-supreme-court-upholds-religious-freedom-of-faith-based-child-placement-agencies/

 Increased funding to Alternatives to Abortion to 100 million dollars

Every session, Texas Values lobbies for a focused set of items that should be on the legislative fiscal budget for 2022-2023. One of the items Texas Values strongly fought for was to increase the funding for Alternatives to Abortion program (A2A). Texas Values successfully helped increase funding the Alternative to Abortion program to 100 million dollars.

Election Integrity, Senate Bill 1

Texas Values supported efforts to pass significant election integrity reform in Texas by making it easier to vote, and harder to cheat.  The efforts to pass this legislation included three sessions of overtime by lawmakers, numerous marathon hearings, and a quorum breaking escape by Democratic lawmakers to Washington, D.C.

The election reform legislation, SB 1, accomplishes a number of things including: (1) creating uniform statewide voting hours, (2) expanding voting access for registered voters that need assistance, (3) prohibiting drive-through voting, (4) enhancing transparency by authorizing poll watchers to observe more aspects of the election process, and (5) banning the distribution of unsolicited applications for mail-in ballots and giving voters with defective mail-in ballots the opportunity to correct the defect.

Homeowner’s Rights to Have Religious Displays on Property Protected

This year, the Texas legislature was finally able to pass legislation that protects the religious expression of homeowners. SB 581 by Senator Paul Bettencourt prohibits Home Owner Associations from making rules that restrict homeowners from having religious displays on their property. Texas Values testified in favor of this legislation and worked with legislators to accomplish its passage.

5th Circuit Court of Appeals Victory Over Vaccine Mandates

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) under President Biden issued a rule in November requiring U.S. employers with 100 or more workers to ensure their workers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or face thousands of dollars in fines and other repercussions.

This went against an executive order issued by Gov. Greg Abbott banning vaccine mandates.  It also went against one of Texas Values’ core principles of personal and individual freedom to make one’s own health decisions without outside pressure. Texas Values has consistently opposed vaccine mandates and we provided a resource for this matter here.

One day after the OSHA rule went into effect, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in Dallas affirmed an earlier ruling by a district judge that Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order banning vaccine mandates could stand.  Among other things, the court said the mandate “threatens to decimate” the workforces of petitioners, and found the State of Texas’ arguments that the OSHA was unconstitutional and illegal to be “compelling.”

 Texas Legislature successfully bans CRT in state; State Leaders continue fight against Gender Modification

Due to concerns across the country about the teaching of critical race theory, the Texas legislature passed SB 3 Critical Race Theory Ban in the second special session after Governor Abbott put the issue on the call. The bill encourages civics instruction and prohibits teachers from teaching from a politically biased point of view.

While no legislation was passed to protect children from gender modification and sex transitions, there were efforts made by state leaders to respond to the issue. Governor Abbott sent a request to the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) asking if childhood mutilation for gender transition is considered child abuse. DFPS concluded in an official opinion that it is indeed child abuse to mutilate a child. In response, Attorney General Ken Paxon issued a statement that the state can investigate the mutilation of children as child abuse cases. Recently, AG Paxton began steps to investigate and possibly sue two pharmaceutical companies under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act for prescribing puberty blockers and cross sex hormones to children. We, at Texas Values, continue to support the request for a special session to ban gender modification on children.

You can support the work of Texas Values with a tax-deductible donation at txvalues.org/donate/

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