AUSTIN, Texas, May 27, 2015 - In a massive grassroots initiative during the 84th legislative session in Texas, constituents propelled an Article V resolution, HJR 77, to victory in the House 80-62 on May 14. It was then sent directly to the Senate State Affairs Committee.
"This week, cowardice and defiance were on full display by Republican Senators Craig Estes (SD-30), Troy Fraser (SD-24) and Jane Nelson (SD-12), who either skipped the Memorial Day hearing for HJR 77 altogether or ran and hid from constituents who were trying to educate them on the bill and answer questions," said Delvis Dutton, Former Georgia State Representative and Regional Director of the Convention of States Project. The committee Chair on multiple occasions in the last 48 hours attempted to convene the committee during Senate recesses, but Senators Estes, Fraser and Nelson were witnessed by constituents quickly exiting the Senate Floor, thus preventing a quorum and vote on HJR 77.
"What I have witnessed in Texas over the past few days has been both inspiring and disgusting," says Mark Meckler, Convention of States Co-founder and President of Citizens for Self-Governance. "In multiple districts, Senators were overwhelmed by the calls and emails in support of the Convention of States resolution, HJR 77. We tracked every petition and our volunteers visited every office dozens of time, truly a grassroots fire in Texas."
These senators avoided constituents' repeated requests for a meeting during the 84th Texas Legislative Session, which may end up being a mistake when they seek re-election.
To date, 12,840 signed petitions by Texans in favor of HJR 77 have been sent directly to state legislators. On Memorial Day afternoon, 9,653 emails were sent in a two-hour period to all the Senate State Affairs Committee members-a huge on-going campaign by Texans interested in standing up to support the Constitution and stop the runaway federal government.
Additionally, COS Texas has confirmed that almost 250,000 people have been reading our posts and more than 20,000 have clicked, liked, commented or shared our Texas messages in the past week-with the overwhelming majority of those occurring in the past 72 hours.
"Senator Estes has been the most belligerent against the Convention of States, ignoring the state director-a constituent of the Senator and threatening a filibuster if HJR 77 makes it to the floor of the Senate," continued Meckler. "Supporting the status quo of a bloated, reeling big federal government, Senator Estes and others prefer that Texas is left out rather than being part of the solution."
Senator Estes, furthermore, walked out of the committee hearing just prior to testimony from his constituents and others testifying both for and against HJR 77. His entire angry outburst was captured on Senate video and is posted on the Texas Convention of States Facebook page.
"Senator Jane Nelson's aides told constituents this evening that her office had received upwards of 1,500 emails and signed petitions in favor of HJR 77, as well as hundreds of phone calls in the last couple of days in a 15 to 1 favorable vs unfavorable ratio," said Tamara Colbert, Texas Director for the Convention of States Project. "Constituents from Senator Nelson's district have tried for six months to secure even a 15-minute meeting to discuss the Article V legislation, but have been pushed off to low level staffers and college interns."
Senator Troy Fraser authored pro-Article V legislation in 2011 during the 82nd Texas Legislative Session (SJR 11), which passed 24 to 7 and called Congress to propose a balanced budget amendment, and if they did not do so within two years, called for using Article V to call a convention of the states for the same purpose. Senator Fraser has remained silent on the issue now.
Volunteers showed up for a scheduled meeting with Senator Fraser, who left them waiting, then told them on his way out to the Senate floor, "it's time for you to move along." He has not given his constituents or anyone else an answer as to why he is refusing to participate in the legislative process and cast a vote on HJR 77.
HJR 77 is sponsored by Senator Paul Bettencourt (SD-07) and co-sponsored by Senator Brian Birdwell (SD-22), Senator Brandon Creighton (SD-04), Senator Charles Perry (SD-28) and Senator Donna Campbell (SD-25) who this week have demonstrated a steadfast resolve and commitment to citizen-led self-governance in the face of incredible obstacles placed by fellow senators. House sponsors of HJR 77, Rep. Rick Miller (HD-26), Rep. Allen Fletcher (hd-130) and Rep. Paul Workman (HD-47) added an extra spirit of congeniality and support by actively working to educate other senators on HJR 77. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick was invaluable with his support and work behind the scenes, proving himself to be a grassroots hero that Texans hoped he would be.