AUSTIN, Texas (May 4, 2015) – A bill in the Texas state House to create a mechanism for the state to review and reject any federal order, law, police, rule, mandate or agency regulation that is found to violate the Bill of Rights of the Texas Constitution received its first committee hearing last week.
Introduced by Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview), House Bill 1751 (HB1751) would set a formal process for the state to not only stop providing material support for federal acts deemed a constitutional violation, but would also authorize the legislature to “interpose itself between the federal government and persons in this state to oppose the federal government in the execution and enforcement of federal law.”
If passed, the state legislature would be able to declare any federal act to be a violation of Article I of the Texas Constitution, the state’s Bill of Rights, with a two-thirds vote of both chambers. No action would be required from the Governor, fully bypassing what has often been a long and contentious veto override process. HB1751 received its first hearing in the House State & Federal Power & Responsibility, Select Committee on April 30.
“Our founding fathers knew that the nature of government would be to usurp the rights and privileges of its citizens.” Rep Simpson said while describing his reasoning behind proposing the bill. His words echo James Madison, who wrote in Federalist #46 that a “refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union” in multiple states would create “obstructions which the federal government would hardly be willing to encounter.”
“We don’t have a way of recognizing what those laws are that are contrary, really, to the Texas Bill of Rights and how to render them void,” Rep. Simpson said. “And that’s really the subject of House Bill 1751. It would provide a statutory means to enforce… the Texas Constitution.”
The bill is similar in effect to Proposition 122, which was passed in Arizona last November. Voters approved the measure and, by doing so, instructed other states on how to get serious about pushing back against unconstitutional federal behavior.
“If an unconstitutional action was identified then there could also be some directive to withdraw support, not to comply with those orders or those laws, or to interpose, if it were to take away those whom we represent’s rights,” Rep. Simpson said.
Six people registered to the committee in favor of the bill while one person registered in opposition. None of them gave any testimony supporting their position. The committee members did not ask any questions of Rep. Simpson about his bill.
At the end of the hearing, HB1751 was left pending. It must receive another hearing in the House State & Federal Power & Responsibility, Select Committee before it can be voted upon and considered by the full state House.