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Chairman's Update: April 2011

The typical Chairman's Update usually includes a rundown on the various trips I take around the state on behalf of the RPT. This past month however, almost all of my trips consisted of walking between the RPT headquarters and the State Capitol to talk to legislators about our priority items, as well as to monitor the progress of bills before committees. We are reaching the point in the session when we are getting close to crunch time. The following is a breakdown on some of the key legislation we are working on, and the stage of the process the legislation is at:

HOUSE BILL 12 - Sanctuary City Bill

  • This bill has been voted out of House committee, but has yet to be voted on by the House or the Senate. It has been placed on the House emergency calendar for May 6th.

HOUSE BILL 15 - Sonogram Bill

  • This bill has been voted out of the House and an amended version of the bill has been voted out of the Senate.

SENATE BILL 14 - Voter ID Bill

  • This bill has been voted out of the House and an amended version of the bill has been voted out of the Senate.

SENATE BILL 18 - Eminent Domain Bill

  • This bill has been voted out of the House and an amended version of the bill has been voted out of the Senate.

SENATE BILL 100 - MOVE Act / Federal Primary Act Election Bill

  • This bill has been voted out of the Senate but sets a primary date in March, rather than the party's preference for an April date. The Senate version could cause the Texas GOP to lose half its delegation at the National Republican Convention in 2012. We plan to work hard over in the House to get the bill amended.

HOUSE BILL 150 - House Redistricting Bill

  • A redistricting map has passed the Texas House and is awaiting action in the Senate.

HOUSE BILL 600 - State Board of Education Redistricting Bill

  • A redistricting map has been voted out of the Senate and the House.

HOUSE BILL 900 - Congressional Redistricting Bill

  • Has been filed, but no action taken by the Senate or the House.

SENATE BILL 31 - Senate Redistricting Bill

  • Has been filed, but no action taken by the Senate.

In addition to my work on behalf of the priority items of the state party, SREC member Jason Moore, our redistricting chairman, has been meeting with state legislators to voice concerns of the grassroots and to emphasize that the party wishes for maps to be drawn to not only maximize the number of Republicans but to also enhance the chances of conservatives being elected. My staff has also been working to advise individual representatives of the party's platform positions. I personally have been fielding a high volume of emails and calls on various bills as well as redistricting. I want to assure you that I not only pay attention to these, but I do inform our elected officials as to the sentiment of the grassroots as reflected by these communications. I also do my best to personally respond to each email and phone call. This last month, I had to spend a considerable amount of my time doing so, due to the high volume.

Spending most of my time in Austin this month also allowed me to spend some additional time on continuing my efforts to revamp our administrative functions as well as focus on our fundraising program. These efforts resulted in our determining that our in-house email list needed further updating. We have been able to add the names of approximately 15,000 Republican activists to our lists. These include new contributors to the party, as well as precinct chairmen from around the state. We also determined that when I arrived approximately only 30% of all delegates and alternates to the last convention were on our email lists. We have increased that number to about 70% and we are making plans to attempt to get the remaining email addresses from the other 30%. Meanwhile, our new organizational director Beth Cubriel has been working diligently to systematically contact county leadership to obtain the names of additional precinct chairs and county leaders so that we can add them to our lists as well. It is hoped that the end results of these efforts will yield the largest and most current list of conservative Republican activists in the state, which then can be utilized to activate Republicans to work in campaigns and on behalf of legislation.

On the fundraising front, our new director of finance Keri Mason, continues to do an outstanding job. She is planning a drive to contact all of our delegates and alternates to the last state convention to ask them to sign up for our Grassroots Club, which will reduce our fundraising costs and increase the importance of the grassroots contributor. She also organized a fundraiser for us in San Antonio with Senator John Cornyn. Unfortunately, due to the Senator having to stay up in Washington DC during the budget crisis, the event was postponed. Nevertheless, several contributors went ahead and sent in money anyway, so we were able to gross $13,000 from this non-event. Keri has also been organizing a fundraiser for us on May 10th, 2010 in Midland at the Racquet Club at 5:30pm, hosted by former Mayor and former National Committeeman Ernie Angelo, Dick Saulsbury and Jose Cuevas, to name a few. If you have an interest in attending, please contact Keri at RPT headquarters. So far, the event has raised approximately $20,000. Overall, we continue to pay all invoices to zero at the end of every month and our cash balance continues to remain above $600,000 although we expect this to decrease over the barren summer months.

On the communications front, Chris Elam continues to develop our new RPT website and is very close to launching this new project. Additionally, he has spent a great deal of his time in past weeks examining our internal databases and working with Beth and Keri to improve our database with new names and update old ones. He and Keri have also started working on a series of plans to enhance our fundraising over this next election cycle and I'm looking forward to accomplishing these proposals.

On the youth development front, our youth director Austen Bailey has published a new issue of the New Texas Forum which is our fourth issue and we have ordered several thousand copies to be distributed at several college campuses around the state. You can view a copy of this online. Austen also helped to organize a new Teenage Republican organization previously announced - view the link here.  

We continue to evaluate whether or not it will be worth holding a presidential straw poll this fall. We previously had been evaluating the Travis County Exposition Center but have determined that of the three available weekends were not workable as one conflicted with Austin City Limits music festival, another one was too late in the year, and the third weekend conflicted with Yom Kippur. If we can determine that enough Presidential candidates will participate and we can find a location which is practical, then we will probably move forward with the straw poll as long as it appears as though it will at least pay for itself. Look for a future email on providing your input on this important topic.

Back at the beginning of April, Vice Chairman Melinda Fredricks came by with a group of young people from Montgomery County and it was a pleasure to speak with this group of students.  Additionally, I was able to make a few trips around the state this last month. On Saturday, April 2nd I was able to attend the Collin County Reagan Day Dinner as a guest of county chairman Fred Moses. The event was exceptionally well attended and I thank Fred for his hospitality. The keynote speaker was Congressman Allen West, who electrified the crowd. I also had a chance to travel to Pearland and speak to the Pearland Area Republican Women's Club on April 19th, and attend the swearing-in of Judge Ken Wise in Harris County. I also was invited to attend the Texas Public Policy Foundation featuring Reagan economist Arthur Laffer, which was a very interesting event. Last week, I was pleased to meet with U.S. Congressman Joe Barton who came by the RPT headquarters to discuss redistricting and offer his support for the RPT.

The next meeting of the SREC will be on June 3-4, for anybody who would like to attend. We will be releasing the results of the annual audit at that time.

We are entering the final stretch of the legislature this next month. This will be a critical time for our party as I believe our electoral prospects are dependent on our elected officials enacting a conservative Republican agenda. I urge all my fellow Republicans to redouble their efforts in support of our priority bills. Keep up your support for our Republican officials and let's work together to end up with a successful session.


Steve Munisteri
Chairman, Republican Party of Texas