First Quarterly SREC Meeting of
The State Republican Executive Committee met on Friday, March 1st and Saturday, March 2nd. The various committees met on Friday. The Organization Committee, chaired by Marian Stanko, discussed possible ways to increase campaign training by providing updated manuals for candidates, campaign managers, and volunteers. The Rules Committee, chaired by Dennis Paul, considered a resolution that would require resolutions first be approved by the Resolutions Committee before they are considered by the SREC as a whole. The resolution also states that resolutions cannot be brought up as new business unless there was a specified level of support. The Grassroots Club, chaired by Candy Noble, received an update from Financial Director Keri Mason as to the transition between vendors administering the service. The new vendor allows the RPT to adopt a program where the RPT can split monies with the county parties. The committee also discussed ways to incentivize people to sign up for the GRC.
The Resolutions Committee, chaired by Eric Opiela, recommended four resolutions for passage by the SREC, all of which were approved by the main body on Saturday. Resolutions passed include a resolution Honoring The Greater Houston Council of Republican Women on their 50th Anniversary, a resolution supporting School Choice, a resolution condemning the CSCOPE Curriculum Program and the Texas Education Service Center Curriculum Collaborative, and a resolution supporting expansion of Concealed Handgun License Carry. Additionally, the SREC unanimously approved a statement opposing expansion of Medicaid in Texas.
The Volunteerism Committee, chaired by Leslie Recine, decided to host the Volunteer of the Year awards ceremony at the Austin Club. Auxiliaries and Coalitions, chaired by Tina Gibson, heard reports from each of the auxiliaries and discussed ways to increase outreach. Chairman Gibson also discussed the progress of putting together a statewide Asian Republican Auxiliary group. The Candidate Resources Committee, chaired by Jane Cansin,o had an informal meeting as their terms had expired and the new members needed to be confirmed at the SREC meeting.
On Friday night, Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson hosted a dinner for the SREC and a private viewing of historic Texas Documents. The SREC viewed many county maps, maps of Texas in it's various forms throughout the years, and land grants that were authorized by Stephen F. Austin. Also included in the viewing was the Alamo Testimony from Susannah Dickinson Bellows and the document naming Sam Houston President of the Republic of Texas, a perfect way to start off Texas Independence Day weekend.
Saturday’s SREC meeting was kicked off by a prayer service conducted by RPT chaplain Rex Johnson and accompanied by his musical director Randy Davenport. That morning, Representative Dan Branch sponsored breakfast and provided a legislative update. After Chairman Branch spoke, Justice Phil Johnson spoke to the SREC and discussed the need for justices to interpret the law rather than create the law and spoke about his personal commitment to the Constitution. He also announced announced his bid to run for reelection. Johnson’s lovely wife, Carla, was generous enough to do us the honor of singing the national anthem at the beginning of the meeting.
After Carla sang the national anthem, our former Deputy Executive Director, Chris Elam, sang "Texas Our Texas" honoring Texas Independence day. The RPT staff also presented him with a gift in appreciation of the wonderful job he did during the 2+ years he worked for the RPT.
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples addressed the SREC regarding the concepts contained in his new book, Broken Borders, Broken Promises. He discussed the need for securing the border as part of an immigration proposal. Following Todd Staples, Chairman Munisteri delivered his chairman’s report on the state of the RPT. He informed the SREC that the last four months since the election were the smoothest four months since his chairmanship began. He reported that this was because there were no major problems the party was dealing with. The party is in excellent financial shape, and the vast majority of correspondence and phone calls to the party were all positive. He mentioned that the Democrats had launched a new effort called Battleground Texas, which claims they will spend tens of millions of dollars to turn Texas Democratic by 2016.
The Chairman outlined the party's plan to counter those efforts. He also told the SREC he has been advocating to the RNC that they invest in an updated database, maintain a year round victory program in all 50 states, and devote significant resources to outreach efforts. He noted that RNC Chairman Reince Priebus had assured him that they were moving in that direction and a new plan would be unveiled in April. In addition, the Chairman mentioned that he has facilitated former SREC member Clint Moore to have the opportunity to make a presentation with the creator of rVotes to demonstrate their product to the RNC in a couple of weeks. The RNC is evaluating different software and database upgrades to catch and surpass the Democrat’s digital capabilities, and rVotes is such a program.
The Chairman also noted that the party was receiving a great deal of cooperation from the Senate and House leadership in promoting conservative legislation consistent with the platform. The Chairman listed his legislative priorities as opposing any tax increases, retaining a significant amount of money remain in the Rainy Day fund, and reforming the election code including providing the Texas Republican Party more flexibility in the Presidential Primary process. He discussed constructive conversations he had with State Senator Dan Patrick relative to trying to increase Texas’ impact on the Presidential primary process as well as efforts between the RPT staff and Senator Patrick’s staff to advance education reform.
The Chairman noted that the financial situation was better than he predicted in large part to the generous donation from Curtis Mewbourne last month, however, current cash balances would still be expected to decrease over the course of the year. He noted however, that he hoped the March 26th fundraiser headlined by Governor Perry, Lt. Governor Dewhurst, Speaker Straus, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, along with a majority of Republican legislators would hopefully help offset some of the anticipated cash depletion. The fundraiser will be held on March 26th at the Driskill Hotel in Austin.
RPT Vice Chairwoman Melinda Fredericks gave a presentation outlining the conservative roots of herself and her family. Her presentations always serve as a reminder for us as to why we give up our free time to help the Republican cause. Dr. Robin Armstrong then provided an update of the RNC meeting in Charlotte where new officers were elected and RNC Chairman Priebus discussed, in part, the strategy for surveying what went wrong this last election cycle. The RNC plans to release a report in the coming weeks that will outline a plan for the Republican Party to grow our organization in the coming election cycle.
The SREC took a break from officer reports to hear from a panel consisting of Senators Craig Estes, Ken Paxton, Donna Campbell, and Kelly Hancock. All four senators gave an overview of what issues they thought were facing the Senate and then answered written questions that were provided by the SREC. Following the Senate panel there was a short break for lunch, during which, Texas Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman, who was also the SREC meeting sponsor, delivered a speech regarding the regulatory business of the Railroad Commission, as well as his perspective on issues that threaten the fabric of American families.
Following lunch we had a panel of State Representatives, which included former Fort Bend County Chairman Rick Miller, Elections Committee Chairwoman Geanie Morrison, Calendars Chairman Todd Hunter, and Representative Jodie Laubenberg. The Chairman noted that he and Laubenberg were members of College Republicans together at the University of Texas as well as Youth for Reagan volunteers. He also pointed out that Candidate Resource Committee member Steve Atwell, also in attendance, was also a member of the club, which allowed them to have a brief reunion. Like the Senate panel, each member spoke on the issues facing the Texas House of Representatives then answered questions submitted by members of the SREC.
Following the legislative panel, National Committeewoman Borah Van Dormolen provided her report, which recapped the spring RNC meeting and included inspiring and complimentary words for Texas from Chairman Priebus. Treasurer Tom Mechler and Assistant Treasurer Tom Washington reported that the finances of the party were sound. Tom Washington noted that the gross revenues for the party were approximately $5.8 million during 2012. Mechler announced that the cash balance at the end of 2012 was a few hundred thousand dollars higher than 2011, and also noted that all FEC reports are up to date and there are no pending actions against the party.
General Counsel Patrick O’Daniel reported there were no new lawsuits against either the party or the Chairman. He reported that the Voting Rights Act hearing at the Supreme Court appeared to go well based on the questions the justices asked. He also reviewed redistricting possibilities.
Following the officer reports, Supreme Court Justice Jeff Boyd spoke. Justice Boyd told us about his background, which gave us an opportunity to learn more about Governor Perry’s most recent appointment to the Court. Justice Boyd will run for reelection next year.
Following Justice Boyd’s speech, committee reports were presented to the SREC. The Resolutions Committee submitted five resolutions to be voted on by the body. These resolutions included a resolution on concealed handgun license rights, a resolution honoring the Greater Houston Council of Federated Republican Women, a resolution opposing the expansion of Medicaid funding under the Affordable Care Act, a resolution on the CSCOPE curriculum program, and a resolution on school choice. The Party Organization, Volunteerism, Rules, Auxiliaries & Coalitions, Grassroots Club, and Candidate Resource Committees all spoke briefly about their meetings held the day before.
The RPT then presented SREC member Jane Cansino with a crystal bowl with the Republican Party of Texas logo etched onto the side in thanks for her great work while chair of the Candidate Resource Committee last election cycle.
Next, the SREC was given an update on the state convention by SREC members Neal Katz and Tom Washington. They provided recommendations on whether a three day convention is feasible this year even though it is a non Presidential Election year.
Following the state convention update were the Auxiliaries reports. TFRW President, Carolyn Hodges, gave a presentation outlining the TFRW Convention in San Antonio in October, hosting the NFRW Region 4 Conference in Sugar Land, TFRW’s Immigration Reform Policy Statement, the TFRW Belles and Boots Ball Fundraiser Honoring Texas Supreme Court Justices at the Bob Bullock Museum on Wednesday, April 17th, TFRW Legislative Day on Thursday, April 18th, and the new TFRW website.
Following the TFRW presentation, changes to the Republican Party of Texas bylaws were considered. A proposed bylaw change to abolish the Resolutions Committee was voted on and failed. The SREC then voted on and passed an amendment to the bylaws that limits that resolutions may only be brought to the floor if they were approved to be heard by a majority of the SREC as a whole or through a minority report submitted to the chair prior to the start of the meeting.
Following the bylaw considerations, new members were appointed to the Candidate Resource Committee. The CRC now consists of Chair Jane Casino, Vice Chair Bonnie Lugo, Sheryl Berg, Linda Butts, Vergel Cruz, Naomi Narvaiz, Danny Pelton, Mark Ramsey, Marian Stanko, Valoree Swanson, Michael Truncale, Ben Zeller, Steve Atwell, Paul Bettencourt, Wade Emmert, Harold Jenkins, Jane Koehne, and Fred Tate.
Following the CRC appointments, Chairman Munisteri and Vice Chair Melinda Fredericks presented key pins to the SREC members that met the fundraising goal of $1,000. SREC members that received key pins this quarter included Judy Parada (SD-3), Neal Katz (SD-8), Bonnie Lugo (SD-13), Frank Steed (SD-22), Joy Ellinger (SD-24), and Fred Henneke (SD-24).
During the new business section of the meeting, SREC member Bill Eastland put forward a rules change consideration that would allow visitors to record all future SREC meetings. The body voted to send this rules change to the Rules Committee to be considered for the next quarterly meeting of the SREC.
The next meeting of the SREC will be the second quarterly meeting of 2013 on June 7th and 8th at the Republican Party of Texas headquarters in Austin.