Gail Teegarden and Zenia Warren spoke to the Pecan Valley Republican Women during the group’s monthly meeting on Thursday at the Brownwood Country Club.
The two Texas Federation of Republican Women members provided some general information about the current Texas legislative session as well as specific bills the lawmakers are considering. The club also inducted its new officers during the meeting.
Rebecca Mendoza-Pate began the meeting by turning over the club to its new president, Jessica Acker. Mendoza-Pate served as the Pecan Valley president from 2013 to 2016.
Brown County Republican Party chairman Robert Porter administered an oath of office to the new officers including Acker, vice-president Dottie Layman, secretary Marie Reed and treasurer Joy Grubbs.
Layman will also serve as the group's membership chair. Sue Jaynes will act as the legislative chair, Mendoza-Pate will transition to the campaign chair, Naomi Flores will be the public relations chair and Wanda Furgason is the new parliamentarian.
Layman then introduced Teegarden and Warren. Teegarden is the deputy president of the Texas Federation of Republican Women Region 11, while Warren is an Army veteran and member of the Central Texas Republican Women PAC.
The two speakers alternated sections during the presentation. Warren began with some basic information about the legislature. “The time period in which the legislature meets to make laws is 140 days every two years,” Warren said. “The session officially started on Jan. 10 and it will conclude on May 29.”
Referencing the last legislative session in 2015, Warren said there had been about 6,276 bills filed and 1,322 passed. She said 2,073 bills have been filed so far for this session. “They have already completed 58 bills,” Warren said, “and that’s the first 15 days they’ve been in session. That shows us that maybe we elected some good representatives and senators this time around.”
Each of the 150 House members is assigned to up to two committees by the Speaker of the House, Joe Straus. The 30 Texas Senators often serve in four or five committees at a time.
Teegarden then spoke with some practical tips about building relationships with elected representatives. “There’s three Ps for grassroots lobbying,” Teegarden said. “There’s professionalism, promptness and preparation.”
Teegarden encouraged the group to be courteous and direct when speaking to representatives or their staff.
Warren provided tips about giving feedback to legislation. “The most effective time to speak on legislation,” she said, “is before or during the committee process.”
She said speakers should give their committee testimony in three minutes or less, and that committee hearings are vital because legislation that gets out of committee is likely to pass.
Teegarden finished the presentation by talking about specific bills, like the “bathroom bill” (SB6) and constitutional carry (HB375). She said anyone interested in following the legislature can do so at www.capitol.state.tx.us.
“Encourage all your members to take action,” Teegarden said. “Make sure you get involved with the legislature.”
The Pecan Valley Republican Women and Brown County Republican Party have several upcoming events they mentioned during the meeting. On Tuesday, Feb. 7, the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce will travel to Austin for the 2017 Brown County Legislative Day. “It’s about taking a contingent from Central Texas to Austin to greet our state representative and our senator and be briefed on different segments of government,” Porter said. “Let them know that we are available to support them in any way possible.”
Those interested can contact Ray Tipton at the Chamber of Commerce for more information. The cost is $125 per person.
The Texas Federation of Republican Women will have its own Legislative Day on April 6. Its Region 11 chapter will also host a leadership workshop in Salado on Feb. 25. More information about those events can be found at www.tfrw.org.