The first meeting of the Brown County Conservatives group kicked off with a bang with Rep. Mike Lang dropping by to give an update on the upcoming legislative session.
The Brown County Conservatives focus on policy not personality, according to group founder Cliff Karnes, and received a full dose of upcoming policy-related topics as Lang gave attendees a preview of what will come before legislators later this year.
“It’s great. I’m one that likes to go back into my district,” Lang said. “I have such a big district and it’s hard to get everywhere, but we go as many places that we can when we are asked to go. It’s important. These people vote for you and they want to know what’s going on. I represent 85,000 people and I think it’s important to be face to face.”
Lang discussed a variety of topics ranging from border security to teacher pay. In regard to most of the topics presented Thursday night, Lang said no matter how complex the issue he tends to boil it down into whether it serves his conservative principles, and that legislation often greatly changes from its submission to a committee to its presentation on the house floor.
“For me, you have to read a lot and a lot … A lot of times bills will change so much in committee with committee substitutes that it will go in really good,” Lang said. “You’ll think ‘man that’s a good bill,’ but by the time it gets to the floor with certain amendments you think, ‘oh I can’t vote for that bill.’ A lot of that you have to explain and say ‘well it would have been good if’ or ‘it was a bad bill when it first came out, but now that it’s changed it’s a great bill.’”
Lang announced he received appointments to committees overseeing homeland security as well as a committee overseeing natural resources – both committees he requested. Lang said he would reintroduce the Brown County Attorney Bill, which would prevent the practice of prosecutors lowering the severity of a misdemeanor charge in lieu of a donation to a pre-trial diversion program. Brown County Attorney Shane Britton had been under investigation regarding a similar practice and recently sworn in Brown County Judge Paul Lilly, who attended Thursday night’s meeting, said he would provide an update into Britton’s status in the near future. Another topic of interest for Lang was the Ranger College Annexation Bill, which he said would likely go before legislators after voters rejected an increase to property taxes during last November’s general election. Lang looks to take care of the issue in the house instead of risking it going before voters once more.
“Last year we filed the Brown County Attorney Bill and we’re going to be filing that same bill that didn’t make it out of committee last time,” Lang said. “We’ll also be filing the Ranger Annexation Bill that previously, I believe the 83rd session, you had some officials go down to Austin and open that up so different colleges could charge different tax rates. You guys voted that down handily, I think 97 percent. If it comes up again, you guys could probably do it again, but I want to take care of it. I heard from a lot of people that want it switched back to the way it was … It will be a really good session for our district. I’m looking forward to it.”
With 16 people attending the Brown County Conservatives’ first meeting, founder Cliff Karnes considers it a success. Due to the group being entirely based on policy he hopes to have guests just as engaging in the near future.
“People are tired of the constant personality in politics,” Karnes said. “They want what they want: lower taxes, pro-life legislation — name it … My big deal is election integrity. They don’t want to hear this guy is a bad guy or this lady is a bad lady. We just know where they stand so we know where we need to go next. People are tired of a battle of personalities. I was very happy to hear concrete policy and where we can go from here.”