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Autopsy Report: Taxpayers to Reluctantly Continue to Fund Lobbyists

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The 87th legislative session has reached its conclusion and though several bills were filed to ban the practice of taxpayer-funded lobbying, ultimately none of them made it through the entirety of the legislative process.

As the session began, it appeared there might be hope that the legislature would consider and ultimately pass a ban on taxpayer-funded lobbying.

Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted against the practice in November, by chastising the city of Austin. The Speaker of the House, Dade Phelan (R), was a joint sponsor of the ban in the 86th legislative session in 2019 and served as chairman of the House State Affairs Committee facilitating its consideration. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick announced the ban as one of his 31 legislative priorities in February.

The policy was popular with the general public as well. A 2019 poll conducted by the Texas Public Policy Foundation and WFAA found that nearly nine out of 10 Texans support a ban on taxpayer-funded lobbying. In March of 2020, almost 95 percent of Republican primary voters voted in favor of a ballot proposition in support of the ban. A University of Texas and Texas Tribune poll found that it was largely popular amongst Republicans, Democrats, and Independents with 69% support overall.

The ban took the role of several bills this session addressing the practice at the local, state, and federal levels.

Statewide Bans

The bills seeking to ban the practice statewide were ultimately unsuccessful.

The bill filed in the House by State Rep. Mayes Middleton (R-Galveston) was pre-filed before the legislative session even began in December of 2020. It was referred to the House State Affairs Committee on March 1 and later granted a public hearing on March 26 where afterward it would never be considered again.

The Senate version of the bill by State Sen.

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