A Special Thanks:
Galveston County Tax Assessor
Who was teaching Texas Citizens how to track, influence, and hold accountable the Texas State Legislature before there was a Tea Party Movement
Clear Lake Tea Party Executive Board
Who insisted that we do more than merely accept what the politicians tell us and to develop a “Watchdog” component to the tea party agenda to find out for ourselves.
TeaParty911.com would like to extend a special thanks to Dale Huls and the Clear Lake Tea Party for developing such a first class program and allowing us to share their knowledge with Tea Party groups across the country.
The Texas Legislature is the state legislature of Texas. It is composed of an upper chamber, the Texas State Senate, and a lower chamber, the Texas House of Representatives. In Texas, the Legislature is considered the most powerful branch of state government because of its aggressive use of the power of the purse to control and direct the activities of state government. Every two years the Texas Legislature assembles to perform the duties of State Government. Our tradition of part time Government is a source of pride for Texans with a deep respect for individual liberty and limited government.
On November 2, 2010, the citizens of Texas overwhelmingly voted to send a conservative dominated State legislature to Austin with a strong expectation that the legislators would pass bills to protect Texas citizens from an increasingly oppressive Federal Government whose laws, regulations, and mandates threaten the liberty and prosperity of all Texans, to provide a climate for business that would increase economic prosperity and jobs, address the looming budget shortfall by cutting spending and not raising taxes, to ensure that elections in Texas are fair and free of fraud, and to generally shrink government and increase the liberty of the people.
With these thoughts in mind, the Clear Lake Tea Party (CLTP) has begun an initiative to hold accountable the legislators who campaigned on the above principles and issues and the bills they have submitted. The CLTP Watchdog program is designed to allow the CLTP membership to decide what bills, Committees, and/or Legislators to track and follow through the 140 day session. Unlike other groups that promote citizen tracking of the Texas Legislature, the CLTP has added a closed-loop component that ensures that the information each watchdog gathers is returned to a central coordinating function for consolidation and analysis leading to proper prioritization of issues, application of resources, and calls for action by the CLTP Executive Board. This is a watchdog driven activity. The freedom to pick and choose legislation, committees, or individual legislators that interest the individual CLTP watchdogs and to know that their research and effort will be realized into concrete action will be key to continued engagement by the watchdogs during the legislative session.
The basic online tools needed to accomplish the task of researching the legislation and tracking the individual bills, committee actions, and legislator votes is available courtesy of the Texas Legislature itself. The Texas Legislature Online website (http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/) was developed specifically with the Texas citizen in mind. It offers comprehensive service and functionality and is very easy to use. This tool alone allows the citizens to follow their Senators and Representatives, gather information through an automatic notification function, and report out that information throughout the legislative session. This unprecedented tool allows the people to truly be the “Eyes of Texas” and is a tribute to open government.
Additionally, the CLTP is providing a standard reporting format to all watchdogs to provide a consistent set of data to be collated and analyzed through a central clearinghouse. The CLTP has also set up a dedicated email address for watchdogs to send their reports in on a weekly basis or, as necessary, should events warrant. The CLTP will begin posting a comprehensive weekly status report on its main website for dissemination to the CLTP membership and the public.
The basic CLTP Watchdog Program is shown on the following graphic:
CLTP Watchdog Program Flow
The easy to use online tools and the simple procedural flow will allow for an efficient process the CLTP can use to make a real difference in the upcoming legislative session.
This training is intended to merely cover the basics of getting started using the online tools to set up an account, login, do basic searches, setup automatic notifications, and generate/submit a weekly status report. This training guide was developed to provide a quick desk reference for watchdogs until they become more proficient. It is expected that as watchdogs use the tools and explore the capabilities and functions of the Texas Legislature Online, they will be far more knowledgeable in tracking the legislature than this training will provide. Good luck and good hunting!