Category Archives: Big Jolly Politics

Hurricane Harvey and Texas House Bill 1774

By Kaia Flowers -Guest Columnist with Big Jolly Politics

The great state of Texas has suffered a devastating blow the past week. Hurricane Harvey was a nightmare scenario that many of us did not see coming. The damage to our area is unprecedented with countless families having lost everything they own – houses, cars, and clothing gone in a flash. Social media is filled with pictures of homes flooded to the roof, streets filled with cars no longer fit to drive, and debris fields along our coast.

Another thing filling our news feeds and twitter walls are messages urging people to file insurance claims before a September 1, 2017 deadline. Most of the memes do not give any other information besides the opinion that a bill, HB1774, will hurt people filing insurance claims after this deadline.

What exactly is HB1774? HB1774 is a lawsuit reform bill passed by the Texas Legislature in the 85th session along party lines in the Texas House, 92-55 and in the Texas Senate 21-7, with one Democrat supporting it. It outlines the amount of interest added to claims that are not paid out in a timely manner (section542.060, amended subsection A and adding subsection C), it requires a pre-suit notice of 61 days before a lawsuit is filed (section542A.003), it instructs the court to dismiss with prejudice any claim against an insurance company that is fulfilled before court (i.e. settled with the homeowner, section 542A.006) and outlines the award of attorney’s fees during a lawsuit (section 542A.007). Lawsuit reform is a necessary part of our legal system; laws must be written and revised to ensure that frivolous lawsuits do not hurt the consumer (many experts say that Texas has the strongest consumer protections in regard to insurance policies in the nation). The cost from these lawsuits is passed on to the consumer by raising rates or high prices on everyday goods that we buy.

The timing of this bill and the subsequent social media hysteria is unfortunate during this crisis. We should be very skeptical of the fear mongering in our Facebook feeds. Lawsuits are not the norm and should not be the norm. The vast majority of people will not have to sue their insurance company to receive a settlement. This bill focuses on the outliers that have been unable to come to an amicable settlement.

The Texas state legislature did not lower the amount of interest you will receive if a claim is not paid in a timely manner, they defined it – some cases will still receive 18% interest while other cases will receive the interest rate in section 304.003 of the finance code plus 5%. Section 542.060 subsection C states “Nothing in this subsection prevents the award of prejudgment interest on the amount of the claim, as provided by law.” The pre-suit notice is designed to allow the insurance claim to be settled expediently. After giving notice of the pending litigation the insurance company will have an opportunity to settle the claim without going to trial. This will save time and money by reducing attorney’s fees and the length of the unfilled insurance claim, which is the goal.

This bill also outlines the award of attorney’s fees. It requires reasonable and necessary attorney fees that are supported by sufficient evidence at trial. If the court hears evidence to support a higher attorney fee it will be granted but the key is that there must be evidence. Without this clause unscrupulous lawyers can take advantage of exorbitant attorney’s fees raising the cost of lawsuits and limiting the amount the award to the homeowner.

Without the attorney fee clause, would there have been an uproar over this bill worrying people displaced by hurricane Harvey? I find it extremely unlikely because there would have been no gain to flood social media with messages urging people in shelters to file their claims before the Texas HB1774 takes effect. Filing insurance claims promptly is always the best thing to do in these situations. The faster this step is done the faster people can begin to rebuild their lives after this natural disaster.  In times of hardship there are people who will misuse the public’s trust for their own gain and that is unfortunate but please do not be scared that your insurance agency will abandon you due to this bill.

Kaia Flowers is a long time resident of La Porte, Texas. Mrs. Flowers is currently a student at the University of Houston Clear Lake and is pursuing her degree in history and government.

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Texas HD23 primary is one to watch for activist Republicans

July 21, 2017 By 

hd23 Wayne faircloth Mayes Middleton

Primary challenges aren’t all that unusual in the Texas Republican Party but most of the time it is some fringe candidate with no chance of winning going up against an ‘establishment’ guy. In the race for Texas HD23, we do see an ‘establishment’ type in the form of Rep. Wayne Faircloth, who was first elected in 2014. But this time he has a very, very serious challenger by the name of Mayes Middleton. I suspect that Rep. Faircloth is in deep trouble.

Why? Because Faircloth has no grassroots or activist support. Truth is, he never has but he didn’t have a serious challenger in the 2014 primary and he was viewed as the best chance to take that seat from the Democrats after Craig Eiland retired. And it worked to everyone’s benefit as Galveston County was changing from blue to red. He hasn’t been a disaster for the party but neither has he been a leader. You can look at his committee assignmentsbills authored and press statements to understand this.

You can also look at his campaign finance reports, which I did.

FAIRCLOTH CONT EXP COH LOANS MEDIAN NUMBER CONT
15-Jan-17 $153,698 $44,185 $183,670 $30,000 $500 95
15-Jul-17 $10,875 $43,241 $155,786 $30,000 $250 13

I included the January report to give a better representation of his fundraising ability and number of contributors. If you look at it casually, it looks like his fundraising is okay, not stellar but I’ve seen much worse. The problem comes when you look deeper. Here is what his report from January looks like if you break it down into something most of us can understand.

15-JAN-17 CONTRIBUTIONS MEDIAN NUMBER OF CONT
In-Kind $77,173 $2,000 17
Entities $66,000 $500 57
Individuals $10,525 $250 21

So in reality, more than half of his reported contributions were In-Kind, mostly from large PAC’s including him in their mailers for the November 2016 election. That’s nice and helpful but it doesn’t allow you to direct your campaign. Plus, most of those organizations won’t be as big of players in a primary challenge.

As for the Entities, those are also PAC’s but they gave directly to his campaign. Again, those types of organizations usually aren’t in play in a primary because they need to mitigate their risk if their chosen candidate loses.

The most telling are the 21 Individual donations. Sure, he had some big name support (James Dannenbaum, Charles Butt, Tilman Fertitta) and it is possible that they could write much larger checks if they need to. The problem is that he had one, count ’em one, contribution under a $100. That’s a problem in a primary, where enthusiastic support is needed versus a general where it is more about a voter’s party choice.

Okay, enough about Rep. Faircloth. What about his challenger? Well, let’s take a look.

MIDDLETON CONT EXP COH LOANS MEDIAN NUMBER CONT
15-Jul-17 $59,809 $36,790 $480,019 $485,000 $10 250

Obviously the first thing anyone is going to notice is that $485,000 loan. I don’t care who you are, that’s a lot of money. The second thing that the more observant are going to notice is that the numbers don’t balance. I mean, if you loan yourself $485k, raise $60k, spend $37k, you should have more than $480k on hand. Why? Beats me. I see this all the time and have never tried to figure out why. Perhaps you can.

More important for our purposes is the rest of the report. Recall from Rep. Faircloth’s report that 93% of his contributions were from Entities, not Individuals. Mr. Middleton, on the other hand, had one contribution from an Entity, that being Hoover Slovacek LLP for $500. Interestingly, that is the firm of the Harris County Republican Party Finance Chair Joe Slovacek.

Not that Mr. Middleton didn’t score a few big donors, he certainly did. Perennial large Republican donors Holly Frost, Windi Grimes and Wilkes Farris made large contributions. But they aren’t the story this time. The story is the number of smaller contributors and who they are. I’m not going to name them all but everyone knows Galveston County Tax Assessor Collector Cheryl Johnson. And then you have the Senate District Director for SD11 Scott Bowen. Further down the list you have the Texas SREC rep from SD11 Tanya Robertson. The activists in the district seem to have chosen a side.

And instead of one contribution under $100, Mr. Middleton has 179 individual contributors at $50 or less. Make fun of small donors all you want but if you give a guy $5 and you live in his district, you are going to vote for him.

Mr. Middleton also has the enthusiastic backing of the Empower Texans mail list, an important force in Republican primaries. Like I said earlier, I suspect that Rep. Faircloth is in trouble.

 

Make a difference in Texas. Block walk for Briscoe Cain.

A lot of people talk about making a difference. A lot of people write on Facebook or Twitter about how they are ‘patriots’. Unfortunately, very few people give money to a candidate, even one with a proven record of supporting the positions that they write about on their social media accounts. In the same vein, very few ‘patriots’ get up off of their couch and out from behind their keyboards to actually help a candidate win an election.

Don’t be like those people. Do something besides moving your lips and fingers.

If you live in Harris County or Chambers County or Liberty County, you can make a difference this weekend. State Rep. Briscoe Cain will be block walking in Baytown on Saturday morning to support his re-election campaign. From the InBox:

briscoe cain

Patriots,

Let’s take the fight to them! The liberal Austin cartel has recruited a big government opponent to challenge me for boldly representing your values. Join us July 15, to tell your neighbors why we need the #1 Conservative Representative in Texas to keep fighting for you!

Briscoe Cain’s #1 Re-Election Block Walk

When: 9 AM, Saturday, July 15.
Where: Krispy Kreme, 3422 Garth Rd, Baytown, TX 77521

RSVP to let us know you are willing to help! We can use drivers who are willing to use their vehicles to transport walkers and walkers who are willing to spread the word or assist. It’s easy and effective! We will walk you through every step!

Email me at trent@trentisaac.com to let us know you’re coming, and we’ll be sure to bring campaign literature and shirts!

Thank you,

Trent Williams

P.S. If you can’t make this blockwalk, will you consider chipping in $10 to make sure our walkers have the shirts, water, and material they need to take our message to the voters?

Briscoe had a great first session. You know it was good when Texas Monthly named him as one of their ‘Worst’ legislators. That should mean something positive to anyone who calls themselves a Republican, especially given their reasoning:

When we asked Capitol insiders for Worst list suggestions, his name, almost universally, was the first one mentioned.

You want to know who I give the least amount of credibility to when deciding which legislator did a good job and which didn’t? Capital insiders, that’s who. There are very few people that crave more for attention from ‘journalists’ (I have to use that term loosely when talking about Texas political reporters) than so-called ‘capital insiders’. The inbreeding that goes on between Texas political reporters and Texas politicians rivals the mountains of Arkansas.

Even a few elected Harris County Republican officials have turned against him and are pushing an opponent in the 2018 primary. Sad but true. You’d think these guys would support a state representative with a rock solid conservative voting record, especially since they are the same people that tout Reagan’s commandment of someone who votes with me 80% of the time isn’t my enemy. But hey, Briscoe apparently didn’t kowtow to the ‘right’ officials, so they are going to teach him a lesson.

These clowns have a surprise coming. No one works their district harder than Briscoe. The clowns that are supporting yet another big government Republican to replace Briscoe are going to be embarrassed when he cleans their clock in the primary. I’d like to be in the room when they take a look at his fundraising efforts in the short time between the end of the session and the end of the fundraising period on June 30th. And yes, you’ll see my name on that report.

Make a difference. Support a candidate who is willing to buck the system. Come on out Saturday. If you can’t, why not chip in a few bucks. Beats spending it at Starbucks.

And if you want to know just how messed up Harris County Republicans are, look no further than this race. We have current Republican elected officials working to defeat a man that kept 100% of the campaign promises that he made to the voters that put him in office. Think about that.

“Tea Parties Need to Take a Second Look at Lt. Gov. Dewhurst”

dale huls

“Here we are just days away from the 2014 Republican Primary Run-off Elections. Patrick or Dewhurst…Dewhurst or Patrick, is there a clear and simple choice for the Texas Tea Party movement? Is there one candidate that the tea party can trust to advance our agenda of personal freedom, economic freedom and a debt-free future for our children and grandchildren? Who knows? Ultimately, it’s a crap-shoot…or is it? Let’s look a little deeper now that we only have two choices left for the Republican Lt. Governor candidate.

To be fair, I have supported Lt. Gov. Dewhurst for re-election since the four challengers (Dewhurst, Patrick, Patterson, and Staples) announced their candidacies. This surprised many of my friends in the tea party movement. They looked at me like I had two heads (and both of them crazy). How could I support Dewhurst! Look at what he did to Ted Cruz during the US Senate campaign! He’s the establishment in Austin that we are fighting against! Talk about hard to defend your pick, it didn’t get any harder than this.

Indeed, even before the campaign season started…for most tea parties…David Dewhurst was not an option. Opinions were already set. An unspoken “anybody but Dewhurst” approach was pursued by everyone driven by their revulsion of the previous “scorched earth” tactics used against Ted Cruz and the continuing overspending and increases in the Texas State budget. Indeed, Lt. Gov. Dewhurst had become radioactive to the vast majority of tea parties in Texas. It seemed that everyone, including my own tea party, was searching for reasons to support one of the other remaining candidates. And for the most part, they found one reason or another to throw their support to one of the other three. The Clear Lake Tea Party endorsed Todd Staples by an overwhelming majority. It was a cold and lonely place on the CLTP Board standing up for Dewhurst and my arguments fell on deaf ears.

Yet, in the months before that vote to endorse Staples. Like many others, I was also looking for that “white knight” tea party candidate who would champion our principles and causes. However, Ted Cruz and Louie Gohmert already had jobs. So I sat down and did my own analysis of the Republican candidates with their names in the hat.

Ordinarily, Patrick should be a shoo-in for tea party support. He truly does have one of the more conservative voting records in the Texas Senate. He did form the Texas Legislative Tea Party Caucus during the 82nd legislative session. Additionally, he assembled a Texas Tea Party Caucus Advisory Committee composed of many leading tea party activists in the State to advise the caucus. So why was this not a slam dunk for Senator Patrick? Patrick claims that new “authentic conservative” leadership is needed in the Lt. Governor’s office. Maybe the problem seems to be with the word “authentic.” The sense of many in the tea party was that they were being “played.” Several Tea Party Caucus Advisory Committee members have said that the Texas Tea Party Caucus has been ineffective in setting tea party supported policies and championing them in the legislature. Although Patrick often casts conservative votes on many issues (such as his voting against the State budget this session), his votes are never a deciding vote. Patrick also has a reputation as a “bully” and an “ideologue,” which was visibly demonstrated when he stormed the House floor to confront Rep. Steve Toth over his CSCOPE oversight bill which Patrick promised to scuttle in a backroom deal with the CSCOPE administrators. This particular instance gave some in the tea party a deep glimpse into his character. Some of us still remember, Dan Patrick’s ambush interview of Ted Cruz on his radio show that upset the grassroots state-wide. With his election year revelation regarding Lt. Gov. Dewhurst’s leadership abilities, the tea party grassroots should remain unconvinced of Senator Patrick’s motivations and ultimate goals. Ultimately, I decided that Dan Patrick was no “tea party champion.”

So if not Dan Patrick, what other choice is left? It was not enough to only vote against someone. I needed to vote for someone in this election, so I gave David Dewhurst another look. I found that the original disagreements over spending and the State budget with Dewhurst still remain. I am still against the water amendment (No. 6) passed in November that was supported by the Lt. Governor. However, as I looked at the overall performance of Texas during the national financial crisis starting last decade and the hardships and anti-prosperity policies of the Obama regime, I began to evaluate things in a different light.

The tea parties are looked at as the L’Enfant Terrible of the Republican Party. We are conservatives who are terrifyingly candid by saying embarrassing things to and about the Republican Establishment. We are also portrayed as uncompromising and naive with respect to politics. While it may be true about us saying candid things that embarrass the establishment, we are growing up and maturing.

Getting past the Senate race campaign, the State budget, and a revolving-fund water amendment, I began to focus on the whole Dewhurst record. I discovered that he has be responsible for increasing the DPS budget by $800 Million to build the infrastructure necessary for Texas to be able to close its own borders for the first time. That after Patrick’s Sonogram Bill stalled in the Senate that Dewhurst personally pushed through the bill’s passage in the Senate. That under Dewhurst, as Lt. Governor, Texas has had lawsuit reform, election reform, stopped the State from adopting Medicare expansion, rejected Common Core, and greatly expanded our internal energy sources. With these in mind, I looked at other States and how they are faring with respect to Texas. Texas leads the nation in job growth. One third of all jobs created in America are in Texas. Approximately, 1200 people a day from other States come to Texas. If Texas has been so bad under the watch of Lt. Governor Dewhurst, then why are we in such great shape compared to the rest of the country?

After I looked at the Lt. Governor’s entire record, I next looked at the man. Who was this guy who ran such a cutthroat campaign against Ted Cruz who I actively supported during the campaign? Who was this politician that from the CLTP perspective seemed hardly to recognize that there was a Texas tea party movement? My questions were answered as I worked with the Dewhurst campaign team last year when they reached out to grassroots around Texas. I and other activists were brutally honest with our advice to the Dewhurst campaign. Sometimes our suggestions and input were taken and acted upon, sometimes not. However, they kept coming back and asking. That is all we in the tea party are asking for. A chance to be heard! We know that we won’t get everything we ask for, but that is all right. As long as you are listening and making valued, principled judgments, I am okay with being on the losing side of things from time to time. Just ask my CLTP Board!

And then, I finally got to interact with David Dewhurst directly. From the time I spent with him in person and on the phone, I gathered my own sense of the man and who I thought he was. I got a feeling of “authenticity,” “integrity,” and “sincerity” from the Lt. Governor. He seemed earnest that I understand his positions and rationale, yet was never condescending or dismissive over my concerns and issues. Sometimes we would agree to disagree and others I could see enlightenment enter his eyes regarding concepts and concerns he had previously not thought of. For the first time my personal assessment agreed with my political assessment, that I was indeed backing the right horse in this race.

Like I said before, backing Dewhurst was a lonely place in the tea party. However, after the primary and the field now down to just two candidates, the CLTP was trying to figure out what its next steps would be regarding the run-off. The Patrick team contacted Robert Gonzalez, then President of the CLTP, to set up a meeting to “bury the hatchet” regarding our opposition to his candidacy for Lt. Governor. We agreed, and in good conscience, Robert decided it was only fair to give Dewhurst a similar opportunity to address our tea party board. Dewhurst accepted our invitation and on a Friday at the First Baptist Church of Seabrook, the Lt. Governor sat with the CLTP Executive Board. Sitting down, the CLTP Board was very anti-Dewhurst for all the reasons previously stated. My fellow board members began questioning with a vengeance and hitting on topics like education, the TSA anti-groping bill that failed, the Wendy Davis filibuster, budget issues, border security, open carry, Obamacare, tort reform, local elections and debt reform to name just a few. Dewhurst spent three and a half hours with us answering questions, giving background information, and discussing problems and solutions. After our meeting, my fellow board members seemed rather stunned at the way things had turned out. I was asked “was that for real” to which I replied “that is the David Dewhurst I have been working with for months, you are just seeing this for the first time.” In fact, one of my friends on the board commented that “if this is for real, I owe you an apology.” No apology needed. I understood their mindset intimately because it was once my own.

After a week of reflection and debate, the Clear Lake Tea Party Executive Board announced their endorsement and support of Lt. Governor David Dewhurst for re-election as Texas Lt. Governor. To those who read these words, take note that it is a rare thing that so many strong and opinionated people can re-evaluate their positions, change their minds and publicly reverse their stance.

But this is not the end of this story. If it was just the CLTP Board who reconsidered their opinion of David Dewhurst and ended up supporting him, it could be looked at as an atypical outcome in a turbulent political season. But the story doesn’t just end there. Immediately upon the announcement that the Clear Lake Tea Party had formally endorsed Dewhurst for Lt. Governor, all the leadership of the surrounding area tea parties began to question the wisdom and sanity of backing the Dewhurst. In order to answer this question, the CLTP organized another meeting with Dewhurst and the leadership of six area tea parties all mainly hostile to the Lt. Governor last week.

Folks, lightning struck twice. After the meeting, what were once critics of David Dewhurst came out with a new understanding and perspective of the man and his efforts for Texas. Within a day, two tea parties that were represented by their boards immediately endorsed David Dewhurst for Lt. Governor and representatives of the others went back to advocate an endorsement from their respective boards. Their decisions are pending. What all this demonstrates is that if the tea parties of Texas temper their initial opposition and take a hard long second look at both candidates, they just might come to a different conclusion regarding the candidates.

Finally, do a grassroots activist’s due diligence by throwing out conventional wisdom and judge the situation on the entirety of the facts present. Get your facts first-hand by doing your own research, picking up the phone or setting up a meeting. Oh, by the way, how did the CLTP meeting with Dan Patrick go you may ask? After several canceled meetings by the Patrick team, we were never able to get him to sit down with our board. Who knows, what would have happened if he had thought it important to keep his appointments with the Clear Lake Tea Party.

Dale Huls is a founding member of the Clear Lake Tea Party. ”

http://bigjollypolitics.com/2014/05/01/tea-parties-need-take-second-look-lt-gov-dewhurst/