Bailes & Illegal Immigration: Something doesn’t add up

Early voting in the Republican Primary Runoff Election for House District 18 (Liberty, Walker, and San Jacinto counties) begins next week.  Mail pieces, radio ads, and social media posts for both candidates repeatedly cite stopping illegal immigration as one of their top priorities if sent to Austin.

But one candidate holds the distinction of being endorsed by the Texas Association of Business: Ernest Bailes. 

Let’s talk about the Texas Association of Business.  Sounds innocuous, right?

Texas Association of Business (TAB) has a history of opposing legislative reforms meant to curb illegal immigration.  In fact, CEO Bill Hammond stood on the steps of the Texas Capitol, proclaiming illegal immigrants deserve in-state tuition more so than the rest of our kids.   Not just that in-state tuition is good for any one within our borders, but one step further — illegal immigrants are more entitled to in-state tuition than the rest of us.  You can watch the video here: https://youtu.be/WE7BmBxzmJI

Yet just last week on KSHN 99.9, Ernest Bailes  stated he opposes illegal immigration and opposes rewarding those who enter our great state by not following the rules.

It’s one thing to disagree on one or two minor issues and still earn a group’s support as  a candidate.  But TAB’s vocal and repeated opposition in the Texas Legislature to conservative stances on illegal immigration is surprisingly at odds with Bailes’ purported promises to voters.

Regardless of whether one believes in-state tuition is a good idea in these situations, the comparison speaks to a far more important issue: what position does he really hold? Either the voters or TAB are not getting a straight, complete answer from Bailes.

Early Voting begins May 16th – 20th. Election Day is May 24th.

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Powerful Gubernatorial Ads to Hit South Texas

In anticipation of the November elections, Texas Right to Life will again launch 60-second English and Spanish language radio ads on south Texas secular and Christian stations, educating listeners about Wendy Davis’ extreme stance on abortion.

Wendy Davis filibustered for abortion on the Senate floor last summer for 11 hours.  The provisions Davis fought included ensuring abortion doctors have access to emergency services should complications or malpractice arise (hospital admitting privileges), requiring the facilities that allow abortion to be adequately prepared in cases of emergencies (ambulatory surgical center upgrades), and stopping most abortions after five months into pregnancy, the point a preborn child can feel pain.

The recent revelations of Davis’ abortion history distort the message of what Davis championed in the Texas Capitol.  Davis’ stance includes not only the so-called “hard cases,” but elective abortion, on-demand, through all nine months of pregnancy. The right to kill is what she advocated as a state senator.

Texas Right to Life’s ads will ensure that listeners are aware of Wendy Davis’ commitment to the abortion agenda–a position contrary to the typically religious views of the citizens of the Valley.  “Politicians and elected officials can no longer enjoy the luxury that their words and deeds in the Capitol stay in the Capitol.  Concerned citizens across the state should know which public officials are working against their values.  We are confident that our truth campaign on Davis’ uncompromising advancement of abortion will be well-received and of grave concern to listeners,” said Elizabeth Graham of Texas Right to Life.

During their original airing, the Texas Right to Life ads proved significant in the Democratic primary.  We are proud of our ads, recorded by a dedicated Spanish-speaking Pro-Lifer who is gravely concerned about the effect Wendy Davis will have on the respect for all Life – those in the womb, the disabled, the sick, and the elderly.

A person who espouses a worldview that the value of one human life is dependent on another’s view cannot be entrusted with protecting the lives of all Texans.

Wendy Davis cannot become our next Governor.

Republished with permission from Texas Right to Life, written by yours truly. 

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The Battle Over 501(c)4s Continue…..

Many people are at least vaguely aware of the 2012 IRS scandal that caught Lois Lerner, Director of the IRS Exempt Organizations Division, disclosing to a room full of D.C. legal minds that the IRS had been systematically slowing down applications from groups that “sounded” Tea Party in nature.  While that surely has gotten media attention, what is playing out behind closed doors in Texas may have a much more immediate impact here at home.

Many 501(c)3s organizations individuals are familiar with also have a 501(c)4 arm, especially those who deal with broad social issues, such as abortion (both Planned Parenthood and Texas Right to Life operate under both entities),  criminal justice reform and ministering to inmates, etc. The current popular term for 501(c)4 operations has been dubbed “dark money.”

Generally, if John Smith donates $1500 to a 501(c)3 organization,  John can deduct the amount of his donation on his income tax returns. If John instead donates $1500 to a 501(c)4 organization, he cannot deduct that amount.  What is the difference between the two? The difference comes down to the theory behind both options: the government is okay with subsidizing (by not collecting income taxes from donors on donated amounts) organizations who engage in charitable actions, i.e. scientific research, religious entities, helping children in the foster care system. These organizations are classified as 501(c)3s.  The government is not okay with subsidizing political advocacy.  Thus, 501(c)3s cannot engage in much political work.  Note, 501(c)3s can perform a minimal amount of lobbying government for reform, but how much lobbying a group wants to do usually distinguishes between forming a (c)4 versus a (c)3.  Also note, lobbying does not equal “campaigns” for elected office.  In the discussion, there must be a caveat recognizing there is some newly-revived tension between the definition of a (c)4 given in the United States Code versus how the IRS by rule defines such entities.  Such a battle is very much outside the scope of this post!

Lobbying is necessary to an informed decision-making body (see future post on “Why lobbyists aren’t really that bad.”).  A group who wants to do a substantial amount of lobbying on any issue (from abortion, physician-assisted suicide, saving the animals, to stricter gun laws) cannot be a 501(c)3.  They can however, become a 501(c)4.  These federal IRS designations only cover tax-related issues; hence, states can still pass legislation that affects the practical workings of these entities.  Some in the Texas Legislature are attempting just that.

In the most recent legislative session (ending Summer 2013), both the Senate and the Texas House passed SB 346, a bill that would require Texas entities  to disclose the names of their donors who contributed more than $1000 once the organization spent $25,000 in a calendar year.  While not specifically defining 501(c)4s, these entities would be covered under the new law.  Due to the lack of a definition, interests on both sides of the aisle were hesitant about the bill’s applicability, leading to a failed recall attempt in the Senate.  Despite passage in both chambers, the bill was vetoed by Governor Perry.  However, today the House State Affairs will hold an interim hearing on “studying the Election Code…what types of groups are exempt from reporting requirements…how to make the political process more transparent.” 

Making government more transparent sounds like a laudable effort, right?  However, is “government transparency” a euphemism for “finding out who is funding efforts to unseat me?” The success of certain grass-roots groups (ahem, NETTP) and the line-up of those opposing anonymity suggest the latter.  Lois aside, the IRS made a policy decision – individuals have a choice: get a tax deduction with no politics or be politically active through your finances, and receive no government subsidies.  To many donors, anonymity in supporting their beliefs is worthwhile over obtaining a tax deduction.  If we take away that selling point, funding of Constitutionally-protected free political speech initiatives will likely yield to supporting only 501(c)3s.  Both are needed. 

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This is not the end: One student-mom’s story on her unplanned pregnancy

Nia is a 21-year old Interior Design major at Stephen F. Austin Statue University (SFA) in Nacogdoches, Texas.  Nia is also expecting her first child in July.

Each year, the members of Lumberjacks for Life, SFA’s student-led pro-life group, raise money for awarding scholarships to pregnant and parenting SFA students.  Any parent below the age of 35, enrolled as an undergraduate, and who has primary custody of their child(ren) are eligible to apply.  The good pro-life folks in Nacogdoches attend BBQ fundraisers and donate money to help Lumberjacks for Life provide at least two $500 scholarships annually. I was asked to review this spring semester’s applicants, and after reading through many stories of struggle, faith, and love, I asked one of LFL’s finalists, Nia, if she would mind me re-printing the answers she gave to some of the essay questions.  She agreed. I hope her story will convict my readers’ hearts to find a pregnancy support group for parents who are choosing to finish their undergraduate degree and help them with your time, finances, and prayers.  If you need to locate one, I of course have a few to suggest!

Nia’s story: After the disbelief wore off and I accepted the fact I was really pregnant, I knew in my heart I had to take responsibility for what I took part in creating. I have had many adversities in my life in the past, such as my hearing disability, which I honestly do not consider much of a disability anymore. Still, sometimes as a student I do have to accept my “disability” and make adjustments accordingly. I admit school is not easy for me, but as a junior here at Stephen F. Austin State University, I can tell you that I have never quit and have made it this far. I use my code of ethics for school as merely an example of my personality and will to overcome no matter the circumstance. As a little girl and even as a young woman, I always dreamed of being happily married with a bunch of little ones running around. I never imagined in all my life that I would be pregnant at 21 years old and unmarried. Such a situation, in the beginning, was extremely hard for me to accept. Ultimately, I had disappointed myself but the “can’t quit” part of me forced the realization that this was not the end. Instead it was just a hurdle that I would overcome, like so many others. The ultimate reason I chose life for my baby was because even though I did not plan to be a mother at 21 years old and unmarried, I could not deny a child I created LIFE no matter how difficult things are and may be in the future.

 

Nia’s advice to a friend in an unplanned pregnancy:  I have found with many young women whom I have encountered that having an abortion emotionally damaged them for life, so take that into serious consideration. There are so many programs that are willing to help mothers and their children you just have to find them, which isn’t very difficult. Often times there are also local support groups willing to help struggling moms. If raising a child is something you feel you cannot do regardless of how much help and support you receive, consider adoption. There are plenty of couples/people who cannot have children and that would love the opportunity to give your child a home and be a parent to them. My third piece of advice would be to look around at others who have had children unplanned and were still successful. Accept that things will not be easy but realize with some determination, you can succeed and be a great parent. The most important thing to realize and remember is that this is not the end of the road.

 

Words from someone who has been there.

 

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Women, Divorce, and IVF: What happens?

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Imagine this scenario: Embryos are created and stored for in vitro fertilization (IVF), but the couple divorces before all or some are used by the wife. With the IVF process becoming a more prevalent choice for couples facing infertility issues, together with our society’s divorce rate, such a situation is increasingly occurring. What do you need to know?

As is often the case, the law has not caught up with science. Only a handful of state legislatures have statutorily addressed pieces of these moral and highly-emotional situations.  In states with no legislative guidance, courts have typically adopted one of three approaches: the contractual approach, the balancing test, and the contemporaneous consent model.

The current – and only- leading case in Texas comes from the First Court of Appeals between ex-spouses Augusta and Randy Roman.  The Romans began the IVF process, creating three embryos deemed healthy enough to freeze until implantation. The Romans signed an agreement with the clinic that provided the embryos would be destroyed in the event of a divorce. The agreement further granted each spouse the ability to withdraw their consent “to the disposition of the embryos and to discontinue their participation in the program.” On the day before Augusta’s scheduled implantation, Randy withdrew his consent. Eight months later, Randy filed for divorce.

When Randy filed for divorce, Augusta had not had any of the embryos implanted yet. Randy asked the trial court to honor the agreement with the clinic.  Augusta argued that at the time of signing, she believed the agreement to cover only embryos that were left-over after she had already had one or two implanted. Further, Augusta argued that, consistent with Texas law, she would not hold Randy to any legal parental obligations should she give birth from the embryos.

As this was a case of first impression in Texas, both parties pointed to other states to support their arguments. The trial court treated the embryos as community property, awarding them to Augusta as a “fair and equitable division” of the Romans’ community estate. On appeal, after surveying the sparse law from other jurisdictions, the Houston court of appeals decided to adopt the contractual approach: the embryos would be dealt with according to the parties’ agreement with the storage facility. The Houston court found the Texas’ public policy would support enforcement of a prior agreement.  As a result, Augusta went through a lengthy, painful process, ultimately losing the chance to become pregnant. The Supreme Court of Texas denied Augusta’s petition to hear her case, signaling an end to her legal options.

Harsh. Can decisions of this magnitude be adequately addressed on the front-end? Is there a view that needs to be espoused by the pro-life community? Does the need for clear legal resolution mandate adherence to the contractual approach?  Or is there a better way?   More to come on this topic!

Case cite: Roman v. Roman 193 S.W.3d 40 (Tex. App. -1st 2006), pet. denied (2006).

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The 6 Things I Learned in Law School

With two months left, I feel that the timing of this post is appropriate! The most important lessons you learn in law school don’t actually happen in class.  Over the past three years, as life has taken both weird turns and come to a standstill under the guise of Baylor Law School, I have been collecting the “things I wish I knew before” embarking on this adventure (or misadventure?).  My top six came to practical lessons, spiritual lessons, and relationship lessons.

6.  Save money during undergrad.

                So, you’re that kid in college who can work three jobs, run an organization, AND make killer grades with minimal effort? The one who never asks their parents for money because between your grants, scholarships, and those three jobs, you truly “have it covered?”  Of course you are!  Such are the type of people who a) go to law school; and b) can’t be talked out of going to law school.  So since I can’t change your mind, here’s a piece of advice à SAVE ALL THAT MONEY! Don’t spend ridiculous amounts on post-breakup rehabilitation trips with your fashion-forward BFF (shout-out to Abs, here).   You don’t get grants in law school, you definitely can’t work your first year, and your dad is a little less happy when his 24 year old asks for money than when you were nineteen.

One last note – you have a real job between undergrad graduation and beginning law school?  Great! Minimize your social trips with the capitol friends and your raven-haired anomaly. SAVE. Unless you have a boyfriend footing the bill, of course. 😉

5. Protect your relationships.

                If you are in law school and the girl from #6, then you were probably in many clubs in undergrad, complete with leadership positions.  Somehow, balancing seems easier in undergrad than in law school.  You cannot ignore your best friends, your partner, and your family for three years.  While the support system for law students undoubtedly must be patient, you have to give some, too.  And yes, that may mean you forego studying a day during finals to spend a summer day with Abby and Charlee. You also cannot forget to make and nurture good friends in law school; there are some great people here! (see photo below)

4.  There will always be someone prettier and smarter than you.

                Wow! What a revelation for a super Type-A gal!  During our orientation week, I remember calling home and crying to my dad, “Everyone is prettier than me! Everyone is smarter than me!”  These same girls I was intimidated by turned out to be some of the most precious souls on earth!  (I also later learned that many of them called home, saying the exact. same. thing.) Realize that this way of life is good for you; you are more able to do #5, not take yourself too seriously, and enjoy the ride. You rejoice with one another in their achievements, cry with them in their sadness. We need a humble spirit to be effective lawyers, effective friends, effective partners.  And law school definitely humbles you 😀

3.  Give mercy freely.

                You will need mercy, so give mercy. You will need mercy from those friends whom you ignored for long periods of time by not following Rule #5.  You will need mercy when you turn a memo in with a huge, inadvertent mistake.  You will need forgiveness from your law school peers.  You need to, in turn, give forgiveness to others [even to the roommate], whether they ask for it or not.

2.  Your worth is determined by how invaluable you are to the ones you love, not by your grades.

                Another whopper for a Type-A person!

1.  No matter how awesome you are, how much good you do, the only thing that saves each of us is God’s sacrifice in Jesus.

No matter whether you are #1 in your class or #165, no matter whether you have a position lined up with a Big Law firm or still searching, we all have the same ultimate end-game:  the only true hope we have for contentment rests in what the promise of Jesus holds for us.  And on that playing field, we’re all the same.  A humbling reminder, for sure.       

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Beyond Birth…Waco’s Care Net to provide transitional housing for expectant moms.

What’s going on in the Waco pro-life community is exciting, and truly a blessing.  We’ve seen  the circumstances that make expectant moms feel as if they are backed into a corner, that the one choice she really does not want to make is her only choice.  Due to the grace of God moving through the Central Texas community, Care Net’s Board of Directors and their generous donors are seeking to change those circumstances, truly helping families break out of the chains of poverty and confidently welcome their children into this world.

For over 30 years, Care Net of Central Texas has been on the front lines of protecting life in the Waco area.   Ran by Deborah McGregor, a pro-life attorney turned pregnancy resource director, Care Net offers free pregnancy tests, sonograms, and tangible resources for expectant parents in the form of diapers, maternity clothes, and other baby supplies.   But this year, Care Net is embarking on a capital campaign to go further by building a Pregnancy Support Center and Guesthouse.

This 10,000 square foot facility in Waco will consist of a dining room, a family room, full-service kitchen, laundry room, a mom and baby store, a playground, classroom, nursery, and eight guestroom suites.  These eight suites will provide ample room for eight women and their children per night who are in transition and find themselves without a home.   The center will also contain a manager suite, which will allow around-the-clock employees to be available for the women and children who are staying at the center.

The total cost of the project is $2.4 million. To date, Care Net has raised $1.3 million.  Once Care Net reaches the $1.9 million mark, the project will be the recipient of a $250,000 grant, which will reach the end of costs for the Center.  A further $200,000 will be needed to fund a maintenance endowment.

Scott Salmans, Waco resident and Care Net’s capital campaign chair, had this to say about the project: “This is not a government program.  It is community as it should be: The Body of Christ stepping up to meet the needs of those in crisis in a loving and nurturing way.”  I couldn’t agree more.

 To make a financial donation to the Center or for more information, please contact Deborah McGregor at Deborah@carenetofcentraltexas.org .

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