Attorney General Ken Paxton, who faced impeachment, has fulfilled his promise to seek political retribution against Republicans who voted in favor of his impeachment. One of his targets is state Representative Jeff Leach, a leader in the House impeachment effort. However, Rep. Leach remains undeterred by Paxton’s endorsement of primary opponents and welcomes the challenge. He boldly stated, “If my primary opponent and others want to align themselves with someone who I believe is not only corrupt but also a sophisticated criminal, then by all means, they can have that.”
Despite the primary elections not taking place until next March, Rep. Leach remains focused on the ongoing third special session. In this session, Texas House Republicans are striving to pass school voucher legislation. The proposed bill, HB 1, introduces a limited voucher program in exchange for increased school funding. Under HB 1, parents would receive 75% of the average funding per student, which would amount to a modest increase to $6,190. Furthermore, the voucher amount could potentially increase each year through other school funding sources. The eligibility for the program would begin with 25,000 Texas students in the first year and gradually increase by 25,000 each year until 2027 when the cap is eliminated. Additionally, HB 1 includes a one-time $4,000 bonus for educators.
In contrast, the Texas Senate’s voucher legislation, SB 1, offers parents up to $8,000 in taxpayer money to send their children to private schools and is open to most Texas students. However, school vouchers have consistently been blocked in the lower chamber due to the opposition of Democrats and a group of rural Republicans, including during the regular session earlier this year.
The passage of HB 1 remains uncertain as Governor Abbott’s call for the special session did not include school funding or teacher raises, solely focusing on school vouchers. According to the Texas Constitution, lawmakers can only pass bills that are included in the special session agenda. In light of this, Rep. Leach hopes that the Governor will expand the call to include these crucial matters.
Rep. Leach emphasizes the need for a public debate and vote on the school voucher legislation. He believes that the issue should not be decided behind closed doors, as it has been in the past. He advocates for a transparent discussion within the Texas House, both in committee and on the floor, allowing for a public vote.
In addition to the school voucher legislation, Rep. Leach also discussed another bill he co-authored, HB 7. This bill aims to prohibit private employers from enforcing COVID-19 vaccine mandates. The Senate has already passed its version of the legislation, SB 7, which now awaits action in the House. Rep. Leach clarifies that the bill is not about determining the efficacy or necessity of vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccine. Instead, it focuses on the question of who should make such personal medical decisions, asserting that it should be made in consultation with one’s doctor.
Rep. Jeff Leach’s unwavering determination in the face of political retribution and his commitment to public debate and vote on important issues exemplify his dedication to serving the people of Texas. As the primary elections draw closer, the outcome will shed light on the support he garners from voters and the impact of Attorney General Paxton’s endorsement.