End of TX Session Press Release: Expert Analysis on 88th Texas Legislature Wrap Up

May 29, 2023

Austin, TX – May 29, 2023: As the 88th Texas Legislature comes to an end, the media, Texas residents and business owners may have some questions about the status of new faith, family, & freedom laws in the state of Texas. Texas Values has been involved in and following the session closely with members of the policy team at the Capitol daily, researching, speaking with legislators, and playing a vital role in bills being passed. While a special session is expected….

The Top Legislative stories and issues of this session are:

(1) SB 14 – a bill that bans gender transition surgeries, procedures, and puberty blockers for kids, which passed with bipartisan support

(2) SB 15 – a bill that protects female college athletes from being forced to compete against men, passed with bipartisan support

(3) SB 12 – a bill that bans Drag Queen Shows and performances in front of kids, passed with bipartisan support

(4) SB 24 – a bill that creates a state law to protect the funding of moms and babies for Alternatives to Abortion program

(5) HB 900 (Reader Act) – a bill that keeps sexually explicit content out of public school libraries and empowers parents on this issue

(6) School Choice efforts did not pass, even though this issue was designated an emergency item by Gov. Abbott

(7) Casino Gambling and other efforts to expand gambling did not pass, despite big lobby money spent at maybe the highest level ever

(8) Dozens of bad LGBT priority bills, many called “Ban the Bible” bills, were all defeated this session

(9) SB 763 – the school chaplain bill – a bill that permits public schools to choose to have a chaplain as a school volunteer

Jonathan Saenz for Texas Values said:

“Protecting kids, fairness in college sports, and parental rights dominated the discussion and legislation this session: on topics like banning Drag Queen Shows with kids, gender transitions on kids, and empowering parents on content and choice for education. Basically, common sense won big this year at the Texas Legislature, with bipartisan support.”

Three members of the Texas Values policy team are available for expert analysis regarding bills such as SB 15 – Save Women’s Sports Act, SB 14 – Ban on Gender Modification in Children, SB 12 – the ban on Drag Queen Shows with kids and many others that involve pro-life, religious liberty and faith and family issues. Media may contact to coordinate interviews.

Jonathan Saenz, President and Attorney, Texas Values – arguably the most widely recognized Texas figure and voice since 2005 on faith, family, freedom and pro-life law and policy issues.

  • Founder of Texas Values in 2012, after serving as Legislative Director for First Liberty Institute from 2007-2012.
  • Licensed Texas attorney for 20 years; worked on court cases at every level including serving at the U. S. Supreme Court as a lawyer for Gianna Jessen, a famous pro-life advocate.
  • Has worked in and around the Texas Capitol during every Texas Legislative Session since 2005. Testified in hundreds of Texas House and Senate Committee hearings.
  • Most recently led the Texas Heartbeat law to passage, and three different religious freedom laws in 2021, and helped defeat gambling and Ban The Bible/LGBT Priority bills in 2023.
  • Graduate of The University of Texas, B.A., and the University of Houston Law Center, J.D.
  • Substantial experience in state election matters and has been a Republican Party of Texas state delegate in every cycle since 2012.
  • Catholics for Ted Cruz for President Leadership Team, 2016
  • Host of the weekly radio show and podcast “The Texas Values Report” for the past 5 years with notable guests such of Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, Franklin Graham, Michele Tafoya, Senator Ted Cruz, and NCAA swimming champion Riley Gaines, among many others.
  • Featured in top TV, print, radio, and digital media with thousands of interviews to his credit, including Fox News, CNN, USA Radio, Austin-American Statesman, Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle, and EWTN, among many others.
  • While Jonathan is arguably the most widely recognized voice in the state of Texas for the past two decades on religious freedom and pro-life laws, due to his experience, he can speak beyond these issues as well, typically from a Christian Conservative, Texas-focused viewpoint.

Jonathan Covey, Director of Policy:

  • Worked as a Texas Capitol staffer from 2015-2020
  • Served as Texas Values Policy Director since 2020
  • Widely known for his work on leading the effort on SB 14, a bill headed to Gov. Abbott’s desk that will ban gender modification for kids.
  • Graduate of Thomas Edison State University, B.B.A; and Oak Brook College of Law, J.D.
  • Featured in top media: CBS Austin, Austin American-Statesman, and Terry Lowry: The What’s Up Radio Program, among many others.

Mary Elizabeth Castle, Director of Government Relations:

  • Led the effort this legislative session to get SB 15, the Save Women’s Sports Act, to Gov. Abbott’s desk.
  • Texas Values Policy Team Member since 2018, Government Relations Director from 2022-current.
  • Previously worked under Kelly Shackelford at First Liberty Institute.
  • Graduate of SMU, B.A.; and Texas Tech Law School, J.D.
  • Sought after to speak at venues across the state of Texas/United States including the Texas GOP Convention and the National Pro-life Women’s Conference (PLWC).
  • Featured in top media such as CBS Austin, The Daily Signal, and The Dallas Morning News, among many others.
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