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Some interesting things on the Texas GOP party platform

Texas GOP delegates are expected to vote Friday on a platform that urges lawmakers to mandate Bible instruction in public schools, prohibit the manufacturing, sale and use of abortion medication and move to deport foreign students arrested for protesting on campuses.

The draft platform, typically more a signal of party values than a guide for lawmakers, urges the Legislature and the State Board of Education to require instruction on “the Bible, servant leadership, and Christian self-governance.” It comes as state leaders including Gov. Greg Abbott are pushing for school vouchers that could send public money to religious schools. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick also said this month that lawmakers would consider requiring schools to teach Bible stories. 

The vote is expected Friday afternoon during the party's convention in San Antonio.

The draft platform also newly calls for the state to ban abortion medication and enforce criminal penalties against companies selling them online. It does not include proposed restrictions on in vitro fertilization, despite a push by some activists. The committee overseeing the platform rejected efforts to include such measures, which have gotten national attention after an Alabama Supreme Court ruling temporarily blocked access to the fertility treatments. 

The platform calls for the deportation of foreign students arrested for “violent protest” or rioting on college campuses, language added just weeks after state troopers arrested dozens of pro-Palestian protesters at the University of Texas at Austin in a show of force that the Department of Public Safety said was directed by Abbott and requested by the university. 

The proposed language says the party opposes the “relocation” of Gazans to the U.S. and deems calls to divest from Israel as a form of “warfare being waged upon Israel, on all levels, including and especially on college campuses.”

Meanwhile, the platform urges Abbott to call lawmakers back to Austin for a special session to pass laws aimed at preventing non-citizens from voting, which is already illegal, and initiate a purge of non-citizens and longtime non-active voters from the rolls. 

It also says Abbott and other state officials should ignore court orders blocking pieces of his border security initiative, Operation Lone Star, including a new state law that would empower law enforcement across the state to arrest and deport migrants. The law is on hold after a conservative federal appeals court blocked it, saying it seizes powers that are “likely reserved to the United States.” 

At a protest outside the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas Democrats decried what they called a “cruelty campaign” underway inside.

“It’s pretty clear to me this election is a referendum on extremism versus freedom,” state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, a San Antonio Democrat, said of the upcoming November contest. 

“They are pushing an agenda that nobody outside, even just their primary voters, support,” said state Rep. Gene Wu, a Houston Democrat. 

The party also took a swipe at members of its own party who supported last year’s impeachment of Attorney General Ken Paxton. The platform includes a plank saying those who push articles of impeachment on charges “found to be false” should be held personally liable for the defendant’s legal fees and past wages. 

Paxton was accused of accepting bribes and abusing the power of his office to help a friend and campaign donor, among other allegations. He was impeached by an overwhelming majority in the House and later acquitted by Republicans in the Senate. 

The platform also includes a resolution calling for the state to reimburse Paxton for lost wages and legal fees during his temporary removal from office while the Senate weighed his impeachment, which it deems “unprofessional, petty, and a fiscally irresponsible abuse of constitutional power, in which members of the House of Representatives attempted to circumvent the will of the voters of the 2022 election.”

Not every new plank was as partisan. The platform also includes planks opposing Daylight Savings Time and calling on the federal government to declassify and release information on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena.

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