Dr. Stucky believes that if we model ourselves and our institutions on the teachings of Christ, we will leave our state and nation in a better place than we found it.
In his first session in the Texas House, he went to work every day with a steadfast commitment to that ideal, and as a result he helped pass meaningful legislation to secure the border, protect innocent life, shore up healthcare for retired teachers, defend the 2nd Amendment, and support our local public schools, among others.
He was also named the Most Valuable Freshman by "Capitol Inside", which has been covering state government for the past two decades, for passing 63% of the legislation he authored - the highest passage rate of any member in the House of Representatives.
The 2017-2019 state budget passed the House on the second to last day of the legislative session by a vote of 135 to 14. The only dissenting votes were Democrats. It was a balanced budget, and one of the most fiscally responsible, conservative budgets in the state's history.
Dr. Stucky promised to make border security a top priority, and true to his word, he was a co-sponsor on Senate Bill 4, which effectively bans sanctuary cities in Texas. This legislation prohibits a local government entity or campus police department from adopting policies that limit the enforcement of immigration law, including stopping a peace officer from inquiring about a detained or arrested person’s immigration status. This new law will assist federal immigration enforcement by ensuring that local officials are cooperative with their efforts.
Additionally, the new state budget funds border security to the tune of $800 million and includes 250 new DPS troopers to expand operations along the Texas-Mexico border, and increases troopers statewide to a 50-hour work week.
As a former school board president, Dr. Stucky knows first-hand that the worst form of education imaginable is a top-down approach, so he went to Austin to ensure our schools were adequately funded and then to fight for decisions about those funds to be made at the local level.
The budget continues to fund our public education system at current levels and accounts for growth in enrollment with an additional $2.65 billion. One of Governor Abbott's highest priorities, high-quality pre-kindergarten, received $236 million.
Furthermore, Dr. Stucky co-authored House Bill 21 in the special session which will create a Texas Commission on Public School Finance. This is the first step towards finally ending the Robin Hood school finance system and changing the way public schools are funded. Property owners have shouldered far too much of the cost for far too long, and it's time to create a more equitable system.
Additionally, the legislature helped shore up the health care system for retired teachers. During the regular session of the legislature in the spring, $350 million was earmarked in the budget to increase the contribution rate and address the shortfall in TRS-Care. In this special session, another $212 million was added to further buy down premiums. Dr. Stucky was a co-author of this legislation and believes it is critical that we live up to the promises we have made to our retired teachers.
This was one of the most pro-life legislative sessions in the history of the Texas Legislature, and Dr. Stucky was on the front lines for these important debates.
Senate Bill 8, which Dr. Stucky co-sponsored, bans partial birth abortions in Texas, and imposes a state jail felony on anyone who performs one, with the single exception of saving the life of the mother. It also bans "dismemberment" abortions, one of the most horrific assaults on innocent life.
Furthermore, in this year’s budget, $18.3 million was allocated to the state’s Alternatives to Abortion program, and Health and Human Services is authorized to spend up to $20 million for more providers and resources to this program. This is a fantastic program that offers a network of crisis pregnancy centers, adoption centers, and maternity homes across Texas to provide support for women in need.
During the summer special session, three pieces of pro-life legislation were passed, all of which Dr. Stucky co-authored. House bill 13 changes reporting requirements for hospitals and clinics, mandating that they report a complication as a result of an abortion separate from general maternal health. The purpose of this bill is to better monitor the impact abortions have on women across Texas.
House Bill 214 removes mandatory coverage for elective abortions from both government and private health insurance plans. This makes Texas the 25th state to pass limits on coverage for abortions.
And House Bill 215 requires doctors to report the way in which a minor received authorization for an abortion, and also requires them to certify the specific abnormality when performing a third trimester abortion due to severe fetal abnormality.
Governor Abbott made it known in January that improving Child Protective Services and Texas’ foster care program was one of his top priorities, and Dr. Stucky agreed. The program is designed to protect our most at-risk Texans, and it has been underperforming for years because of an inefficient state bureaucracy.
In an effort to overhaul the entire system, the legislature passed House Bill 4, House Bill 5 and Senate Bill 11 (Dr. Stucky co-authored the two House bills) which provides additional support for “kinship care”, where families take in abused children, establishes the Department of Family and Protective Services as its own agency rather than being under the umbrella of the Health and Human Services Commission, and expands community based foster care.
The 2017-2019 budget also adds $508 million for child protection. This includes funds to hire almost 600 new CPS caseworkers, to enhance foster care provider rates, and to provide additional support for kinship care.
There is a growing chorus throughout Texas and the rest of the country calling for an Article V Convention of States to consider possible changes to the U.S. Constitution in an effort to curb federal intrusion into the rights of the states.
Dr. Stucky co-sponsored Senate Joint Resolution 2 which expresses Texas’ commitment to this idea. It is far too early in the process to tell if this idea will receive enough support from other states to actually make a convention a reality. Regardless, Dr. Stucky believes the rule of law must be preserved, and as it currently stands the federal government too often ignores the Constitution and overreaches its legal authority.
In the interest of bringing more tourism dollars to Denton County, Dr. Stucky authored and passed House Bill 2445 which amends the tax code to allow the City of Denton to use a portion of their municipal hotel occupancy tax revenue for improvements to the city's sports fields and parks. The goal of the city is to attract more youth baseball and other sports tournaments to Denton. This did not increase taxes, but rather authorized the use of existing revenue for the purpose of the improvements.