Highlights of recent legislative session, a lawsuit filed by Texas against the federal government’s vaccine mandate for companies and a bill signing were just some of the items covered by Gov. Greg Abbott at the Republican National Hispanic Assembly Midland Chapter’s Reagan Lunch.

Held Friday at the Bush Convention Center in Midland and organized by the RNHA, it drew a full house that included elected officials from Odessa and Midland. Shelby Landgraf was the emcee.

Abbott said Midland Mayor Patrick Payton’s message to him, paraphrasing, was to continue giving the federal government hell.

Abbott said the Biden administration issued an executive order through OSHA mandating that businesses in the United States compel their employees to get vaccines. Abbott said Texas has filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality.

“It is wrong fundamentally, but also wrong legally for the federal government to mandate that anybody put into their body a drug … required by the federal government. We will not tolerate that in Texas,” Abbott said.

Gov. Greg Abbott speaks on a variety of matters including a border wall, razor wire, critical race theory, election laws, mail in ballots, voter fraud, and more at the Midland Chapter of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly’s Reagan Lunch Friday at the Bush Convention Center in Midland. (Jacob Ford|Odessa American)

Abbott said the values of the Hispanic community and the Republican Party are faith, family and freedom. “That’s why we united all together, all races under that banner of faith, family and freedom,” he said.

“And it’s those values that will ensure that we’re going to win elections in 2022,” Abbott said.

In running, Abbott said they will contrast the values of the Republican Party and the principles that they run on versus the values and principles on which the Democrats run.

“And candidly it’s never been easier than it is now. And the reason is because it used to be that we were running against Democrats, and that’s what they used to call themselves. Then they were liberals and then they were progressives and now they are who they tell you they are. They are socialists,” Abbott said.

“We are running against socialists who are trying to redesign the United States of America into their vision of socialism and trying to impose it on the United States of America and on the Hispanic community and we will not allow that in the Lone Star State or any state in the United States of America,” he added.

Abbott said you see socialism creep up in many different ways.

“One of the ways that was prolific in the elections that took place this past Tuesday, there was the backlash that occurred in Virginia. It revolves around this whole concept of critical race theory. Critical race theory is antagonistic to the United States of America; it is antagonistic to the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. It categorizes people on the basis of race, on the color of their skin. And then it pits those people against each other …,” he said.

Abbott said this is contrary to the United States creed, which is one nation, under God with everybody being equal. But it is also contrary to King’s teachings where he said, “We’re to be judged not by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character. And because critical race theory is both so antagonistic to the United States of America, antagonistic to the state of Texas, but also because it’s dangerous the way that it is being used to indoctrinate our children. That is exactly why Texas passed a law that I signed to ensure that in every grade, and every subject that Texas schools, we have banned critical race theory …,” Abbott said.

Gov. Greg Abbott holds up two paintings he received as a gift at the Midland Chapter of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly’s Reagan Lunch Friday at the Bush Convention Center in Midland. (Jacob Ford|Odessa American)

He contended that most of the money in the Build Back Better bill in Congress “is going to redesign the United States of America and redistribute the money in the United States … (to) create more socialism in this country. And they wrap it in your candy-coated words such as they want to give opportunity to everybody in this country, or they want to provide everybody the opportunity to escape poverty.”

“Well, let me tell you something that these progressive socialists will not tell you. … (It is) capitalism, not socialism, but capitalism in the United States of America that has lifted more people out of poverty and helped people have more opportunities than all of the socialistic programs combined, and we will not allow the socialists to destroy what capitalism has created in the United States or in the Lone Star State,” Abbott said.

Abbott said the legislature also passed property tax reforms.

The Constitutional amendment election included a provision that churches will never be closed for any reason during a pandemic or any other time.

“Your ability to worship Almighty God should never be limited, should never be closed. Your First Amendment freedom of religion is now protected by law in the Lone Star State,” he said.

Staying with the First Amendment, Abbott said a law was passed during the session that makes it illegal for conservative voices to be de-platformed by large social media companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter.

Seven gun laws also were passed, including making Texas a constitutional carry state and also a law that makes Texas a Second Amendment sanctuary state prohibiting the Biden administration “from coming into Texas and taking your guns.”

He highlighted the recent bill that prohibits abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy when a heartbeat can be detected and signed a law to ensure that a city that defunds the police will be defunded.

Gov. Greg Abbott speaks on a variety of matters including a border wall, razor wire, critical race theory, election laws, mail in ballots, voter fraud, and more at the Midland Chapter of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly’s Reagan Lunch Friday at the Bush Convention Center in Midland. (Jacob Ford|Odessa American)

On border security, Abbott said the state is using $3 billion to secure the border and immigration laws will be fully enforced.

“The state of Texas will step up and do the job the federal government is supposed to do,” he said.

Right now, Abbott said, there are more than 7,500 National Guard or Texas Department of Public Safety officers preparing to secure the border “in ways that will protect against these caravans from coming to Texas and coming across the border.”

He said officers are laying razor wire and putting up blockades to keep undocumented immigrants out. In addition, he said those officers are going to do “everything humanly possible to ensure that Texas is stepping up to secure our border. And yes, Texas is building its own border wall to better secure the state of Texas.

“The border wall project has already begun. We’ve dedicated about a trillion dollars to it. Donations are received from people who want to support the border walls at borderwall.texas.gov … if you want to provide more money to build a border wall,” Abbott said. “But we have over a billion dollars available to us now to build the border wall. …”

Abbott said construction will start before the end of the calendar year.

An election integrity law was also passed during the session.

The federal government has filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of the state’s election integrity laws.

“That is a lawsuit in which they are going to lose badly. Our law will be upheld by the federal courts …,” Abbott said.

The law cracks down on mass mailing of mail-in ballots and ballot harvesting. He said it also provides more early voting hours.

He added that it looks like Democrat Beto O’Rourke wants to run for governor. He said O’Rourke is one of the architects of the socialistic vision.

“He’s the one who wants to come and take your guns. He’s the one who is for open border policies; he’s the one who is advancing every liberal socialistic ideology policy. He was advocating defunding the police. We can’t allow that to happen in Texas …,” Abbott said.

Gov. Greg Abbott, center, signs House Bill 119 also known as “Daniel’s Law” into law at the Midland Chapter of the Republican National Hispanic AssemblyÕs Reagan Lunch Friday at the Bush Convention Center in Midland. “Daniel’s Law” prohibits organ transplant recipient discrimination on the basis of certain disabilities. House Bill 191 was authored by State Representative Brooks Landgraf.(Jacob Ford|Odessa American)

Abbott also signed Daniel’s law. He said Rep. Brooks Landgraf, R-Odessa, was the lead advocate for the bill.

Abbott said Kathleen Kirwan-Haynie’s brother Daniel suffered from kidney failure for much of his life, but was denied the chance at a kidney transplant because he also had Down Syndrome.

Abbott said Daniel passed away in 2015 as a result of kidney failure.

“Daniel’s law prohibits discrimination against a potential organ donor recipient based upon a person’s disability. Daniel may have lost his life, but Daniel leaves a legacy of ensuring that what happened to him will never happen again,” Abbott said.

He added that the law is an example of how a citizen of Texas can create change.

Speaking at the Friday event, Kirwan-Haynie said her brother was active, engaging, vibrant, a lover of life and joyous. She said Daniel loved his family and he loved Midland.

“… But a lot of people didn’t know he suffered for almost two decades from kidney disease. And he had no hope at a transplant to live because simply, he was Down Syndrome. And I remember toward the end of his battle, he was trying to console me. And he said, Kathleen, Kathleen, look, it’s okay, me, me. And I knew at that point, he was okay. He was in the arms of our Lord. But I also came to realize it’s not okay, that he didn’t have a fair chance at life. And so I’m grateful for Representative Landgraf. I took this idea for this piece of legislation and he promised me it would be a better day in Texas for special needs who were struggling. And he followed through. He filed this bill in November of last year and Gov. Abbott signed in May. Sept. 1, it went into effect. Now, Daniel is no longer with us, but his legacy will live forever through this law to improve the lives of special needs (people) in Texas. But it’s not time to rest. This road is long, and my dad always called me the trail boss. So we got to keep our sleeves rolled up. And we need to advocate for our most vulnerable …,” Kirwan-Haynie said.