WEEK IN REVIEW
TEXAS CELEBRATES 175TH ANNIVERSARY
(AUSTIN) — The Senate marked the 175th Anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Texas with a special reading of the original Texas Declaration of Independence. Escorted into the chamber by members of the Texian Legacy Association dressed as 19th century Texian Revolutionaries, the document's four pages were laid out for viewing by the members. The reading of the document was split between several Senators, with President Pro Tem Senator Steve Ogden of Bryan leading things off. "In such a crisis, the first law of nature, the right of self-preservation, the inherent and inalienable rights of the people to appeal to first principles, and take their political affairs into their own hands in extreme cases, enjoins it as a right towards themselves, and a sacred obligation to their posterity, to abolish such government, and create another in its stead, calculated to rescue them from impending dangers, and to secure their future welfare and happiness," read Ogden.
Americans had been drawn to Texas in the early 19th century with promises of land and opportunity from the Mexican government, but settlers found themselves without the rights they enjoyed back home. Settlers were denied the right of self-government, and the mostly Protestant immigrants felt alienated by the national religion of Catholicism. What is now Texas was made part of a new state, Coahuila y Tejas, with the capitol located hundreds of miles away. When the Mexican government moved from the federalist model, a nation made up of semi-sovereign states, to a centralized government with most of the power held in Mexico City, settlers in Texas revolted against tariffs. This prompted Mexican President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna to send troops to quell the rebellion, beginning the hostilities of the Texas Revolution.
On March 2, 1836, 59 delegates at Washington-on-the-Brazos signed the Texas Declaration of Independence, proclaiming that all political connections between Texas and Mexico were severed forever. That Texas would win its independence was far from certain. On that day, the Alamo lay under siege, the Texian army had already been defeated at the Battle of Agua Dulce, and the Texas militia was dwarfed by the larger and better equipped Mexican Army. Nevertheless, the Texas founding fathers committed themselves by declaring independence, an act that would ensure their execution as traitors should the Texans fail to win their freedom on the field of battle. The next day, March 3, Sam Houston was named commander of the Texas army. It was just seven weeks later that Houston defeated a larger Mexican force at the Battle of San Jacinto and captured Mexican leader Santa Anna, winning the war and making Texas its own nation.
In honor of the 175th Anniversary of the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence, the original document will be on public display at the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives Building through April 21st.
Also this week, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee considered a bill that would make it illegal statewide to smoke indoors in public places. It's the third time that Houston Senator Rodney Ellis has filed such a bill, and at a press conference last week he said that "the third time's the charm." In addition to the health benefits from reduced exposure to secondhand smoke, Ellis believes that a smoking ban would have a positive economic impact in reduced healthcare costs.
Under the bill, smoking would be banned in all public indoor places, including bars and restaurants. Tobacco shops and cigar clubs are exempt from the bill, but other venue owners would face escalating fines if they permit smoking indoors. The bill would not affect smoking in private residences, in designated smoking hotel rooms, or on restaurant patios where outside smoke cannot get into the building. The measure remains pending before the committee.
The Senate will reconvene Monday, March 7 at 1:30 p.m.