As RA News continues our look at the work of the freshmen state legislature members over their first session, one name stands out as the most solidly conservative so far: State Rep. Bryan Slaton (R-Greenville).
A Baptist minister by training, Slaton’s win in the general election was assured the second he survived the brutal Republican primary in District 2. He’d lost that fight in 2018 to former Rep. Dan Flynn, only to turn the tables in 2020. His primary goals were fighting abortion access and protecting the sovereignty of the state of Texas against the federal government.
Restricting reproductive freedom was the priority he got immediately to work on, though the work he actually did was not very good from a legal perspective. He filed two anti-abortion bills, one that basically said that Roe V. Wade was null in Texas (it is not) and another that claimed Texas has the right to treat abortion as a homicide (which it also does not). Both bills used dubious logic and overly dramatic language much more fit for the pulpit than law. They were referred to the committee and died without significant fanfare.
Slaton’s work on abortion was one of the things that earned him Texas Monthly’s Cockroach Award, “given to a lawmaker who comes to Austin just to muck things up.” However, Slaton’s obsession with abortion was overshadowed by his hatred of the current Republican Boogey people: the transgender.
Slaton authored no bills on curtailing the rights and protections of trans people, he had a tendency to crawl into other places just to add amendments on the subject. He attempted nine different times, all unsuccessfully, to add in language to other bills that harmed the trans community, particularly children.
Michelle H. Davis did a fantastic job of chronicling Slaton’s apparent war on trans kids and parents who might support them. His first try was on House Bill 567, which was related to the procedure for removing a child by Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to foster care. Slaton attempted to get a parent affirming a child’s gender classified as abuse. The proposed amendment didn’t even get a reading before being hurled out of order like a frisbee.
He tried again on the third reading of the bill with an amendment that would protect parents who refused to affirm a child’s gender. When asked what exactly his problem was by State Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington), Slaton went on a bizarre, tear-filled rant about Jeff Younger. Younger has become a fixture in alt-right politics as well as men’s rights and incel circles for being forced by a court to acknowledge his daughter’s social transition.
The crying was not effective, and the amendment wasn’t even voted on.
When it comes to reliable votes, Slaton is a dedicated soldier. Of the 63 bills designated as priorities by the Republican Party of Texas, Slaton signed onto 55 of them immediately, and he voted for all fifteen that made it to the floor. However, only one bill of any consequence that he authored ever came to a House vote, and that was just about giving notice to Texas National Guard members that they may be involved in active combat situations.
As a legislature, he has proven controversial but mediocre. Even his bill to protect Confederate monuments, a favorite conservative talking point, went nowhere. His preference for grandstanding over politicking has made him a champion of the far-right, but they have little to show for his efforts.