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many others in the Legislature who made it very vicious and demeaning, but Warren never did that.” Bee Moorhead, executive director of Texas Impact, an interfaith advocacy group, calls Chisum an “iconoclast” in the sense that he’s hard to categorize. ‘While he’s steadfast on social conservative issues, he supports renewable energy and didn’t get in the way of improving the Children’s Health Insurance Program in the House budget this session, she says. “When someone is so predictable on every single issue, you kind of wonder if they’re thinking about any of them,” she says. “He really does see himself as a public servant. He is entrusted to do the work, to take care of the people in Texas. I don’t think he’s a cynic about it at all. … There are a lot of legislators that’s not true of.” Still, people wondered, what horrors from the far-right wish list would Chisum use his seat of power to extract? In the end, it seems, not many. He has not used the chairmanship to ramrod through his own bills, although they appear to have made it further along in the process than in past sessions. Chisum authored the abortion-trigger ban bills that encourage strong marriages \(which were watered would require high schools to offer elective Bible classes \(to which the Public Education Committee added teacher training, a textbook other than the Bible, the course will be elective for schools rather than required, and an established curriculum so as to ensure the book would be taught as literature That’s not to say that he doesn’t have specific ideas about the role of government. The family, Chisum says, is the center of the “high moral network” that a government should encourage. In an interview with the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Chisum said, “In some of our health and human services, we spend a lot of money on trying to address the problem of families being broke up. I would like to spend less money there and more money on keeping families together?’ Chisum’s budget this session puts some federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families moneyintended to help families get off of welfaretoward programs that provide marriage counseling. The chairman must also balance local concerns. Last session, the Lege shifted $25 million previously used for family planning clinics like Planned Parenthood to crisis pregnancy centers and federally qualified health clinics. Regions that had few or none of these clinics simply lost the family planning money, which helps low-income women get access to Pap smears and birth control. Chisum stands at an ideological crossroadsthough he opposes the privately funded Planned Parenthood clinics that provide abortions, his region lost family planning dollars. “Well, we lost a lot of Planned Parenthood clinics that serve poor women, and that was kind of sad,” he tells the Observer. “It drove them into the local hospitals and those kind of areas, and some of the volunteers that do women’s health care, and the issue is that we lost a lot of state funding for that…. I don’t know exactly how many dollars, but it really did affect the medically underserved areas, which left some women without any place to go.” Chisum says he hopes to “re-create the health safety net for those who don’t have health care and can’t travel to get it.” To date, Chisum has also presided over a relatively evenhanded budget process. Maybe it was because Republican House Speaker Tom Craddick, his own power waning, reined Chisum in. Maybe it was rookie timidity. Or maybe it was because, at heart, the rancher and oilman values the rules enough that he doesn’t believe in playing the despot game. Chisum’s relatively hands-off approach on the budget has minimized a conflict that seemed all but inevitable at the outset of the session. How does a small-town, West Texas social conservative respond to the needs of an increasingly urban, multiethnic, and impoverished state? The Observer decided to take a trip into the mind of Warren Chisum. We sat down with the appropriations chairman for a frank discussion of his ideology. Here are some excerpts. The Texas Observer: What is your view on how government should work? Warren Chisum: Thomas Jefferson said our laws are created for a moral society and are inadequate to govern any other kind of society. If you read that in Jefferson, you’d say, “Okay, he is right?’ As long as you have a moral foundation in your state, then our laws are sufficient to govern that, because there’s only an anomaly that the laws have to deal with. But if everyone is immoral, and don’t have any moral values, then we need a completely different kind of system to govern people, because you have to govern with a stronger hand and be more intrusive. So that’s what makes our government different from other governments, and sometimes people don’t realize that, because with the high moral standards we’re able to govern peoplebecause only about 3 or 4 percent of the people really ever need our enforcement. TO: Is it government’s role to encourage that kind of morality? WC: The government should understand what their role is, and their role is to support and uphold a moral society. We have many, many laws that keep you from having profanity. You have to have some kind of moral dress code; you show respect for authority; those kind of things, those are moral values. And family, have a high respect for family. We should do whatever it takes to guard family. TO: So if a society has a high respect for the law, there isn’t as much of a need for government to intrude on citizens’ lives? WC: If you raise your family and your family abides by the law and the government makes sure that no one interferes with your doing that, then we have done our job. TO: What are moral values? WC: Conducting your life in a manner where you’re not selfdestructive, you know, moderation of alcohol and tobacco 12 THE TEXAS OBSERVER MAY 18, 2007