Should Churches And Schools Be Forced To Pay The “Rain Tax”
March 7, 2011

The Houston Area Pastor Council is renewing calls to exempt churches and schools from Rebuild Houston.

Mayor Annise Parker has spent the last few weeks outlining plans for the so-called “Rain Tax.”

Beginning in July, property owners in Houston will be charged a monthly fee that will go into a designated fund for street and drainage repair.  Voters narrowly approved Proposition One last November. A plan to help reduce street flooding across the city.

Opponents of  Rebuild Houston plan to attend a public hearing this coming Wednesday to voice their concern about the program.

The group issued a news release Sunday Night: 

Diverse City Coalition Calls on Mayor to Exempt Churches and Schools From “Rain Tax”


 Houston, TX – Pastor Steve Riggle, Senior Pastor of Grace Community Church, Executive Committee member of Houston Area Pastor Council and a member of the Coalition For a Greater Houston is one of a diverse group of community leaders involved in opposing the implementation of Rebuild Houston.  Passed in November with a razor-slim margin of .9 percent as Proposition 1, a growing number of people believe there are major issues that require investigation.

 “The legal and ethical questions surrounding the development, funding and passage of Proposition 1 are ominous to say the least,” stated Pastor Riggle.  “The ballot language said nothing about a new tax on property they are calling a fee, nothing about the amount of the fee, nothing about placing a $125 million minimum with no cap and certainly nothing about taxing churches. We are calling on Mayor Annise Parker to drop her longstanding opposition to the exemption of churches and schools from the new drainage fee, or “Rain Tax” as we call it,” Riggle added.

 Proposition 1 was promoted as simply creating a designated fund for flood and drainage improvements, to be partially supported with revenues from a “drainage charge” that was not defined on the ballot.  “The $.032 per impervious square foot “fee” now being proposed by the Mayor is nothing more than a “tax by another name” and would give Houston the dubious distinction of having the highest rate of any major city in Texas that has a drainage fee, with the exception of Austin,” stated former Harris County Tax Assessor/Collector  Paul Bettencourt.

 “This oppressive new tax of tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars on already struggling churches, schools and businesses in a down economy is guaranteed to drive economic growth away and outside the city,” Bettencourt also stated.

Riggle concluded his statement by pointing out that as light has been shed on some clear conflicts of interest surrounding Proposition 1, the appearance of a scheme to deceive the voters becomes clear.  “The open connections between a city council member who is doing business with the city, the industry he is part of that funded Proposition 1 and the millions of dollars they will reap should raise red flags from city hall to the Secretary of State.  If special interests can use the election process as a direct business venture we have lost self-government.”

 Also announced were plans to call all constituencies of the coalition to attend the March 9, Rebuild Houston public hearing at city hall in force.  “We plan to make sure that the mayor and city council have no problem hearing the voice of the citizens,” Bettencourt concluded.

Abortion Becomes Issue In Race For Speaker of the Texas House
January 3, 2011

As the new legislative session is set to begin next week , different special interest groups are drawing a line in the  sand over several controversial issues. 

For the Texas Pastor Council, the issue is abortion. The inter-racial, inter-deominational group representing local pastor councils in Houston, Austin, Beaumont, El Paso and other areas of the state, issued a statement regarding the race for Speaker of the Texas House of  Representatives.  The statement is aimed at current Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio)  He’s facing a heated battled to keep the coveted post, but most political experts believe  he will survive the challenge.


PastorGram: News & Issues from the TXPC


“There is not one question that the platform of the Republican Party of Texas has been and is now unequivocally strong for protecting the lives of innocent, unborn children, the definition of marriage and the well being of our vulnerable citizens against predatory gambling.  Given that those principles are among the foundational purposes of our constitutional republic, it is inconceivable that Texas would choose someone for the most powerful position in our state House who denies the very positions of his party on those issues. 


Because of the margin of the Republican majority, the decision will rest with the commitment by that majority to the essential principles of those who elected them and those who devoted much time, money and personal sacrifice to establish the platform.  The lame defense for arbitrarily re-electing Joe Straus because he was the consensus choice of eleven moderate Republicans in 2009 who split from their own caucus, is precisely that – lame.  If it was acceptable for that “gang of 11” to cross party lines and violate the trust of their constituents, why is it not now acceptable to question the choice of that liberal coalition with a conservative super-majority? 


We again join with tens of thousands of other pro-life, pro-family, pro-limited government voices across the state of Texas to respectfully but firmly request that those who asked for the endorsements, the precious time on the streets and phones, the finances and the credibility of grassroots citizens representing these principles to truly represent us.  As those representatives know more than most, the way that starts is by casting their most important vote of each session – that for Speaker of the House – for someone who does not stand under the shadow of pro-abortion, pro-gay rights, pro-gambling special interests as does Rep. Joe Straus.



Because courts have affirmed the clear right of 501 (c) (3) non-profit churches and organizations to advocate in this race because it is equated to supporting legislation, we express on behalf of hundreds of churches throughout the state of Texas that only a pro-life, pro-family, fiscal conservative should be elected the next Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives. Finally, because the Republican caucus will vote by secret ballot according to chairman Larry Taylor, the members should be free to vote their principles and with their constituents without the much-discussed fear of reprisal from Joe Straus.”


Gov. Perry Will Be In Houston For National Day of Prayer
May 6, 2010

The National Day of  Prayer was recently ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge, but that’s not stopping  people across the country, including here in Houston,  from taking part in the 59th observation of the day. 

At noon today,  Governor Perry will join the Houston Area Pastor Council for prayer and to take a stand for religious freedom, according to the news release sent to 2 On The Beat.

Meanwhile, President Obama has announced that the Justice Department  plans to appeal the federal judge’s ruling.

The President issued proclamation saying that , “Prayer has been a sustaining way for many Americans of diverse faiths to express their most cherished beliefs, and thus we have long deemed it fitting and proper to publicly recognize the importance of prayer on this day across the Nation.”

Pastors Attack Mayor Parker’s Transgender Policy
April 6, 2010

Last week Houston Mayor Annise Parker issued an executive order expanding the city’s anti-discrimination policy to include transgendered individuals.

The Houston Area Pastor Council has issued a statement opposing the new policy.  The group is also considering potential legal options.

Mayor Parker is in Indianapolis making plans for the NCAA Final Four, which will be held in Houston next year.

Houston Mayor Launches Attack on Decency

Houston clergy stand together in defense of women’s protection and family values

Houston, TX – An inter-racial, inter-denominational coalition of Houston clergy has called upon Mayor Annise Parker to rescind her recent executive orders adding sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression as protected classes in Houston.  Parker issued executive orders 1-08 and 1-20 last week that among other results open women’s restrooms to men.

“We are appalled but not surprised that this mayor has so early in her administration proven that we were right in asserting before the election that her sexual preference is central to her public policy.  Her reprehensible actions to open women’s restrooms to men make our case and expose her pre-election denials as fraudulent,” stated Dave Welch, Executive Director of Houston Area Pastor Council (HAPC). “The voters of Houston overwhelmingly passed ballot measures in 1985 and again in 2001 prohibiting the extension of these special rights based on sexual behavior.  She is now acting by decree to impose her agenda in direct contrast to those votes.”

The pastors’ organization is reviewing the language of the executive orders as well as considering a variety of legal, political and community actions.  “Forcing women in particular using city facilities to be subjected to cross-dressing men invading their privacy is beyond the pale and offensive to every standard of decency,” said Pastor Steve Riggle, senior pastor of Grace Community church and an Executive Committee member of HAPC. 

Pastor Hernan Castano, senior pastor of Iglesia Rios de Aceite and a member of the Executive Committee of HAPC also raised the challenge of applying definitions to these new categories as fundamentally open-ended.  “There are currently no legal boundaries of either of these two new categories of minority status, unlike the color of a person’s skin, their biological gender or religious faith.  Protecting ‘expression’ and ‘identity’ are designed to drop the bottom out of our moral foundation,” he asserted.  Pastor Castano also pointed out that, “This is not only morally wrong it exposes the city and therefore the taxpayers to endless litigation and expenses.  It is irresponsible and indefensible.”


Houston Area Pastor Council is an inter-racial, inter-denominational coalition of senior pastors and churches throughout the greater Houston area and is part of Texas Pastor Council and U.S. Pastor Council.