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#KVPinATX (Part 1 – days 1-50)

As my time in Austin draws to a close, I’ve thinking about my #KVPinATX posts. As all of you following me probably know, I’ve been trying to catalogue my time in Austin through daily posts. Sometimes I just post something that happened that day, etc. But every day I’m been in Austin – be it for 1 hour or 24 hours – I’ve posted something I’m grateful for. It’s helped me keep my eyes on what God has done for me this year. It’s funny – I started these posts as a way to help with homesickness. I decided instead of thinking how many days I had left in Austin (a countdown), I would count up – highlighting something special that touched my heart each day. It hasn’t always been easy; some days it’s hard to feel thankful. But the discipline of not going to bed without posting something has really helped me to notice the small things that folks have done for me. I’ve heard from some people that it’s helped them too . . . that they watch for my daily posts to see what I’m grateful for. And I’m stunned that a project meant to turn my thoughts away from negativity has so touched other people. But I’m very grateful that it has.

So…….I decided it would be fun to have all of my #KVPinATX posts in one place. This project has turned into a journal of my time at the Supreme Court of Texas, and my adventured in Austin. If you’ve missed any of them, take a walk through the last year or so with me. Even looking at these posts is a good reminder of the way God can work in our lives if we let Him. I hope they can remind you to “look up” when you’re feeling down. Without further ado: my #KVPinATX story (Part 1)


August 13, 2016:

It’s happening ATX peeps; secured an apartment (after having mine yanked out from under me yesterday). I have an ATX address!

Sept. 12, 2016:

Just got my VIP Meet/Greet tickets to see !! …more like 🎶😍🎸🎹🎤

Sept. 14, 2016:

First day in Austin: I’m grateful for adopted family that helps move furniture & for tacos after a hard day!

Sept. 15, 2016:

On my 2d day in ATX I’m grateful for Cinder being such a big helper at moving! day 2.jpg

Sept. 16, 2016:

On my 3d day in Austin I’m grateful for my sister surprising me and coming to see me!

Day 3.jpg

Sept. 17, 2016:

On my fourth day in Austin, I’m grateful for meeting up with fellow grads unexpectedly!



Sept. 18, 2016:

On my 5th day in Austin, I’m grateful for my pup – clearly I would never be able to fold without her help!


Sept. 19, 2016:

On my 6th day in Austin, I’m grateful for walking up to this sight every morning as I go to work.


Sept. 20, 2016:

On my 7th day in Austin, I’m very VERY grateful for my parents sticking around for a few days to help me get my apartment set up!!


Sept. 21, 2016:

On my 8th day in Austin, I’m grateful for friends who send me late-graduation-happy-new-job presents!


Sept. 22, 2016:

For my 9th day in Austin, I’m grateful for flowers from family AND ! So I have “something to smile about” 😍


Hanging out at ‘s BBQ Roundup! Awesome job – this place is beautiful!

Also, is amazing.

Sept. 23, 2016:

For my 10th day in Austin, I’m grateful for John Williams and his soundtracks’ help in getting me through the work week!


Sept. 24, 2016:

On my 11th day in Austin, I’m grateful for the chance to attend ! Looking forward to a great afternoon of discussion!


Long lines at the food truck lunch, but awesome music while we wait!


Sept. 25, 2016:

On my 12th day in Austin, I’m grateful for a great Sunday message: we do indeed have a “Multi-Millennial Mission” as a church!


Sept. 27, 2016:

For my 13th day in Austin, I’m grateful for our staff attorney and the fact that he had a birthday! Happy Birthday Robert! 🎉🎈🎁



Sept. 27, 2016:

On my 14th day in Austin I purposefully don’t have a picture because I’m grateful for all the “behind the scenes” folks at !

Sept. 28, 2016:

For my 15th day in Austin, I’m grateful for warnings like this that remind me not to do stupid things. 😂


Sept. 29, 2016:

For my 16th day in Austin I’m grateful for my co-clerks introducing me to new food almost every day! #welovefood 😊 #KVPinATX


Sept. 30, 2016:

It’s my 17th day in Austin & also 5 years since Rusty went Home. So I’m grateful, always, for his example to me. Miss you brother.


Oct. 2, 2016:

For my 18th day in Austin, I’m grateful for carpooling buddies – to Lubbock and back again!


Oct. 3, 2016:

On my 19th day in Austin (early as it is) I’m grateful for the Austin PD & officers that respond at 3am. I’m fine, no worries.


Oct. 4, 2016:

My 20th day in Austin I’m grateful for good news. For friends who walked w/ me through the storm. For blue skies after grey clouds


Oct. 5, 2016:

Awesome to meet today and pick her brain about current events. Thanks for the lunch date, Erica!

On my 21st day in Austin I’m grateful that even in stand-still traffic I can connect w/ my fellow motorists on a level.


Oct. 6, 2016:

On my 22nd day in Austin I’m grateful for being part of such an awesome clerk class! Also for our weekly ice cream dates…


Oct. 7, 2016:

On my 23d day in Austin I’m grateful for candy corn. And for a boss with a sense of humor. 😉


Oct. 9, 2016:

It’s my 24th day in Austin. And I’m grateful…that feeling lonely makes me appreciate my family & friends more. Night all.

Oct. 10, 2016:

On my 25th day in Austin, I’m extremely grateful for the folks at the Texas State Law Library! ()


Oct. 11, 2016:

On my 26th day in Austin I’m grateful to be part of the family. Here we are having lunch together today!


In case you need some ideas for exercise.


Oct. 12, 2016:

On my 27th day in Austin I’m grateful for lunch dates with my BFF () in the shadow of our beautiful Capitol!


Oct. 13, 2016:

For my 28th day in Austin I’m grateful I get to praise God with my favorite Christian artist tonight!


Some pics from tonight’s Tour! Thanks for a terrific evening!





Oct. 14, 2016:

It’s my 29th day in Austin & I’m grateful for . May seem silly, but y’all are a huge encouragement & I’m glad to know you!

Oct. 16, 2016:

For my 30th day in Austin I’m grateful the Lord shows His faithfulness no matter where we are – to the thousandth generation.


Oct. 17, 2016:

It’s my 31st day in Austin and ! I’m so grateful I get to work for and learn from this man. Thanks, boss!


Oct. 18, 2016:

It’s my 32d day in Austin and I’m grateful for the folks who fight for the unborn here & across Texas every day!


Oct. 19, 2016:

It was great to see today! It had been awhile since we’ve seen each other, but great to catch up. Thanks for lunch!

For my 33d day in Austin I’m grateful for friends who have my back. You know who you are and you rock.

Oct. 20, 2016:

? B/c I get to build things for others to enjoy: “Prose is architecture, not interior decoration.”~Hemingway

So on my 34th day in Austin I’m grateful I was taught to love writing & – & for the chance to hone my writing skills

Oct. 21, 2016:

Mini reunion (aside: is it a re-union if you’re meeting for the first time?) today. Thanks for lunch, !

On my 35th day in Austin, I’m grateful for alums who watch out for each other. But especially today. ☺️

Oh & also for the reminder that being part of the family means you’re “in” for life. You can never have too big a family!

Oct. 22, 2016:

For my 36th day in Austin, I’m grateful for Corp. Carvalho, who saw me eating alone & sat down to keep me company. Made my day!


Oct. 23, 2016:

It’s my 37th day in Austin and I’m grateful for former political foes that nonetheless become friends.


Oct. 24, 2016:

On my 38th day in Austin I’m grateful for my friends Phil & Carla Johnson. Today is Justice Johnson’s birthday, so Happy Birthday!


And I’ll say this: moving to Austin was much, much easier knowing they would be here already. 🙂

Oct. 25, 2016:

It’s my 39th day in Austin and I’m really lonely. So today I’m grateful to have office decor that reminds me of home.


How to fix a bad day – KVP style.


Oct. 26, 2016:

It’s my 40th day in Austin & I’m grateful to be around lawyers & judges who teach me and embody my professional creed.


Oct. 27, 2016:

It’s my 41st day in Austin and I’m grateful for breakfast tacos. 😁🌮😍


Oct. 28, 2016:

For my 42d day in Austin I’m grateful for impromptu visits from my LCU family!



Oct. 30, 2016:

It’s my 43d day in Austin and I’m grateful for being exposed to superb writing. Always be reading, folks. There’s always time!


Oct. 31, 2016:

It’s my 44th day in Austin and . Today (and always) I’m so grateful for my Lord, Who saved me “Sola Gratia”


Great lunch with today. Was great to meet you and pick your brain about issues – thanks for taking the time!

Nov. 1, 2016:

It’s my 45th day in Austin and I’m grateful for brothers, Marines, and love of country.


Nov. 2, 2016:

It’s my 46th day in Austin and I’m grateful for those who serve and sometimes lay down their lives to keep me safe.


Nov. 3, 2016:

It’s my 47th day in Austin. And I’ve never, ever been so happy to see my name on a list!


Nov. 4, 2016:

It’s my 48th day in Austin and I’m grateful to officially join the legal profession as a duly licensed attorney!   (Video of Swearing In)

Nov. 5, 2016:

On this, my 49th day in Austin, I’m grateful for all of you who’ve helped me hold off the darkness by acts of love. Thank you.


Nov. 6, 2016:

It’s my 50th day in Austin and I’m grateful for getting to share in Willett family gatherings. Happy Birthday Shane-David!



Mis Raices Estan Aqui – My Roots Are Buried Here

Today (or, yesterday, rather, as it’s almost 3 in the morning now) has been an awesome day. I got to help facilitate a critical-thinking event for the law school with a very special guest, Mark Lanier. I met Mark awhile back and have had the great pleasure to get to know him over the last few years – he’s a terrific individual, a wonderful trial lawyer, and someone I’m proud to be able to count a friend. Mark came to the law school to speak to a group of students, faculty, and staff about the issues of law and justice and specifically how a person of faith can (and should) address those issues in the “real world.” We had a full house in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon, and it was just a fantastic event all the way around. Then later on, I got to go “home” to LCU to hear Dr.  Peter Williams, Warden of Tyndale House of Cambridge University speak at the Lanier Theological Lecture Series. It was phenomenal. He’ll be speaking at the Lanier Library this Friday and I’m told it’ll be posted on YouTube – definitely try to catch it!

See – that’s why today was so awesome – I got to spend the whole day surrounded by people shining the light of Christ, sharing their testimonies, and it was like coming up for air. This Halloween week can be very difficult for believers, I think – it is for me at least – and I know that I needed a “booster shot” for sure.

More than that though – I was reminded how very, very blessed I am to be an alum of a school like Lubbock Christian University. At dinner tonight, we were seated with two LCU seniors. They said they remembered me and asked when I graduated. (Spring 2013) The conversation got me to thinking about the commencement address I gave at our graduation. I’m reprinting my speech below, not because it was any grand speech to be remembered, but because it’s so obvious now that God knew at the time I gave the speech that three years later, I would need the reminder. He knew I would need these strong roots. He knew I would need the ability to get a “booster shot.” He certainly knew strong winds of adversity were going to blow against me in the next few months. But He is so very faithful. His promises are true, and whether your experiences are exactly like mine or not, you can plant your roots in Him and that will always be a firm foundation.

In Him,


Mis Raices Estan Aqui – Lubbock Christian University Commencement Address – May 6, 2013

President Perrin, Dr. Jones, faculty, staff, alumni and distinguished guests: as I was reflecting on what to say to my classmates, fellow graduates and our families on this momentous occasion, I, being the good West Texan that I am, was reminded of an old John Wayne poem I learned as a kid: “Mis Raices Estan Aqui – My Roots are Buried Here.” It tells the story of an old settler who refuses to leave his place of heritage, even when times become hard, because he has invested so much blood, sweat, and tears in his home. His life is tied up in the land – his roots are buried there.

And my roots – our roots – are here at Lubbock Christian University. I began my journey at LCU when I was 16 years old. While working for the Nursing Department, I grew and matured, and upon graduating high school, I jumped at the chance to become a Chaparral. From the first day of classes, the professors and the environment fostered by this LCU community cultivated my life and I began taking root here. Dr. Jones, I can’t count how many times I’ve heard you say the mission of LCU is to, “passionately pursue student success,” and it works! Our graduating class is proof that this mission is in the hearts of LCU faculty, staff, and administration. We’re here today because of hard work, patience, blood, sweat, and tears on the part of all involved!

In the third chapter of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he says we ought to be “rooted and grounded in love, so that we may understand the breadth, length, height, and depth of the love of Christ and be filled with the fullness of God,” and see, that’s what each one of us has been taught every moment of every day here at LCU.

The strength of a tree is found in its roots, and the foundation of my LCU journey was laid so that I will not waver from what I’ve been taught when I leave. Everything was focused on Christ. Scott Young taught me the wonder in the laws of God’s Creation through Physics, and that knowledge, coupled with my Honors Bible classes under Dr. Patty and the others, strengthened both my walk with Christ and my spiritual roots. Through History courses, I was encouraged to learn from and treasure the lessons of the past, and in discovering ancient literature and texts with Dr. Hawley, I gained insight into the type of person I wanted to be. All of the folks sitting here in front spent every class period of every semester I’ve been here, teaching me what I needed to know to stand tall on my own.

But, as all of us know, our LCU education did not only take place in the classroom. My roots in Christ and this community were strengthened by being Master Follies’ House Manager and seeing my friends and classmates come together to honor Christ through healthy competition. I grew a little taller and my roots went a little deeper when I was given the opportunity to conduct research and be an ambassador for Christ and LCU at National Undergraduate Research Conferences. The roots of family and LCU camaraderie were fortified when I sat among classmates, professors, staff members, and alumni, cheering on our Chap Baseball or Lady Chap Basketball teams and participating in Rally at the Rip. Roots of friendship were cultivated hiking with Dr. Fehr in the Davis Mountains, learning about leadership at Student Leadership Council meetings, writing six-word stories at the Writing Carnival, through impromptu games of Frisbee Golf and much-needed breaks in the Koffee Kup. I, like many of you, grew in my faith while worshipping our God in daily chapel and at Blur. In all of these and too many other events to count, our roots grew stronger and deeper.

See, in all of these examples, I was taught to look to Christ and grow closer to Him. In this way, He was always to be the Focus of the lesson. So, whether I was in Macroeconomics or First-Aid and CPR, I was given the opportunity to grow in Him – and every time, my roots grew stronger. Jeremiah 17:7-8 says if we trust in the Lord and place our hope in Him, we’ll be like a tree planted by the river. Our roots will grow strong and we will not be plagued by drought, but will be fruitful.

Nature tells us that roots enable a tree to grow and multiply. While some of the seeds of a plant stick close to the original tree, others are carried on the wind for miles – until finally transplanting into land far away. Not all of us will stay here in Lubbock; in fact I’d say most of us won’t. We’ll all go where God sends us and will be given the opportunity to enrich the world around us. But the only reason we’re able to graduate and move on is because of the roots we have here. They’re strong, deep, and healthy because they’ve been lovingly cultivated and protected by the LCU community. Trees are only as strong as their roots, and our roots are strengthened by bonds of friendship, love, and instruction in righteousness. So – tomorrow or the next day, or later on down the road, when the fog and excitement of graduation die down and we enter the real world once again, we might suddenly find ourselves away from here, standing alone, with the winds of adversity blowing against us. (And after a few years here in West Texas – I daresay we all understand the concept of strong wind!) But don’t worry – we will be able to stand against the trials.

How do I know this? It’s simple. Jeremiah 17:7-8. Nuestras raices estan aqui – our roots are buried here.

Father’s Day 2015 – A Tribute to the Three Best Dads I Know

Hi all –

I wanted to take the time today to pay tribute to dads, because in this day and time in our nation’s history we need to recognize the dads who are doing it right, taking responsibility, and raising their children to be Godly members of society. Obviously there are a lot more than three wonderful dads out there, but I wanted to highlight these three because they’re all very special and have something in common: they succeed at being amazing dads even though they were robbed of the chance to enjoy as much time as they wanted with their own dads.

So below is a Father’s Day Tribute to three of my favorite examples of what it means to be “dad” – my own father, my friend, and my boss. Trusting all of you dads have an amazing day, surrounded by your family and those who love you. Know that you are so, so important in our society and we are grateful for your sacrifice and example.

Happy Father’s Day!


Dad and me in Tampa, FL in 2012

My Hero (My Dad) – Kevin Vander-Plas

Grandpa Vander Plas

Grandpa Vander Plas

My dad is amazing. He allows me to drag him to every political event known to man and has been my #1 cheerleader since I decided to pursue politics and law as a career. I couldn’t ask for a better dad. As y’all might know, he’s also a pastor and takes seriously what the Word has to say about leading the Church by first being the head of our household. He has always been sure to raise Stephanie and me in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Edit: dad preached on these very Scriptures today – what do you know?!)

So my dad is a true father in the Biblical sense and just the “cool dad” sense. I mean, do you know anyone else who would drop everything to dance with their daughter in the middle of Long John Silver’s, just because “our song” came on? Well, that’s a true test of fatherhood for you. 😉

My dad’s dad though, Elmer Roy Vander Plas, was also pretty awesome. He served in WWII and later raised a family on several farms in Iowa. Wounded during the war, Grandpa suffered from poor health most of his adult life. But when my dad graduated high school and moved to Colorado to go to Bible School, Grandpa was fine. Just six weeks later though, on the night of my parents’ first date, Grandpa passed away. My dad was told by the Bible School President (my other amazing grandpa, Rev. G. Dean Reid – yes, dad was dating the president’s daughter!) the next morning and flew home to take care of arrangements. Unbeknownst to him, Grandpa had written and mailed him a letter the day before he died, telling him how proud he was that dad was going to be a preacher and how he had found Jesus and would see him in Heaven.

Even though my mom, sister and I never got a chance to meet Grandpa Van – I know there’s no greater joy than knowing that we’ll see him again some day. Even though he was robbed of the chance to introduce his dad to his wife or any of his four kids, my dad persevered and has been the best dad anyone could hope for. My brothers, Forrest and Luke, will get the chance to introduce us to Grandpa though, as they got to meet him first. Pretty special. 🙂

Daddy – thank you for showing me how to follow hard after Jesus and how to push through difficulties to get to the other side.

My Friend – David Dewhurst

Lt. Col. David H. Dewhurst, Jr. before leading a bombing mission over Utah Beach in Normandy on June 6, 1944

Lt. Col. David H. Dewhurst, Jr. before leading a bombing mission over Utah Beach in Normandy on June 6, 1944

Carolyn Dewhurst with the cornerstone laid at Utah Beach to honor David's dad

Carolyn Dewhurst with the cornerstone laid at Utah Beach to honor David’s dad

I don’t remember exactly when I met Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst for the first time, but it’s been pretty close to 10-11 years now. I am grateful to call him a friend and to know that I can depend on him if the going ever gets rough (as it tends to do!). As David and my friendship has progressed over the last few years, I have enjoyed getting to know his family and especially his daughter Carolyn. David’s care for his little girl is amazing and humbling to see and I love to watch the two of them together.

David’s dad was a highly decorated Air Force pilot during WWII, but was killed by a drunk driver when David was only 3. David has only vague memories of his dad – and one of the only stories he knew about him was that he was a pilot during the war. I remember hearing from David that he was going to go visit Normandy for the D-Day Anniversary in 2007. That’s when he made a startling discovery – a French museum on Utah Beach dedicated to the heroes of that day – including a whole section about his dad, Lt. Col. David H. Dewhurst, Jr.

Col. Dewhurst didn’t just “fly in the war” – he led the attack on Utah Beach the morning of June 6, 1944 and is credited with heroic behavior and skills as an aviator. He was one of the most highly decorated bombers in the Air Force. Through this discovery, David was able to connect with some of his dad’s squadron members and finally start piecing together a picture of his dad – a true American hero.

While David’s story was interesting to many, I was able to see the impact it had on his relationships. Finally “meeting” his dad after so long opened up a softer, gentler side to David that only his friends and family had been privileged to see. The way he’s raising his and Tricia’s daughter is a beautiful thing to watch, and I love seeing him exemplify what a “dad” is supposed to be in a young person’s life – even though he was robbed of the chance to experience it himself. He has suffered with the loss of his dad for years, but has always been determined that his little girl will always know her dad is around and loves her.

My friend, thank you for never giving up on your dad and for showing me that family is worth any sacrifice.

My Boss (Former & Future!) – Don Willett

Justice Willett with his lovely wife and the three "Wee Willetts"

Justice Willett with his lovely wife and the three “Wee Willetts”

One of the first things I ever noticed about Justice Willett was his love of his family. As many of you probably know, Justice Willett has a very entertaining and must-follow Twitter account (@JusticeWillett). In fact, he was recently named the “Tweeter Laureate of Texas”! I met my future boss through Twitter and as our friendship developed, my admiration for his skills as a father increased with every post about his family and his kids – the “Wee Willetts.”

Justice Willett’s father passed away when he was only 6 years old – but he does everything in his power to ensure that his family is at the center of everything he does. Being a lawyer (and a Supreme Court Justice) is a ton of work and can often lead those in our profession to depression and broken homes. But in the midst of stress, Justice Willett consistently shows that excellence in the legal profession does not have to be at the expense of family. At a time when politicians are clamoring for attention on every talk show and producing sound bites about how good they’ll be at whatever job they’re running for, Don Willett is putting his family first – and excelling at his role of “daddy” to Jacob, Shane-David, and Genevieve. His kids are growing up with a dad and loving every minute of it. (This past Christmas, Justice Willett wrote an article describing his thoughts on Fatherhood. Give it a read – he’s much more of a wordsmith than I.)

When I had the opportunity to intern with Justice Willett last summer, I was ecstatic. I learned so much and was pleased to find that the online persona was exactly in line with how my boss actually lived his life. I’m beyond honored to have been hired to be his law clerk after law school graduation next year, and I’m looking forward to learning from him how to excel as a lawyer and a member of the Vander-Plas family.

Thank you for your example in living life for our families, boss.


Complete #RPTCon14 Permanent Platform

Complete #RPTCon14 Permanent Platform

Texas GOP Convention – Platform Changes and Presidential Straw Poll Results

Good evening again, y’all – 

I apologize in advance, because I cannot locate my notes on the RPT Permanent Rules. I don’t know if I accidentally left them at the Convention Center or what – but they are gone. I have asked my fellow delegates to give me a run-down of the major changes. As soon as I get that, I will pass it along to y’all.

Now – on to the Platform. As some of you may know, the state Party has a temporary Platform Committee that crafts the Party Platform. The temporary committee takes testimony from anyone who wants to submit resolutions or speak for/against them. Then, each Senate District votes in a permanent committee member and the permanent committee goes through the proposed platform and makes changes. At this meeting, only committee members may speak. The committee votes and forwards the proposed platform to the body. Then, the convention as a whole votes on the platform, may propose amendments (by submitting them in writing by 6pm the previous day), or suspend the rules to propose amendments from the floor. Minority Reports, which are changes to the platform that failed to get a majority committee vote but received the support of at least 7 committee members, are presented on the floor and the body is allowed to vote for the minority report language instead of the proposed platform.

The permanent committee chair of the Platform Committee was RPT Treasurer Tom Mechler. SD28 sent our SREC Committeeman, Russ Duerstine, as our representative on the Committee. I attended the Permanent Platform Committee and would like to commend Russ for the job he did – he and the other committee members were respectful and worked very hard. They were up against a hard deadline and worked up til the last second to do everything they could. They sent the body a mostly great platform. Unfortunately, we didn’t much of a chance to work on it, as I’ll detail below.

The biggest changes to the platform were as follows:

Support for medical marijuana:

 – added by the temporary committee

 – deleted by the permanent committee

 – a minority report was reached and brought to the floor, stating: “We believe that Texans should have legal access to medical cannabis as a controlled narcotic prescribed by a physician”

Support to study medical marijuana:

 – added by the permanent committee

 – a minority report to strike the words: “We urge the Texas Legislature to allow encourage and facilitate the study at our Texas medical schools the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis.” was reached and brought to the floor

Immigration Plank:

 – So-called “Texas Solution” (language from 2012 Platform – available on page 21 here) was largely left untouched by the permanent committee. There was A LOT of drama, testimony, and debate. A lot of delegates felt that the guest worker program language was a form of amnesty. I can’t even tell you how many emails, texts, and flyers I got about this subject.

 – a minority report to strike the entire proposed plank was reached and brought to the floor. The language of the minority report can be seen here (please forgive the link to the article – it is the only place I had the entire minority report language here in the hotel room)

This morning (Saturday) at 10 am, we began working on the platform as a full convention. We took a 45 minute lunch, but other than that we worked until 4:30. There were 200 amendments presented before 6pm last night. We got to two, plus the three minority reports. The body got pretty bogged down in points of order, confusion of the delegates, but mostly everyone just wanting to be done. I was severely disappointed. I believe our job as delegates is to accomplish two things: establish the rules of our party, and complete a Party Platform. Everything else – the parties, the galas, the receptions, the speeches – are a lot of fun, but secondary. If delegates are not willing to stay and do the work we were elected to do, then we shouldn’t be there as delegates. I understand this is a hard-line view. I understand that there is time to cut off debate. But 2 amendments into 200 is not the time. I think the Platform is good – because the Platform Committee did an amazing job – not because the delegates did. Regardless, here are the things we managed to do:

 – The minority report trying to put the support of medical marijuana back in the platform failed by a standing vote. There was good debate on both sides. Those in favor of the report begged us to allow very sick patients to be able to legally use “their choice in medicine.” They argued that we are the Party of Liberty and pointed out that CA patients could choose to use marijuana. A doctor testified that this was only for cannabis oil. Those against, which included two physicians, argued that the negative effects outweigh the positive benefits. Additionally, they argued that the amendment doesn’t say “cannabis oil” so could be used for much more besides that, which is dangerous and a slippery slope.

 – The minority report striking the study of medical marijuana passed by standing vote. Those againsy argued that it’s no harm to study the possible positive effects. Those for the report argued that study leads to recreational marijuana, and that the topic has been studied already; there is no reason to spend more money spending more.

 – The minority report replacing the Immigration Plank failed via a standing vote. We considered two amendments that proposed striking portions of the plank, but they failed. One amendment added the words “after the borders are secured and verified by the states” before the induction of the guest worker program. This was a compromise between some of the groups who were upset with the plank and wanted to gut it and those who wanted to keep it. This amendment passed.

There was another amendment that was proposed that was substantially similar to the minority report that passed via a roll call vote. It passed 4700 to just over 3000 votes. This gutted the amended version to the Immigration Plank and replaced it with the following.


The Immigration Plank now reads:

America is proudly a nation of immigrants. Throughout our history, our nation has attracted productive, industrious and gifted people to America because she is exceptional, and those immigrants and their descendants helped make America the world’s unrivaled economic and military superpower. It remains imperative to create fair and consistent procedures that will again enable freedom-loving, hard-working and law-abiding immigrants to join us, by providing them an efficient, practical method of legal entry, so they can lawfully take positions where their labor is needed, without exploitation or harassment.
Our national interests are poorly served by our broken, embattled, and outdated immigration system, and patchwork attempts to mend its deficiencies will not prepare us to continue to meet the challenges of an increasingly complex global economy that demands the legal movement of people to fill jobs at all skill levels. An efficient, pro- family and market-based system will provide a more workable solution that is compassionate, equitable and respects the rule of law.
But by failing to create a rational and effective system that encourages and facilitates legal immigration to the benefit of the nation, Congress has forced states to deal with the consequences of a broken immigration system, including human, sex and drug trafficking, the direct criminal activities of cartels and gangs. This situation must end so America can, once again, enjoy the fruits of a vibrant and beneficial system of legal immigration.
In addition, with 92 million Americans not working, the labor force at 36-year low and a lethargic economy, the United States of America can ill-afford a guest worker program designed to depress wages.
The following outlines specific actions needed to address these critical issues:
• Secure the borders through
o Increasing in the number of border security officers
o Increasing joint operations and training with local law enforcement, DPS
and the Texas State Guard
o Contiguous physical barrier coupled with electronic, infrared and visual
• Ending In-State Tuition for Illegal Immigrants
• Enhancing state smuggling laws
• Prohibiting sanctuary cities
• Prohibiting the knowing employment of illegal immigrants
• Providing civil liability protections for landowners against illegal immigrants
• Protecting the ability of law enforcement officers to inquire of the status of
someone in custody
• Modernizing Current Immigration Laws to address the following:
o Any form of Amnesty should not be granted, including the granting of legal status to persons in the country illegally
o We support replacement of the current employment visa system with an efficient cost effective system
o We support ending country of origin quotas
o We support ending the annual green card lottery
• Once the borders are verifiably secure, and E-Verify system use is fully enforced,
creation of a visa classification for non-specialty industries which have demonstrated actual and persistent labor shortages

Lastly, Congressman Weber and Rep. Bryan Hughes asked permission from the body to propose an amendment that had not been submitted in writing. We agreed, and adopted their amendment, which struck the sentence: “We support net neutrality” from the platform. Proponents of the change said that the federal government should not be in charge of the Internet. Those who wrote that plank said it was designed to stop monopolies by cable companies, but the amendment still passed overwhelmingly. 

The previous question on the entire platform was then called. Despite hundreds of delegates wanting to continue business, a majority wanted to go home – and the rest of the platform was passed without getting to the 197 amendments that had been duly turned in. But I’m beginning to repeat myself, so I’ll end with – 

The RPT Presidential Straw Poll Results

The RPT instituted a Straw Poll this year and it was pretty wildly popular. Below are the results, in order from least to winner, like Chairman Steve Munisteri presented them:

Rep. Steve King – .2%

Gov. John Kasich – .5%

Gov. Mike Pence – .6%

Undecided – 1.1%

Gov. Chris Christie – 1.3%

Gov. Bobby Jindal – 1.7%

Sen. Rick Santorum – 1.9%

Rep. Paul Ryan – 2%

Sen. Marco Rubio – 2.6%

Other – 2.7%

Gov. Scott Walker – 2.9%

Gov. Jeb Bush – 3.3%

Gov. Rick Perry – 11.7%

Sen. Rand Paul – 12.1%

Dr. Ben Carson – 12.2%

Sen. Ted Cruz – 43.4%


Again, it was my great honor to serve you in Ft. Worth. If there is anything I can do for you – please do not hesitate to ask.

For God, Country, and especially TEXAS,


P.S. I so appreciate the staff of the Texas GOP. They ran an excellent convention. I am particularly grateful to Steve Munisteri, Melinda Fredericks, Beth Cubriel, and Chris Elam. Chris doesn’t even work for the Party anymore, but offered his services so it would go off without a hitch. Our Party is blessed to have such servant leaders, and I am grateful to call them friends. They certainly deserve a rest now!

Texas GOP Convention – State Party Leadership & SCOTX Panel

Good evening all – 

The 2014 RPT Convention is officially in the books! I wanted to write a couple of blog posts tonight instead of one long one that covers the entire convention. 

So….this blog post will cover the election of our Party Leadership, as well as a panel I attended featuring three Texas Supreme Court justices. The next blog post will cover the adoption of the Party Rules and the Party Platform. Watch for that one in a couple hours, as A LOT is covered and I want to make sure to get it right! As always, if there’s something that any of you have a question about, please email/text/comment/call and I will do my best to answer you!

Party Leadership

The convention voted in Steve Munisteri as our Republican State Chairman. Steve has served our Party VERY well, and I proudly supported his re-election. No one ran against Steve, which is evidence of how well he has done over the past 4 years. 

Amy Clark was voted in, unanimously, as our State Vice-Chair. Amy and I met two years ago in Tampa, and I was proud to serve on her Campaign Committee and as a Caucus Whip for SD28. Amy also ran unopposed. However – I am particularly proud of how determined Amy was to meet as many delegates as possible, so that they could hear her plan for the Party. She has exciting ideas about returning to the grassroots and training from the precinct level.

For Senate District (SD) 28 – we re-elected Jane Cansino as our State Executive Republican Committee (SREC) woman position. Jane has done an excellent job on the SREC and as Chair of the Candidate Resource Committee, and will continue to serve SD28 in those capacities. There was a contested race for SREC Committeeman: Jeff Betty, County Chair of Tom Green Country, and John Beckmeyer, County Chair of Mitchell County, both ran. Jeff has been a friend of mine through several conventions, but John and his family have also worked very hard for our SD and for the Party as a whole. John won and will serve as our SREC Committeeman for the next few years. Our Committee members are currently term-limited to eight years at a time.

Congratulations to Steve, Amy, Jane, and John – and thanks for your willingness to serve!


As many of you know, I am interning with Justice Don Willett on the Texas Supreme Court right now. I’m having a blast, and learning SO much! So – when I saw that one of the scheduled break-out sessions was featuring several SCOTX justices, there was no question I was going to attend! Justice Jeff Boyd, Justice Jeff Brown, and Justice Eva Guzman answered questions from the audience about a variety of topics. As a side note – I found out Justice Boyd is an ACU/Pepperdine Law grad, so I am doubly-impressed with him. 😉 Below are the questions the justices received, and their answers to them, as best as I can recall.

The justices were asked their opinion on appointment v. election of judges:

Brown: Judges should be held accountable to the electorate

Boyd: He likes being able to meet with people, but recognizes that people are worried about how campaign contributions could make a justice/judge be perceived to be unfair or biased. He thinks that Gov. Perry is very fair and appoints qualified judges, but sees how the system could be manipulated by those who are more concerned about politics. HOWEVER – Justice Boyd has not made it through an entire election process yet, and has promised not to give his actual opinion until after November, so he can see how a judicial election goes.

Guzman: Texans should decide how we elect our judges. She likes getting to meet people too, but notes the appearance of impropriety with campaign contributions is very dangerous.

Next, the justices were asked how to handle campaign contributions:

Brown: The better qualified candidate should have the ability to get his/her message out, so he is opposed to having a pool of money with each candidate getting an equal amount. He also thinks it’s important to allow us the chance to give to who we support. “Either you elect your judges and handle the fact that they’re politicians, or you appoint your judges and deal with the consequences of that.”

Boyd: Ditto to Brown. 🙂 Also – you can look up EVERY judicial contribution online at:

Guzman: “Tell me who you’re running around with and I’ll tell you who you are.” This is a phrase her father used to tell her, and it’s why she supports us being able to tell who is financially supporting judicial candidates.

The justices were asked about the impact of International and Sharia Law, but since those topics might come before the Court, were unable to speak specifically to it. Very generally, they said:

Guzman: Only apply law other than Texas/U.S. law if the language in the contract calls for it. Otherwise, Texas and U.S. laws and Constitutions always trump and a judge should always apply it.

Boyd: “The greatest threat to Texas law isn’t international law – it’s federal law.”

Brown: Same as Guzman – always decide based on TX law and TX/U.S. Constitutions

The justices were asked their favorite Supreme Court justice:

Guzman: Scalia – the two once shared an anchovy pizza when she took a class from him

Boyd: Scalia – he won an essay contest in Scalia’s class at Pepperdine Law

Brown: Scalia, Alito, and Thomas

Finally – Justice Boyd left us with one very important line. He said that justices are people too, and as much as they endeavor to leave their biases at home, they cannot help but be influenced in some ways. So, he said, our biggest job is to influence our culture, so we can indirectly influence the Court. Change our culture for the better, and we will see change in our courts.

I appreciated the justices candor and willingness to meet with #RPTCon14 delegates. Having access to our judges is VERY important. All three justices stressed that we should know our justices of the peace, district judges, and appeals court justices. The best way to get to know your judicial candidates is to get to know them as people. So make it a priority to get out there and meet your judges and judicial candidates. They need you help, your verbal and financial support, and they need the accountability that comes from informed constituents.

For Texas,


Texas GOP Convention – Ft. Worth – 2014

Folks –

I’m at State Convention and wanted to give you an update – we are about to begin debating the platform. I spent several hours listening to testimony and debate in front of the platform committee this convention, and it has been excellent. There are two minority reports – the immigration plank and medical marijuana. The debate on the floor promises to be vigorous, but I hope it will also be respectful.

Watch for another blog post this afternoon – I will try to detail the major changes to the platform and rules committee and let you know how the debate goes.

Thank you – again – for the honor of serving you as a delegate to the State Convention. I promise not to let you down.

For Texas,


Walk Through Fire

Hi all –

As many of you know, being a first year law student has kept me VERY busy this year. I haven’t been able to be as involved politically as normal. This has been very weird for me, and I’ve missed campaigns like crazy. 🙂

So, today when I was asked why I support Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in his bid for re-election, I was elated to get to talk politics a little. Today’s conversation was brief and to the point – and mostly about issues. Gov. Dewhurst is a fine conservative, and I do think he’s the best man for the job. He has cut taxes and balanced the budget without raising taxes; he is unwavering in his support for the unborn and for LIFE; he is strong on immigration policies, and an advocate for states’ rights; under his leadership, Texas has become THE place to build businesses and succeed; he was a strong advocate for smart education reform in Texas and believes that Common Core needs to go; he is a fierce defender of my right to keep and bear arms; he is a Christian – and PROUD of it…………the policy reasons I support David are almost endless.

However – I wanted to write this note to give my friends and family the biggest reason I’m voting for David Dewhurst. In doing so, I am not going to talk about the other candidate(s) running against him. This note is not about them. If you want to ask me specific questions about why/why not some of those candidates, fine – but this note is about my friend, David Dewhurst. And as a side note – if the only reason you are voting for someone is because they aren’t someone else – please don’t vote. Find a reason to vote for your candidate that has to do with them – not others.

Okay – back to the real reason I’m voting for David – his character. I worked with the Dewhurst campaign during the 2012 Senate campaign. It was hard and dirty and long and the result is certainly not what we hoped for. I saw people jump ship in the next few weeks and people who had been supportive come back with cruel and nasty things to say about David, his family, his relationship with his daughter, everything. I saw him betrayed by someone he had known for years and trusted implicitly. I took some arrows too – I was called a liberal; a member of “the establishment”; among other words and names that have never and will never come out of my mouth. This wasn’t from everyone – there were some good sports from the winner’s circle, but not as many as I would have liked to see.

All this apparent doom and gloom has a point though – I got to know David really well through this time. I saw him get beat down with words and lift his head and go to work for the people of Texas. I saw people ridicule him and he smiled that easy smile of his, and reminded all of us to “keep plugging.” I saw him get treated SO disrespectfully by members of his party – and he stood there and campaigned for the man he’d lost to – for the good of the party. I saw him get massacred online by cowards hiding behind anonymous usernames……and he would call/text/email ME to make sure I was okay after I’d been called a name.

Last year, I took a group of students from Lubbock Christian University to Austin. They’d never seen the Capitol, so I called David’s office – trying to set up a brief tour and maybe a quick photo opportunity. He was so gracious. It turned into a breakfast, which he paid for. We invited 20 students from across the state. We were going to get to have a breakfast meeting with him. From 8-9 a.m.. He and I had to attend a funeral of a close friend later that day, so I knew he had things to accomplish. Nine o’clock neared and I started trying to wrap up the discussion to let him go. He waved me off – “They still have questions!” he said. 10 a.m. came. Then 10:30. His staff was getting nervous, so I finally stopped him and had everyone thank him. He smiled – then turned to look at us and said, “Ever been in the Senate Chamber?” He sent a staff member to find the Capitol photographer and off we all traipsed to the Senate Chamber. He allowed me the honor of gavelling in the session at 11 a.m. before we finally slipped off for a tour. Maybe that doesn’t sound like a lot – just 2 hours – but with his schedule, it was an unbelievable gift.

The trip to Austin is just one of many examples where I’ve seen David Dewhurst put the people of Texas first. Consistently, even when it costs him greatly, he puts Texas first. He cares for our citizens in the Service, even when his service was ridiculed and made light of. He lets accusations that he’s a rich businessman with no understanding of what a “normal” Texan goes through roll of his back and goes and participates in rodeos or conducts the Houston Symphony Orchestra. 

David Dewhurst is the epitome of a leader. I saw him in what to most would have been one of the most discouraging times in his life – and I saw him rise above the fray and take care of the people of Texas. I saw him care for and take care of the people who made things harder on him. I saw him be a servant leader and ask for nothing in return. I saw him get pleasure from a job well done – from doing something the right way, instead of just the easy way.

And I learned from him. I’m still learning from him. I believe in him and am so proud to call him a friend. He walks through fire for the people of Texas daily – and I’d walk through fire for David Dewhurst. Because that’s what friends do.

Kristen Vander-Plas


Time at the TX State Capitol with Lt Gov David Dewhurst

Hey everyone!

Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve blogged, but school has kept me busy! With us at the halfway point in the TX Legislature now though, TX politics is heating up, and you know I’m in the middle of it!

Yesterday (Thursday, March 21, 2013), I coordinated a meeting with Lt Gov David Dewhurst with certain members of the Texas College Republicans from around the state. There were about 25 of us in attendance, and 7 of us were from LCU!

The Lt Gov had a catered breakfast brought into his official Reception Room, and spoke to all of us for quite some time. He told us stories about his dad, who actively participated in D-Day; he was gracious on fielding many questions on education, both K-12 and Higher Ed; he feels confident that Campus Carry will pass the Senate.

Gov Dewhurst was particularly kind to me during the meeting. At one point he singled me out and thanked me, in front of everyone, for standing by him and “having his back.” I’m grateful that Texas is blessed with such a man of character – it is not hyperbole for me to say I would follow this man anywhere, because I truly believe in him. I have taken verbal and professional “flak” for him, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

After the reception, Gov Dewhurst took our whole group out on the floor of the Senate Chamber, took several pictures, and then allowed me to gavel in the TX Senate! It gave me chill bumps to say the words, “The Senate will now come to order and the Secretary will read the roll,” in such a beautiful and sacred chamber. I’m grateful for the Lt Gov in his kindness in offering me such an opportunity. It was a huge highlight of my life!

Immediately following, I headed to the funeral of our beautiful, wonderful RNC National Committeewoman, Borah Van Dormolen. For those of you who don’t know, Borah died from a massive heart attack on 3/11/13, and our state and Party mourned our loss together on Thursday. Many stories were shared, much laughter and tears…Lt Gov Dewhurst, one of Borah’s dearest friends, spoke and reminded us that Borah herself would not want us to give up the fight, so we better keep on if we don’t want her mad at us when we see her next! If anyone knows Borah, you know we don’t want that!

After the funeral and memorial, I spent some time visiting with the staff(s) of our two Lubbock representatives, Rep. Charles Perry and Rep. John Frullo, then headed for the airport for my flight home. But no… story does not end there!

When I got to the airport, I saw my flight to Lubbock had been delayed. But not just mine…for who shared my flight? None other than the Lubbock Legislative Trio, Senator Bob Duncan, Rep Charles Perry, and Rep John Frullo. We were soon joined by Fmr Speaker of the House Pete Laney and his lovely wife (they have been married 50 years – congratulations!), as well as Fmr Lubbock County Judge Don McBeath. We even saw TX Congressman from Round Rock, John Carter!

Since our plane ending up being delayed several hours, I was able to spend the time visiting with Reps. Frullo/Perry, Sen Duncan, and Speaker Laney. What a treat! We discussed TTU Law School (Sen Duncan was very encouraging), LCU (they’re all fans!), bills they’re each carrying, and *the budget* – which was really fun.

I was able to tell them my personal story about how the TEG (Texas Equalization Grant) has affected me, and how it really needs to be funded in this budget cycle. Gov Dewhurst pledged to me before I left that he would fight to get the TEG back in the budget, and Rep Perry informed me that when the House Bill on the budget was voted out of Committee that evening (He’s on Appropriations), they had restored TEG at 85% funding. I’m hopeful that will go to fully-funded by the time it passes the House, but that’s still very encouraging! I learned that Speaker Laney was the original author of the TEG *and* he even attended LCC(LCU) for a time, so there’s a bit trivia for you!

So…….rarely has a VERY delayed flight been so beneficial, but I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to visit with these gentlemen, learn from them, and have them listen to me. We are truly blessed with great public servants, ladies and gentlemen. Truly blessed.

For God, Country, and TEXAS,

Last Convention Update from Tampa for KVPTexas #cspanRNC #GOP2012

Well folks, I boarded my plane from Tampa to Pensacola this morning, and am now headed to Virginia, via Washington, DC.

It has truly been my greatest honor to represent you here in Tampa. I am beyond floored by the encouragement in the form of phone calls, texts, emails, comments here, personal emails, etc that I have received from all of you.

When I campaigned for this slot, and you honored me by voting for me, I promised to be your voice. I promised to report to you the proceedings of this convention…not just the parties and the speeches, but the nominating process, committee reports, actions of the chair and the delegations. I hope you feel I have kept that promise. I have been an open book, and I’ve heard from so many of you who appreciated my updates and reports. You honored me by telling media to call me and by passing on my blog posts to your friends and family.

You know, It’s amazing the sphere of influence West Texas has. We are greatly respected across the nation, and that has never been more clear to me than spending this week with 5000 of my closest Republican friends, who consistently reiterated that support and respect through word and deed.

I was blessed to have received numerous requests to be interviewed by media from across the country. Just last night, a Thailand paper picked up a story about, what else, my cowboy hat! I am humbled by the opportunities, but glad that I had them, for it allowed me to showcase Texas, and West Texas in particular. That was always my goal, and most media took that cue. Of course, my hat seemed to be much more popular than even I was…the more signatures I acquired, the more requests I had – most were uninterested in talking to me…they just wanted a picture of my hat. 😉

I’ll try this weekend to compile a list of the interviews and articles I was a part of. I heard from several of you that you enjoyed the C-SPAN interviews – I did too! They were my favorites, and I got to know Executive Producer Peter Slen quite well. He even asked me to shoot a commercial for C-SPAN, which I did yesterday. I’m hoping to get a link to that, but will also hopefully see it on the channel!

One more thing – I would like to say a giant THANK YOU to RPT Chairman Steve Munisteri, Vice-Chair Melinda Fredricks, and especially delegation coordinator Chris Elam. They all did an excellent job of ensuring that every delegate, alternate, and guest was able to take advantage of every opportunity, and were tireless in the encouragement and work ethic. Steve, Melinda, Chris, and your staff members – thank you so much! It was a pleasure to work with you, and I can’t wait to march towards victory in November with y’all when we get back home!

As always, I remain blessed to be your representative. Thank you for your confidence, and your constant encouragement.