|Member of the Texas Senate|
from the 1st district
|Assumed office |
January 10, 2017
|Preceded by||Kevin Eltife|
|Member of the Texas House of Representatives|
from the 5th district
January 14, 2003 – January 10, 2017
|Preceded by||Bob D. Glaze|
|Succeeded by||Cole Hefner|
Douglas Bryan Hughes
July 21, 1969
Quitman, Texas, U.S.
|Residence(s)||Mineola, Texas, U.S.|
|Alma mater||Tyler Junior College|
University of Texas, Tyler (BA)
Baylor University (JD)
Douglas Bryan Hughes (born July 21, 1969) is an American attorney and politician who is a Republican member of the Texas State Senate for District 1. He was first elected to the Texas Senate in November 2016. Previously, Hughes was a member of the Texas House of Representatives from 2003 through January 2017 as state representative for District 5, which includes Camp, Harrison, Upshur, and Wood counties in northeastern Texas. Senator Hughes authored some of the more significant legislation to come out of the 87th Session of the Texas Legislature. His bills on abortion, voting reform, and social media censorship prompted significant debate but were passed by both houses of the legislature and signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott.
Hughes was born in Quitman and raised in nearby Mineola. After graduating from Mineola High School in 1987, he enrolled at Tyler Junior College. In 1992, he earned his undergraduate degree in economics from the University of Texas at Tyler. In 1995, Hughes received his Juris Doctor degree from Baylor Law School. He clerked for the U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Texas, William M. Steger of Texas. In 2003, he joined the Lanier law firm.
Texas House of Representatives
Hughes was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 2002 after running against incumbent Democratic Representative Bob D. Glaze of Gilmer in Upshur County. Hughes polled 20,286 votes (52.4 percent) to Glaze's 18,451 (47.6 percent). In the 2004 general election, Glaze ran against Hughes again but lost, garnering 23,029 votes (38 percent) to the Republican's 37,529 (62 percent). In 2006, no Democrat filed against Hughes and he went on to defeat the Libertarian Timothy J. Carmichael, 26,286 (81.9 percent) to 5,795 (18.1 percent). Hughes was unopposed in the 2010 general election, when Republicans carried 101 of the 150 seats in the state House. In 2011, Hughes was on the House Agriculture and Livestock and Human Services committees.
Hughes was renominated in the Republican primary held on May 29, 2012. He polled 13,015 votes (77.7 percent) to 3,744 (22.4 percent) for his opponent, Mary Lookadoo. No Democrat opposed him the November 6 general election. After his 2012 renomination, Hughes announced that he would attempt to unseat Speaker Straus in 2013. In December, after six months of attempting to line up the necessary commitments, Hughes decided to exit the contest. Representative David Simpson of Longview, who later opposed Hughes in his 2016 state senate race, then entered the contest for Speaker with Hughes' support. However, Simpson also withdrew before the balloting for Speaker began, and Straus was re-elected without opposition on January 8, 2013. Joe Straus also retained the speakership in 2016 with significant support.
When Kevin Eltife announced his retirement from the state Senate, Hughes entered the Republican primary to succeed Eltife. Hughes carried the backing of Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, the presiding officer of the state senate. In the primary, Hughes won a plurality of the vote (48 percent), but fell short of a majority in a multi-candidate field. In the runoff election on May 24, 2016, Hughes defeated fellow State Representative David Simpson, 27,348 (69.3 percent) to 12,105 (30.7 percent). He faced no Democratic opponent in the November 8 general election.
In 2021, Hughes introduced legislation to limit voting rights in Texas. This was part of a broader national effort by Republicans to restrict voting rights in the wake of the 2020 elections. Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election, but Donald Trump refused to concede and he and his Republican allies made false claims of extensive election fraud. Civil rights and voting rights groups have claimed that the proposed legislation is an attempt to restrict the access to voting of voters of color. One provision would prohibit early voting on Sunday mornings, which was a traditional period of voting for Black churchgoers as part of 'Souls to the Polls' events.
Hughes defended his attempts to roll back voting by mail, arguing that it was prone to fraud; he offered no evidence for his claims and existing studies show fraud to be exceptionally rare. Hughes has inaccurately claimed that Texas has 400 open voter fraud cases; the Texas Attorney General's office had 43 pending voter fraud cases, of which only one was in relation to the 2020 election.
Social media companies
Hughes authored a bill that would prohibit social media companies with at least 100 million monthly users from blocking, banning, demonetizing or discriminating against a user based on their politics. The bill would also require the companies to disclose their content moderation policies. The bill was signed into law in September of 2021.
On March 11, 2021, Hughes introduced a fetal heartbeat bill entitled the Texas Heartbeat Bill (SB8) into the Texas Senate and state representative Shelby Slawson of Stephenville, Texas introduced a companion bill (HB1515) into the state house. The bill allowed private citizens to sue abortion providers after a fetal heartbeat has been detected. The SB8 version of the bill passed both chambers and was signed into law by Texas Governor Greg Abbott on May 19, 2021. It took effect on September 1, 2021.
Education on civil rights movement
In 2021, Hughes authored legislation to prevent public schools from requiring that students read writings by prominent civil rights figures, such as Susan B. Anthony, Cesar Chavez, and Martin Luther King Jr., when covering women's suffrage and the civil rights movement in social studies classes.
Impeachment of Ken Paxton
In May 2023, Hughes became a central figure in the impeachment of Ken Paxton, the sitting Texas Attorney General. In the second of twenty articles of impeachment filed on May 25, the Republican-led House General Investigating Committee found that Paxton improperly arranged for Hughes to request a legal opinion to help Paxton's friend and political donor, land developer Nate Paul, avert foreclosure sales of business properties. Paxton then concealed his arrangement with Hughes, the committee said, characterizing Hughes as a "straw requestor". Hughes's actions are a potential complication in the impeachment trial to be conducted by the Senate because it is likely that Hughes will testify as a witness at the trial, but under normal Texas rules of court procedure, a material witness may not serve as a juror. Hughes did not state whether he will recuse himself, and the Senate has yet to determine the rules for the upcoming trial.
Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) financing
Hughes, sent letters to investment giants BlackRock, State Street Global Advisors, and The Vanguard Group, along with Institutional Shareholder Services Inc on Aug. 10, requesting documentation related to the companies' decision-making involving their respective ESG practices.
In 2021, Hughes sponsored a bill to provide immunity from legal liability for trained, armed teachers and security personnel working for a school district when they use a firearm to defend a school.
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- "Texas general election returns, November 2, 2010". elections.sos.state.tx.us. Archived from the original on November 8, 2006. Retrieved September 26, 2011.
- "Republican primary election returns, May 29, 2012". enr.sos.state.tx.us. Archived from the original on June 10, 2012. Retrieved May 30, 2012.
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- Legislature opens; Straus re-elected", Laredo Morning Times, January 9, 2013, p. 10A
- "Elise Hu, "Bryan Hughes Withdraws Support for Straus," November 10, 2010". texastribune.org. 10 November 2010. Retrieved September 26, 2011.
- Ross Ramsey (August 25, 2015). "Lt. Gov. Patrick Endorses Hughes in Open Senate Seat". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved November 30, 2015.
- "Republican primary returns". Texas Secretary of State. March 1, 2016. Archived from the original on March 6, 2016. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
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- Ura, Alexa (2021-04-01). "Texas Senate advances bill limiting how and when voters can cast ballots, receive mail-in voting applications". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved 2021-04-01.
- Corasaniti, Nick (2021-04-24). "Republicans Target Voter Access in Texas Cities, but Not Rural Areas". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-04-25.
- Multiple sources:
- Ura, Alexa (2021-05-07). "Texas GOP's voting restrictions bill could be rewritten behind closed doors after final House passage". The Texas Tribune.
But both the original SB 7 and the original provisions of HB 6 were opposed by civil rights groups who raised the prospect that the legislation violates federal safeguards for voters of color. Republicans' efforts to further restrict voting in the state come as their presidential margins of victory continue to thin and Democrats drive up their votes in diverse urban centers and growing suburban communities.
- Ura, Alexa (2021-03-22). "Texas Republicans begin pursuing new voting restrictions as they work to protect their hold on power". The Texas Tribune.
Senate Bill 7 is part of a broader package of proposals to constrain local initiatives widening voter access in urban areas, made up largely by people of color, that favor Democrats.
- "New GOP-led voting restrictions move forward in Texas". CBS News/AP. 1 April 2021.
The bill is one of two major voting packages in Texas that mirrors a nationwide campaign by Republicans after former President Donald Trump made false claims about election fraud. Voting rights groups say the measures would disproportionately impact racial and ethnic minority voters.
- Wines, Michael (2021-04-01). "Texas lawmakers advance a bill that would make voting more difficult, drawing comparisons to Georgia". The New York Times.
Critics of the Senate bill said most of its provisions were less about making voting secure than about making it harder, particularly for urban voters and minority voters, two groups that tend to vote for Democrats.
- Barragán, James (2021-04-01). "In overnight vote, Texas Senate passes bill that would make it harder to vote". Dallas Morning News.
[President of the Texas Civil Rights Project] said many of the bill's provisions would disproportionately affect voters of color. The extended voting hours in Harris County, for example, were mostly used by voters of color. Fifty-six percent of voters who cast ballots in late-night hours were Black, Hispanic or Asian, according to the Texas Civil Rights Project.
- Coronado, Acacia (2021-05-30). "EXPLAINER: How Texas Republicans aim to make voting harder". Associated Press.
Advocates say the changes would disproportionately affect minorities and people with disabilities.
- Gardner, Amy (2021-05-30). "How the new Texas voting bill would create hurdles for voters of color". Washington Post.
While Senate Bill 7 would have wide-ranging effects on voters across the state, it includes specific language that critics say would disproportionately affect people of color — particularly those who live in under-resourced and urban communities.
- Jasper Scherer; Zach Despart (1 May 2021). "GOP bills target Harris County's efforts to expand voting. Here's how that played out in the 2020 election". Houston Chronicle.
Voting rights experts say the bills — which include measures that would apply only to the state's most populous counties, all of which are predominantly nonwhite — would discriminate against voters of color.
- Nick Corasaniti (24 April 2021). "Republicans Target Voter Access in Texas Cities, but Not Rural Areas". New York Times.
The Republican focus on diverse urban areas, voting activists say, evokes the state's history of racially discriminatory voting laws — including poll taxes and "white primary" laws during the Jim Crow era — that essentially excluded Black voters from the electoral process. Most of Harris County's early voters were white, according to a study by the Texas Civil Rights Project, a nonprofit group. But the majority of those who used drive-through or 24-hour voting — the early voting methods the Republican bills would prohibit — were people of color, the group found.
- Paul J. Weber (15 April 2021). "Houston's expanded voting becomes target of GOP restrictions".
The effort is one of the clearest examples of how the GOP's nationwide campaign to tighten voting laws can target Democrats, even as they insist the measures are not partisan. With Americans increasingly sorted into liberal urban areas and conservative rural ones, geography can be an effective proxy for partisanship. Proposals tailored to cities or that take population into account are bound to have a greater impact on Democratic voters.; The county exemplifies the GOP's slipping grip on fast-changing Texas. In 2004, former President George W. Bush, who is from Texas, easily won Harris County and Republicans ran every major countywide office. But recent years have been routs for Democrats, whose wins now extend down the ballot to local judicial races.
- Ura, Alexa (2021-05-07). "Texas GOP's voting restrictions bill could be rewritten behind closed doors after final House passage". The Texas Tribune.
- Ura, Alexa (2021-05-30). "After drastic changes made behind closed doors, Texas Senate approves voting bill after overnight debate". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved 2021-05-30.
- Goldenstein, Taylor (2021-04-13). "Fact checking Texas lawmaker's claim of 400 voter fraud 'cases'". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2021-06-01.
- "'Conservative crusader' Sen. Bryan Hughes advances bills on abortion, voting, and social media". 4 April 2021.
- "Texas Senate approves Sen. Bryan Hughes bill to stop social media companies from banning Texans for political views". April 2021.
- "Abbott signs Hughes' social media censorship protection bill into law". 9 September 2021.
- "Governor Abbott Signs Law Protecting Texans from Wrongful Social Media Censorship".
- Najmabadi, Shannon. Gov. Greg Abbott signs into law one of nation's strictest abortion measures, banning procedure as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, Texas Tribune, May 19, 2021.
- "Texas Senate Votes to Remove Required Lessons on Civil Rights". news.bloomberglaw.com. Retrieved 2021-07-17.
- Lindell, Chuck; Barragán, James (May 25, 2023). "Here are the 20 articles of impeachment filed against Ken Paxton". The Texas Tribune. Archived from the original on May 26, 2023. Retrieved May 27, 2023.
- Jankowski, Philip (May 26, 2023). "Paxton impeachment leads lawmakers into uncharted legal grounds". The Dallas Morning News. Archived from the original on May 28, 2023. Retrieved May 29, 2023.
- "Texas demands documents from BlackRock, other financial service firms in ESG probe". Fox Business. 22 August 2022.
- "State Sen. Bryan Hughes wants to protect school districts that train teachers and staff to use guns". KLTV. Tyler, Texas. February 9, 2021. Retrieved June 13, 2023.