Author: Staff

Five New Laws that Will Likely Get Texas Sued (Or Already Have)

Infighting, red-meat politics and parliamentary revenge characterized this year’s Texas Legislature. Amid the fray, legislators failed to reauthorize basic state agencies such as the Texas Medical Board, which is why Texans now face the gloomy fate of another 30-day session beginning next week.

With all the dysfunction, you might conclude the Lege is simply incompetent, but it turns out they’re still aces at one thing: provoking lawsuits.

In 140 days, the Lege passed at least five bills that the state will likely be (or already is) defending in court at the taxpayers’ expense. Courts have already ruled repeatedly against Texas in recent years over voter ID, redistricting and abortion access.

To continue reading this story go to the Texas Observer.

Texas redistricting plans ‘lacked process’ and excluded minorities, Dallas lawmaker testifies FILED UNDER

SAN ANTONIO — A Dallas state representative said in federal court that there was a lack of a legislative process during the 2013 special session that redrew some of Texas’ electoral maps under court order.

“As a legislator, when we are trying to solve a problem … generally what we’ll do is bring in people who have a stake in the situation,” said Rep. Eric Johnson, D-Dallas. “I don’t recall anything like that happening in 2013 with respect to redistricting.

To continue reading this story go to the Dallas Morning News.

Texas Gov. Abbott signs bill to enforce reporting of police shootings

Starting in September, Texas law enforcement agencies could be fined $1,000 a day if they don’t report police shootings to the state in a timely manner.

Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday signed into law a bill that will add teeth to a law passed two years ago requiring departments to report to the attorney general’s office any time an officer is involved in a shooting that results in injury or death. State Rep. Eric Johnson, the author of House Bill 245, said repeatedly during this year’s legislative session that the threat of a fine will ensure the state has complete data on police shootings, a requirement to accurately study the issue in the state.

To continue reading this story go to the Texas Tribune.

Rafael Anchia: Six times since 2011, federal rulings found intentional discrimination by Legislature

After federal judges in April 2017 ruled that Texas Republicans had intentionally diluted minority voting strength when they redrew U.S. and Texas House districts, a Democratic legislator said it wasn’t the first time — or even the fifth.

Rep. Rafael Anchia of Dallas, who chairs the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, posted a tweet saying: “How many federal rulings have NOW found intentional discrimination by #Txlege since 2011? 6.”

Six rulings? We wondered.

To continue reading this story go to PolitiFact Texas.

Israel: Gov. Abbott’s special session is political posturing (Op-ed)

The good news is the Legislature is done, and we finished a two-year budget despite contentious issues like women’s health and so-called “bathroom bills.”

The bad news is Gov. Abbott called a special session to address these same issues again.

I don’t like to needlessly fight, and you may hear the excitement in my voice at the thought of returning July 18 to argue over what the House and Senate could not agree upon. So I don’t expect a different outcome — can you say “definition of insanity?” — but I do expect we will spend north of $1 million dollars for the sake of political posturing.

To continue reading this story go to the Austin American-Statesman.

Special session ‘a failure of leadership,’ Rep. Turner says

DALLAS – State Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, said Governor Greg Abbott’s call for a special session next month is a failure of leadership and shows he needs to be more involved in the legislative process.

“The reality is this special session announcement is really representative of a failure of leadership on the governor’s part. He wasn’t engaged at all during the regular session. That was the time to talk about issues and push the legislature if he wants to get things done. He’s just simply trying to seize the spotlight here and trying to get some of the attention back on him,” said Turner during an appearance on WFAA’s Inside Texas Politics Sunday morning.

To continue reading this story go to WFFA8.

Pardon the disturbance, but we refuse to be silent (Op-ed)

“[The Legislature is] the place to put down the guns, unclench the fists and act like decent, full-grown humans willing to solve their differences without violence. And — this is the part that actually makes it work — to abide by the results until the next time to fight, whether that’s in court, at the polls or in the next legislative session.”

Legislators show that men will be boys — if you let them

— Ross Ramsey, Texas Tribune

Texas Tribune Executive Editor Ross Ramsey attempts to minimize the events in the Texas House of Representatives on the last day of the session (“Men will be boys”), where a member of the majority party threatened a peaceful protest of an unjust law, calling U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and yelling for deportations. The protesters were predominantly Hispanic.

To continue reading this story go to Trib Talk.

Giddings: We must choose ‘community over chaos’ (Op-ed)

The meltdown on the final day of the 85th legislative session hardly came as a surprise. This story did not begin that day. It has been smoldering underneath the surface the entire session, with polarization and attacks on motives and character becoming the norm. Candidly, what is muttered away from the microphone is sadly far worse than what the public can hear or see.

The Texas House descended into chaos on May 29. When a protest broke out in the House gallery, the worst of our natures emerged. There were threats of violence, shoving, and even calls to deport peaceful protestors.

To continue reading this story go to the Houston Chronicle.

Surprise: Senate tacks ‘bathroom bill,’ property-tax reform onto House measure

AUSTIN — In a surprise move, the Texas Senate early Wednesday tacked its controversial version of the ‘bathroom bill” and property-tax reform measures into a catch-all House bill.

But it was a trap, the House author of the so-called “Christmas tree” bill confirmed, and the measures added to it are now dead.

Among the 48 amendments the Senate tacked onto House Bill 4180 were the Senate-passed versions of Senate Bill 6 and Senate Bill 2, two measures the House had watered-down greatly before approving them in recent days.

To continue reading this story go to the Houston Chronicle.

Editorial: Restore Medicaid therapy funds

A young Houstonian named Ky’ Zohn has been waiting eight months for physical therapy, which he needs for his balance and mobility. The four-year-old was born with delayed development, and his family is seeking therapy so he can learn to walk without falling.

The family is willing to go to a clinic or have home care but his mother says she can’t find an available therapist in Houston’s Medicaid program, the federal-state insurer for the disadvantaged and disabled.

Her son is not alone. A growing number of vulnerable children have reduced options for therapy, following the Legislature’s 2015 gutting of the rates that Medicaid uses to reimburse therapists.

To continue reading this story go to the Houston Chronicle.