Category: Blog

Abbott Endorses Trump’s Position on Family Separations

On Sunday’s Lone Star Politics, Governor Greg Abbott endorsed President Trump’s position on family separations, repeating the lies that the immoral and despicable Administration practice of separating children from their families requires a legislative solution.

Here’s exactly what Abbott said:

“And [Trump] was adamant. He said, Listen, if the Democrats would agree with him right now they could pass a law today that would end the ripping apart of these families and make the border secure, and so the President and Republicans have an offer on the table. All the Democrats have to do is to take it, and this could end today.”

Gov. Abbott has a long history of repeating the falsehoods of the extreme right, and his silence about any number of harmful Trump policies has been disappointing. But this is something else.

The Trump administration created this policy. The administration can end this policy. For the Trump Administration to take these children hostage as leverage for policy negotiations is absolutely, unquestionably wrong – and those who defend or endorse this policy are equally wrong.

I’m proud of the efforts of many House Democrats to speak up, loudly and forcefully, for the end of this policy. This dark chapter in our nation’s history needs to end immediately.

Democrats Fighting for Families Amid GOP Dysfunction

There’s a tremendous amount of work to do in the last two weeks of session. The budget negotiations, especially in regards to health care cuts that could dramatically exceed what the state suffered from in 2003 and 2011, will be front and center. And of course we’ll all be working to pass our bills through the Senate and get our priorities across the finish line.

But before we look ahead to the busy closing weeks, I want to take a moment to share my thoughts on last week.

The dysfunction I saw on the floor of the House last week was unlike anything I’ve seen in my time in the Legislature. A small group of Tea Party Republicans effectively hijacked the Legislative process from many of us who have worked in good faith towards a productive session. Lawmakers killed an entire Local & Consent Calendar for “policy” reasons — then those same lawmakers voted against a cyber-bullying bill and a bill cracking down on human trafficking. It’s enough to make you wonder just what kind of “policy” those lawmakers really care about.

Their actions are the latest example of misplaced priorities taking over the business of the Texas House. From the so-called “sanctuary city” bill to allowing child service providers to divide and discriminate against foster kids, House Republicans continue to ignore the real needs of Texas families in favor of controversial and likely unconstitutional measures that will tear families apart.

Fortunately, House Democrats were able to stall out some of the worst House bills of the session and, at the same time, ensure passage of critical legislation:

During a week where in-party fighting led to House Republicans shutting down the House, I’m proud that Democrats were able to stay focused on important priorities that will help Texas families.

There’s a lot left to do in the final weeks, and I’m proud to be working with each and every one of you to see it gets done.

Franchise Tax Bill Could Be Disastrous

This headline from the Texas Tribune says it all: “Texas House votes to cut business tax that funds public schools.”

Last Thursday, Texas Republicans brought forward a bill that would eventually phase out the franchise tax. Built upon the idea of a fake surplus, the bill would count GR-dedicated funds as “extra” money, and use those calculations to create a total by which the state would cut the franchise tax. The Legislative Budget Board analysis found that the bill could create as much as a $3.5 billion hit to our state’s general revenue fund and, thus, our public schools in just a few years.

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Statement on Passage of Sanctuary City Bill

SB 4, the  so-called “sanctuary city” bill, passed the House on a party-line vote in the dead of the night. The bill was bad enough to begin with, but Republicans managed to make it even worse by turning it into a “Show-Me-Your-Papers” bill. This Arizona-style legislation will discriminate against millions of Texans, and marks one of the darkest days in the Texas House in my four terms.

Make no mistake, SB 4 is a discriminatory bill that represents politics as its worst. It’s a tragic irony that the passage of this bill comes on the heels of three consecutive federal court rulings this year that have found the Legislature engaged in intentional discrimination in its adoption of redistricting and photo ID laws.  As the passage of SB 4 demonstrates, the Legislature’s zeal to do harm to minority Texans continues unabated.

The children who stood at the entrance of the House chamber yesterday, pleading with House members to oppose SB 4, are rightfully scared of what may come next. But as Rep. Giddings said on the House floor this afternoon, they need to know there is a much higher power than the Texas Legislature, a power that will never forsake them.

Raise the Age Bill Passes Texas House

After many sessions of trying, Rep. Harold Dutton, Jr. successfully passed an important criminal justice raise-the-age bill that will have a tremendous impact for Texas families.

Current state law requires a 17-year old to be tried in the adult criminal justice system. Rep. Dutton’s “raise the age” bill changes that so that you aren’t automatically tried as an adult unitl you are 18-years old. Raising the age will help reduce recidivism rates, and ensure age-apprporiate rehabilitation for younger teens.

The bill, one of many examples of smart criminal justice policy reforms offered by Rep. Dutton and House Democrats this session, now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Fighting Against the Sanctuary City Bill

The so-called “sanctuary city” bill before the Texas House this week is a major threat to the safety and security of Texas families. But Governor Greg Abbott, serving as a right-hand man to President Donald Trump, has made the bill an emergency item — and Texas Republicans in the Legislature have been all too quick to move it along.

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The Importance of the Sandra Bland Act

It is not every day that a Texas House member proposes a bill that is not just a piece of legislation, but is also a powerful statement of our values that charts a clear course for making our state better for all Texans. That was the case last week when Rep. Garnet Coleman presented the Sanrda Bland Act before the Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee.

Ms. Bland’s death was a terrible and unnecessary tragedy.  But it’s not enough to simply acknowledge that; we must take action to prevent such tragedies from occurring in the future.

That’s what Rep. Coleman’s House Bill 2702 would do: by emphasizing de-escalation and mental health trainings and putting in place important safeguards for both law enforcement and the public, his legislation would make our state a better place. As he works with law enforcement organizations, civil rights groups, and House committee members on the bill, I’d like to take a moment to thank Rep. Coleman for his leadership, tenacity and courage for making the Legislature consider difficult issues

School Finance & Bathroom Bills Show Contrasting Priorities

On Wednesday, April 19, the Texas House of Representatives will consider a very serious issue on the House floor, and a very made-up issue in a House committee.

The school finance bill that comes to the House floor on Wednesday marks the first time in a decade that the Texas Legislature has taken a proactive step towards fixing how we pay for our local public schools. Education is a right for every child, and we need to do more to make sure our students and teachers have the resources they need in the classroom. As it comes to the floor, the bill puts an additional $1.6 billion into our local schools, and makes some long-needed improvements into the formulas that put us on the path to reforming our school finance system.

After the debate on the House floor, the State Affairs Committee will meet to discuss thezombie bathroom bill — a piece of legislation that hurts everyone and just doesn’t seem to want to die. Despite outspoken opposition from Democrats, voters, and Texas businesses, there are some Republicans in the Legislature that think the best way for us to spend the last six weeks of session is to pass discriminatory laws that hurt our economy. The bathroom bill is a waste of time, and I hope the committee hearing is the last time we discuss it during session.