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.

Update: health care and family separations at the border

The Dallas Morning News has published an incredible, heart-breaking series titled “Pain & Profit” that details how the state’s managed care system is failing Texas’ most fragile citizens. The key summary, from their report:

 

We reviewed more than 70,000 pages of documents, including patient medical records and material that state officials and the companies tried to keep secret. We crunched financial and insurance-industry data and talked to hundreds of families, doctors and policy experts.

 

We found that state officials are protecting a booming multibillion-dollar industry while the most vulnerable Texans wait in vain for wheelchairs, psychiatric drugs and doctors’ appointments. That system has failed countless disabled adults and sick children who can’t advocate for themselves.

 

To date, they have released three parts of their series:

 

Part 1: The preventable tragedy of D’ashon Morris

Part 2: As patients suffer, companies profit

Part 3: Texas pays companies billions for ‘sham networks’ of doctors

 

The HDC will continue tracking these articles and will provide additional information that comes to light about what’s gone so wrong with so many aspects of managed care for fragile Texans.

 

Update: HDC Responds to Gov. Abbott’s School Safety Report

 

Last week, Gov. Abbott revealed his policy response to the tragic Santa Fe High School shootings. Though some of his proposals will gain bipartisan support, others – including the expansion of the school marshal program while simultaneously reducing the training requirements to become a marshal – are highly troublesome.

 

The most substantial fixes we need — more counselors, school facility upgrades, and additional support for our students — require funding, something Gov. Abbott largely glossed over in his proposal. Look for a more detailed analysis of his proposal from the HDC later this week, as we continue the discussion on how best to increase the investment in our local schools in order to keep our kids safe.

 

Quotes from the Ending the Separation of Families Events Last Week:

 

San Antonio rally: 

Rep. Bernal: “There is no strand of faith that makes what’s going on OK.”

Houston rally:

Rep. Wu: “This our civil rights moment. We are going to be on the right side of history. We will not let families be separated and treated like cattle.”

Houston rally:

Rep. Alvarado: “People proclaim to be pro-family when it comes to certain issues. Si estas con nuestras familias, you will end this ridiculous family separation policy that is inhumane.”

Austin rally:

Rep. Rodriguez: “It is bigotry and it is wrong. How we treat these children is not an immigration issue. It is a moral issue, and separating families is wrong.”

Supreme Court to hear Texas redistricting case

Friends,

The Texas redistricting case is before the Supreme Court on Tuesday, as the nine justices hear arguments about whether or not the state of Texas intentionally discriminated against Hispanic and black voters when drawing Texas’ congressional and state house maps.

Here is some key information and resources in advance of the trial:

  • Two Congressional, Nine State House Districts Under Review
    To learn more about the seats in question, read this Texas Tribune article that includes maps and a primer about each of the districts.
  • Ten Rulings of Intentional Discrimination in redistricting and voting rights cases, there have been ten findings of intentional discrimination by the Republican-controlled Legislature since 2011. Rep. Rafael Anchia and the Mexican American Legislative Caucus had an excellent briefing last week that discussed these rulings and other critical questions the court will consider. If you missed the briefing, you can watch their briefing here.
  • Will Texas Be Put Back Into Pre-Clearance? A major issue yet to be resolved is whether or not the state of Texas – because of its consistent pattern of discrimination – will once again be required to get pre-clearance by the U.S. Department of Justice before implementing any election, voting, or redistricting laws in the future. Rep. Garnet Coleman and the Texas Legislative Study Group have put out an excellent policy paper on this and other matters related to redistricting.

The right to vote is sacred. Texas Republicans have repeatedly and purposefully disenfranchised voters across the state with discriminatory redistricting maps. We will be closely following Tuesday’s oral arguments, and we will continue to provide updates on this important issue.

Sincerely,

Chris Turner
Chair, Texas House Democratic Caucus

 

House Democrats Proposing Real Solutions…

Rep. Helen Giddings Launches Women’s Leadership Summit
“I am so inspired, motivated and exhilarated,” [Rep. Giddings] gushed. “It was, by all accounts, extremely successful and extremely well received.”

The UTD Foundation co-sponsored the summit, called “Making a Difference — While Rising to the Top,” at which 106 women — half established, half aspiring — gathered April 13-14 at Dallas’ Renaissance Dallas Hotel. Events included top-level, black women telling personal stories of how they overcame obstacles to reach their lofty positions.

 

Rep. Eddie Rodriguez on Gun Violence in Texas Schools
State Representative Eddie Rodriguez and Congressman Lloyd Doggett, both Austin Democrats, spoke alongside a handful of students, teachers and other activists on the South Steps of the Capitol after the march.

“Children shouldn’t have to overcome the fear of being shot at school when they get on the bus in the morning,” Rodriguez said.

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.