The leadership vacuum in the state of Texas has never been so apparent as it was last week. At a time when the people of Texas need their elected officials speaking up for them, Governor Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick have remained silent:
- Silent on the removal of false, confederacy-glorifying plaques in the Capitol
Neither Abbott nor Patrick replied to a direct request from Attorney General Ken Paxton to weigh in on who has the legal authority to remove the insulting plaques in the Capitol that falsely state that the Civil War was not fought for slavery. Chairman Joe Moody requested the Attorney General opinion from Paxton.Meanwhile, Rep. Eric Johnson continues to lead on the removal of this plaque, an unnecessarily difficult task he has worked on since August 2017.
- Silent on Trump’s insulting remarks about the heroes of Hurricane Harvey
In yet another bizarre and pants-on-fire statement, President Trump said last week that the Coast Guard had to rescue Texans during Hurricane Harvey who were just watching from their boats. As anyone – literally, anyone – who paid attention to the storm can attest, the people of Houston went out in boats to rescue their neighbors, and their courage was a true display of the Texas spirit.
Abbott and Patrick, of course, said nothing to correct Trump or speak up for the hundreds of people who risked their lives for their fellow Texans.
The leadership vacuum in this state is deeply worrisome. The people of Texas deserve elected officials who are unafraid to speak up and fight for real solutions to the challenges facing our state. The HDC is proud of the work that members of our caucus do, every day, to fulfill the promise to serve.
The Texas House Democratic Caucus is heartbroken about the senseless tragedy in Santa Fe Friday, a mass shooting that left ten people dead and several others injured. We stand together in offering our sincere condolences to the students, parents, educators, administrators and first responders who were affected by this mindless act of gun violence.
And while it is right to send our condolences, our thoughts and our prayers, we also know that is not enough. As Chairman Rafael Anchia said Friday:
The roundtables Gov. Abbott has called for are fine – we welcome that discussion. We’ve been ready to have that discussion for a long time, and we welcome our seat at the table to have serious conversations about solutions to the gun violence epidemic in Texas and across this country. However, we have a responsibility also to act and to act immediately to prevent an increase of gun deaths to prevent the loss of more life in Texas and across the country and protect the children of our state.
Many members of our caucus have already proposed real solutions. Last session, over eighteen pieces of legislation were filed by Members of our caucus to promote gun safety and prevent gun violence in our communities. Chairman Chris Turner sent a letter to Gov. Abbott and encouraged him to include the Democratic authors of these bills in his roundtable discussions. The Democratic Caucus is ready to act swiftly to better protect all Texans, especially our children.
HDC Statement on Santa Fe School Shooting
During our caucus retreat last week in Houston, we issued a statement via Facebook Live regarding the Santa Fe school shooting. We appreciate all members who have already shared this video on their social pages.You can watch and share our full statement here.
HDC Legislation to End Gun Violence
Below is an overview of legislation filed by Democratic members to help address gun violence and promote gun safety. If there is legislation your office filed that you would like to see here, please let us know and we will be happy to list it as we continue to promote and support the efforts of our caucus.
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.
For the last few weeks, we’ve been following the developments in federal court over the Texas redistricting case, as well as Congress’ attempts to pass TrumpCare legislation. Here’s a brief update on the two stories:
Redistricting: Plaintiffs Seek Injunction for 2018 Election
Earlier this month, a three-judge federal court ruled that the U.S. Congressional District map drawn by the 82nd Legislature in 2011 is discriminatory to Hispanic and African-American voters in Texas, and was adopted with discriminatory intent.
Plaintiffs in the case — including the NAACP, the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force, LULAC and several African-American and Hispanic members of Congress — are asking for an injunction to ensure the discriminatory maps will not be used in the 2018 election. Read more in the Dallas Morning News.
TrumpCare: Epic Collapse for DC Republicans
Now that President Trump and Congressional Republicans failed to reach a deal on their TrumpCare legislation, the Affordable Care Act is here to stay “for the foreseeable future.” And don’t take our word for it; that’s according to U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan.
One of the interesting stories to emerge from the Republicans’ colossal legislative failure on Friday is that North Carolina and Kansas are now moving forward with plans to expand Medicaid under the ACA, as 31 other states have done. Of course, we know that Texas – the state that has the most to gain with Medicaid expansion – has still failed to do so.
The solution here is simple: Governor Greg Abbott should direct the Health and Human Services Commission to work with the federal government on adopting a plan that draws down Texas’ share of federal tax dollars so that a million more Texans can access affordable health coverage. To not do so needlessly denies Texans the health care they would have if they lived in other states and costs our state billions of dollars a year that we should be recouping from the federal government.
While the House has focused on fixing the CPS crisis and putting forward a responsible budget that invests in Texas families, the Texas Senate’s focus on needless social issues has cast a dark cloud over the first half of the legislative session.
Last week, the Texas Senate passed the discriminatory “bathroom bill” and voted outtwo anti-women’s health bills. The Senate’s so-called “sanctuary city” legislation had a hearing in the House State Affairs Committee, where tremendous leadership from the Mexican American Legislative Caucus has at least helped slow down the bill.
And the Senate’s Education Committee has a hearing scheduled on Tuesday on a voucher bill that a Texas pastor decried because it wants “to make commodities out of our children and to make markets out of our classrooms.”
These are the wrong priorities for Texas families. As House Democrats continue our work on the issues that matter, we must also keep an eye on these and other dangerous bills as they make their way through the legislative process.