Friday marked the last day for members to file non-local bills this legislative session. As of the close of business Friday, more than 4,600 bills were filed, with House Democrats filing nearly half of all bills. Now, the real challenge begins — getting those bills a committee hearing and onto the House floor for a vote.
Legislation filed by HDC members addresses a wide array of issues, from expanding health care access for uninsured Texans, supporting our public schools, protecting voting rights and promoting clean air and water to give just a few examples. These issues reflect our core values as Democrats. They’re also the issues Texans expect state government to address. House Democrats will be working every day to deliver real solutions for all Texans.
Check out some HDC members’ bills below:
- HB 565 by Rep. Coleman would expand Medicaid coverage in Texas and put the Affordable Care Act protections into law.
- HB 10 by Rep. Senfronia Thompson would create the Texas Mental & Behavioral Health Research Institute to study the causes of mental illnesses in Texas children.
- HB 100 by Rep. Eric Johnson would require an analysis of expected effects of climate change on Texas agencies’ services.
- HB 204 by Rep. Thierry would mandate the inclusion of mental health in the current health enrichment curriculum.
- HB 22 by Rep. Romero would require voting machines to print paper receipts to help address glitches at the ballot box.
- HB 241 by Rep. Farrar would extend postpartum Medicaid coverage to one year after a woman gives birth or miscarries.
- HB 328 by Rep. Ortega would allow a county or municipality to establish a local minimum wage.
- HB 1950 by Rep. Zwiener would allow students at a Texas college campus to use their student IDs to vote.
- HB 935 by Rep. Bucy would make elections on even years a holiday for state employees
In the House chamber Monday, Texas Rep. Helen Giddings (D-DeSoto) called on the membership to stand with her as she denounced hatred, bigotry and terrorism in the wake of Saturday’s deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“Members, this past weekend, we witnessed a white supremacist hate group infiltrate the town of Charlottesville, Virginia, carrying torches on Friday night, on Saturday they filled the streets with venom, with bigotry and with violence,” Giddings said, before mentioning the three lives lost Saturday in the protest.
To continue reading this story go to NBC Dallas/Fort Worth.
House and Senate Democrats on Monday unveiled their priorities for the upcoming special legislative session, including some measures that fall in line with the agenda Gov. Greg Abbott laid out in his call and some that depart entirely from it.
In a joint press conference, Democratic leaders in both chambers vowed to champion the issues “that matter to all Texans,” and to fight for legislation that will protect “our kids, our economy, our health and our communities.” Priorities for the Democrats include school finance reform and reducing maternal mortality — both of which are on Abbott’s list in some capacity. Several other issues, including criminal justice reform and equal pay, are not — and are unlikely to make it to the floor for a vote.
To continue reading this story go to the Texas Tribune.
Next time you spend hours in line at a Department of Public Safety office trying to get your license renewed, you’ll have something in common with the legislators and staffers coming back to Austin for a special session later this month.
Those lines and this session are both wasteful, senseless situations created by a betrayal of the principles that once drove government in this state.
To continue this story go to the El Paso Times.
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.
“[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.
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.
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.
The House will debate the state budget this week. Before we begin discussing amendments and our core priorities, it’s important to remember that some of the most important decisions about our budget were made years and years ago.
We must invest more money in our local schools, so our students and teachers have a fair shot at success. Yet the way previous Legislatures have decided to fund schools has left us in a hole we’ve never really dug ourselves out from. The last major change to our school finance system was in 2006, when the Legislature decided to cut property taxes and create a “franchise tax” that underperformed from the beginning, and has now been cut so much it doesn’t generate the money our schools and students need.
Our priority is to protect Texas children. Yet serious policy reforms and critical funding needs for our foster care system we needed 10 years ago were kicked down the road, until we reached the crisis we are at today. Rather than invest in fixes we knew had to be made, the Legislature cut taxes, eliminated services, and horded away billions in the Economic Stabilization Fund. The budget that will come to the floor this week has a number of positive items in it – but it also underfunds CPS reform, Medicaid rates for acute therapy services, and countless other programs for Texas kids in need — all while leaving billions of dollars untouched in our state savings account.
When oil and gas revenues came in low last year, it created a revenue shortfall because the Legislature has not sufficiently diversified its revenue sources. The investment in transportation improvements we made in 2013 — the one Texas voters approved in a constitutional amendment election — will be great for our highways. But Texans have yet to see the same commitment from our Legislature.
As the week unfolds, Texas House Democrats will offer amendments to improve our budget to better protect Texas children and make sure every Texan has a fair shot at success. But if we really want to change how we invest in the future of our great state, we’ll need to look beyond the budget and start fixing the way we do business across the board.