You may remember when you were growing up and how proud your friends and family were to see you in the newspaper or on the local news. It may have been forwinning the school spelling bee, having a good game in athletics or at a local event. You may have smiled and tried to be modest but you were filled with the pride people were showing you. Today, we are older but we still like it when we make the news and lately we have been making the news pretty regularly. The only thing about making the news, it needs to be for a positive influence. It should bring about those feelings of joy and pride. I can tell you that the amount of pride and joy I have been feeling is unmeasurable. But once you make the news, it is important to take your time in the light and make the most of it.
The picture above has circulated all over the globe but a picture will only be a footnote in history unless there is a story to go with it. We have to take the energy that picture represents and channel it into the change we seek. There are some facts that are not in dispute. First, the Republicans control the levers of power in the State Legislature, Executive Offices and Judiciary. Second, Democrats have issues with getting the vote out to change the former. Paula Begala said in Austin in May of this year, “Texas is not a red state. It is a non-voting state.” As Democrats we have long complained that it is hard to get our voters engaged in the issues much less turn out and vote. Then something happened that caused all Texans to take notice. They saw their so-called leaders in Austin start taking liberties with their rights. First came the veto of a completely bipartisan bill that would require the Texas Government use Texas and/or American products. The house passed it 145-0 and the Senate passed it 23-7. Then came the veto of the Women’s Fair Pay Bill (Similar to the Lilly Ledbetter Act). The next day he went back on his word and expanded the Special Session to include women’s healthcare issues and dissolution of their rights. While all of this was going on the Attorney General said he would proceed with the Voter ID Law that was in litigation and enact the voting maps the legislature passed in the last session that were redrawn by the judges in San Antonio.
You Take one event on its’ own and mobilization would have been more difficult for the Democrats. What the Republicans did was stack them on top of one another but unlike in times past the public was watching. Not just the party leaders and activists but the entire state. People saw with clear eyes and full hearts the absolute disregard by the Republican Leadership for the people they are supposed to be serving. Then came Senator Wendy Davis. She was spurred on by the resistance of the Democratic House Caucus of a bill that would have negated the rights of women to use quality healthcare and self-determination in using that healthcare. Senator Davis was the last line of defense. She stood tall for 11 hours not just in a filibuster but to voice the words of people from all over this state. She read the testimony that was silenced on Thursday when the Chairman of the House States Affairs Committee closed the public testimony. Those voices were later heard from with about 15 minutes to go until midnight. The Governor, Lt. Governor and Republican Senators to a person called them an “unruly mob”. Some people were thrown into the Travis County Jailhouse including a 70-year-old woman who was not complying quick enough to clear the gallery from what the video looks like. The GOP even tried to falsify a government document which is a 3rd degree felony in this state. The Lt. Governor did not look into that but if the press and a student activist were inciting a riot. The only time I have know that singing the “Eyes of Texas” would incite a riot would be in College Station, Texas or Norman, Oklahoma. Certainly not in the rotunda of the State Capitol.
All of this that has happened and will happen in the second session will be prologue . What we do from here will decide our future. We can not forget what the Republican led leadership in this state did to each and every Texan next fall. The issue will be encapsulated by the GOP and their partner groups as a fight about abortion. I certainly hope that is their stance next year because it will show how disengaged they are. This fight was about so much more. It was about reproductive rights to a point but it was more about the so-called morally right majority forcing its will on the people with no regard to what is morally or ethically acceptable. It was about fairness, due process, access to healthcare and defending life beyond the womb. In relation to that argument, what the Republicans and their groups do not understand, no one wants to see abortion rates rise nor used irrationally. Further, what they do not understand is that choice is exactly what the word implies. Adoption, abortion, using contraception are all choices and that is all that is being defended. What else is being fought for is access to quality healthcare for women, men and children. Something the GOP has yet to figure out as well. We rank 47th in the country in access to healthcare and the Governor refused and his minions in the Legislature blocked efforts to force the Governor to accept OUR Medicare/Medicaid funds. The GOP to a person has refused to offer legislation to start the process of a State Healthcare Exchange to provide affordable healthcare options to the one million plus citizens in this state that do not have healthcare coverage. For a party that runs on family values, it would be humorous if it were not so sad, to have this war on families.
So, you may either be mad or bored. If you are bored, then you did not make it this far. The eyes of the world are on us to see what we do next. Do we just fight for a while then fall back into the same rut and waste this opportunity to take back our State. That is what a number of people in the country think will happen. They think if we get beat in this session that we will just fold up like a lawn chair. It saddens me to say that will happen unless we remember. Do not just remember the fight, the crowds and the pride of being in the paper; remember that the people fighting for each of us are not in control. Remember there is work to be done. Remember we must register people, people like us, to vote. Remember we must phone bank for our candidates and issues next fall, remember we must raise money for our party and our candidates to win next fall and just remember what they did to all of us.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the Japanese Naval Staff of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto congratulated him on such well planned attack. Yamamoto told his staff he was concerned he had done nothing more than awoke a sleeping giant. The problem here in Texas is that Governor Perry and his minions do not think they have done anything. They do mot think we will rise and fight for what we believe in. They are going to rest on the laurels of gerrymandering and voter suppression. What will you do, fold up and waste our time in the light or take the light and press forward into the good night?
The Struggle Continues
June 23, 2013 may go down as one of those days we will remember where we were. It will either be a day of victory and joy that we defeated a draconian house bill or it will be a day we will rally around for decades. The piece of legislation is important because it invades very personal decisions that are made between a woman, her doctor and her higher power. It also has another importance as well, the prima fascia evidence that there are soulless forces at work in this State and not in just its’ dealings with HB 60.
HB 60 encapsulates what has been the 83rd Texas Legislature. The people of this state asked for OUR Medicare/Medicaid funding to be restored and that was quashed by the GOP leadership in the State House and Senate. The people of this state asked for more funding in education and while 4 billions was put back in, that only means we are back to what we spent on each child 3 years ago. We got a 50 years water plan that the far right is opposing. We did have a complete bipartisan bill to buy American and Texan first. It passed the House 145-0 and the Senate 23-7. The Governor vetoed it saying we did not need it. He vetoed fair pay for women yet he complains when people in this state criticize him for having a war on women.
Going forward, whether the citizens of this state win or lose today with the HB 60 vote, the fact we are here is a wake up call. If we win, we will continue to have these fights and not focus on matters that need our attention as well. If we lose, millions of women will be denied health care in a state that already ranks near the bottom in health care. It can be said and has been said that the majority of Legislators need to be sent home for good. We can not continue to have their priorities out weigh our priorities.
Now there are some good things that are coming out of all of this as evidence from the huge turnout for the “Citizen Filibuster”. The GOP is giving us such a precious gift. The people are seeing the GOP fighting common sense ideas and attacking from the right. Common sense items like education, healthcare and infrastructure. Attacks like the complete overreach of government into the private lives of citizens even though they rail against it. People in this state are starting to see their hypocrisy. There is old rule, when your enemy is destroying itself, stay out-of-the-way.
We have plenty of work to do get our own house in order. We need the rest of Texas to stand up and start making these Legislators and Senators very uncomfortable. We need to write our “Letter to the Editor”, we need to go to town halls and ask questions and we need to show up at public events where they are present and ask questions. We need to ask how they voted on the budget, how they voted on the water strategy, how they voted on HB 60, how they voted on guns in schools and how they voted on requiring the Governor to take OUR Medicare/Medicaid money and set up a State Exchange under Obamacare. In the meantime, we need to be registering people to vote, fundraising, building coalitions with our diverse constituency groups for GOTV and candidate recruitment.
Win or lose today we must push forward. In victory we must take this new wind in our sails, this momentum and push forward. In defeat, we must be resolute and remember. We still remember the glory in tragedy that was the Alamo, and we remember the victory at San Jacinto. In both battles for Texas Independence, settlers of all races and religion set out to free themselves of oppression. We are doing that today. To the Republicans on the other side, this is not just about HB 60, it is about what you and your party stand. On this day, we say no more. If we lose today, we will remember as Texans did in 1836. We will remember the Alamo and we will look forward to our San Jacinto.
The Struggle Continues
In addition to #HB60, #HB16 and #SB5 will be on the floor. If you can’t make it to Austin, you can still help by e-mailing or calling; see below for more info. Watch the live stream of the session starting at 2CST at http://www.texastribune.org/session/831/live/
If you tweet, please go to UniteWomen.org Facebook page for sample tweets along with the twitter handles of the legislators; let them know that we are watching, and we vote!
The citizens filibuster of HB 60 made national news yesterday; below is the link from the Rachel Maddow show.
The committee will reconvene Sunday, keep an eye out on our Facebook page for more information.
In case you missed it, the SDEC had a meeting at the Northhaven Methodist Church in Dallas Saturday June 15. Both your Committeeman and Committeewoman were present and a great deal of decision making was made.
The SDEC approved a strategic and bold plan to start the process to make Texas blue. The overall strategy combines what is said to be an improved web presence, increased social media presence and a increased county to regional presence of the TDP staff.
There are counties strategically placed with in SD 30 that were selected as part of the plan. The plan will be to get those counties up to speed and then to work with surrounding counties. We are getting the overall presentation and will be sharing it with you. We will most likely not publicize it here but present it more in a meeting format so our friends on the other side of the fence will stay surprised.
The new improved web presence and enhanced social media presence will also prove to be very helpful in the coming months. We will be providing more of that over all plan in the coming weeks. We would encourage you to follow the TDP on Facebook, Twitter and on-line at txdemocrats.org. You will see more information there as well.
We also received a report from the Legislative Committee on the recently ended session of the Legislature. We asked again during the general session for vote counts while the legislature is in session. The Chairman of the Committee said he would like to discuss further.
Overall, it was a very productive meeting. I have been told that the workshop presented by the Dallas County Democratic Party was also very informative and productive. We plan to visit with some of the participants of the workshop to get some more specifics.
Finally, we want to wish all of the fathers of any strip a very Happy Fathers Day.
The Struggle Continues,
John & Cindi
As we all know the individuals elected in November were to go to this building pictured above and do the peoples work for the next 2 years. So now the actual session is over and we are in a Special Session to only discuss Re-Districting (however it is being reported in various outlets that the Governor may allow other items to be brought up) what was accomplished? What will it cost us and how will it shape our future?
Let’s try to find some positives in the session that was, by in large, a discussion of the conservative wings’ top priorities. We did get a budget on the last day of the session and in that budget we did get almost 4 billion dollars put back into education. It is not the 5.8 billion dollars striped in the last session but it is a start. We are now back to spending per student what we were spending 3 years ago. Not progress but a hold. What can you ask for with a State House that has an overwhelming majority albeit not a super majority of Republicans and a State Senate also run by the GOP? It is in the Senate where good public servants like Wendy Davis, Kirk Watson and the entire Democratic Senate Caucus stood tall to get money put back into education. I wish I could say Senator Estes was in favor of the education spending however he did vote for the overall budget. I am sure he will spin that to say he was for more money in education when all he did was vote for the budget.
We did get a 50 year water plan passed by both houses which will help both rural and urban areas with a solid strategy and funding. This plan will go to the voters on November 5th this year for ratification. Needless to say there is big opposition to this by various Tea Party groups and ultra conservative groups due to the 2 billion dollars that funds the plan coming from the rainy day fund. These groups see this as expanding the spending cap albeit it is not a line item in the budget. Personally, I feel this is what the fund was set up to help with in the first place and there opposition is unfounded and shows the short sightedness of their whole existence. There are a number of items that will go to the voters in November and we will get a run down of those in another post.
There was a bill that passed to expanding breakfast and lunch programs for districts with 80% of students partaking in the program will get breakfast free. That legislation has been signed into law with a similar law sitting on the Governor’s desk for rural areas. The rural bill would charge the Texas Department of Agriculture and theTexas Hunger Initiative to work together on a 5 year plan to increase participation in summer food programs. Again, this sits on Governors desk. Hopefully he will get that signed soon.
We almost lost the Texas Lottery but after some thought a motion to reconsider was heard and the lottery came back from the dead. In the same vein, Senator Kirk Watson tried to get passed a bill that would stop diverting money from statutorily controlled programs to pet projects. Senator Estes did sign on as a sponsor. I am not sure if the bill passed but it did have support in both houses which is more than it had last time out for Senator Watson. I am still looking for that piece of legislations’ outcome. Along the same lines no progress was made in predatory lending practices. There were 3 bills offered and they were all defeated. Thanks the payday loans lobby and banks for that one.
As you can tell the positives are coming to an end. But one positive is that we were able to keep the expansion of pro-gun laws from expanding. The college campus carry bills died along with Representative Phil King’s gun bill to allow teachers carry guns into classrooms. I have gone over some of numerous bills Representative King authored and most of his bills got sent to various committee’s where they died. The one that was especially concerning was the cutting of the appropriation to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.
The Governor still has things to sign and the voters will have to vote on some amendments to the State Constitution. On a scale of 0 being the worse to 10 being the best I would rate it a 6. It was a little bit better than half because of the education funding but we still do not have a voting map, our kids will not get the funding needed to afford them the limitless opportunities in education and we still have some fights to come as we get near election day. Keep in mind, the limitless opportunities in education failure is not at the feet of our educators, it is at the feet of the Republican Leadership in Austin. Strides were made but more strides are needed.
I hope you found this helpful and it is my intention to get more information on all of the bills brought before the entire State House and State Senate. This information may give us more insight in to how those elected to represent us actually represented all of us. The long and short of it is simple, we have to change the destiny of this State by changing the leadership in this State. We have to engage with our folks and they in turn need to engage in their neighborhoods, clubs and organizations in which they belong. They need to write letters to their representatives and local newspapers and voice concerns and opposition to how they are being represented. The time for sitting on the sideline and complaining about how the game is going has long passed. It is time to strap it up and get in there!! We have only ourselves to blame.