To distract Texans from the massive cuts ahead due to the Republican-caused budget deficit, Governor Rick Perry has declared a number of “emergency” subjects for the upcoming Texas Legislative session to consider.
This emergency status allows topics deemed of great importance by the Governor to be rushed to the front of the regular legislative calendar. The Texas political blog Capitol Annex has more details on emergency declarations by the Governor.
Governor Perry’s emergency topics so far are–
* Legislation that will allow state government to force women seeking a Constitutionally legal abortion to have a sonogram and to hear an audio of the heartbeat of the fetus. It is not known at this time what other medical procedures the State of Texas will force citizens to undergo. Nor is it known if Texas will demand that law enforcement officers witness these procedures so they report back to the state that the law is being followed.
* Ending so-called Sanctuary City practices that allow local governments the discretion to check or not check the immigration status of people they stop or arrest. This proposed usurpation of local authority will expand the power of the state by allowing law enforcement to check the papers of any person who might be, in the eyes of the state, in the U.S. illegally. It is not clear how this determination will be made by government, or if this change will lead to police checkpoints where U.S. citizens will be stopped and asked to prove they are here lawfully.
* A bill that will call upon the federal government to balance the budget each year. Do you think this non-binding legislation is more important than the fact that Texas is first in the nation in the percentage of people without health insurance?
* A voter ID bill. Conservatives are obsessed with the notion that people of color are casting fraudulent votes. Yet there are very few cases of voter fraud in our state. In any case, why is this an emergency? What elections are scheduled between now and the end of the legislative session?
* Property rights legislation to deal with alleged eminent domain abuse. It is hard to imagine that after all the years of Republican control of Texas government, that property rights are not yet secure. What has Rick Perry been doing all this time? I thought protecting private property was a big deal to Republicans.
These are the “emergencies” at hand in Texas. They have nothing to do with the education, health care, or the economy. They have plenty to do with appeasing the most extreme far-right elements in Texas and with distracting Texans from the real issues. In the case of the sonogram bill, what is involved is an intrusion by the state into the doctor-patient relationship.
None of these things will be of value when the school your kids attend takes massive funding cuts because of the pending budget cuts, or when you cannnot afford college, or when you are sick and cannot afford treatment.
This being Sunday, below you will find the latest Texas Progressive Alliance round-up. The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas. TPA bloggers will be covering the upcoming legislative session in great detail. Please visit TPA blogs each chance you get.
The alleged shooter in the Arizona massacre was in court today, as the heat continues for Sarah Palin and the Tea Party.
Texan Tom DeLay has been sentenced to three years in jail.
The State of Texas has a massive budget deficit, as our Republican-controlled legislature prepares for the upcoming session.
This problem was caused by Republicans running Texas and now they will have to fix it. Regretfully, they will likely balance the budget on the backs of the poor, and on the backs of working people in Texas.
I’m ready to get back in the fight. However, I’m on the road in Cincinnati, Ohio. The picture below looks something like a country road, but it is part of Cincinnati’s East End. This is an area near the Ohio River, and in the vicinity of the first white settlement in Cincinnati back in 1788.
We need to keep fighting and, also, we some time off in life.
Stay informed and stay politically active as the true impact of Tea Party/ Republican Party conduct and policies are made plain for all to see.
The hard work of freedom and justice is the work of each and everyone of us.
Here is the weekly posting of the Texas Progressive Alliance round-up. The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas.
With the round-up this week, I’ll offer a few thoughts on the prospect of some of our Democratic state legislators in Texas switching parties.
None of this is surprising. Before Mr. Ritter’s defection, Republicans held a 99-51 edge in the House. There is not much to be said for Democratic prospects in the 2011 legislative session.
Politicians are likely go where they can have influence and can get the best deal. In the case of Mr. Ritter, it seemed probable he would lose his seat in 2012 given the political trends in his district.
It’s easy to get mad at these traitors and potential traitors, but is should be noted that the way we run our Texas legislature mutes partisan affiliation. While it would seem the ideological gap between the two parties is such that switching seems unlikely, the fact is party identification in the legislature often takes a backseat to a process that leaves voters guessing just where the person who represents them in Austin really stands.
* Votes for the position of Speaker of the House involve legislators of one party voting for a candidate of the other party.
* Committee chairs and vice-chairs are often persons of the minority party.
* Democrats supported former far-right Republican House Speaker Tom Craddick for years and they got away with it for long enough to do plenty of damage.
* There is no formal majority leader and minority leader position in the House and Senate.
In this context, there is a measure of coherence in switching parties. Rather than a hard and fast identification to one or the other major party and to the values voters count on that party to represent, state legislators work in a system where loyalty is to individuals and to unseen influences.
I realize that control by murky and unseen forces embodies how politics works around the nation. But must we exacerbate these tendencies by making them institutional?
The whole system is lousy. The Speaker should be selected by the majority caucus, and the majority party should run the chamber as elected to do by voters.
In any case, it is hard to muster full outrage at the party switchers when many on both sides of the aisle in Austin have long embraced a system that rewards partisan double-dealing.
Here’s the round-up—-
Bay Area Houston has some interesting comments on the criminal probe of State Representative Joe Driver.
Capitol Annex takes a look at a dangerous proposal by incoming State Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Humble) to allow independent school districts to lessen the amount of cash reserves they are required to keep on hand and explains why this is a terrible idea.
Will Progressives And Progressive Groups In Houston And Across Texas Speak Up And Mobilize In Advance Of The Upcoming Arizona-Style Immigration Bill In The Texas Legislature?—I Would Not Bet Very Much That They Will
Leading members of the current Republican majority in the Texas legislature say that an Arizona-style immigration law will be at the top of the agenda of the next session of the Texas legislature.
From the Houston Chronicle—
“Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, chairman of the Senate Business and Commerce Committee, said he expects a “huge push” for immigration reform. “If the Legislature were to choose an Arizona-style path to go down, then I do believe that the emotions will run very high,” he said. It is important, he said, that lawmakers have public hearings and review the issue before deciding a course. ”We need to be very cautious. We need to be mindful of all of the concerns among the public. But, above all, we would be mistaken as a legislative body were we to choose to ignore the issue entirely in favor of other issues,” he said. “The voting public here in Texas has made it clear that immigration is one of its top concerns, and, as such, I think legislators of both parties are obligated and have a responsibility to address the issue.” (Texas House Speaker Joe) Straus spokeswoman Tracy Young said, “Speaker Straus agrees with Gov. (Rick) Perry that the heart of the issue is the immediate need to focus on border security and the safety of Texans, and that the federal government should do its job.” Legislators next year will face severe budget problems, divisive redistricting, school funding troubles and reviews of major state agencies, including the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality and the Texas Department of Insurance.”
Here is the full Chronicle article. The article makes it clear that the Tea Party is calling the shots for Texas Republicans.
It’s funny in a way because you can tell here that Senator Carona, Speaker Straus and Governor Perry really don’t want this fight. Those guys would sell out their core voters in a moment to keep the cheap labor in Texas and to avoid national controversy that could upset the business climate in Texas. These cats are bought and paid for by corporate money. These top Republicans also know that whenever Hispanics do get around to voting in strong numbers in Texas, they will remember who treated them as human beings and who treated them as criminals. Texas is one of four majority-minority states in the union and the future here is not with the Tea Party.
This is part of what makes the Tea Party folks in Texas so angry all the time. They know that any victory they gain in Texas is just delaying the inevitable change in what it means to be a Texan.
That said, Texas Republicans have announced months in advance that they will be going after people of Hispanic origin in our state.
The core issue is not immigration. It is about race and culture.
Will progressive forces in Houston and in Texas now speak-up mobilize to meet this challenge? We’ve been given plenty of warning. A threat to the freedom of one person is a threat to the freedom of all people.
How about the Texas NAACP? Maybe they can get some money to start an effort of all-races solidarity from the “corporate advisory board” listed on the side the Texas NAACP web home. I’m sure Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola and Dell would like to help.
How about the folks who saw the election of Annise Parker as Mayor of Houston as a victory for human rights?
The rights of all people are connected.
How about Mayor Parker? Mayor Parker got her start in politics fighting for human rights. What would Hispanics owe the Mayor if she remains silent when her voice is most needed?
Mayor Parker’s campaign web page has a whole list of local progressives and progressive groups that could help lead the fight against an Arizona type immigration law in Texas.
What about Democrats on Houston City Council? Wouldn’t be it something if they met in caucus on a regular basis and offered a vision for Houston’s future?
That sure would be something.
Will the Hispanic community mobilize in the face of this threat?
Will folks on our side of the aisle speak up or will they remain silent?
I’m betting that for the most part silence will carry the day.
If we can easily ignore a nearly 50% child poverty rate in Houston, I figure we can ignore pretty much anything.
The malignancy known as the Texas legislature is set to metastasize into a special session. The session is planned to begin on July 1.
(Above–Bad cells that are part of a growth in the nervous system. Photo from the National Cancer Institute.)
They did not get all the work they needed to complete done in regular session.
The Texas legislature meets once every two years.
Instead of worrying about health insurance for children or poverty or other issues of merit, a silly voter identification measure took up much the legislature’s time.
Our Texas legislature does, to be fair, a little that is good. But it does much more harm than good.
I am sorry to see it come back so soon. Usually we get a two-year remission.
Houston and Texas political blogger Charles Kuffner discusses here some of the particulars of the special session.
As always in the malignancy known as the Texas legislature, it is proving difficult to pass a bill that would expand health insurance for kids. In Texas this is known as the CHIP program. Fights about health insurance for kids are a mainstay in the Texas legislature.
( Above–The legislative process in Texas. It starts with nasty voters who have suppressed any decent thoughts. After the mutations of party primaries, the general election and committee assignments, the process results in the legislative session.
The mutation process insures that only the most aggressive and malignant legislators form the majority in legislative chamber. The legislature goes into remission for almost two years after the end of each session, but always comes back strong so as to do more harm. There is hope for a cure, but so far voters have rejected any cure.)
Governor Rick Perry, who has said that Texas might wish to consider leaving the union, says that he would in any case veto an expansion of children’s heath care if it came to his desk.
What can I add? Texas is a cold-hearted mess and many people seem content with that fact.
The malignancy known as the Texas State Legislature must decide if it should make more cuts to state programs, or dip into the nine billion dollar rainy day fund to help pay for expenses related to Hurricane Ike and two other hurricanes that impacted Texas last year.
Above—Not a rainy day. Hurricane Ike flooding not far from where I live in Houston.
Governor Rick Perry says that the Federal Government should pick up many of the costs. That’s because Governor Perry is a big believer in using government to help people. (That’s a joke. He’s not those things. He’s a mean guy who panders to a mean constituency.)
The idea that we would even consider cutting services in this already barbaric state because we had a hurricane that came and did people a lot of damage is….well, that idea is just Texas for you.
Get set for whatever blasts of misery it inflicts on the people of Texas.
I offer nothing but the back of my hand to the millions of you here in Texas who elected Republican majorities in both Houses and, also, a Republican Governor and Lt. Governor.
As for our Democrats in the legislature, I’m sure they have an organized plan to communicate with the White House to see what the new administration can deliver for Texas in this time of deep recession.
Or maybe not.