While the blame game continues between campaigns, organizations, and Democratic volunteers who gave a huge part of their lives to the 2014 effort, the Republicans are already brewing up a storm for the 2015 Texas legislative session. Hopefully, everyone will release some steam and then move on to what is next.
With the Texas Lege session looming, we may be headed toward a dark period in Texas.
Will Republicans go full-on-crazy by making budgets cuts that will leave state services for the poor, the elderly, children, college students, and most state services underfunded beyond belief? Will Dan Patrick go full-on-racist (more than usual) and make Arizona’s SB1070 look like no big deal? Will the GOP leave Medicaid for the Elderly even worse than it is, thus, lowering nursing home quality, bed availability, and leaving thousands homeless? Well, Democrats better start thinking about these issues before we get into 2016 or 2018, or whenever the “data” tells us we will finally win with the same effort as in the past.
The problem is, these issues are usually left to nonprofits and low-funded lobbying and organizing groups. While some legislators will carry the weight when we are on the defensive, we need some sort of apparatus to keep people and activists informed. And that also can effectively communicate with the constituencies.
There is no doubt that constituencies best represented by the Democrats will be on the defensive during those 140 days of the legislature. What kind of communications and message plan will be in place to keep people informed about what the Republicans are attempting? What kind of defense plan against the worse the Republicans will offer will be in place to make the peoples’ voices heard at the Texas Capitol?
Nothing looks better to constituencies who are attacked than politicians who defend and fight back against the attacker. It might even look good to those who didn’t show up to vote, as well as those who usually wouldn’t have voted, anyway. When it comes to the majority of Latinos, much like we remember 2 million deportations, thousands of warehoused immigrants, and thousands of Central American kids escaping violence being vilified, we’ll remember our defenders in November.
That said, today some of our Democratic state legislators filed their initial bills for the 2015 session:
From State Senator Sylvia R. Garcia:
- SB 141 would create a voter education program for high school seniors and provide an opportunity for them to register to vote.
- SB 142 would allow potential volunteer deputy registrars to receive online training.
- SB 143 would help those voters whose voter registration has been rejected by specifically notifying them of the errors on their registration forms.
From Trey Martinez Fischer:
- HB 41, HB 42, HB 174, HJR 26 – Minimum Wage – Raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour; establish a living wage policy for those doing business with the state.
- HB 116 – Healthcare – Expand Medicaid eligibility and bring $90 Billion dollars to our state to create jobs and alleviate additional tax burdens on property tax payers and local governments
- HB 124 – Education – Full-day, universal prekindergarten for every Texas 4 year old
- HB 111 – Voting – Same day voter registration
- HB 145 – Government Reform – Require the Legislature to pass a budget, school finance legislation, and pending sunset bills before the 100th day of the legislative session, placing Texas’ priorities first and political agendas last.
From State Rep. Rafael Anchia, Garnet Coleman, and State Senators Rodriguez and Hinojosa:
- HB 130 – Legislation to authorize same-sex marriage.
- HJR 34 – Constitutional Amendment to repeal same-sex marriage ban.
- SJR 13 and SB 98 – The same types of legislation, above.
Those are just a few of the good ones. While the bad ones haven’t all been filed, I did see a few filed by Republicans:
HB209 by right-wing-nut Stickland is the first attack on the Texas DREAM Act (in-state tuition for immigrant kids). The bill strikes the three-year residency requirement for non-citizens to achieve Texas residency status, thus, qualifying for in-state tuition.
HB 183 and HB 88 make the very flawed employee verification program (E-Verify) mandatory for state agencies and state contractors, respectively. SB 54 targets the poor on TANF benefits with drug testing. There’s even one that allows counties to build tent-jails like Joe Arpaio in Arizona.
This is just to name a few, but something tells me this is something we’ll need to keep monitoring.
I’m just trying to say that the work that needs to be done for 2016 starts with this coming legislative session.
Texpatriate has a lot more on bills.