Texas Matters is a Thursday evening series (yes, we're a day late--sorry about that!) focusing on Texas political news while sharing information and strategies with the aim of taking back our state.
ACTION ALERT: Keep Guns Out of Texas Colleges!
After clearing the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, the so-called "campus-carry bill" is headed to the full Senate for a vote in the very near future. The bill would allow students and faculty at colleges in Texas to carry handguns on campus. It already cleared the House and, if the Senate passes it, it will almost undoubtedly be signed into law by Rick Perry.
After making its way through the Texas House, the Senate Criminal Justice Committee approved a bill that allows students and faculty to carry a handgun to class.But it's not too late to defeat this ill-considered, dangerous bill. If you live in Texas, here's how you can help:
Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, the chair of the committee, told those registered to speak against the campus-carry bill that if this version of the bill didn't make it out of his committee, lawmakers will likely find a way to pass a similar campus-carry bill at another time.
"We have to make hard decisions and I’ll bet you a Coke that we are going to have a special session. If you are successful in defeating this [now] you are going to get the stronger version [later] and it will become law. Remember I advised you on that," Whitmire said.
1. Click here to find out who your senator is, if you don't know already.
2. Call your senator and firmly, but politely, tell them that you want them to vote against the campus-carry bill.
3. Record your call here.
This is too important to let happen without a fight. Call your senator!
Texas Budget News
Burnt Orange Report:
Democrats Restore $3.9 Billion to Public Education In Budget Negotiations
I had written this section earlier in the day, and I had to rewrite it, since it appears Democrats and Republicans have gotten beyond their impasse and arrived at a budget deal. The outcome? A huge win for Democrats, who have been pushing for a restoration of a large part of the $5.4 billion in education cuts the legislature made in 2011. Democrats rightfully insisted on this education spending before they would sign on to Rick Perry's priority: funding for water projects across Texas. Under the deal, $2 billion will be taken out of the $12 billion rainy day fund to pay for the water projects, while $3.9 billion will be taken out for education spending. Excellent work, Democrats!
Pragmatically, this is the best we can do with Republicans in charge of our state who still seek to shortchange our children, and represents practically the highest dollar amount discussed to be restored to public education this session.
All in all, this is a major win for Democrats, who restored more funding to education in the budget conference committee process than was present in the House or Senate versions of the budget.
While many Democrats and progressives want to see all $5.4 billion restored, this is still a tremendous leap forward for Democrats, who maximized our leverage by standing together and standing firm against Governor Rick Perry's attempts to prevent funding from being restored to public education.
Special thanks goes to Senators Wendy Davis and Sylvia Garcia and Representatives Rafael Anchia, Lon Burnam, Nicole Collier, Joe Farias, Mary Gonzalez, Ana Hernandez Luna, Abel Herrero, Trey Martinez Fischer, Justin Rodriguez, Chris Turner, and Armando Walle, who voted against the budget in the Senate and House respectively, setting a high bar for what was necessary to gain final passage.
ACTION ALERT: Protect Texans' Internet Privacy!
HB 2268, a bill that would allow the government to force Internet service providers to fork over Texans' online records without good cause, has passed out of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee and is headed to the full Senate for a vote. The bill would essentially grant the government the powers of CISPA in any investigation taking place in Texas. Ben Sherman of Burnt Orange Report tells us how we can act to stop this bill from becoming law:
After passing out of the Criminal Justice Committee yesterday, House Bill 2268 is now up for a full vote in the Senate. The bill will allow the government to force Internet providers to hand over Texans' online communications without good cause and within a very short window of time that will put each Texan's private communications in jeopardy. If this bill becomes law, any investigation that can be brought into the Texas jurisdiction would have all the tools of CISPA, in which any private online activity can be easily seized by the government, at its disposal. That is terrible news not only for Texans but for all Americans.
If we don't speak up now, this bill is very likely to become law. But if we show that Texans are paying attention and oppose the bill, we can stop it.
Please call our State Senators and Rick Perry today and tell them to protect Texans' private information by opposing this intrusive law. This easy phone bank tool gives you all the numbers you need and lets you record their responses.
Today in Texas Anti-Gay News
San Antonio Express-News: Groups demand end to city's domestic partner benefits
You may remember that, very recently, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott issued an opinion that cities and school districts which offer domestic partner benefits to same-sex partners of their employees violate the state's constitutional ban on marriage equality. San Antonio is one such city. Now, two San Antonio-based "Christian" groups are filing suit against the city to overturn the basic insurance protections offered to partners of LGB city employees. Because moral fabric and Sodom and Gomorrah, or something like that.
Leaders of two Christian groups want City Council to stop extending benefits to domestic partners of city employees, now that the state attorney general has called the benefits unconstitutional.Think Progress: Texas Judge Forbids Lesbian Woman From Living With Her Partner
City officials reject the demand, at least for now.
Pastor Gerald Ripley of Voices for Marriage and Philip Sevilla of Texas Leadership Coalition made the request Wednesday with backing from a few sign-carrying supporters at City Hall.
Ripley and Sevilla also voiced opposition to Councilman Diego Bernal's proposal to update the city's anti-discrimination policies by adding protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. Further, Ripley and Sevilla oppose funding a city liaison to the gay community. The city's Governance Committee takes up Bernal's proposals on Tuesday.
Ripley demanded the domestic partner benefits policy be reversed by June 30.
“Lawsuits will be filed if necessary,” he said.
“We cannot allow this in San Antonio. We are not San Francisco,” Sevilla said.
Carolyn Compton, who has been in a three-year relationship with a woman, could soon lose custody of her children thanks to an asshat Texas judge. Why? Because she lives with a woman, which, according to the judge, violates the "morality clause" found in her divorce papers.
Carolyn Compton is in a three year-old relationship with a woman. According to Compton’s partner Page Price, Compton’s ex-husband rarely sees their two children and was also once charged with stalking Compton, a felony, although he eventually plead to a misdemeanor charge of criminal trespassing.
According to Price, Judge John Roach, a Republican who presides over a state trial court in McKinney, Texas, placed a so-called “morality clause” in Compton’s divorce papers. This clause forbids Compton having a person that she is not related to “by blood or marriage” at her home past 9pm when her children are present. Since Texas will not allow Compton to marry her partner, this means that she effectively cannot live with her partner so long as she retains custody over her children. Invoking the “morality clause,” Judge Roach gave Price 30 days to move out of Compton’s home.
Compton can appeal Price’s decision, but her appeal will be heard by the notoriously conservative Texas court system. Ultimately, the question of whether Compton’s relationship with Price is entitled to the same dignity accorded to any other loving couple could rest with the United States Supreme Court.
Texas Republicans Say the Darndest Things
I'll end this diary on a funny note. Well, funny if you're not one of the constituents represented by this asshat. Kossack Scarce reports on Eric Holder politely telling Rep. Louie Gohmert that he doesn't know what he's talking about regarding the FBI's handling of the Boston Bombing case. To which Gohmert defended the honor of his asparagus.
Things got heated and a bit insane, as they usually do, when Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) got miffed when Attorney General Eric Holder rather politely told Gohmert he didn't know what he was talking about, and that he should refrain some stating as fact what were only Gohmert's conjectures on what may or may not have occurred. The confontation happened during a House Judiciary hearing into the Boston Bombing. Gohmert was disparaging the FBI's handling of the case.Watch the video:
ERIC HOLDER: “You don’t know what the FBI did. You don’t know what the FBI’s interaction was with the Russians. You don’t know what questions were put to the Russians, whether those questions were responded to. You simply do not know that. And you have characterized the FBI as being not thorough, or taken exception to my characterization of them as being thorough. I know what the FBI did. You cannot know what I know. That is all.”[...]
A visibly flustered Gohmert then tried for another point of personal privilege, but was rebuked as his time had expired. Gohmert then shouted over the Chairman one of the best lines of the year:LOUIE GOHMERT: "I cannot have a witness challenge my character! The attorney general will not cast aspersions on my asparagus!" [3m 25sec mark]
Got more Texas news stories or action alerts? Share them in the comments!
6:02 PM PT: From coquiero in the comments:
If I can add an appeal from Autism Speaks:
Our autism insurance bill eliminating the age cap for receiving benefits comes up for a final vote Monday (May 20)!
Call and email YOUR state representative to vote YES and without any amendments for SB.1484!
Here is How YOU Can Help:
1) CALL YOUR HOUSE REPRESENTATIVE
Call: Rep. Paul Workman
Phone: (512) 463-0652
In a polite voice say: "Hello. My name is [name] and I am a constituent of Representative [name]. I am asking him/her to vote YES on Monday for SB.1484 without amendments to help Texas kids with autism. Thank you."
2) SEND AN EMAIL TO YOUR HOUSE REPRESENTATIVE
You can email them here. We have it addressed for you and include a message, but add a sentence or two about your family to personalize your message.
3) SIGN UP FOR TEXT UPDATES!
Text "AVotes" to 30644 to get action alerts right on your mobile phone!
Message & Data Rates May Apply. Reply STOP to opt out.
One last step Texas to better autism insurance coverage! Call and email starting now and into Monday!
Director, Grassroots Development