This week was perhaps one of the toughest I have seen–not just in this legislative session but in my 12 years in the Texas Legislature.
Democrats have spent the 84th session debating some of the most harmful, discriminatory bills that have ever been filed in our great state. On Tuesday alone, we spent more than 14 hours debating bills that, for the most part, have nothing to do with making Texas a better place.
- The Republican-controlled Legislature did not argue over dedicating more money for our significantly underfunded public education system.
- The Republican-controlled Legislature did not work hard enough to reinstate the hundreds of millions of dollars we cut from our Pre-K programs.
- The Republican-controlled Legislature did not advocate for families who cannot afford the out-of-control costs for basic healthcare.
- This Republican-controlled Legislature did not try to find a way to make sure that our children are fed and healthy, that our elderly are cared for, that our low- and middle-class workers can afford to buy or stay in their homes.
The extreme right has hijacked our Legislature and put misguided priorities above good public policy.
There were more than 6,000 bills filed this session, and while we can’t discuss them all, I do want to share some of the highlights:
We also passed Senate Bill 9, a statutory spending limit proposal that was substantially modified by the House but remains a dangerous bill in the way it will allow us to calculate future state budgets.
And just hours ago, the Senate passed a House bill that would effectively reduce abortion access for minors—especially minors with abusive parents or without parents entirely. The bill, which is sure to be signed by our governor, creates substantial hurdles for abortion without exceptions for rape and incest victims.
We also fought against the repeal of a law that allows our undocumented students to attend Texas universities at the same in-state tuition rates as their peers.
We managed to keep a hateful bill referred to as “American Law for American Courts,” or the “Sharia law” bill, off of the agenda. This bill was filed to fan the flames of religious intolerance and marginalize people that are a part of our communities.
A bill that would have meddled with payroll deductions for union dues died in committee. This was an obvious Republican attempt to choke the funds of organizations that tend to support Democratic.
Campus Carry “Compromise”
There are many people saying Democrats “cut deals” to pass campus carry just 20 minutes before the midnight deadline. We were very close to that deadline, and we had enough amendments filed to continue debate past the deadline to vote. Many may be disappointed we didn’t do enough to kill the bill when we had a chance. I’m disappointed, too.
So let me be clear: Democrats did not cut a deal. Republicans, on the night of the campus carry vote, already had 29 signatures – four more than the 25 needed – to force a vote on the bill.
And if we had not allowed the vote to occur, we might have opened the door to other bad bills being called for a vote.
In today’s Austin American-Statesman, reporter Ken Herman summed it up like this: “Did the Dems give up? No. They did the best they could. That’s pretty much all Dems can do in the Texas Capitol these days.”
If you’re as fired up as I am, consider helping our Texas Democratic Party with adonation today. We need to start building our war chest now.