Texas Lege Update

For yet another year, the inherently conservative structure of the legislative process in Texas is working to thwart the radicals who call themselves “conservative.” The short timeframe of each session, the numerous informal rules that stymie legislation, and a pretty miserable work ethic (the session amounts to a long series of lobbyist parties), make it nearly impossible to get anything besides a budget passed. Even with a massive legislative majority and a certified whacko running the Senate, most of the worst plans of the far right are slowly dying.

Here’s a general overview of where legislation stands as we head into the final days of the session:

Private school vouchers: probably dead

The effort to privatize the state’s education system has stalled. Given the opposition from House Speaker Strauss it will be nearly impossible for this plan, which passed the Senate, to ever reach the floor of the House for consideration. There just isn’t time and there’s no indication that the Governor would call a special session for it. It’s probably dead.

Marijuana legalization: dead

This never really had a solid shot anyway. What made it interesting was its sudden, unexpected arrival on the legislative agenda and the support it gained in committee. Expect this to be an issue to watch in the next session. Someone is bound the recognize the opportunity here.

Protecting you from imaginary Sharia Law: passed, pending Governor’s signature

Like I said, it is very difficult to pass any legislation of consequence in Texas, so the lege likes to rally around show-bills. This is a bill that does absolutely nothing. Seriously. Take a look at the text. This bill has one purpose – to prove to the paranoid bigots that drive Texas politics that their legislators are just as worried about controlling scary foreigners as they are. If anyone should understand the dangers posed by religion creeping into civil law, it’s the Texas legislature.

This year’s unconstitutional restrictions on abortion rights: passed the House, headed for Senate vote

Every legislature must demonstrate its righteousness by inventing a new way to harass women carrying unwanted pregnancies. This time they are about to impose rules that will make it practically impossible for minors to get an abortion without parental consent. The state’s women are grateful for the caring intervention of their benevolent overlords.

Efforts to block high-speed rail: probably dead

Every good Texan knows that Satan rides the rails. The state is ripe for high-speed rail, with several major population centers just far enough away to make fast rail useful and not quite far enough away for air travel to make sense. But pouring money into public transportation is always unpopular. After all, how are you going to keep black people thugs from using it? They could sit down right next to you, or even your daughter!

Nonetheless, a consortium has formed that thinks they can make high speed rail a reality in Texas without getting a dime of state money. They can’t, of course, and the effort itself is a bit of a sham, but that hasn’t stopped rural legislators from taking action to kill the project in its crib. Their bill would effectively block the state’s transportation agency from even participating in any potential plan. It looks like they will fail, but their failure won’t make the prospects for rail in Texas any brighter.

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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19 comments on “Texas Lege Update
    • GG says:

      This family has always been really creepy to me. Patriarch Jim Bob and his oldest son both look like pedophiles. I do think this type of cult attracts men who abuse women and children and have control issues. The homeschooling keeps the kids insulated and away from people trained to detect abuse. I suspect there is a lot of dysfunction in this family and others like it.

      • flypusher says:

        And you can add to that all the “GLTB people want nothing more than to MOLEST YOUR KIDS” hysteria these people were stirring up. I’m only shocked by extreme fundies who AREN’T major league hypocrites (if they truly exist).

      • GG says:

        Yes, I remember that. Horrible people hiding behind pious smirks and the bible. This link provides info on the cults child-rearing practices. I think Jim Bob and Michelle are actually horrible parents even though fellow right-wing Christians seem to put them on a pedestal.

        http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/08/13/370953/-Dominionism-and-child-abuse-part-1

    • Bobo Amerigo says:

      Who ARE these people? Would I know them if I had cable?

      Both links are just depressing. I weep for our species.

      • 1mime says:

        While was serving on a public school board in the 90s, we had a delegation of “home schooling parents” approach us about banning a couple of books from our public school libraries (middle school). These books were Newbery Award winners, thus the Librarian’s Association refused their request which was based upon (1) the young foster girl took God’s name in vain (I hate God), and there was cursing by children in the other book. We refused their request but not without asking them why they were so interested in what public school children were reading since they were home-schooling their children (a faith-based curricula). Their response: they had a moral obligation to protect other children who did not have the moral guidance of their own.

        They were filled with a sense of their own importance and sense of righteousness. I have never forgotten that experience. Scary people.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        Mime,

        You’ve had interesting experiences in the school system. When you post about edu, your examples are so knowledgeable and specific, I enjoy treading them, even though ‘m generally perplexed by our edu system and wish it to be more equitable.

      • 1mime says:

        Thanks, Bobo, serving on the public school board for four years was one of the best and hardest jobs I ever undertook. It mattered deeply to me, which I guess is why the experience is still poignant. I spent about 20 years enmeshed in trying to learn about and make positive changes within public education – at the local and state level. It taught me a great deal about the political process and most important, the value of a quality education for each and every person and our country. There were disappointments and successes, but at least I had the opportunity to make a difference in one small area of life.

  1. Stephen says:

    ” If anyone should understand the dangers posed by religion creeping into civil law, it’s the Texas legislature.”

    Love the sarcasm.

  2. flypusher says:

    Local progress on rail- while Culberson didn’t turn pro-rail, he says he’s not going to be so actively anti-rail anymore.

    • EJ says:

      For those of us who live in countries where rail is taken for granted, what’s the meat of the Texan objection to it? I appreciate that Chris’s comment about thugs being able to sit down next to your daughter is snark and not the actual objection. Is it simply a fear of change, or a fear of admitting that Texas is becoming defined by its cities rather than its rural myth, or is it something more uniquely Texan?

      • flypusher says:

        You’re getting close. It is a mixture of things, but I’d say front and center is that rugged-individualism, pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps mentality. A car caters mightily to individualism- you hop in and drive to wherever you choose when you choose (in theory anyway, practice is sorely tried during rush hour). So many people don’t think about what was required to achieve that, other than them getting the $ to buy the car. I’ve read gripes from people about all the public $ that would be spent to get more mass transit going, because “nobody subsidizes my car”. Oh, really, exactly what are you driving it on???

        Also there is more than a grain of truth in the thug comment. Go to the chron comment sections, and you will find people complaining that more mass transit would make it easier for all the Black criminals to access their neighborhoods. They’re not all trolls.

        Here is an interesting piece on how lack of transit infrastructure really zaps the poor:

        http://www.vox.com/2015/5/22/8640425/commuting-poverty-public-transit

        I think Houston will join the more civilized world in terms of transit, but probably later rather than sooner. I’ve lived in this region for almost 3 decades now, have seen continual expansion of the freeways, and have seen the traffic immediately expand to fit it. We can’t continually expand- there are pollution issues, drainage issues, gridlock issues that are too big. The next mayor, whoever that may be, is crucial here. A mayor who aggressively promotes rail could move this process more quickly forward.

      • 1mime says:

        There are many opinions on this, EJ, but here’s mine: highway lobby…build more roads – jobs; the “TX” individual auto preference (’cause they’re inexperienced with rail benefits); right of way…TX private property penchant. It’s a stupid position in all respects.

      • EJ says:

        flypusher, 1mime – thanks.

      • 1mime says:

        Another point, EJ, another oddity about the antipathy of some Texans towards rail – They not only endure the commute, but have wear & tear on vehicles, expose themselves to accidents, AND, still have to park the darned car! Having enjoyed the convenience and relaxation of rail in Europe, I continue to be amazed by this mindset. It doesn’t “compute”.

      • johnofgaunt75 says:

        While I don’t think it’s the entire reason, I don’t think the racial aspect can be totally ignored.

        Mass transit, including street cars, were fairly popular in the South but after the Supreme Court cases during the Civil Rights Era desegregated the transit systems around the country, many of the transit systems in the South were dismantled or severely cut back.

      • 1mime says:

        Man, what does that say about our culture. America’s love of the car is part of America’s disdain/fear of sitting next to someone of color. Reminds me of the recent issue with Hasidic Jews who have refused to be seated next to women on flights. We indulge people like this to our own detriment as a society.

  3. Griffin says:

    Do you think if the Supreme Court legalizes gay marriage then the next few months of Texas politics will be overshadowed by show bills trying to reverse it? It seems like the kind of thing they’d drag out for as long as possible to cement their standing with their voter base.

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