If you live in Houston, this week’s news might seem a lot like awkward deja vu from 2015. Thanks to Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Senator Lois Kolkhorst, and other Texas Conservatives emboldened by the 2015 defeat of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance and 2016 elections, held hearings on the blatantly discriminatory Senate Bill 6.
The Lieutenant Governor has chosen to move the bill forward in the Senate despite clear opposition from Speaker Joe Straus over in the Texas House. But despite this fact, the hearings went forward.
Throughout the day, hundreds of citizens from all across the state came to speak at the hearing on SB6, with the overwhelming majority speaking in opposition to the bill despite the committee’s best efforts to make it appear otherwise. The groundswell of supporters simply didn’t show up.
If you ask Texas Business leaders, many of them have already decided that SB6 is bad for the bottom line. From Keep Texas Open, here is the list of reasons that the state’s top business leaders would rather #StopSB6…
Discriminatory legislation threatens our economy. By passing SB 6 (the so-called “bathroom bill”) and other discriminatory legislation, Texas could lose billions of dollars in GDP, a critical loss of revenue that would profoundly threaten the state’s ability to fund education, transportation and other essential services. And thousands of jobs could be lost, according to the Texas Association of Business’ economic impact study.
Discriminatory legislation threatens Texas’ travel and tourism industry. Texas receives $68.7 billion in travel spending, which generates $6.2 billion in state and local taxes. Over 1 million jobs are supported by travel, 648,000 direct and 488,000 indirect. This vibrant industry, the second largest in our state, would suffer declines similar to those experienced by other states if Texas loses its reputation as a welcoming destination for all visitors.
Discriminatory legislation also creates costly operational and legal headaches. When proposed legislation creates confusion about whom an employee must serve and whom that employee can turn away, it creates operational chaos—and legal expense—for all Texas businesses. We are in business to serve everyone, and to employ talented people from all walks of life. We need Texas to reflect that commitment to inclusion.
Additionally, discriminatory legislation negatively impacts our ability to recruit top talent, especially among Millennials, who overwhelmingly support non-discrimination protections and seek to live in states that reflect the diversity and inclusion they value. We are in a battle for globally competitive talent, and our ability to successfully recruit and retain our future workforce of Millennial talent is critical to our long-term economic prosperity.
Despite over 250 testimonies imploring the Senate to vote against discrimination, and the FACT that in 40 years of history where the transgender community has been protected to use restrooms of their choice a transgender person has NEVER assaulted someone else in a restroom, the hearing finally came to an end, and the Senate did as expected and moved the bill forward from committee.
But as John C. Moritz via the Corpus Christi Caller Times reports, the big show vote may not have produced the results Patrick and Kolkhorst wanted from their House colleagues.
AUSTIN – As Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick accelerated his mobilization of social conservatives to push the controversial “bathroom bill” to the Senate floor, his counterpart in the Texas House went out of his way Tuesday to show the measure faces high hurdles in the Legislature’s lower chamber.
“Clearly, I’m not a fan of the bill they are discussing,” Speaker Joe Straus told reporters behind the House chamber.
Straus, a moderate Republican now in his fifth term leading the House, attempted to illustrate his point by noting that the House Public Education Committee was getting ready to tackle the thorny topic of making adjustments to the school finance system while the Appropriations Committee continued work the state budget.
Given that the Texas Legislature only meets on a biennial basis, it’s good to know that at least one leader in Austin values the time and money used to get ACTUAL business done for the Lone Star State. Let’s hope that commitment stays and Senate Bill 6 can be sent where it belongs…
If I had to guess, the first bathroom you ever used was probably a unisex bathroom. It’s called the one IN YOUR HOUSE.
The Texas Progressive Alliance will light a scented candle outside Ikea in solidarity with the confused people of Sweden as it brings you this week’s roundup.
Off the Kuff thinks that many opportunities to make gains in 2018 will exist for Texas Democrats, and they should plan accordingly.
Libby Shaw at Daily Kos is amused by the Republicans hiding from their constituents. No wonder. The Party has been serving the interests of billionaires and oligarchs for decades, both domestic and Russian, apparently. No Republicans we are not about to move on. This is more dangerous than Watergate.
John Coby at Bay Area Houston supports Lillie Schechter for Chair of the Harris County Democratic Party.
The last few months have been perplexing, as we try to figure out life on the Trump train. UGH. But as Texas Leftist points out, some things are slowly coming into focus. After seeming to be free from consequences, we’re finally seeing that the President and his Administration can be held accountable for their actions.
SocraticGadfly, on hearing about the death of Norma Jean McCorvey of Roe v. Wade fame, offers an extended take on her, the plaintiff in a simultaneous suit, and the state of abortion in America today.
Shadetree psychologist PDiddie at Brains and Eggs diagnoses President Trump as in desperate need of an intervention.
CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme warns that the disrespect the Republicans show are constitution is only getting worse. Now they want to actually write their hate and kleptocracy into the document, itself.
Neil at All People Have Value made note of the climate change art exhibit made by the construction crew on Memorial Drive in Houston. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.
And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.
Grits for Breakfast explains why indigent defense costs have risen as crime has declined.
The Texas Election Law Blog analyzes two significant election-related bills that have been filed.
Paradise in Hell notes that Dear Leader Trump is now 0.00002% closer to proving his claims about election fraud.
Raj Mankad wants to see multiple approaches taken to make our streets safer.
Julie Rovner takes a deep dive into four GOP talking points on health care.
Raise Your Hand Texas explains why voucher advocates are becoming irritable.
Eater Houston notes that several Houston restaurants will be raising money for the ACLU in support of their immigrant employees.
The Texas Progressive Alliance declares that the number of the counting shall be three (to zero) as it brings you this week’s roundup.
Libby Shaw at Daily Kos exposes the craven hypocrisy of Texas Senator John Cornyn. No John Cornyn we did not overwhelm your offices because we are sore losers.
SocraticGadfly takes a look at a biennial Texas Legislature tradition — peddling seemingly unconstitutional bills. This year, silencing non-duopoly voters and other vote disenfranchisement is in the crosshairs.
CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme heard Stephen Miller and Jason Chaffetz. Texas Republicans, like the Trump apparatchiks and GOP operatives in other legislative bodies, are going after voting rights with a vengeance.
Three years, eleventh months, and one more week just like the past three, writes PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.
Neil at All People Have Value posted a picture he took of diverse and excellent citizens of Houston protesting against Trump’s travel ban. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.
And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.
Lone Star Ma calls on us to make contacting our elected officials part of a daily routine.
Therese Odell rounds up the anti-Trump Super Bowl highlights.
The TSTA Blog explains how the Senate budget cuts funding for schools.
Texans Together offers some practical advice for contacting your elected officials.
Bakeyah Nelson implores Ben Carson to “first do no harm” at HUD.
Cort McMurray‘s heart goes out to poor John Cornyn for having to deal with all those pesky constituents
In the flurry of events that have begun the Trump Presidency, it’s sometimes difficult to sort fact from fiction, or significance from daily bluster. This presented a continual struggle for the news media during the 2016 campaign, and is even more of a challenge today.
But the news media is starting to figure it out. In fact, this week has already proven an historic one for the young Trump Administration, as CBS News reports…
National security adviser Michael Flynn offered his resignation on Monday night, senior White House sources told CBS News. President Trump accepted his resignation and named a temporary replacement.
Flynn said in his resignation letter that during the course of his duties as incoming national security adviser he held “numerous” phone calls with foreign counterparts, ministers and ambassadors that were “to facilitate a smooth transition and begin to build the necessary relationships” between President Trump, his advisers and foreign leaders.
“Unfortunately, because of the fast pace of events, I inadvertently briefed the Vice President Elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian Ambassador,” he said. “I have sincerely apologized to the President and the Vice President, and they have accepted my apology.”
What was that Mr. Flynn said about Hillary Clinton? “Lock Her Up”?
An international firestorm began to swirl around Former National Security Advisor Flynn when it was revealed that he spoke with Russian leaders about the possibility of alleviating sanctions once Trump took office. And even after the resignation, this crisis is only deepening for the Trump Administration, as journalists continue to decipher exactly what the President may have known about these talks.
Thus why this situation is historic… it marks the first time the Trump folks have been held accountable for their questionable actions. After a continuous succession of false statements, blatant denials and potentially dangerous missteps, the President and his team are FINALLY starting to bear consequences for their actions. This is one complexity that a late-night Twitter rant simply will not repair.
With a Congress that seems to look the other way at every Trump misstep (where did those constant cries of ‘Executive Overreach‘ go?!?!), the American People are now limited to the Fourth Estate as their primary watchdog in Washington. Looks like we are starting to make use of it.
If Americans are learning anything in the wake of January 20th, it is this: the controversy just doesn’t stop when your President is Donald Trump. As if the proposed Border Wall plans weren’t enough for week one, the nation was left reeling late Friday from the President’s hastily announced (and apparently hastily conceived) ‘Travel Ban’ targeting persons from seven Muslim-majority countries. The Executive Order erupted, causing mass confusion among affected travelers and barring people from entering the country.
Here’s the full text of the President’s Executive Order: Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States, directly from the White House. Many Trump supporters are quick to point out that the Executive Order does not explicitly ban any person of a particular religion, so it is unfair for protesters and others to label it as a “Muslim Ban”. But like many of the actions Trump has taken thus far, his true motives were revealed in a recent interview where he doubles down saying the Ban is “meant to prioritize Christians”. So yeah… it’s a Muslim Ban.
Participants in Tuesday’s Texas Muslim Capitol Day traveled to Austin for a day of education about the state government. But they walked away with a significant lesson in civil demonstrations.
Two years ago, the Muslim participants who visited the Texas Capitol were met with two dozen protesters who repeatedly interrupted their event. But when participants walked up to the south steps of the Capitol on Tuesday morning, they were surrounded by a massive human circle made up of at least 1,000 supporters looking to ensure the event went off without a hitch.
“Civic engagement … it is not just a privilege. It is God-given privilege, and it’s also a blessing and our duty to participate,” Sarwat Hussain, president of the San Antonio chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told the crowd gathered for the biennial advocacy day. “Lately, we have seen some demonstrations against us. That is not going to stop us at all.”
Outside the Capitol, more than 20 Democratic lawmakers attending the event made their support known. “We are with you … this is your country, this is your state,” state Rep. Celia Israel of Austin told the crowd. “Texas needs you, and you belong here.”
It was a sentiment made clear by supporters who had joined arms in front of the Capitol. And it was echoed earlier that morning when the first few students who arrived for the advocacy event were met with cheers and applause from the circle of supporters.
As positive as today’s events may have been outside the capitol, the usual business of exclusion and division was alive and well among leaders of the Texas Legislature. In Governor Greg Abbott’s State of the State Address, chief among his agenda for lawmakers was to pass a ban on ‘Sanctuary Cities’. What this means for immigrant communities remains to be seen.
But come what may, Texas Muslim communities and those that support them and our collective freedom of religion are here to stay, here to live, here to work and here to be visible.
Barely a week into the Trump Era and the United States has already seen one of the largest protest marches in American history, caught the new Administration telling blatant lies… or as they would like to say, “Alternative Facts”… about something as inconsequential as crowd size at the inauguration, and taken rapid moves to dismantle the American healthcare system with no signs of a replacement in sight.
Someone call Mary J. Blige, because if this isn’t the ‘Thick Of It’ then we are in for a very tough ride.
As one would suspect, the dizzying developments continue. After the President signed a sweeping Executive Order to fast track deportations and build the infamous Border Wall, House Speaker Paul Ryan has stepped up to support the efforts, saying Congress can approve funding for the wall.
But as Eric Werner of the Associated Press (via PBS News Hour) points out, this isn’t exactly what Trump promised on the campaign trail…
House Speaker Paul Ryan says President Donald Trump’s border wall will cost $12 billion to $15 billion — and Ryan says Congress will pay for it by this fall.
Congress will move legislation this year providing up to $15 billion to build a wall along the Mexican boundary, Republican leaders said Thursday at their annual strategy retreat. But they would not say how they would prevent the massive project from adding to federal deficits. Ryan said the goal is to complete that and other major bills in 2017, but the leaders offered no details on how the wall would be paid for, saying they would wait until the Trump administration proposes legislation.
Trump has repeatedly said Mexico will pay for the wall, but Mexican leaders oppose it and have said they won’t finance it.
Congress will pay for “the construction of the physical barrier on the border,” Ryan said.
“We intend to address the wall issue ourselves,” Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said.
Pressed on whether construction would increase federal deficits, Ryan said Republicans are fiscal conservatives. He said strengthening the economy and replacing President Barack Obama’s health care system were two of the best ways to bolster the government’s budget.
“If we’re going to be spending on things like infrastructure, we’re going to find the fiscal space to pay for that” in a budget Congress plans to write this spring, Ryan said.
Umm Mr. Speaker, saying that Republicans are fiscal conservatives is not an answer of how specifically you plan on paying for the wall without adding to the federal deficit. And it’s certainly not an answer that Republicans would have even consider accepting if the former Administration had proposed legislation without a way to pay for it. They didn’t support President Obama’s initiatives even when they were paid for, but now we’re supposed to “just trust them”??
Worse yet, it was Donald Trump who said that Mexico would pay for the Border Wall, but now Congress is ready to put up our tax dollars that could be going to educate our kids and pay for our roads.
Sounds less like an ‘America First’ policy, and more like ‘Mexico First’. And Mexican citizens don’t even want the wall.
Let’s revisit some actual facts for a moment. The United States does not need a Border Wall, because it will not stop illegal immigration to or through the country. Last time I checked, we live in the 21st Century. If people want to come to this country illegally, they can get here by simply taking a flight and overstaying their VISA (by many estimates, this is now the predominant mode of illegal immigration). We can build a wall halfway to the moon and put over a million guards along the Rio Grande. If built, the whole wall project will serve to do more harm than good by fracturing the economies of border communities, seizing land from private landowners, endangering American jobs and reinforcing corrosive narratives which play into the hands of America’s enemies and undermine the values which perpetuate this nation.
Far more important than sealing our borders to keep people out, Congress must do the real work to fix our broken system and pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Presidents on both sides of the political spectrum have tried and failed to get the real work of reform done, and it has been of great detriment to the nation. Right now the country already spends north of $18 billion per year to enforce the border. But if we brought our most vulnerable communities out of the shadows and forged a path to citizenship for those already here, we could not only make the American people safer, but generate billions of dollars (and lots of American jobs) in the process.
And let’s not forget, this is the common-sense conclusion that is shared across multiple political philosophies. If you don’t believe me, take this statement on the border wall issue from the 2016 Gary Johnson campaign…
“Having served as Governor of a border state, Gary Johnson understands immigration. He understands that a robust flow of labor, regulated not by politics, but by the marketplace, is essential. He understands that a bigger fence will only produce taller ladders and deeper tunnels, and that the flow of illegal immigrants across the border is not a consequence of too little security, but rather a legal immigration system that simply doesn’t work. Militarizing the border, bigger fences, and other punitive measures espoused by too many politicians are all simplistic “solutions’ to a problem caused by artificial quotas, bureaucratic incompetence and the shameful failure of Congress to actually put in place an immigration system that matches reality.”
Unfortunately for us, “reality” has been thrown out of the window for the next several years. And soon, our view of it may be blocked from the wall.