Update: Second to last day of Special Session

Posted in 82nd Legislature, Around The State, Commentary, Education, Had Enough Yet?, Health Care, Public Schools, Special Session, The Budget, The Lege at 9:43 am by wcnews

Kuff posts on yesterday’s action at the Lege, Fiscal and health care bills pass. The worst part being that again the Texas GOP showed their willingness to defund public education.

One provision that didn’t make in the final version of SB 2 was an amendment from Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, that called for $2 billion from the rainy day fund for schools if the fund brings in more than expected.“A choice was made when we had money in the bank to say: ‘No, we’re not going to appropriate any more here to our schools’,” Howard said. “We’re going to leave billions in the bank when we’re asking our schools to cut.”


Ogden said the Howard amendment had promise with some modifications, but the House members wanted it gone.

“They were for it and then they were against it,” Ogden said.

Yes, after they were reminded by the people who hate public education that they need to hate it, too. That’s the choice they made, and the voters need to be reminded about it every day between now and next November.

Regarding the health care bill there are significant issues, Texas health care bill with Medicare, abortion provisions goes to Rick Perry.

[Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound,] said the measures would help tackle “unsustainable growth in our health and human services budget.” The Senate approved the bill 22-8 and the House 96-48.

Democrats objected to GOP leaders’ decision to attach to the bill two separate measures sought by conservative activists wanting to curb federal power. Under a “health care compact” proposal and a “global waiver” plan for Medicaid, state officials could seek freedom to use federal health dollars under Medicaid to nudge the needy into private health insurance with taxpayer subsidies.

The proposed interstate compact, if approved by Congress, could let Texas also take over the management of elderly residents’ federal Medicare benefits, though Zerwas played down that possibility.

Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, said the state budget assumes Texas will be freed from Medicaid rules on eligibility and benefits and will save $700 million over the next two years. He called that folly, given state officials’ hostility toward President Barack Obama’s administration.

Zerwas did not argue, saying that “these are some tense times.”

The bill also would deny $34 million to Planned Parenthood from family planning grants, curb abortions at public hospitals and promote use of adult stem cells from the patient’s own body in new medical treatments. Abortion opponents were thrilled, while women’s health advocates warned that family planning cuts would lead to more unwanted pregnancies and more abortions.

Kuff has more on the state of this legislation.

A lot of what was in this bill was in similar legislation from the regular session. As it happens, on the same day this happened, the state of Indiana got swatted down by a federal judge for trying to legislatively de-fund Planned Parenthood. I don’t know enough about what either state has done to know how comparable the two situations are, but earlier this month Texas got some pushback from the feds over this, so there’s clearly some parallel. I feel confident there will be litigation here as well. The Trib has more on the legislation, and Jason Stanford has a righteous rant on what it does.

As a reminder of how fruitless it is for any Democrat to attempt to work with the Texas GOP, here’s a cautionary tale from state Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, A senator needs a dicho.

“Just today, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst called on House Republicans to exercise their majority strength and push sanctuary cities through the process. But the House Republican leadership is looking to justify their futility, and one small piece of that would come via the removal of a Senate Hispanic’s amendment.

“I voted to increase funding for border security in S.B. 2. I represent a border district with more skin in border security than, say, a state representative from Tarrant County. For me and my constituents, border security is more than political theater and food for my political base. For us, border security is a daily reality, and the policy implications a necessity for continued investment in our economy, our communities, and our families.

“The brand of Republicanism promoted by the Texas House leadership has and will continue to alienate a Hispanic community that is pro-family, pro-education (and soon-to-be majority in the public education system), and proud Americans. We are veterans, teachers, soldiers, university system chancellors, star athletes, mayors, mothers and sons, deserving of equal protection under the law.

“The truth of an issue is best appreciated in the context of the response it provokes. Sanctuary cities profiles Hispanics based on appearance – skin color, dress, and other perceived ‘un-American qualities.’ The response from House Republican leaders? ‘Block the Hispanic Senator’s local amendment – that will show him.’

“Show us it does. Their true nature.”

The TexasTrib has the list of what’s done, and to do, in the next two days, The Final Push: A Special Session Update. It looks like most of the GOP’s energy will be spent trying to satisfy the base, by voting on non-issues like the s-called “sanctuary cities” legislation, without damaging their party too much in 2012 by actually passing the legislation. Even though the damage may already be done, Hispanics notice when they are being bashed.

Led by the legislative actions of Arizona state officials, Gov. Rick Perry has taken the lead in enacting similar imprudent laws here in Texas.

Specifically, he and the Texas legislature are pushing bills that are negatively aimed at Hispanic citizens. Three dubious bills are as follows: (l) Voter ID Bill, (the 21st Century equivalent to the Poll Tax); (2) Redistricting Bill, (an old trick to gerrymander voting districts to diminish the Hispanic vote); and (3) Sanctuary Cities Bill, (an offensive mandate to intimidate and question the citizenship of loyal Texas citizens that look Mexican and/or speak Spanish).

To be sure, laws are necessary in society and are meant to keep citizens safe and secure. However, oftentimes they have been used in U.S. history to terrorize citizens, not to protect them. For example, Jim Crow laws were officially enacted in the U.S. to deny equal rights to Black citizens. Those abhorrent laws remained on the books from the end of the Civil War to 1965.

Likewise, the three bills named above are reminiscent of similar anti-Hispanic laws in our state’s past. They echo the negative Jim Crow-type mindset of post-1836 that subjected Spanish Mexican Texans to despicable discriminatory practices imposed by the Anglo Saxon majority. Officially, that state-supported bigotry lasted for over 120 years.

If that’s how they feel and, as was alluded to in  Sen. Hinojosa’s remarks above, that the attack on public education is being seen as an attack on Hispanics, as they head to a majority in the public school system, then there is certainly a civil rights and social justice message that Democrats must use in 2012 to win back legislative and Congressional seats.  Because nothing is going to change until Texas elects different people.

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