Tag Archives: Texas Legislature

School vouchers: bad deal!

Gov. Greg Abbott keeps spitting in the faces of what should be his most ardent constituency, the rural Republicans who vote overwhelmingly to keep the GOP governor in office.

That’s right. He continues to push for his school voucher plan that would take money from public school districts and give Texans the choice of sending their children to private schools.

Why is that such a spitter? Because rural Republican legislators have been arguing against the school voucher plan because of the negative impact it would have on public school systems that are the heart and soul of so many rural communities.

Public schools so often in Texas are the center of social life in many towns. GOP legislators know it better than anyone, which is why they have been battling with the governor over his desire to rob the school systems of money they need.

Abbott said that pro-voucher legislative candidates fared well in the March primary this month. He said the state is “two votes away” from making the voucher plan law. He is urging Republicans to put his plan over the top in the Texas House by electing just two more pro-voucher Republicans.

According to the Texas Tribune: “We are now at 74 votes in favor of school choice in the state of Texas. Which is good, but 74 does not equal 76,” Abbott said, referring to the number of votes he needs to pass the bill into law. “We need two more votes.”

Greg Abbott says Texas close to passing vouchers | The Texas Tribune

He tried to get the measure enacted through four special legislative sessions after the 2023 Legislature adjourned this past May. He failed every time.

This effort disgusts me, as a taxpaying Texas resident who sent his own children through public schools. They received fine educations, earned their college degrees and have become productive members of this great state’s population.

Therefore, I am going to root against the effort to put Gov. Abbott’s notion over the top.

Yes on DST!

My man cave wall calendar caught my eye this morning as I was getting my day started.

It told me that on March 10 we return to Daylight Saving Time. My first reaction? Why can’t we just make it a permanent feature of our calendar? No need to switch to Standard Time in the fall and then back to DST in the spring.

We go through this drill every year. We switch back and forth and every … single … year we hear the same gripes from those who bitch about their body clocks needing adjustment. How they cannot get used to the extra hour of daylight in the evening or having to “fall back” in the autumn.

Personally, I never have had a problem with switching to Daylight Time and then back to Standard Time. However, if we’re going to keep bitching about doing it, my own preference would be to keep the Daylight Saving Time as a permanent fixture.

I like the extended daylight in the late spring and summer months. As for the fall and winter months, well … I wouldn’t care. It gets darker earlier in that time of the year.

The Texas Legislature a couple of sessions ago toyed with the idea of asking Texans what they preferred. The proposed resolution would have placed three issues on the ballot: Keep it as it is; permanent DST; or permanent Standard Time. I was prepared to vote for permanent Daylight Saving Time … but then the Legislature couldn’t get its crap together in time to put the issue on the ballot.

Maybe the 2025 Legislature can get organized early enough when it convenes in January to enable us to decide what we want to do. I know that’s a big ask, given the nature of our Legislature and the idiocy that seems to govern the legislative flow at times.

I’ll hope for the best. Meantime, I am going to enjoy Daylight Saving Time when it arrives in a couple of weeks.

GOP state lawmakers stand on principle

Texas Republican legislators’ rebellion against Gov. Greg Abbott’s effort to siphon money from public education and hand it to private schools deserves another notice from this blog.

I already have spoken kindly about rural Republicans’ efforts to block the initiative, citing their belief in the strength that public education brings to their communities. The effort is so united and unbreakable through four special legislative sessions that Abbott appears to have given up on the fight for the time being.

The legislators answer to the voters, not to the political leadership in Austin. For their loyalty to the votes who send them to office, I applaud them.

Their resistance against political leadership reminds me of a struggle that occurred in Washington in the mid-1990s. It involved a West Texas congressman, Republican Larry Combest of Lubbock and his refusal to back the Freedom to Farm legislation pushed by newly installed House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Combest told Gingrich he opposed the agriculture overhaul effort because the farmers and ranchers who voted him into office opposed it. He would side with the South Plains and High Plains voters who expressed their opposition. One of the effects of the legislation would be to reduce the farm and ranch subsidies that went to those who worked the land.

I applauded Combest vociferously at the time while I worked for the Amarillo Globe-News as editorial page editor. I spoke with considerable passion about the guts Combest displayed in resisting Gingrich. It would cost Combest a coveted chairmanship of the House Agriculture Committee. Gingrich coaxed a retired Republican from Oregon, Bob Smith, to run again for the House and gave him the chairman’s gavel.

Combest eventually asked me to back off on my criticism of Gingrich. “I have to work with these guys,” Combest said. I don’t recall my precise answer, but I believe I said something like, “Too bad, Larry. I’m going to stay on it.”

Combest displayed plenty of backbone then. Texas rural GOP legislators are showing plenty of the same thing now.

Stand tall!

Politics of revenge: unbecoming and ugly

Two of Texas’s top politicians are seeking to exact revenge against members of their own political party and frankly, it is unbecoming of both of them to seek to get back at their fellow Republicans.

Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton have launched their revenge strategies seeking to defeat pols who voted against school vouchers and voted in favor of an impeachment initiative.

Abbott wants so badly to rob the public education till to benefit private schools that he’s targeting GOP lawmakers in the House who opposed the notion; most of the Republicans opposing the notion represent rural school districts where public schools are the centerpiece, the lifeblood of their communities

Paxton avoided being kicked out of office after the House impeached him on allegations that he’s a vengeful crook who did sweet deals to benefit a leading political ally. The Senate tossed the articles of impeachment aside.

These two MAGA Republicans are singing off the hymnal offered by Donald Trump, who has vowed to be “your retribution” in 2024.

It’s disgusting, man.

Abbott’s striking is more repugnant to me, given that he is attacking lawmakers who are listening to their constituents and following their wishes rather than heeding the demands of the governor. I am not excusing Paxton for an instant, though. I long have believed that Paxton is a disgrace to the legal profession and to the AG’s office.

But … here we are, on the eve of an election year. Two statewide politicians are vowing to engage in local elections and try to persuade legislators’ constituents that these Republicans should be defeated. Why? Because they aren’t doing governor’s and the AG’s bidding.

Disgraceful.

Rewrite this cruel abortion law!

Have we become so wedded in Texas to the notion of following a hidebound ideology that we cannot consider the human impact from policies that come out of our Legislature?

Don’t answer that. I know the answer. I believe it is yes.

Kate Cox is now the official poster woman for a policy that needs a serious revisiting when the next Legislature convenes in January 2025. Cox is the Dallas woman who was pregnant with a child who was doomed to die days if not hours after being born. Cox needed an abortion. Why? Because doctors told her that giving birth could harm her reproductive future, that she might be unable to get pregnant again.

Cox could obtain that abortion in Texas because of a cruel law that makes the procedure illegal, except when a pregnancy endangers the mother’s life. No other exceptions are allowed. Cox got kicked around. A lower court granted her permission; the Texas Supreme Court nixed that ruling. Then it issued a permanent ruling that disallowed Cox’s desire to end her pregnancy.

She went out of state to receive the procedure.

This is an insane law. It needs to be rewritten to allow for the type of exception that Cox faced.

The so-called “pro-life” movement is heralding the SCOTEX decision. This movement has nothing to do with being pro-life. It is instead a “pro-birth” movement that put Kate Cox’s parental future in dire peril.

The Texas law — one of the nation’s most restrictive — makes abortion illegal after six weeks of pregnancy. Hell, many women don’t even know they’re pregnant so soon after conception! That didn’t matter to the numbskulls who forced this bill onto the books.

To worsen matters, they wrote a law that punishes doctors who perform an abortion with criminal penalties. And, of course, they didn’t allow for the type of circumstance that Kate Cox faced were she to give birth to a baby who had zero chance of survival.

Think for a moment about the heartbreak that awaited Cox and her husband and their family.

The next Texas Legislature has the power to improve a bad law by broadening the exceptions allowed for ending a pregnancy. If our legislators have a beating heart, they will act to lessen the chance of other women being trapped in the vise that could have delivered permanent reproductive damage to Kate Cox.

They’re ignoring the ‘bosses’

To whom or what are our Texas legislators listening when it comes to abortion?

They do not heed the views of the bosses who elect them to public office. That’s for damn sure!

They have enacted an anti-abortion law that makes the practice of ending a pregnancy an illegal act. Meanwhile, a Dallas woman who faces possible permanent fertility damage if she is forced to give birth to a girl who is doomed to die is being kicked around like the political football she has become.

What is so damn troubling is that our lawmakers are ignoring the will of the people who put them into office. Texans, by a significant majority, favor women retaining the right to control their bodies and they oppose (mostly male) legislators making decisions they have no business making.

This is a representative democracy, last time I checked. Therefore, the people who represent the masses need to heed the will of their employers. That would be people such as the women in this state who are trapped by a law that bans abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, with damn near zero exceptions.

Kate Cox, the Dallas woman I mentioned, faces the heartache of giving birth to a baby who will die and, moreover, she well might be unable to give birth to another child in the future.

This is utter insanity.

‘Pro-birth’ policy must go

Kate Cox well might be forced to do something no sane human being should insist she do: give birth to a baby who is doomed to die.

The Dallas resident is trying to end a pregnancy she knows will end tragically. Her unborn daughter cannot live outside her mother’s womb for more than a few days. However, the abomination of a Texas law is requiring her to give birth because the law doesn’t cover the health of the infant as an exemption to its restrictions on abortion.

One court ruled in Cox’s favor. The Texas Supreme Court overruled the lower court and issued a temporary hold on the ruling.

The so-called “pro-life” movement has shown itself to be a “pro-birth” movement intent on making women who know their child will not survive go through the agony of giving birth only to watch their child die.

Here’s an idea for Gov. Greg Abbott to consider: Call a special session but instead of seeking to force private school vouchers on us, he should call legislators back to amend the law that well could force Kate Cox and other women to endure a needless heartache.

Vouchers torpedoed by GOP lawmakers

How ’bout them rural Republican Texas legislators for standing up for their public school systems?

They have helped torpedo a plan to allow public school money to be funneled away to enable parents to enroll their children in private schools. According to the Texas Tribune: The House voted 84-63 in favor of an amendment offered by Rep. John Raney, R-College Station, which removed the provision of the bill allowing some parents to use tax dollars to send their children to private and religious schools. Twenty-one Republicans, most of whom represent rural districts, joined all Democrats in support.

Texas House votes to remove school vouchers from massive education bill | The Texas Tribune

Is this a major embarrassment to Gov. Greg Abbott, who keeps calling legislators back into special session to enact his top priority? You bet it is.

My hope is that Abbott will surrender on this approach that he deems so vital.

The GOP lawmakers understand something fundamental about the role that public school systems play in their district. Which is that the schools are the heart and soul of their districts. Why damage or destroy them by taking money away? They won’t go there. Nor should they!

Pete Laney of Hale Center is the most recent Democrat to serve as speaker of the House. Laney always said that he wanted to let “the will of the House” determine the flow of legislation. One of his successors, Republican Speaker Dade Phelan of Beaumont, is following that lead.

The will of the House has spoken on behalf of our public education system.

GOP regrets all that power?

A saying comes to mind when I consider the infighting and back-biting within the Texas Republican Party’s political hierarchy.

Be careful what you wish for …

Gromer Jeffers Jr., who covers politics for the Dallas Morning News, refers to the “scrum” that has developed between Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Both legislative chambers are at odds with each other over Gov. Greg Abbott’s No. 1 legislative priority: school vouchers.

Republicans who command a super majority in both chambers cannot bridge the chasm that separates the MAGA/Freedom Caucus crowd from the more “establishment” elements within the GOP.

This thought entered my sometimes thick skull this morning as I read Gromers’ piece in the DMN: Might it be time for Texas Democrats to re-emerge from their decades in the wilderness to become a political force in this state? Ponder this for a moment: It could serve Republicans well to have a strong opposition party with which it could do battle rather than wasting time squabbling among themselves.

Phelan and Patrick’s alliance flew off the rails when the House impeached Attorney General Ken Paxton. The impeachment vote was heavily bipartisan; it was overwhelming. Paxton’s subsequent acquittal in the Senate trial brought out Patrick’s scorn for the decision delivered by the House … and he stated his contempt for the House immediately after Paxton’s acquittal.

Both sides are digging in. House GOP members dislike much of the voucher notion, much to the chagrin of GOP senators. Phelan backs his House colleagues, while Patrick stands with the Senate.

How do Democrats parlay all of this into political advantage that suits them? I suppose they can beat the drum over governmental incompetence, noting that Republicans are so damn entrenched in their dislike for each other that they let key legislation slip away. Then again, a united Republican Party would do Democrats little good … correct?

I am just one Texas resident who has grown tired of the Legislature’s inaction. I favor good government over no government. Republicans who own most of the Legislature’s seats — along with every statewide elected office — have continued to demonstrate big-league incompetence.

Democrats might have a way out of the darkness, but only if they can cobble together an agenda that doesn’t draw heavy fire from the demagogic wing of the Republicans.

Legislature keeps on keepin’ on …

Republican government inefficiency is flooding into the chambers of the Texas Legislature, demonstrating that GOP ineffectiveness isn’t just a “Washington thing.”

The GOP-led Legislature adjourned sine die this morning with two of Gov. Greg Abbott’s top legislative priorities left undone: school vouchers and border security.

House Speaker Dade Phelan is feuding openly with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — apparently spilling over from the House’s impeachment of Attorney General Ken Paxton and the Senate’s acquittal of Paxton on all the charges brought by the House.

Let’s remember something about the Legislature: It’s a “citizen body” comprising 150 House members and 31 senators who have day jobs — so to speak — back home. If you’re a working stiff who got elected to the Legislature to do something good for the state, then you’d better get the job done during the 140 days the Legislature meets every other year.

Or else!

The “or else” happens to be more time taken away from your jobs, your livelihood, your family … and your life, for God’s sake!

Welcome to the new world of GOP dominance, in-fighting, squabbling and inability to govern properly and cleanly.

It reminds me just a bit of the turmoil and tumult that infects D.C. pols who continue to fight among themselves over issues that in an another era would have pulled them together. Aid to Ukraine in its fight against Russia? Support for Israel in its ongoing war with terrorists? Backing the national debt, as the U.S. Constitution  requires? All of that has been tossed aside as Republicans quarrel among themselves over electing a speaker and arguing over whether to default on our financial obligations.

This is a new and uncomfortable era in politics, my dear friends.

Gov. Abbott threatens to call the Legislature back for a fifth special session if they cannot enact voucher and border security measures. When you think about it, that’s easy for him to say, given that he gets paid a handsome full-time salary to govern.

The Legislature, the horde of 181 Texans who supposedly serve for the love of their state and country? I hope your employers cut you plenty of slack.