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Wendy Davis Emphasizes Her Commitment to Education Funding As School Starts

by: Katherine Haenschen

Wed Aug 27, 2014 at 04:00 PM CDT

Monday in Houston, Wendy Davis marked the beginning of the public school year by emphasizing her commitment to public education.

In 2011, Wendy Davis filibustered a budget that cut $5.4 billion from public education, and in 2013 she voted against a budget that failed to restore sufficient funds.

Unlike Rick Perry, Wendy Davis would have vetoed a budget that slashed $5.4 billion from our Texas public schools. Attorney General Greg Abbott, on the other hand, continues to defend the cuts in our courts system.

Joined by education leaders, Davis gave a moving speech Monday about the value of education and how it prepares students for a better future.

Watch a video of Wendy Davis's remarks below the jump!

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by: Burnt Orange Report

Wed Aug 27, 2014 at 02:00 PM CDT

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Tens of Thousands of Texans are Losing their Cars to Predatory Auto Title Lenders

by: Emily Cadik

Wed Aug 27, 2014 at 00:00 PM CDT

As part of their weeklong Bypassed by the Miracle series, the Texas Tribune takes a look at the tens of thousands of Texans who have lost their cars as a result of predatory auto title lending.

Auto title lenders are similar to payday lenders, except they use car titles as collateral. If the borrower defaults on the payments, the lender can repossess the car and sell it to repay the outstanding debt. Like a payday loan, auto title loans carry very high interest, are laden with exorbitant and often hidden fees, and are issued without regard to the credit of the borrower. The people who take out payday and auto title loans are low-income, with an average income of $26,000. On average, they renew their auto title loan eight times, eventually paying $2,142 in interest for $941 in credit, according to a report from the Center for Responsible Lending.  

Because of a lack of other options, low-income borrowers essentially sign over their highest value asset for a few hundred dollars - and then end up accruing massive debt and potentially losing their cars.

Read about auto title lending in Texas - and efforts to regulate it - after the jump.

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New Rules Proposed To Address Fracking And Earthquakes At Texas Railroad Commission

by: Joe Deshotel

Wed Aug 27, 2014 at 10:30 AM CDT

The fact that fracking for oil and gas may be causing earthquakes puts some legislators in an awkward position pitting their land-owning constituents against the oil and gas industry.

The Energy Resources Subcommittee on Seismic Activity met this week to discuss new rules proposed to address the connection between hydraulic fracturing and the seismic activity that has been taking place more frequently near disposal wells.

Small town mayors in the affected area of North Texas say they are grateful the issue is being addressed but believe these proposals should only be a "first step."

See what the state's recently hired seismologist had to say...

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Women's Suffrage in the Lone Star State - A Storied History and A Disappointing Present

by: Genevieve Cato

Tue Aug 26, 2014 at 03:30 PM CDT

Women in Travis County register to vote for the first time in 1918
Today is the anniversary of women's right to vote. On this day in 1920, the 19th amendment went into effect and women officially gained the right to vote across the country. Suffragists had been working in Texas for decades long before the national amendment granted all American women access to the ballot box.

You've probably heard of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Alice Paul - but have you heard of Minnie Fisher Cunningham? She was one of the leaders of the suffrage movement in Texas, and she fought with many women (and some men) to ensure that Texan women could have a say in their government. But how many women still exercise that right?

More on the history of women's suffrage in Texas and the legacy of Texas women's right to vote - and what women's votes mean for Texas' future - below the jump.

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Texas Pastor Calls For Removal of "Demonic" Twilight Books From Library

by: Katherine Haenschen

Tue Aug 26, 2014 at 03:00 PM CDT

There's at least one person who's not torn between Team Jacob and Team Edward.

A Cleveland, Texas pastor has called for the removal of the popular Twilight series from the local library, claiming that the "sexual element" and "creatures that aren't human" are dangerous for young readers.

Missick also thinks teens should have parental approval to check out such books. Currently, library policy requires parental consent for minors to get a library card.

Read more below the jump.

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Lilith Fund 2013 Report: Abortion Access Barriers Met With Generous Donor Support

by: Natalie San Luis

Tue Aug 26, 2014 at 01:00 PM CDT

Despite the devastating attacks on reproductive justice from the state legislature in 2013, grassroots organizations and their supporters are working harder than ever to ensure that Texans have access to abortion funds.

The Lilith Fund, an organization that provides abortion funds to Texans in need, recently released their annual report for 2013.

"We received an unprecedented outpouring of support in the past year, with donations coming from all over the country as people watched in horror at the cruelty being inflicted on Texans needing abortions," Lilith Fund reported. "Despite the generosity, we watched our clients experience greater hardships as clinics closed and doctors were unable to provide services to those most in need."

Read more after the jump.

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Wendy Davis' Second TV Ad Focuses on Greg Abbott's Lack of Oversight of Cancer Research Center

by: Joseph Vogas

Tue Aug 26, 2014 at 11:30 AM CDT

Manuel Alvarado, pictured above with his two children, narrates his cancer survival story in Wendy Davis' new ad
Wendy Davis has launched her second tv ad in the 2014 race for governor of Texas. In the ad, Manuel Alvarado, a cancer survivor from Fort Worth, narrates his struggles of surviving and overcoming the deadly disease. He quickly pivots to Greg Abbott who was in charge of overseeing the state cancer research fund. Readers will recall the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) has been under investigation for favoring services from those who were political donors to Governor Rick Perry. Many of those donors who had allegedly not been completely screened are now major donors to Greg Abbott.

The ad accuses Greg Abbott's donors of using their favorable political standing with the Attorney General to profit with funds which were meant to help find a cure for cancer. The ad further promotes the message that Greg Abbott has used his elected position to act as another powerful insider, only working to serve those who can afford access to him.

See Wendy Davis' latest hit against Greg Abbott after the jump.

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Rep. Elliott Naishtat Hospitalized After Bike Accident But In Good Spirits - Sign His Card!

by: Katherine Haenschen

Tue Aug 26, 2014 at 10:00 AM CDT

State Rep. Elliott Naishtat was hospitalized following a bicycling accident in Minnesota, but fear not -- the progressive champion is on the mend and in good spirits.

During the annual bike ride at the National Conference of State Legislators held this year in Minnesota, Naishtat hit a guard rail hard and punctured his calf which resulted in severe swelling and internal bleeding.

Thankfully Naishtat is expected to make a full recovery and be back here in Austin shortly.

Help us welcome him home -- below the jump, sign our get well soon card for State Rep. Elliott Naishtat!

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Battleground Texas' Blue Star Project Works to Promote Down-Ballot Democrats

by: Joseph Vogas

Mon Aug 25, 2014 at 04:00 PM CDT

Many Texas Democrats know Battleground Texas came to Texas for the long-term goal of making the state competitive at the statewide level. This year, the organization has been working closely with gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis to try and achieve that goal this year, but Battleground Texas is not stopping with the statewide goal. They are also working to promote Texas Democrats in several lower-profile races hidden further down Texan's ballots.

From their blog announcing The Blue Star Project, Battleground Texas writes:

"Through this effort, we will work with candidates in key legislative races to help build the strongest, most effective campaigns possible - including a coordinated field program and a full arsenal of data, digital and organizing expertise to help candidates with the kind of one-on-one outreach that motivates people to get to the polls and vote."

Erica Sackin, Communications Director of Battleground Texas, was kind enough to answer some questions about the Blue Star Project with me over the phone and thru email. Read more about the Blue Star Project and how it will be implemented to elect as many Democrats as possible after the jump.

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Texas is One of the Worst States for Women's Equality

by: Katie Singh

Mon Aug 25, 2014 at 01:00 PM CDT

Tomorrow, August 26, is Women's Equality Day, a day commemorating the passage of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution that granted women the right to vote. Though it's clear that women have made many strides since 1920, when the 19th Amendment was passed, there's still a long way to go--and nowhere is that more evident than here in Texas.

It's long been apparent that the United States as a whole is far behind when it comes to women's equality. Last year, the World Economic Forum released its Gender Gap Index, ranking nations' performance on a variety of equality indicators, such as economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment. The US ranked 23rd on this list, behind countries like Denmark, Cuba, and Lesotho.

Now, a new study has found that Texas is one of the worst states in the country for women's equality, coming in at 47 out of 50. Texas women are falling further behind men in a number of categories, from pay to health to education.

Read how bad the gender gap is in Texas after the jump.

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Rick Perry's PAC Fundraising Off Felony Indictment

by: Katherine Haenschen

Mon Aug 25, 2014 at 11:00 AM CDT

I'm not surprised that Rick Perry is fundraising off of his two indictments. He's trying his damnedest to make the case sound like a farce despite the very serious nature of the charges.

I am, however, surprised to see another sitting Republican Governor actually coming to the defense of the once and future failed Presidential candidate.

To date, Perry's RickPAC has sent at least three fundraising emails to gin up funds for his "leadership PAC" that he will in turn contribute to other candidates who cannot count to three.

Read who's supporting Rick Perry's self-serving fundraising below the jump.

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Gov. Perry's Smear of DA Lehmberg & His False Claims Of Politicization

by: jsoifer

Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 06:11 PM CDT

Thanks to Travis County Democratic Party Chairwoman Jan Soifer for this breakdown of what Rick Perry's indictment is really about. By now you know that Governor Perry has been indicted on two felony charges: "abuse of official capacity," a first degree felony, and "coercion of a public servant," a third degree felony. More specifically, he publicly threatened to veto funding for the Travis County District Attorney's Public Integrity Unit, or PIU, if DA Lehmberg did not resign her position, and apparently privately offered to restore funding and give her another job if she did resign, which would have allowed Perry to appoint her successor.

We didn't expect Governor Perry to take responsibility for his actions, but his defense of smearing Rosemary Lehmberg and complaining the indictment was political does not answer the charges of his indictment.

Perry's PR offensive of character assassination and deflection may work in the court of public opinion, but it won't work in a court of law.

Below the jump is more information on the Governor's wrongdoing that will help you not only understand where the spin is coming from and how to respond.

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Collateral Damage of Gov. Rick Perry's Veto of PIU Funds Includes 400 Felony Investigations

by: Joe Deshotel

Sun Aug 24, 2014 at 02:00 PM CDT

Governor Rick Perry's name isn't on the ballot in 2014, but you wouldn't know that judging by the news coverage alone.  And, you could forgive any Texans who might still make that mistake given that most have grown accustomed to "candidate Perry" during a non-presidential election year.

The resurgence of media mentions and a budding presidential re-run began with his unilateral decision to bring 1000 National Guard troops to the border, but is now consumed by another unilateral move -- attempting to force an elected official from office.

The collateral damage for Rick Perry's political maneuvers is stacking up, see what could but the worst of unintended consequences below the jump...

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Left in Texas Podcast: Rick Perry Mugshots, Merch, & Mockery

by: Joe Deshotel

Sun Aug 24, 2014 at 10:41 AM CDT

This is Episode 33 for the week of August 18th.

For the second week in a row we spend nearly an entire episode catching you up to the latest news surrounding the indictment of Gov. Rick Perry.

The Texas media has been fixated on this subject and for good reason, Gov. Perry has thumbed his nose at the prosecution, the grand jury and Texas taxpayers. And, despite his serious legal troubles he's not skipping any stops on the road to seeking the 2016 GOP nomination for President.

Perry did however give at least one giant (and surprising) reprieve to opponents and taxpayers -- find out what it is, and hear the full episode below the jump!...

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Burnt Orange Reporters
Editor and Publisher:
Katherine Haenschen

Senior Staff Writers:
Genevieve Cato
Joe Deshotel
Ben Sherman

Staff Writers:
Omar Araiza
Emily Cadik
Phillip Martin
Natalie San Luis
Katie Singh
Joseph Vogas

Byron LaMasters

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