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Year in Review: BOR's Top Progressive Moments of 2013


by: Burnt Orange Report

Tue Dec 31, 2013 at 07:49 PM CST


2013 was a momentous year in Texas politics. The citizen's filibuster shook the Capitol dome after Wendy Davis inspired a nation with her courageous stand for women's rights. But that wasn't the only victory for Democrats and progressives in Texas and nationally this year.

Our staff was asked to weigh in on our favorite moments from 2013. The varied responses make clear that even in Texas, Democrats and progressives have much to celebrate as the clock runs out on 2013.

Below the jump, join our staff for a recap of key federal, legislative, and local victories, advances in civil rights, the rise of staunch progressive Democrats, and a few other victories we're celebrating.

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TOP STATE AND LEGISLATIVE MOMENTS

The filibuster takes the cake, but the momentum leading up to AND continuing after the filibuster was incredible. Thanks to dedicated grassroots activists, there were thousands of women from all over at the hearings in the days before and after the original legislation failed, and even more came for the rallies to show support.

-- Natalie San Luis

::

Rick Perry announced he would not seek reelection as Governor of Texas. This was a moral victory but it also set off a chain of reactions that has led to Republican Primary in-fighting and the chance for a new day in Texas politics.

-- Joe Deshotel

::

Wendy Davis announcing for governor! The excitement was palpable everywhere, and it signaled a new start to Texas progressive politics. We finally have a serious candidate for governor! Texas deserves real leaders.

-- Katie Singh & Chaille Jolink

::

Democrats in the legislature stood firm, and -- more importantly -- stood together, and restored $3.4 of the $5.4 billion cut from school funding in 2011. We're still not where we need to be, but we quietly restored a sizable chunk of funding to public education in Texas. Democrats fought hard for that, and we got there. News reports detailed how experts knew it would not be enough, but there might not have been the increase at all if it weren't for progressive Democrats fighting in the legislature.

Now, we need to increase our numbers in the Legislature and elect a Governor who has already said she would have vetoed those $5.4 billion in cuts in the first place.

-- Katherine Haenschen & Michael Hurta

::

The Texas Lily Ledbetter Act (barely) passes the House and the Senate! Even though Governor Perry vetoed the bill when it came to his desk, the passage of HB 905 was a huge success for Senator Wendy Davis and Representative Senfronia Thompson, as well as all of the other co-authors and women across the state. That the issue of equal pay was able to garner enough support in the Republican legislature was a huge victory for women's rights in Texas, and it should be celebrated as such.

-- Genevieve Cato

::

When compared to previous years, the 83rd Legislative Session saw a very large visible increase in support of the LGBT community, including the most number of pro-LGBT bills filed and the advancement of many of these bills to committee hearings. It's crucial to elect a governor that will sign these bills into laws!

-- Omar Araiza

::

TOP FEDERAL MOMENTS

The reaction to the government shutdown. I think we're beginning to see the end of the Tea Party, accelerated by our own Ted Cruz. Also it's always entertaining to see the GOP turn on themselves, plus the shutdown totally backfired on them.

-- Katie Singh

::

Late in the year, the United States Senate finally reformed how it did business as it relates to confirming Presidential nominees. This means President Obama's nominees to federal courts will have an easier time getting confirmed through the remainder of his term so long as Democrats retain their majority in the US Senate after the 2014 elections. With a nomination pending on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, this is a REALLY big deal.

-- Joseph Vogas

::

Elizabeth Warren questioned the SEC about the last time they actually litigated against a bank that committed fraud. When the "regulators" couldn't even name the last time it happened, their failure (and that of the system as a whole) was laid bare. Warren's persistent, effective approach took full flight her first year in office, and progressives everywhere should be grateful.

-- Ben Sherman

::

TOP WOMEN'S HEALTH MOMENTS

Tampongate. Banning tampons from the Senate Gallery advanced the progressive narrative that these men were singling out women with regulations that were directed at their bodies. For that reason this incident encapsulated the entire movement.

-- Joe Deshotel

::

Watching State Representative Jessica Farrar utterly shred Jodie Laubenberg during the multiple State Affairs committee hearings on her back-alley abortion ban bill was just so, so good. I've been a long-time Farrar fan, and it was so great to watch her shine as a pro-choice force majeur this year, from the regular session until the end.

-- Katherine Haenschen

::

Judge Lee Yeakel ruled that parts of HB 2 were unconstitutional. The injunction only lasted days but it was much needed, highly public proof that Texas women are still fighting.

-- Natalie San Luis

::

VICTORIES FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

LGBT rights in Texas had several big victories across the state, including the Texas National Guard recognizing same-sex marriage benefits, the City of San Antonio passing a non-discrimination ordinance, and recently the City of Houston recognizing same-sex marriage benefits for city employees, which was unfortunately taken to court. The national movement towards equality has not missed Texas. Love will prevail.

-- Omar Araiza

::

When Edward Snowden released documents displaying illegal U.S. spying activity, he gave American society the opportunity to re-evaluate itself. Unfortunately, that re-evaluation is hampered by a power establishment in favor of universal surveillance (without proving its utility at all), but Snowden's bravery in holding the government accountable is as progressive as it gets.

-- Ben Sherman

::

This summer, Prairie View A&M students led by Priscilla Barbour demanded a convenient, on-campus polling place for students at the historically black university. The county's elections office repeatedly refused their demands until Barbour sent a letter to the secretary of state. Two months later the county decided that the student center at the university will be a new polling place.

-- Natalie San Luis

::

STRONG DEMOCRATS INSPIRE A STATE


"I don't take shit."- Senfronia Thompson

Senfronia Thompson was honored in the 2013 legislative session for her forty years of service as a State Representative in the Houston delegation. When Rep. Bonnen was speaking about her incredible career at the House, he quoted Ms. T herself on the key to her success: "I don't take shit." As the longest sitting woman and African American in the history of the Texas House of Representatives, I'm sure the last forty years are proof enough of that.

-- Genevieve Cato

::

Wendy Davis' filibuster reminded Democrats that fighting back gets results. Davis' example invigorated progressives in an other unexciting (and sometimes depressing) political year. And from Texas' perspective, it bolstered the energy pouring in to turning the state blue.

-- Ben Sherman

::

When Senator Leticia Van De Putte said, "At what point must a female senator raise her hand or voice to be recognized over the male colleagues in the room?" That was the moment when people started cheering until midnight to kill the awful abortion legislation.

-- Chaille Jolink

::

Texas state Representative Mary E. Gonzalez became the second openly LGBTQ elected official to serve in the Texas Legislature. She's also the first, and so far the only, elected official that identifies as pansexual in the country. Hooray for diversity in our leadership figures!

-- Omar Araiza

::

OTHER TOP MOMENTS FOR PROGRESSIVES IN TEXAS

Battleground Texas. The explosive events of the summer now have a vessel to spread to all parts of the state and with Wendy Davis running for Governor they have a strong candidate to advocate for. If anything else the hype has been a shot in the arm to Democrats and the mere mention of their name has Republicans shaking in their boots. -- Joe Deshotel

::

Municipal cities passed progressive ordinances. Whether it was San Antonio passing an anti-discrimination ordinance or Houston passing payday lending restrictions, Texas cities are where a bulk of progress was made in 2013. City government is where progressivess are strongest in Texas, and 2013 was no exception.

-- Michael Hurta

::

Texas got a shade bluer when Judge Larry Meyers switched parties giving Democrats their first statewide elected official in nearly 2 decades.

-- Joe Deshotel

::

The Texas Tribune changed Texas media in 2013. After the first night of the filibuster, it was clear that the Texas Legislature's Real Player app was not going to cut it for what was coming. The Texas Tribune provided a quality live stream that made it clear what was going on in Austin this summer. It was a big strike for clarity and transparency in Texas government.

-- Joseph Vogas

::

WHAT ELSE WE'RE CELEBRATING FROM 2013

I feel as though for the first time in a very long time, it's okay to be a liberal Democrat in Texas.

-- Omar Araiza

::

In April, the UConn Women's Basketball team won a surprise 8th NCAA title, upsetting Notre Dame in the Final Four after having lost to the Fighting Irish 3 times earlier in the season. Other sports fans can likely understand the euphoria that comes from winning a national title that seemed all but unthinkable just a month prior. What a gift!

-- Katherine Haenschen

::

When the Houston Rockets acquired Dwight Howard, I was doubtful. Since then, Dwight has had a fantastic season and Houston's hometown basketball team is currently tied for 4th in the West, and is 2-0 against the San Antonio Spurs. It's great to see basketball as the most successful professional sports team in Houston!

-- Joseph Vogas

::

I joined BOR and have gotten to contribute to progressive politics in Texas! I've loved being a part of such an awesome team.

-- Katie Singh

::

I started writing for BOR! (D'awwwwwww)

-- Genevieve Cato

::

Burnt Orange Report hired myself and several other new writers in the summer of 2013; This has lead to more contact, more viewpoints, and more information to be shared with you, our readers! It's been a great honor to be a part of this team to help share the news with you.

-- Joseph Vogas

::

Thirteen states raised the minimum wage.

-- Ben Sherman

::

Pope Francis!

-- Chaille Jolink

::

I got a degree! (It's in my parent's attic.)

-- Natalie San Luis

Here's to a happy, healthy, and even more victorious 2014!



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Do not republish without express written permission.


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Burnt Orange Reporters
Editor and Publisher:
Katherine Haenschen

Senior Staff Writers:
Joe Deshotel
Michael Hurta
Ben Sherman

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

Founder:
Byron LaMasters

Blogger Emeritus:
Karl-Thomas Musselman

Read staff bios here.

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