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Burnt Orange Report is redeveloping our website for the first time in almost a decade.

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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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Unsurprisingly, District Judge Must Warn Rick Perry Not To Threaten Grand Jury

by: Katherine Haenschen

Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 02:00 PM CDT

Of course Rick Perry's trying to throw shade on the grand jury that returned an indictment for his efforts to coerce Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg to resign.

This week a state district judge warned Perry not to threaten the jury or anyone else.

It's no surprise that Perry holds such little respect for the legal process that currently surrounds him that he's trying to make a farce of it all, using it to fundraise for RickPAC and malign the head of the Public Integrity Unit.

Below the jump, find out why a State Judge found it necessary to warn Perry.

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18 Candidates File for Five AISD Races

by: Katherine Haenschen

Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 11:00 AM CDT

Monday was the filing deadline for local races in Austin. In addition to the 78 candidates bellying up for the first Austin City Council elections held under the 10-1 map, there is also a significant increase in candidates for AISD, with 18 candidates signing up to run.

Unlike City Council, however, this is not the first Austin Independent School District election held in November.

2012 saw one open district-wide race between Gina Hinojosa and Mary Ellen Pietruszynski for the at-large seat vacated by Annette LoVoi. It was an expensive race that saw the Travis County Democratic Party give Hinojosa a major boost.  

However, with many retirements this year, a search for a superintendent ongoing, and the continued challenges of leading a school district in the face of the Texas legislature's refusal to restore the 2011 budget cuts, it's no surprise to see some turnover.

Below, here's who's running

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Gov. Rick Perry Still Owes Texans $80,000 In Legal Fees After Agreeing To Pay Future Costs

by: Joe Deshotel

Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 03:00 PM CDT

When Texans found out they were footing the bill for Gov. Perry's high dollar legal defense they started asking questions. Then the Texas Tribune reported that this may be the first time a Texas Governor has ever charged taxpayers for attorney's fees.

Now Gov. Perry, who we rarely see retreat has bowed to public pressure and agreed to pay his "future" bills with privately raised funds. But what about the $80,000 he has billed so far?

It seems odd that the Governor would feel the heat and not move to put out the fire completely.

See what his spokesperson said below the jump...


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Wendy Davis Proposes Eliminating Statute of Limitations for Rape

by: Katie Singh

Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 01:00 PM CDT

State Senator Wendy Davis has long been a champion for victims of sexual assault, and this week she continued her dedication to protecting victims by unveiling a powerful new policy proposal--eliminating the statute of limitations for rape.

The current statute of limitations for rape in Texas is 10 years, though there is no statute of limitations for cases of sexual assault against a child or for cases where DNA tests do not reveal a match in the criminal system. This often leads to rapists not being prosecuted, because the statute of limitations has passed. In Texas, and many other states, the problem is exacerbated by the huge backlog of rape kits in the system that have sat untested for many years (another issue Wendy Davis has been a leader on)--by the time they are tested, it's likely the statute of limitations to prosecute the crime has passed.

In a press conference in Dallas, Davis stressed the importance of her new proposal, referencing Lavinia Masters, a rape victim who has campaigned with Wendy Davis in the past. Said Davis, "Eliminating the statute of limitations for rape will help to right that wrong by making sure that survivors like Lavinia will never again will have to forgo justice just because someone stood back and let the clock run out on their case."

Read more about how Wendy Davis plans to protect victims of sexual assault after the jump.

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Editor and Publisher:
Katherine Haenschen

Senior Staff Writers:
Genevieve Cato
Joe Deshotel
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