Joining Austin, Dallas, El Paso, and San Antonio, Houston is on track to become the fifth major city in Texas to pass tighter restrictions on the payday and auto-title loan industry. Mayor Anise Parker's recently revealed regulations for payday lending reflects the minimum standard business practices for payday lending institutions that have passed in other cities as means to prevent borrowers from being trapped in a cycle of debt.
Many interest rates for payday loans, when including fees, often exceed 500 percent APR. With support from numerous advocacy groups, Mayor Annise Parker joins other municipalities who have taken the initiative in light of inaction from our State Legislature to rein in high-cost, small-dollar loans offered to individuals without credit checks, which frequently preys upon low-income Texans.
Progressive leaders have been working overtime to protect consumers while Republicans have allowed the payday lending industry take between $800 million and $1.1 billion in excess fee charges from Texas families.
Today Houston Mayor Annise Parker is taking on the Food Stamp Challenge, which means she will spend no more than $4 on all of her meals for the day. $4 is the average amount that a person enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or "food stamps") receives each day, and the challenge is intended to build understanding and awareness of just how little SNAP recipients actually receive.
As Mayor Parker pointed out, "One nice coffee at Starbucks will blow your SNAP budget for the day." But over 4 million Texans who rely on these benefits aren't just forgoing the pumpkin spice lattes - they're making meals for themselves and their families for an entire day on an amount many of us are accustomed to spending on an afternoon snack.
And soon they'll be getting by on even less.
Read about expiring food stamp benefits and hunger in Texas after the jump.
Included in the poll was a complete list of general election match-ups between Republicans Governor Rick Perry, Attorney General Greg Abbott, and Senator John Cornyn against Democrats State Senator Wendy Davis, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, Houston Mayor Annise Parker, and former Houston Mayor and 2010 gubernatorial nominee Bill White.
In all twelve potential contests, the Democrats trail by anywhere from seven to nineteen points, but that story would bury the lead. The real story here is how unknown all potential candidates not named Rick Perry are by the Texas electorate.
Between vetoing the our state's own equal-pay act and calling a special session on limiting choice for women, Rick Perry has started some sort of renaissance for sexists across Texas.
Naturally, many women (and modern-thinking men) have become upset. Shelby and Katherine clearly articulated their outrage over the past week. And Shelby pointed out that you can do something about it -- just this evening.
Annie's List, the excellent organization dedicated to electing Democratic women, proposed a new, extremely tempting long-term solution during their latest fundraising ask:
That brings to question: can we make that happen in 2014? One has to wonder who Annie's List has in mind. The most notable female Democrats in Texas are State Senator Wendy Davis and Houston Mayor Annise Parker, but both have indicated that they will not run statewide, focusing on reelection, instead.
Annie's List's Communications Director Mitra Salasel told me that due to the organization's past successes, "we have our eye on a long list of women that would be fantastic contenders."
Annie's List's Statewide Opportunity Fund was created two years ago, and the organization is hoping to build it with this campaign. Salasel told me that any conversation about future Democratic leaders of the state must include our great women leaders. That will certainly be welcomed in the future, and As with a barren ticket for 2014, it would be welcomed with the utmost excitement just right now.
BICYCLES: The Houston City Council unanimously passed a "safe passing" ordinance that requires drivers to give vulnerable road users, including bicyclists, pedestrians, disabled travelers, highway utility workers and tow truck drivers, three feet of space while passing.
Since our tax dollars tend to heavily support the sports we love, it was only a matter of time before a politician waded into a battle for getting one of Texas's exclusive sports channels onto constituents' televisions. Mayor Annise Parker took a stand today on behalf of Houston sports fans.
The Burnt Orange Report readers who root for a Houston team or two may be frustrated that they cannot see their favorite baseball, football, or soccer team on television.
The Houston Rockets, the Houston Astros, and NBC Sports started a Houston-based sports network six months ago, the Comcast Sports Network - Houston, and the network shows Houston Dynamo games, as well. But the network is available only on Comcast, owned by NBC. Comcast does not even cover a majority of Houston (not to mention Austin or other nearby markets with fans).
Mayor Parker, hoping to help remedy the situation, today called for a summit with the local television providers and CSN Houston. Read on to learn about the proposed summit and its chances of success.
With Battleground Texas stoking hopes of turning Texas into a swing state by the 2016 presidential election, more attention is being paid to organizing during the interim. Before the 2014 midterms, Texas Dems have an amazing opportunity to identify supporters, mobilize communities, and train organizers and activists this year. Major cities in Texas will be having municipal elections this year. In competitive contests for offices from Mayor to City Councilperson, millions of dollars will be spent and countless organizing opportunities will arise. I have put together an overview of the Mayoral contests in the biggest cities in Texas:
Shaping up to be the most expensive and possibly most divisive of the city races, Houston's mayoral race pits incumbent Annise Parker against former City Attorney and current superlawyer Ben Hall. First elected in 2009 in a runoff victory against Gene Locke, Parker narrowly avoided another runoff in her reelection campaign in 2011, winning 50.4 percent of the vote against a slew of unknown candidates. Because of Ben Hall's ability to fundraise and large personal resources, the race is likely to be much more competitive this time around. The unaccounted variable in the race is potential entry of a Republican candidate in the race.
Golden Boy, Future Presidential Nominee, and Great Brown Hope of the Texas Democratic Party Julian Castro still has to win re-election as Mayor of San Antonio this year before he can fulfill the wish of every democrat in Texas. He is facing an array of newbie and perennial candidates with little name ID or campaign funds. As of this writing, unless something crazy happens between now and Election Day, he will cruise to re-election without having to stop his current national speaking schedule.
Current Mayor John Cook is term-limited and a large field of candidates are vying to replace him Among the eight declared candidates are current City Representative Steven Ortega, local businessmen Oscar Leeser and Robert Cormell, and substitute teacher Jorge Artalejo. Even in such a crowd, Cormell and Ortega, by virtue of their early fundraising prowess, are beginning to separate themselves from the pack.
After handily winning her election to a first-term as Mayor of Fort Worth, Republican Betsy Price is running unopposed in her re-election campaign.
Aboubacar "Asn" Ndiaye was a Field Organizer on the Harris County Democratic Party's 2012 Coordinated Campaign. Follow him at twitter.com/thehardask
It's time for the Friday Wrap, where your Burnt Orange Reporters comment on all the news that fits in a blockquote.
It was a great week for consumers as Senator Elizabeth Warren attended her first Senate Banking Committee hearing. The gentlewoman from Massachusetts had a few questions for regulators that were long overdue. Upworthy has the video:
Senator Elizabeth Warren, y'all!
Below the jump, get caught up on Ted Cruz, Jerry Patterson, Annise Parker, Steve Munisteri, and religious fervor in Texas.
For the first time in over a decade, a Democrat leads a Republican statewide in a public opinion poll. Sure, it's within the margin of error. And sure, we aren't close to an election and Republicans poll better as we get closer. And sure, the polls that truly matter (in November) show that Texas actually has a very long way to go before electing a Democrat.
But a scientific survey of Texans has a Democrat winning the state.
"If the candidates for Governor next year were Republican Rick Perry and Democrat Bill White, who would you vote for?" asked Public Policy Polling. 47% answered Bill White. 44% answered Rick Perry.
Before we go hootin' and hollerin' in excitement, let's remember that if Rick Perry wants to run for reelection to governor in 2014, Rick Perry is still the favorite. This is just one poll, and we don't even know if Bill White would want to run again. Rick Perry also leads other hypothetical match-ups against Democrats.
But Battleground Texas is getting Democrats excited to compete sooner rather than later and to aggressively campaign instead of simply waiting for demographics. If we're ready to bring the fight to a new level, we need a candidate, too. So, we only hear Greg Abbott's name when people speak of potential challengers to Rick Perry? We can't make Texas a battleground without strong candidates. And if nothing else, this poll shows that even as soon as 2014, a strong Democratic candidate can win Texas.
If you're still unsure; the reasoning is a two-step process. First, Rick Perry is the favorite if he runs again in the Republican Primary. Second, Rick Perry can be beat. But he clearly can't be beat by anybody, so we need someone to step up. Read on below the fold about these two steps.
(Thanks to Charles Kuffner for this detailed first look into Houston's upcoming November elections. - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)
Dist Name Cash on hand
Myr Parker 1,281,657
Ctrl R Green 9,983
AL 1 Costello 57,345
AL 2 Burks 3,160
AL 4 Bradford 20,590
AL 5 Christie 14,535
A Brown 22,641
B Davis 64,211
C Cohen 45,597
F Hoang 6,429
G Pennington 119,951
H Gonzalez 57,899
J Laster 31,816
K L Green 9,107
It is 2013, right? So while we have the SD06 special election and the new legislative session to worry about, it's not too early to start talking about the 2013 elections. Let's start with a peek at the campaign finance reports from last July of the Houston officeholders who will be on the ballot this November, at right.
I omitted the three Council members who are term-limited out (Melissa Noriega, Wanda Adams, and James Rodriguez), as well as newly-elected Dave Martin, since his July report would not be relevant. Normally there would have been five open seats this year, but with Mike Sullivan stepping down due to his successful candidacy for Tax Assessor and Jolanda Jones losing in 2011, there are only three vacancies, and as such there will likely be a stampede for those seats. But we'll get to that in a minute.
Below the jump, let's take a closer look at where the non-term limited incumbents are.