We do our best, but we can't cover everything. To fill in the gaps, please enjoy Texas Lunch Links: a lunchtime buffet of links to Texas-related news and views.
PRIVATE SCHOOLS: Despite a show of organized support by proponents of private schools and charter schools at yesterday's Senate Eduction Committee hearing, the future looks bleak for separate bills by Republican state senators Dan Patrick (Houston) and Donna Campbell (New Braunfels) that would have paid for private school educations with money from Texas taxpayers.
TORT REFORM: Challenging the veracity of claims in an opinion piece authored by Brooke Rollins of Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank (...), a forthcoming article finds "no evidence that physicians fled Texas in great numbers prior to tort reform or returned in droves thereafter. To the contrary, by comparison to other states, Texas had a below-average physician-to-population ratio before tort reform and has a slightly worse ratio today."
PRISONS: A bill that would form a committee providing, "continuing inspection and oversight" for TDCJ correctional facilities is stalled in the House Corrections Committee.
AUSTIN ENERGY: A proposal by Austin's Electric Utility Commission to shift control over many Austin Energy matters from Austin City Council to a standalone board of "public-power experts" will get a hearing at Austin City Council's Thursday meeting.
EQUALITY: Democratic state Senator John Whitmire's bill that would give gay and lesbian teens over age 14 the same ability to escape prosecution for consensual sexual conduct as straight teens, dubbed the "Romey and Romeo" bill, won committee approval yesterday.
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.
The State Senate drew straws yesterday to determine if each has a 2 or 4 year term before running for re-election. This is customary after an election following a redistricting year in which all Senators must run.
The draw has some major implications for our 2014 statewide races here in Texas on both sides of the aisle, starting, of course, with State Senator Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, a tireless campaigner who drew a 2-year term.
Many Democrats were eyeing Davis as a potential gubernatorial candidate in 2014 owing to her fundraising prowess and staunch support of education. Had Davis drawn a 4-year term, thus giving her a "free pass" to run statewide in 2014 without giving up her senate seat, she would have had tremendous encouragement to take the leap and run for governor. Now, her decision becomes somewhat more complicated.
Here are the results from SD-10 in the 2010 and 2008 statewide elections, courtesy of the Texas Legislative Council:
2010 Results in SD-10 38.9% Turnout
Governor Rick Perry: 52.7%
Bill White: 44.6%
Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst: 58.2%
Linda Chavez-Thompson: 38.8%
2008 Results in SD-10 66.4% Turnout
President John McCain: 52.1%
Barack Obama: 47.1%
US Senate John Cornyn: 52.1%
Rick Noriega: 46%
Davis won election in 2008 by 2.4% over a Republican incumbent, and won re-election in 2012 by 2.3% over a former State Representative.
Below the jump, find out why Democrats should still be optimistic about Davis in 2014, and what the implications are for the Republicans.
In the race to replace Senator Jeff Wentworth in SD-25, the San Antonio Express-News has enthusiastically endorsed Democrat John Courage over Tea Party Darling Donna Campbell. In their endorsement, the editorial board cited Courage's commitment to improving public education and superior grasp of the issues facing Texans.
"We recommend that voters cast their ballots for Courage, an Air Force veteran and a teacher. Courage has deep roots in the district and demonstrates a more comprehensive knowledge of the issues facing Texas", the board wrote. They go on to assert, "Courage is a strong advocate of public education, who is critical of education funding cuts enacted by lawmakers in 2011. Courage said he would work to restore adequate education funding."
Props to the Express-News for throwing their hat behind the underdog in this race. They clearly grasp the importance in electing pro education lawmakers to Austin this session. Tea Party lawmakers are plotting radical changes to education that include school vouchers. Vouchers will do nothing but serve as a discount for wealthy families that can already afford to send their children to private schools, while doing nothing to help struggling families. The Express-News understands that vouchers are surrendering to the dream of equal opportunity and Courage's victory is essential in assuring that doesn't happen.
What also could have influenced the board's decision was her cowardly media strategy to ignore any opinion media, including The Express News' own, Brian Chasnoff. Campbell refused to talk with Chasnoff because her campaign elected to hide her from any media that might ask her tough questions that the campaign hasn't screened. In addition, she has hidden from Courage, refusing to participate in a single debate in spite of his repeated requests. Even Ted Cruz agreed to two debates with Paul Sadler. When Ted Cruz shows more courage than you, Dr. Campbell, it is time to look in the mirror and make some changes. Campbell owes the he people of San Antonio a discussion on the future of the state, and she has refused to do that.
The San Antonio Express-News has chosen principle over name recognition. They have chosen progress over regression. They have chosen a candidate that understands the problems of his community, who is fighting for equal opportunity and a better education system for all Texans. They rejected a candidate who believes that party ID alone can bring her to Austin, and hopefully the Express-News has reminded Dr. Campbell that she has not been appointed. Hopefully their endorsement of Courage pushes her to face the voters of San Antonio and tell them why she deserves to be their senator, unless she still has not answered that question herself.
Donna Campbell is on the stump saying all the ‘right’ things; using all the ‘right’ talking points. If you listen to Donna, she talks a good game to Pro-Life Christians. The problem lies with her stance on other matters that she and her corporate backers refuse to acknowledge as right to life issues.
During pregnancy, the mother and fetus need health care. New born infants need neo-natal care. Children need pediatric care. One would presume the moral imperative for a professed Christian would be affordable care for our Children. But apparently it is not for Doctor Donna. She wants to slash care for millions of Texas infants and their mothers. Why? Is it because the deep pocket donors to her Astroturf campaign refuse to render their fair share unto Washington?
Of course, they claim a moral objection to tax money being spent on medically accurate sex education, pre-conception birth control and of, course, abortions. Donna and her cronies are willing to deny medical care to infants all the while preaching: Abortion, NO!
In virtually the same breath, she vilifies the EPA’s endeavor to reduce environmental Mercury levels as “arbitrary rules and regulations hindering business and industry” (From Dr. Donna Campbell Facebook page; if it has not been scrubbed). Dr. Campbell, if you believe these rules to be arbitrary, what safe levels you would establish? If you believe in-utero exposure to increasing levels of Mercury is not detrimental to embryonic development, please share your research. What is the safe level of Mercury for a second trimester fetus? Please tell us. You are quick to dismiss solutions proposed by others, but slow on offering anything in their stead.
Doctor Campbell, why are you willing to subject unborn children to a greater risk of Mercury poisoning?
Every voter in Texas Senate District 25 deserves an answer to this question before they vote. They deserve an honest answer. After all, honesty is on God’s top-ten list.
My guess: Thirty pieces of silver means more to Donna Campbell than protecting God’s creation.
In her continued quest to replace Jeff Wentworth as the state senator from Senate District 25, Dr. Donna Campbell is unveiling a new interview policy.
In an email to San Antonio Express-News metro columnist, Brian Chasnoff, a spokesman for Campbell denied a request for an interview because "it is the campaign's policy not to accept interview requests with opinion columnists." The spokesman continued, "I am sure you can understand the value in this distinction." Yes, we can all see how valuable this distinction is, at least to Donna Campbell's campaign.
The Campbell campaign understands that the best way for her to end up in the legislature is for her to never leave her house before November. The last thing Donna Campbell needs is an interview with somebody who is allowed to express an opinion on her radical views, including her staunch opposition to abortion rights even in the case of rape or incest.
Interestingly, there appears to be a caveat in the campaign policy saying that opinion columnists would be denied requests "in most cases." It is clear that Campbell's policy basically amounts to avoiding tough interviews where the doctor might accidently show how emphatically unqualified she is to represent SD-25.
Defeating Jeff Wentworth in the Republican Primary was a pretty straightforward task. Campbell simply had to employ the Ted Cruz strategy: run as far to the right as possible and declare your opponent a "moderate" by comparison.
This strategy won't work on general election opponent John Courage, but unfortunately she is hiding from him as well. Democrat John Courage wrote a letter to Campbell requesting they participate in a series of 12 forums- two in each of the counties that make up Senate District 25. To nobody's shock, Campbell declined.
Donna Campbell is hiding from her opponent, from columnists, and from the voters of San Antonio and Austin that make up SD-25. Courage will likely continue to put the pressure on Campbell to engage in a thoughtful discourse on the issues, but until she sees a political advantage in doing so, she will continue her campaign strategy: duck and hide.
As the nation watched, Texas Republicans chose the unchained, unaccomplished, and unqualified former Solicitor General, Ted Cruz, over the decade long Lieutenant governor, Air Force Veteran, and former Texas Land Commissioner, David Dewhurst. Why? Because Cruz was a real conservative, meaning they trust that Cruz would keep the government in stalemate to avoid giving the Democrats a seat at the table. "The Tea Party" is slowly taking over the state, and they have big plans.
Cruz's victory over one of Texas' most powerful conservatives shocked onlookers throughout the country, except here in Texas. We saw this coming, and the Tea Party's radical agenda is being sent to Washington, and the situation might be even more daunting here in Austin.
Most notably, relatively moderate State Rep. Jeff Wentworth was thrashed in the Republican runoff for HD-25 by Tea Partier Donna Campbell. If Campbell wins the general election against Democrat John Courage , she will join what right wing clown State Senator Dan Patrick describes as "the most conservative Senate in the history of the state", with the capability to "block any legislation that we want to stop." Patrick is known as the mouthpiece of the far right of the Texas Senate, as well as getting a vasectomy performed on air . Even more disgusting than Patrick's live vasectomy is the agenda of Patrick and his Tea Party allies.
The crowning achievement of the right wing legislature last session was their discriminatory and infamous Voter ID bill. According to State Senator John Whitmire, School vouchers are on top of their agenda this coming session. Many will view vouchers as a relatively benign step compared to Voter ID, but its effects could be much more destructive. The Anti Defamation League, a civil rights group fighting anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry, note that around 80 percent of these vouchers would go to schools with narrow minded parochial agendas, where religion permeates and defines the classroom. Religion has a very important place within our society, but not our classrooms. School vouchers are the beginning of the end of public education. Voucher programs may help some families pay for tuition costs, but these schools will still be much too expensive for poor Texan families. School vouchers are an affront to two great American values: universal public education and the separation of church and state. Throwing the white flag to improving public education is surrendering to the dream of equal opportunity, and Texas Republicans are intent on using all their capital to make sure this happens.
It is important to remember that the consequences of a Tea Party victory amount to more than embarrassing TV interviews. Their agenda has put a gun to our nations head time and time again and the complacency of Texas Democrats has allowed it to happen. As chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, Gilberto Ginojosa, so eloquently put it, "the inmates are running the asylum." It's due time that we progressives wake up and take back the keys before it's too late.
(Great to hear from John Courage, the Democratic candidate in SD-25 and last chance to stop Dr. Donna Campbell from taking a seat in the State Senate. - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)
Only a few days after her Republican Primary runoff victory Donna Campbell is being touted as "as good as being elected" to take the Senate seat representing the voters of District 25. Before one general election vote is cast, before a discussion is held, before a comparison is made, before the 500,000 other registered voters in the 25th Senatorial District even have an opportunity to consider who to vote for, the San Antonio and Austin media is ready to anoint MS. Campbell, a virtual unknown, as our Senator. Our vote and our voice and our concerns are insignificant, because the Tea Party has chosen its Senator and the rest of us don't matter a lick.
Well I for one have something to say about that. In the words of the great American Patriot John Paul Jones, "I have not yet begun to fight".
I want the other half million voters in this district who do not belong to the Tea Party to have a say in this election. They too have a right to be represented in Austin. They deserve a Senator who will represent their concerns; a Senator who will represent all Texans. District 25 residents deserve a Senator who will represent all of us regardless of whether we lean left, right or straight down the middle. We do not need a person who will only represent the extreme ideology of a vocal minority.
I have lived, worked, raised a family, volunteered, served, worshiped, spoken out, celebrated and buried friends and family in San Antonio and Bexar County for over 40 years. I have worked, and played, and educated myself, and my children, from Austin to San Antonio, and everywhere in between in the district.
I intend to campaign until the last hour of Election Day November 6th. I want to listen to the voters of our district and hear their concerns. I want to inform and educate them about my candidacy and what I will do to represent them in Austin. I will knock on doors, call on the phone, speak publicly and privately to every voter of any persuasion who is willing to listen or talk with me, about the real issues that confront our district. Texas faces challenges in dealing with our moral obligations to provide an excellent education to our children, water for ourselves and future generations, and health care for all citizens, as well as transportation and energy for a 21st century economy. I will fight for common sense solutions for these challenges when I go to the Texas Senate.
With the voters approval I intend to win this race. I want to serve in the Texas Senate for every individual, for every family, for business big and small, and for a brighter and more prosperous future for all residents of District 25.
John Courage,Democratic nominee
Texas Senate District 25
Yesterday's Republican primary should be a wake up call to Democrats. Texas Republicans opted for the most extreme candidates across the board. From Ted Cruz to Donna Campbell, Republicans proved that, for them, ideology is more important than leadership. This marks a new low in an alarming trend of the Republican Party's rapid exit from the mainstream.
The same day, nine-term Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio) announced his retirement from congress, echoing Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), citing growing polarization in the Republican Party. Also the same day, Congressman Richard Hanna (R-New York) joined the shrinking chorus of moderate Republicans being pushed out of their party, commenting that he was frustrated with how Republicans are "willing to give such deferential treatment to our extremes," and commenting that it had rendered Republicans "unable to govern." The moderate Republican is a thing of the past. The Republican Party has fully embraced extremism and has demonstrated it will not work in good faith to move the country forward.
This Congress, already deemed the worst and the most polarized in history, will get a whole lot worse with Ted Cruz in the Senate.
We HAVE to win in November.
The inmates have taken over the asylum. We cannot let extremist ideologues take over Texas.
Yesterday was also a victory for special interests, with Open Secrets publishing a special report about the outside money being poured into the Texas GOP senate race. Corporate front group Texas for Lawsuit Reform poured millions into Elizabeth Ames Jones' campaign, helping bruise Senator Jeff Wentworth going into a runoff with Donna Campbell. In the runoff, they switched their support to Campbell.
Texas Republicans also proved, yet again, how welcome Hispanic Texans are in today's Republican Party when they opted for obscure-but-white John Devine for Texas Supreme Court over sitting Justice David Medina, who was appointed by Rick Perry and endorsed by numerous Republican officeholders. Texas Republicans did the same in 2010, when they nominated unknown David Porter over Victor Carrillo, longtime member of the Railroad Commission. Carrillo attributed his loss solely to his Hispanic surname.
We've tried ideology in Texas; it has failed. It left us $27 billion dollars in the hole in 2011. Budget gimmicks from the last legislature mean that we'll begin the next legislature at least $12 billion in the red. That will mean more cuts to Texas schools, Medicaid, universities, community colleges, criminal justice programs, and others. We need to return to our roots and restore common sense in politics. Texas deserves better.