Yesterday, the State Senate finally passed the Texas version of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which will give Texas women the right going forward to seek redress for gender-based pay discrimination. The bill's next stop is the desk of Governor Rick Perry.
This is a milestone and a significant achievement for State Representative Senfronia Thompson, who introduced HB 950, and Senator Wendy Davis, who have championed this issue.
Also deserving of thanks are the bill's additional authors in the State House, Democrats Nicole Collier and Carol Alvarado, and Republicans Sarah Davis and Jason Isaac. (Credit where due, y'all.)
This is a major economic issue for Texas: if working women are paid less than men for the same day's labor, then they're being denied the economic opportunity to fully participate in society that they've earned. If working mothers are shortchanged on their paychecks, it hurts the entire family -- and Texas school children have suffered enough at the hands of the Republican Legislature as it is.
However, the bill didn't pass unanimously in either chamber -- far from it. The Senate gave the bill a narrow 16-15 victory, and in the House the margin was 70-65 on second reading, 79-50 on third reading.
Click below the jump to find out which Republicans -- and which Republican women, for crying out loud -- don't think women deserve redress for pay discrimination in Texas.
The Texas CISPA bill could soon affect the ability of Texas users to access specific websites -- and every website and Internet provider in the country that serves data to Texans will be forced to comply with the law. Call Governor Rick Perry @ 512-463-1782 and tell him to veto the bill if it makes it to his desk.
Supporters of the legislation have shortsightedly attempted to circumvent the national CISPA law by empowering their own law enforcement agents to use search warrants to seize any electronic data/communications "regardless of whether the customer data, contents of communications, or other information is held at a location in this state or at a location in another state." That is - from any websites or Internet service providers "under a contract or a terms of service agreement with a resident of this state." This is extremely broad and encompasses the endless copyright claims all across the Internet that CISPA targeted.
That means that if you are a company in Iowa, or California, or New York, and you have Texas users who visit your site or have accounts, you could be required to turn over their user data, communications with other users, and any other information about the user that you may be storing - and you could be forced to turn it over in as little as 4 days.
The bill states that the maximum amount of time that a site or Internet service provider can delay turning over records is between 15 and 30 days, depending on the court order. The bill also criminalizes any delay by a website or service provider, and lets the local jurisdiction decide whether to file contempt of court charges against a director/owner of a website or service provider who fails to comply within the short window.
What are websites and Internet service providers going to do, in order to prevent themselves from being at the whim of every court and law enforcement agent in Texas? One simple solution: Texans could be blocked from websites that don't want to comply with an extremely broad definition of "electronic communications".
Underscoring this point, in remarks on the House floor,Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin) said, "Together, we could provide more cost-effective care and do something more about spiraling healthcare costs. But really, the only true Republican alternative to Obamacare is Nothingcare."
The same goes for Governor Perry's resistance to expanding Medicaid in Texas. Perry and his allies continue to reject the federal dollars that would allow us to insure potentially 2 million more Texans, but have not offered a proposal that would make anywhere near as much of a dent in Texas' highest uninsured rate in the nation.
Rick Perry's Texas Enterprise Fund has granted $485 million in grants to private companies, allegedly to create jobs in Texas. Many of those companies are owned by the governor's largest donors. Since the creation of the fund ten years ago, Perry has collected $2 million in campaign donations from its recipients. It is a slush fund and crony capitalism at its worst.
On Friday, using a simple voice vote, the Texas House decided to audit the fund. The report is due no later than January 2015. But though the Senate approved an earlier version of the bill, the audit is not yet official.
"The measure must pass a final, procedural House vote. It then heads to conference committee to reconcile the latest version with what the Senate previously approved," the Associated Press explains.
Rick Perry wasn't good enough for their polls, so they inserted another Texan, instead: Ted Cruz. As it turns out, Ted Cruz's many antics have vaulted him into the GOP 2016 conversation in a little bit more than word only.
PPP's monthly look at the 2016 Republican field for President finds essentially a 4 way tie at the top- Marco Rubio has 16%, Jeb Bush and Chris Christie 15% each, and Rand Paul 14%. Paul Ryan at 9%, Ted Cruz at 7%, Rick Santorum at 5%, Bobby Jindal at 3%, and Susana Martinez at 1% round out the potential candidates we tested.
So 6th place and 7%. On first glance, that's unimpressive, but Ted Cruz has actually put himself in a fantastic position to run for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2016 should he choose to do so. Read on for that analysis.
Perry's going to need some ointment for that sick statistical burn.
PPP will have their first national presidential poll out this week that includes Cruz. Will he have a stronger showing than Governor "Oops," who is little more than a rounding error to GOP primary voters at this point?
In the meantime it's just another sign that Perry's reign of terror is drawing to a close. The Republican Legislature has openly pushed back against him on the UT Board of Regents, and even members of his own party are opposing some of his priority agenda items.
The only concern I have with these numbers is that they might convince Perry to stick around for another term as Governor of Texas, since clearly he's got no hope of winning a 2016 Presidential Primary and can't possibly be construed as a "value add" to any national ticket. However, Perry's donors seem to be making their preference for Greg Abbott in 2014 clear, if their contribution trends are any indication.
Hey, North Carolina, we're raising the ante on claim to the title of State Most Shamefully Committed to the Stupid Political Ruination of Science - except we're not that shameful about it. Instead, we're putting our boisterous Texas spin on it.
President Obama was in Austin Thursday to kick off his nationwide "Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity Tour", where he visited Manor New Tech High School and Applied Materials promoting tech jobs and his plan for a, "one-time $1 billion investment to create a network of 15 manufacturing institutes across the country."
His overall theme was that working together we can reignite the true engine of America's economic growth: a rising, thriving, middle class.
To achieve this he said would require three things: making America a magnet for good jobs; helping people earn the education and develop the skills to do those jobs; and ensuring that people who are working hard are able to achieve a decent living.
As part of his visit he also issued an executive order, "to make government-held data more accessible to the public and to entrepreneurs and others as fuel for innovation and economic growth."
"Corporate profits are at an alltime high, but thats not good enough, we have to make sure that middle-class wages are also going up, because most families haven't seen their take home pay rise for years now...There are a lot of reasons for us to feel optimistic about where we are going as a country, especially after all of the tough times we have been through the last several years. That should encourage us to roll up our sleeves and work even harder, and work together to take on the challenges that are holding back parts of our economy."
Governor Perry and Senator Ted Cruz haven't missed the opportunity to have a field day mocking the President over job creation and promoting their pro-business-at-any-cost "Texas model", in advance of his visit. Perry went as far as "greeting" President Obama at the airport with a letter and said that, "If the president is serious about creating jobs in this country, then Texas is the blueprint."
Close but no cigar Governor, according to the White House the President is here, "Showcasing the Innovative Spirit of Austin as a Model for the Rest of the Country". Our Republican state leaders continue to promote the Texas mirage that low taxes, low services, and low regulation alone are the fuel for our economic success, but the White House sees something very different and so do the facts.
Not only does Texas rank near the bottom on important statistics relating to quality of life, income and savings, but the areas in our state that lead in job creation also happen to be the bluest. Cities like Austin, San Antonio, Houston and Dallas constantly top the growth and job markets for the US and all 4 of their respective counties rejected Rick Perry as Governor in 2010. According to Forbes Texas also has two top 10 cities for green jobs, Houston and Dallas.
FRACKING: Texas counties are seeking more authority to regulate the location of fracking water disposal wells and searching for ways to mitigate environmental damage that might be caused by the disposal of frack water.
Rick Perry's at it again, attempting to score cheap points with right-wing conservatives by promoting anti-LGBT bigotry. In the video below, Perry speaks to noted hate-monger Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council in support of the Boy Scouts of America's ban on gay scout leaders and apparent "don't ask, don't tell" attitude towards gay scouts.
Describing the push for full LGBT equality as the "flavor of the month," Perry makes a tortured argument in which he equates those advocating for second-class status for gay Americans -- i.e. the bigots who oppose LGBT rights -- with Texas Governor Sam Houston's refusal to leave the union over the issue of slavery.
Watch the video courtesy of Right Wing Watch:
I know, you're all "Wait, what? He's equating opposition to LGBT civil rights with support for abolition?" Yes, he sure is. But what else do you expect from an intellectual heavyweight who got a C in U.S. History and a D in Principles of Economics?