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Progress Texas Monthly: May 2013

It’s been a busy spring here at Progress Texas. But when you’re busy fighting for important issues in our state, it makes it all worthwhile. This month we’ve seen the conclusion of the 83rd Texas Legislative Session, the start of a special session, the return of redistricting, and even the return of the Tea Party. Along the way, Progress Texas has been there fighting for issues and ideals shared by a growing number of Texans like you.

Thank you for your tweets, sharing our facebook posts and signing our petitions. Your engagement helps spread the word about important issues such as protecting voting rights, advocating for public education, expanding healthcare coverage, and ensuring equality for all Texans.

The following is an update on what we’ve been working on in May, and the things we’ll be watching in June. I do hope you find this helpful.

 

The 83rd Legislative Session: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

We here at Progress Texas are working on a report summarizing the Legislative Session in a summary called “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” Look for a full report in June.

Highlights include the good:

  • An excellent Equal Pay law to prevent pay discrimination against women
  • A bill to limit high-stakes testing in schools
  • And – after you demanded an end to conservative corruption at the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) – a strong reform bill passed and should be signed into law within weeks

Unfortunately, there was also a lot of bad:

  • More than 25% of recent education cuts were left in place, which means we're still years behind in our state investments for public schools
  • A bill to create term limits for statewide officials died in the Texas House
  • And a smart and common sense law to ensure the state provides online information about the Legislature in Spanish never even had a full debate.

Then there's the plain ugly…

  • Texas will not expand Medicaid, leaving 1.5 million Texans without health care coverage.
  • A Republican Senator said that Perry's decision to veto a dark money bill effectively "legalizes money laundering in Texas elections."
  • And in a truly ugly display of incompetence, the Texas House was going to end the state lottery - which would have eliminated $2.2 billion for Texas schools - until Democrat Rep. Rafael Anchia talked them off the cliff.

It was a big, bad, messy session. In the coming weeks, we’ll roll out our full report summarizing the 83rd legislative session, highlighting more of what the Legislature did and did not do in 2013. Stay tuned!

Redistricting

Governor Perry has called a special legislative session on redistricting seeking a “rubber stamp” for flawed interim congressional and State House maps. These maps contain core flaws of previous maps that Justices say were “enacted with discriminatory intent” and a “deliberate, race-conscious method to manipulate the Hispanic vote.” Simply adopting flawed interim maps without a fair process for citizen participation threatens our voting rights. The Governor should let the judicial process resolve these issues.

Progress Texas is running a campaign called “Don’t let Texas rubber stamp bad maps!” Sign our petition and then share it on facebook and twitter!

Tea Party IRS ‘Controversy’

This month we saw the Tea Party back in the news, with groups balking at the notion that they would be required to offer exceptional background details on organizational activities in exchange for an exceptional tax-exempt status. But as more details have come to light, we’ve learned that the Tea Party was not treated differently than any other group applying for a similar status – including Progress Texas. The overwhelming majority of groups applying for tax-exempt status – more than two-thirds - were not even Tea Party organizations! We all play by the same rules, and if the Tea Party wants a tax-exemption, they have to endure the necessary vetting that all groups go through.

Progress Texas led the way in correcting news coverage around this issue, and you can read the various fact sheets and press clips here.

What We'll Be Watching For In June

In June, Progress Texas will release “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly,” our summary of the 83rd Legislative Session, marking the successes and drawbacks of the past few months. Stay tuned!

We will also be following the Supreme Court closely as we wait for rulings that will have widespread ramifications on the Voting Rights Act, affirmative action, and gay marriage. We’ll also be keeping a close eye as Governor Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott attempt to rush flawed maps through a special legislative session.

Progress Texas will continue to keep you informed on these items and others as they come up. Make sure you are following us on Facebook and Twitter so you can get the news as it happens.

Progress Texas In the News

Important Dates

Wednesday, June 5th – House Public Hearing on Redistricting (Time & Location TBD)

Thursday, June 6th – Senate Public Hearing on Redistricting (9:00 am - State Capitol, E1.036)

Wednesday, June 12th – Senate Public Hearing on Redistricting (9:00 am - State Capitol, E1.036)

Sunday, June 16th - Final day for Governor Perry to sign or veto legislation (but he can’t veto Dad – have a Happy Father’s Day!)