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Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Abbott Appeals Marriage Ban, Refuses Petitions

Greg Abbott is proving—once again—just how out of touch and wrong for Texas he is. Yesterday, Attorney General Greg Abbott both refused to accept over 5,000 Equality Texas petitions asking him to respect every Texan’s freedom to marry and appealed the ruling that struck down as unconstitutional Texas’ law banning same-sex marriage. In his profoundly discriminatory and decidedly erroneous brief, Abbott writes:

“…the legal institution of marriage exist primarily to encourage the orderly propagation of the human race by channeling naturally procreative heterosexual activity into stable, responsible relationships…Opposite-sex relationships have the potential to produce unique externalities that do not result from same-sex relationships, which makes the regulation of opposite-sex relationships eminently rational. As compared to relative stability of a marriage, sexual activity among opposite-sex couples who are not engaged in stable relationships is more likely to result in costs that must be borne by society.”

On the very same day Abbott filed his Fifth Circuit appeal defending Texas’ unconstitutional ban on marriage and turned away a family delivering the petition signatures, the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit overturned Virginia’s marriage ban and the North Carolina Attorney General announced he would not defend his state’s ban.

Continue reading this post »

Monday, July 28, 2014
PAC Gives Greg Abbott $127,000, Gets Sweetheart Deal in Return

Just like he has with predatory lenders and chemical companies, it appears that Greg Abbott is using the powers of his office to reward his six-figure donors.

Farmers Insurance PAC has contributed $127,000 to Attorney General Greg Abbott while he oversees a homeowners insurance case against the company - once again putting the interests of his donors ahead of the interest of the people of Texas.

The Texas Tribune has the scoop in an excellent investigative piece, "Farmers Insurance PAC Gives to Abbott Amid Lawsuit":

Critics of the settlement say it is too lenient on Farmers because it does not make the company pay enough. At the April hearing, Travis County state District Judge Scott Jenkins, who approved the settlement in 2002, asked Deputy Attorney General David Mattax why the state was being “deferential” to Farmers by not insisting that the settlement — valued at $117 million — include interest that would have accrued while the case sat dormant for 11 years.

“You don’t just have to lay down to Farmers,” Jenkins said. “Farmers has had the benefit of all that money for more than a decade and the consumers haven't.” [...]

A political action committee affiliated with employees of the insurer resumed its contributions to Abbott after the 2002 election that he won. In total, the Farmers Employees PAC has given more than $100,000 to the sitting attorney general since then, state campaign finance records show.

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Sunday, July 27, 2014
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New York Times Endorses Marijuana Legalization

Big news this weekend - the New York Times editorial board endorsed marijuana regulation, arguing it should be a state issue and not a federal crime:

It took 13 years for the United States to come to its senses and end Prohibition, 13 years in which people kept drinking, otherwise law-abiding citizens became criminals and crime syndicates arose and flourished. It has been more than 40 years since Congress passed the current ban on marijuana, inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol.

The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana.

Read the full editorial - "Repeal Prohibition, Again." The NY Times promises future editorial pieces in the days to come. Follow us on Twitter, and we will be sure to share them.

If you haven't already, we encourage you to take our confidential survey and tell us what you think about marijuana regulation in Texas.

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Friday, July 25, 2014
How to Talk to Your Crazy Uncle About Immigration

Ever since Republicans decided that children fleeing from unspeakable violence are the perfect pawns for their political games, it seems that immigration is all over the news. We imagine it's a topic that comes up other places, too - at the dinner table, around the office, or even on a summer road trip.

Whether it's your crazy Tea Party uncle, that person you know that starts sentences with, "I'm not a racist, but..." or Ted Cruz – someone will say something ridiculous.

We got ya covered.

Here is a list of responses to some of the dumbest things conservatives are saying about immigration and child refugees:

Continue reading this post »

Thursday, July 24, 2014
Texas Does Not Have Standardized Students

Katie Plemmons is a young teacher from Del Valle ISD. She works 50-60 hour weeks, spending money out of her pocket for classroom supplies. And in a wonderful opinion piece, she articulates the challenges of being a teacher in Texas.

From her op-ed, titled, "The Heartbreak of Being a Teacher in Texas":

At Del Valle High School, our contract hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., but we stay until 5:30 p.m. once a week to tutor. We arrive early to prepare our classrooms. We stay late or take work home to update grades, perfect lessons and prepare activities. We stay later for athletic events, fine arts performances and parent meetings. We work at least one day most weekends.

When you work with students every day, you learn that each one is unique. We do not have standardized students, and recognizing the challenges each student deals with requires experience, time and individual attention, which are in short supply in an era of standardized testing and crowded classrooms. Teachers must navigate these challenges while meeting the demands of our school’s unique culture.

We are bleeding experienced educators who create a school community, and if we do not stanch the wound, students will suffer.   

Continue reading this post »

Thursday, July 24, 2014
Another Abbott Predatory Lender Crony Fined $10M

Earlier this month, the U.S. Continue reading this post »

Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Greg Abbott's (Not So) Greatest Hits - Volume 2

A year ago, we released Volume 1 of Greg Abbott's (Not So) Greatest Hits. From not believing in science to failing to pursue a massive child sex abuse scandal, we thought Greg Abbott had hit rock bottom.

Little did we know how low he could go. Continue reading this post »

Tuesday, July 22, 2014
How an Awesome Pizza Analogy Saved Health Care for Texas

Two separate and distinct rulings by federal courts about the Affordable Care Act underscore the importance of why courts matter - and why pizza is truly the great equalizer. Continue reading this post »

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