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Texas Matters is a Thursday evening series focusing on Texas political news while sharing information and strategies with the aim of taking back our state.

Updates: 83rd TX Legislative Session

Burnt Orange Report: Texas Senate Passes Bill to Allow Online Voter Registration

A common-sense piece of legislation allowing for online voter registration, SB 315, has passed out of the Senate:

Yesterday, a bipartisan group of Texas Senators passed very sensible legislation which will provide for the establishment of an online voter registration system for Texans. SB 315, sponsored by Sen. Carlos Uresti, passed by a 21-10 vote on third reading after having passed 7-0 out of committee. It will now move to the House for approval where similar bipartisan legislation has been filed in the form of HB 313. The records of the final votes was as follows.
Yeas: Birdwell, Carona, Davis, Duncan, Ellis, Garcia, Hancock, Hinojosa,
Huffman, Lucio, Nichols, Rodriguez, Schwertner, Seliger, Uresti, Van de Putte, Watson, West, Whitmire, Williams, Zaffirini.
Nays: Campbell, Deuell, Eltife, Estes, Fraser, Hegar, Nelson, Patrick, Paxton, Taylor.
Voters with an unexpired driver's license or personal identification card will be able to go to an official state website where they will be able to register to vote online. The Texas Department of Public Safety already maintains records of most of the required information in order to register to vote and more importantly, maintains a database of signatures used on the cards they issue. The issue of a signature has been the stumbling point in previous calls for online voter registration and thanks to advances in technology is one we can now move past.

San Antonio Express-News: House OKs longer window to sue for discrimination

HB 950, which would make Texas law conform more closely to the federal Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 and allow a larger window for Texans to sue for wage discimination, has narrowly passed out of the House:

The Ledbetter Act requires employers to prove that differences in pay are related to qualifications, not to gender. It also allows more time for employees to sue employers for discrimination.

House Bill 950 modifies Texas law, allowing a longer window to file a discrimination suit beyond the current 180-day period following the original pay decision. Doing so means state law would more-closely mirror federal statute.

The bill was supported by female lawmakers from both parties, but opposed by many male conservatives. It passed 74 to 65 on Wednesday.

Off the Kuff: Medicaid “expansion” bill passes out of House committee

Today, the House Appropriations Committee advanced a proposal that would allow the state to request a block grant from the federal government and expand coverage to low-income people. But, as Charles Kuffner notes, it's nothing to get too excited about.

“This is not an expansion of Medicaid — this is the creation of a new program that leverages our private sector,” said Rep. John Zerwas, R-Simonton, the author of House Bill 3791. Members of Appropriations voted 15 to 9 to move the legislation out of committee and continue debate on the House floor.

[...]

The revised bill has four parts: It outlines what the block grant would look like; identifies Medicaid reforms that Texas could implement already, such as cost-sharing requirements and co-payments; sets up a separate program to potentially draw down federal financing to help individuals at or below 133 percent of the poverty level find private market coverage; and sets up an oversight committee for both programs.

Commentary on West, Texas

Texas Refinery Explosion Came After Limited Federal Safety Oversight of Plant

DRo details how laissez-faire Republican policies of deregulation led to the tragedy in West.

Health and safety have no place in the Republican agenda.

Rick Perry is proud that Texas is business friendly.  Safety and environmental regulation is not good for business according to Perry, and the selling point he is using when he is on the road, trying to lure successful businesses away from other states is that Texas protects their best interest denying government interference.

Similarly, Libby Shaw takes a look at the deregulation pushed by Texas Republicans and coins a phrase for it: Corporate Domestic Terrorism.
Corporate Domestic Terrorism.

Welcome to Rick Perry's Texas where regulation does not kill jobs. It kills and maims people instead.

Governor Rick Perry has been running around the U.S. boasting about Texas and its low taxes, small government, weak regulation, little oversight, anti-union right to work state in which workers and consumers have few protections. Rick Perry is proud to let business owners know that they can move their businesses to Texas where they can avoid paying taxes while they run rough shod over the safety and well-being of its residents and consumers in one form or another.  Of course the Governor fails to mention that low taxes and corporate welfare programs mean there is little left in the state's piggy bank to deal with important items such as infrastructure. Welcome to the state of worn out, outdated, crowded roads and challenges with its future water supply.    

Because of lax if any regulation in Texas where plants like West can run amok, this would be a perfect place for terrorists to flee to as well.  I wonder if this dark thought ever crossed the Governor's mind?

The Road to a Blue Texas: A Change in Leadership

Burnt Orange Report: New Texas Democratic Party Executive Director: Will Hailer

Today, Will Hailer was named the Texas Democratic Party's Executive Director. He comes with an impressive resume. Hopefully, a combination of a revitalized Texas Democratic Party and a highly mobilized Battleground Texas will lead to a blue Texas sooner rather than later.

Will comes to Texas from Minnesota where he served as Campaign Manager and later District Director for Congressman Keith Ellison (MN-05).  Prior to that he served as Director of Development for the Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus, where he raised millions of dollars for the caucus and their candidates and he has worked in various leadership positions for the Democratic House Caucus in Minnesota.

Will got his political start doing grassroots community organizing with the late Senator Paul Wellstone.  From that beginning he has been active in the campaigns of hundreds of Democratic candidates in Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota and Virginia.  He is a veteran of recounts of Al Franken and Mark Dayton among others and has done caucus organizing work for the Dean, Edwards, and Clinton campaigns as well as several gubernatorial and congressional candidates.

Will has the experience, energy and ideas to help turn Texas Blue and the TDP looks forward to his leadership.  His start date with the Party will be April 25 but he will be around this weekend at the Equality Forward Summit, so those of you in attendance take the time to meet him and welcome him to Texas.

Battleground Texas

Burnt Orange Report

Equality Texas

Progress Texas

Texas Democratic Party

Texas Kaos

Who represents me? (Texas)

Comal County Democratic Party

Dallas County Democratic Party

Harris County Democratic Party

Originally posted to Chrislove on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 05:30 PM PDT.

Also republished by Houston Area Kossacks and TexKos-Messing with Texas with Nothing but Love for Texans.

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