Welcome to the Texas Legislative Round-up! We are here to break down the latest Texas Legislative session in Austin. Every week, we’ll give you the honest take on the news that impacts you – without pretending it doesn’t.
Week in Review
This week Gov. Greg Abbott directed state agencies to stop considering diversity in their hiring. Because apparently Texas Republicans just can’t stop proving that they have an actual war on women by now making it even harder for them to be employed. Of course, Abbott has completely mischaracterized the role that diversity plays in hiring just to play into the worst politics of his extremist base. Simply put, diversity initiatives improve government agencies, but the governor has no interest in serving his constituents. Abbott has long been more interested in a macho man match with Florida Governor Ron Desantis rather than improving the lives of Texans for a while.
Over in the Texas House, Speaker Dade Phelan finally released committee assignments for the 150 House members. Most of the work to pass legislation happens in these committees, so they set an important tone for the session. After a push from the Texas GOP on Speaker Phelan to ban Democratic chairs, there was a significant decrease in the overall number of Democratic chairs. Phelan also gave right-wing firebrand Briscoe Cain an important chairmanship once again proving he is easily swayed by right-wing political pressure.
Texas House Democratic Caucus Chair Trey Martinez Fischer had this to say:
“As Chairman of the House Democrats, it comes as no surprise that a Republican Speaker would want fewer Democrats in leadership.
What I don’t understand is why fewer women and minorities were appointed to leadership despite the Speaker himself lauding that the Texas House is more diverse than ever before. It is a disservice to these committees and to Texas to intentionally reduce the voices of women and communities of color in leadership.”
What to Watch
The Texas House “Freedom” Caucus, the most extreme right-wing lawmakers in the House, held a press conference releasing their priorities for this session. If you wondered how much more damage Texas Republicans can do after they’ve banned abortion and made it easier for dangerous people to get guns – well this group has the plan to make it happen. With Speaker Phelan being the most right-wing friendly House speaker in modern history, we’ll be counting how many of their dangerous proposals ultimately become law.
In the first session since Uvalde, there has been no accountability within the state’s main law enforcement agency yet. It seems instead that Republican lawmakers would rather defund public schools and attack LGBTQ educators and students. All of these issues will be boiling up this session in a fight around vouchers that we will be monitoring closely.