Two Bexar County lawmakers are gearing up for their days in Austin – to craft a budget and shape new laws for Texas. Republican Representative Lyle Larson of District 122 is on a mission to keep the state on a conservative course. Democrat Representative Mike Villarreal of District 123 is going to Austin in the political minority, but still looking to be a major part of the legislative process.
Democratic State Rep. Mike Villarreal filed legislation HB 238, which if passed would amend the Texas Labor Code to provide equal employment protections for gay and transgender employees.
"My question is," said Villareal: "Is this person showing up on time and doing their job? If they are, then they should be treated no differently than anybody else. Unfortunately, the LBGT community doesn't have the same protections in the state of Texas that they enjoy in other states."
Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 9:55 am
Despite Gov. Rick Perry’s firm opposition to a key tenet of federal health reform — expanding the state’s Medicaid program for those with low incomes — Texas Democrats remain optimistic that the 2013 legislative session can yield a deal that brings in billions in additional federal dollars.
It will be a tough sell: No Republican lawmakers have gone on record supporting the Medicaid expansion, which would add an estimated 1.8 million Texans onto the joint state-federal health plan by 2022.
But state Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, said fiscal conservatives have an incentive to reach an agreement “because the alternative is going to cost us much more economically and dig a much deeper hole in our budget.”
The Texas Legislature is preparing to convene once again in Austin, and this session there are going to be some hi-tech improvements. Texas House Parliamentarian Chris Griesel said the electronic devices are now popping up in the state legislature.
As we head toward the next legislative session, one bill on the agenda might look very familiar. It's the texting while driving law that was passed, but then vetoed by Governor Rick Perry last session. However the law has been implemented on the local level in certain cities and with mixed results.
“I only know of about four cases that we’ve had since its implementation.”
The Texas Legislature will be back in a few months facing a budget deficit. Will the next round of state budget cuts clip Texas high school football? Or could expanded gambling in the state help solve education funding shortfalls? Nate Silver writes the New York Times political blog about polls and political probability, Five Thirty Eight, and talks about how useful (and reliable) pre-election opinion polls can be.