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Posts Tagged ‘Rodney Ellis’

Ready to engage in the next fight

No rest for the righteous. On Monday, national and state gay rights leaders and the plaintiffs who sued for marriage equality convened in front of the Texas Capitol to make a different kind of vow: The fight for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is not over. The next frontier, they said, is pushing for […]

HISD Board President backs changing Confederate school names

Fine by me. Amid a growing move to shed symbols of the old, slave-owning South, the Houston school board president said Thursday that she supports renaming six campuses named after Confederate loyalists. Rhonda Skillern-Jones said she plans to discuss the issue with her fellow trustees at an upcoming meeting. Superintendent Terry Grier added that he […]

Filibuster threat for open carry

We could have some end of session drama this year again. State Sen. José Rodríguez said Thursday that if the opportunity arises, he plans to filibuster a bill allowing the open carry of handguns in Texas. Speaking at a Texas Tribune event, the El Paso Democrat said he thought the legislation was “totally unnecessary” and […]

Here comes that anti-gay marriage bill

Ready or not. “Texas is pioneering a legislative effort to subvert a potential Supreme Court ruling on marriage and lock in discrimination against gay and transgender people and their families,” Kathy Miller, president of the left-leaning Texas Freedom Network, told reporters in a conference call Monday morning. “If successful, the strategy could spread to other […]

I repeat, no one will be forced to perform a same sex wedding

This really is a huge waste of time. For some gay rights advocates, a bill in the Texas Legislature that would allow clergy to refuse to marry same-sex couples would be acceptable if it just included four more words. As the Senate State Affairs Committee heard testimony Monday morning on Senate Bill 2065 by Sen. […]

Driverless car bill is dead

So much for that. A bill to update Texas law for the age of driverless cars has stalled due to two serious roadblocks: Google and major car manufacturers. Both the technology giant and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, an industry group, have come out against a proposal from state Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, to create […]

Senate passes a voucher bill

Hopefully, this will die in the House. Some low-income families unhappy with their public schools would get help paying private school tuition under a plan that won tentative approval in the Texas Senate Monday. Senate Bill 4, which would use state tax credits to entice up to $100 million in business donations to fund a […]

Senate bill to kill high speed rail advances

Didn’t know there was one of these. The Senate Transportation Committee voted 5-4 to pass out Senate Bill 1601, from state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, which would strip firms developing high-speed rail projects from eminent domain authority. Texas Central High-Speed Railway is developing a privately financed bullet train to carry passengers between Houston and Dallas […]

Joining together for equality

Good to see. Standing alongside Democrats, a representative for the state’s powerful business lobby Tuesday denounced two proposed amendments to the state constitution aimed at bolstering protection for people acting on religious beliefs, which detractors say would legalize discrimination against gays and lesbians. “These amendments are bad for business,” said Bill Hammond, chief executive of […]

Metro board seeks to expand

It’s change that has been anticipated since the 2010 Census data was released. With all indications pointing to more people in the Metropolitan Transit Authority service area living outside Houston than inside the city, Metro officials are asking to accelerate a state-mandated expansion of the transit agency’s board. The change would mean more members appointed […]

Compromise bill to reform property tax appraisals

Better than nothing, I guess, but not clear to me yet how much better. State lawmakers are looking to partly close a tax loophole that has allowed big companies to drain tens of millions of dollars from local government coffers in recent years, but any reforms that pass may still not end the legal battles […]

Driverless car legislative update

Like just about everything else under the sun, there were bills filed last week to deal with driverless cars. As self-driving cars move from futuristic concept to plausible technology, the Texas Legislature is looking to become a magnet for the fast-developing industry. Three lawmakers have filed bills aimed at encouraging the use of the technology […]

Reforming property tax appraisal protests

From the inbox: Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) releases the following statement regarding Senate Bill 1084, his bill to create a fairer property tax appraisal system in Texas: “Homeowners and local communities across Texas are shouldering an unfair burden when large commercial property owners manipulate the property tax system to drive down their property values and […]

Ellis files bill to protect voting rights

From the inbox: Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) releases the following statement regarding tomorrow’s 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” part of the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama: “‘Bloody Sunday’ played a pivotal role in the long and painful struggle for civil rights and equal opportunities for all Americans,” said Senator Ellis. “Hundreds of […]

Statewide non-discrimination ordinance filed

From the Inbox: On the 179th anniversary of Texas Independence Day, Senator José Rodríguez (D-El Paso) filed Senate Bill 856, a bill that would prohibit discrimination in the areas of employment, public accommodation, housing, and state contracting based upon sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression. The bill was joint-authored by Senators John Whitmire (D-Houston), […]

Michael Morton still has work to do

We should be glad he’s doing it. Michael Morton, who spent nearly 25 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit, said Monday that under current DNA testing requirements, he wouldn’t have had access to the evidence that led to his release. Morton joined state Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, and lawyers from the New […]

RIP, two-thirds rule

Not a surprise. With a new lieutenant governor installed for the first time in over a decade Wednesday — and over the cries of Democrats — the Texas Senate voted to break from an almost 70-year tradition intended to encourage compromise among its 31 members. Now the approval of only 19 senators instead of 21 […]

Tuition re-regulation on the menu

There are different ways it could go. Tuition at Texas universities has more than doubled in the 12 years since state lawmakers authorized colleges to set their own rates. Now legislators are pushing to take back that control. It’s not a new idea, but it stands a chance for the first time since 2003, when […]

Lawsuit filed over Senate map

From Texas Redistricting: [Monday] morning, two Texas voters filed a suit in federal court challenging the state senate map drawn by the Texas Legislature on the grounds that it violated the equal protection guarantees of the Fourteenth Amendment by using total population rather eligible voters to draw districts. The plaintiffs in the case are backed […]

HISD unveils new mascots

Here they are. The cafeteria at Hamilton Middle School showcases a painting of a Native American in a feathered headdress. Students wear collared shirts with a similar symbol. They were, until Tuesday, the Hamilton Indians. Now, with a new school district policy banning mascots deemed culturally offensive, the Houston Heights campus has adopted the Huskies […]

The farm team

Roll Call takes a look at the Texas Democrats of the future. Democrats rarely fielded competitive Senate candidates over the past two decades — the party’s three best performers in that time span received 44 percent, 43 percent and 43 percent — but that may change by the next midterm cycle. State and national Democrats […]

State Bar investigating Charles Sebesta

Good. The State Bar of Texas has opened an investigation into Charles Sebesta, the former Burleson County District Attorney who prosecuted death row exoneree Anthony Graves. The organization that oversees lawyers is investigating alleged professional misconduct by Sebesta, which, if proven, could result in his disbarment. The investigation was prompted by a complaint that Graves […]

If we must have voter ID, let’s make sure people know about it

The Democratic Senators from Harris County write a letter to County Clerk Stan Stanart. Three Houston state senators are asking Harris County officials to emulate Dallas County’s voter outreach efforts tied to Texas’ new voter identification law. State Sens. Rodney Ellis, Sylvia Garcia and John Whitmire — all Democrats — wrote a letter on Monday […]

Charles Sebesta needs to be held accountable

Amen to this. Former Texas death row inmate Anthony Graves, who spent 18 years behind bars before he was exonerated in the bloody 1992 slaying of a Somerville grandmother, her daughter and four grandchildren, is seeking justice against the man who put him there. In 2006, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Graves’ […]

Rick Perry doesn’t want people to get health insurance

There’s really no other viable explanation. On a White House conference call on Monday, Texas Democrats criticized Gov. Rick Perry and other Republican state leaders for “getting in the way” of implementing federal health care reform. During the call, which was organized by the White House to tout the impact of the Affordable Care Act […]

How Greg Abbott enabled the payday lenders

The Lone Star Project kicks it off: Abbott’s Green Light to Predatory Lenders Key AG document provided payday lenders a loophole to bilk Texans Greg Abbott’s office issued the key document that has allowed payday lenders to operate outside of Texas usury laws and exploit Texans across our state. A letter issued from the office of the Attorney General carefully […]

Raising the minimum wage in Texas

It’s all the rage elsewhere, but so far I’ve not heard anything about a movement to raise the minimum wage in Texas. While most of the increases amount to less than 15 cents per hour, workers in places like New Jersey, Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island will see a bigger bump. Earlier this year, […]

Payday lending ordinance passes

In the end, it wasn’t close. The Houston City Council overwhelmingly passed restrictions on payday and auto title lenders Wednesday, avoiding rumored parliamentary maneuvers to delay the vote and calling on the state Legislature to follow suit. The vote was 15-2, with Councilwoman Helena Brown and Councilman James Rodriguez opposed. Rodriguez did not seek to […]

HISD approves change to nickname and mascot policy

Good. Three schools in the Houston Independent School District are likely to have new mascots that no longer reflect a connection to Native American culture or history after preliminary board approval Thursday night of a policy proposed by Superintendent Terry Grier. A fourth school, Westbury High, could be required to no longer use Rebel, even […]

HISD to take action on “Redskins” nickname

Good for them. Houston school district officials, plunging into a national controversy, are considering a policy change that would ban mascot names that might play on racial, ethnic or cultural stereotypes. Houston Independent School District Superintendent Terry Grier is expected to propose a new policy that would require changing the mascots of the Lamar High […]

We need a Conviction Integrity Unit in Harris County

From the DMN: Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins has gained a national reputation for spearheading prisoner exonerations. As he prepares to seek a third term, Watkins said Thursday he wants to expand on that role and add a few others. … Watkins, a Democrat who was first elected in 2006, gained attention for using […]

Ken Anderson accepts a plea deal

Some closure in the Michael Morton case. Former Williamson County State District Judge Ken Anderson, who oversaw the wrongful murder conviction of Michael Morton as a prosecutor, was sentenced to nine days in jail on Friday and will surrender his law license as part of a deal to resolve criminal charges and a civil lawsuit. […]

More Democratic statewide possibilities

From this story about Democratic hopes for Wendy Davis’ presumed gubernatorial candidacy comes these tidbits about who else might be on the ticket with her. State Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, told Express-News columnist Gilbert Garcia this month that he is seriously considering a run for attorney general. “Politics is about timing,” Uresti said. “And […]

Jury duty pay raise

If you get called for jury duty, you’ll get a little extra something for your time. For the past two years, jurors in Harris County and elsewhere have been paid $30 a day or less for every day of service after the first, on which everyone must be paid at least $6 for showing up […]