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Texas Democrats Provide Update on Legislative Priorities Ahead of Abbott’s Special Legislative Session

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Democratic lawmakers and statewide organizations including the Texas Democratic Party, Black Voters Matter, the Workers Defense Action Fund, the Black Freedom Factory, the Texas Right to Vote Coalition, MOVE Texas, the Texas Freedom Network, Unite Here, the Communication Workers of America (CWA) and the Service Employees International Union, among others, hosted a press conference at the south steps of the state Capitol on Thursday morning to bring attention to Republican anti-voter laws and other items that Gov. Greg Abbott has labeled as priorities during his special legislative session.

During the regular session, Texas House Democrats were successful in stopping the passage of Republicans’ anti-voter law, Senate Bill 7 (SB 7), which would have made it even more difficult for Texans with disabilities and Texans of color to vote in the status quo. Upset that the Republican-dominated legislature failed to advance his anti-voter legislation, the governor defunded the entire legislature — a co-equal branch of government — and demanded they come back for a special session and pass bills targeting voters of color, disabled voters, trans children, immigrants, and others in order for employees of the legislature to be paid for their work.

Most notably, the governor’s agenda for this special session doesn’t even include anything about the state’s crumbling electric grid, which failed in February and left millions without power and hundreds of Texans dead, resulting in the deadliest carbon monoxide poisoning event in recent U.S. history. Even last month, ERCOT asked Texans to reduce energy and set their air-conditioning to a higher temperature in the middle of summer in order to prevent the state’s energy grid from failing, yet again.

Instead, the governor’s list of issues to address during the special session is largely red meat for his base, such as banning transgender children from engaging in school sports that match their gender identity, even more funding for border security and his new border wall, abortion, social media censorship, and critical race theory, among others.

 

Read some of the highlights from speakers at the event:

“On the agenda, we have racist and ableist anti-voter legislation, money going to a racist border wall, a prohibition on teaching an accurate version of American history, more control over our bodies and less access to abortion, and additional trauma being afflicted on trans kids who just want to play sports,” said Darcy Caballero, Policy and Advocacy Strategist for the Texas Democratic Party. “What’s not on the agenda is a way to fix our crumbling infrastructure so Texans can be confident that their A/C and power will stay on during what’s likely to be the hottest summer on record.

“Instead, we continue to get more of the same red meat legislation that Republicans depend on to win their elections,” Caballero added. “After Texans came out to vote in record numbers in 2020, Republicans are trying to cling to power the only way they know how: by preventing voters of color, working people, and young people from voting.”

“We’re going to continue to fight, we’re going to make sure that Gov. Abbott, Lt. Gov Dan Patrick, and the far-right conservatives do not disenfranchise Black and brown folks,” said Rep. Ron Reynolds, D-Missouri City.

“Texas Democrats, we’re not afraid. We’re here because we know the eyes of the nation are watching every single move of what’s occurring here in Texas. It took the courage of a Democratic Senator from Texas — (President) Lyndon B. Johnson — to pass the Voter Rights Act of 1965 and here we are today, (where) page after page after page is being ripped out of that federal law and the voices of voters are being silenced all across this country,” said Rep. Trey Martinez Fisher, D-San Antonio. “We will continue to fight.”

Rep. Nicole Collier, D-Ft. Worth, speaks at a press conference on the south steps of the Texas Capitol on Thursday, where Democratic lawmakers and organizers spoke out against anti-voter legislation and the Governor’s misplaced priorities for the special session. See the complete stream of the press conference at txdem.co/live.

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