Last week the 80th Legislative session came to a dramatic close as a battle over the leadership of the House of Representatives erupted. As many of you heard, a bi-partisan group of lawmakers attempted to make a motion to allow the House to vote on keeping or replacing the Speaker. I was shocked that the Speaker announced he had "absolute authority", refused to recognize members requesting a vote, and thwarted the House rules in an effort to cling to power. Although the power grab was so egregious that the Parliamentarian resigned and many of his allies denounced his actions, he managed to hold on to power.
And though the headlines were dominated by the Speaker’s race, we did accomplish some important business in those last days.
The House passed legislation that restores some of the previous cuts to the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), enabling 125,000 children to join again. We increased funding for our state parks. We revived the Texas Tomorrow Fund to help parents who want to save for their children's college education. I scored a few victories in the homestretch as well, as the Governor signed my bill to regulate the Refund Anticipation Loans that perpetuate poverty in many of our neighborhoods, and the House and Senate sent the Governor my bills to promote recess in elementary schools, improve railroad safety near schools, and establish a safe, effective way for employers to set up child care centers for their employees' kids.
I'm glad to be home in San Antonio with my family & am easing back into "normal life". But I end this session knowing that there is a tremendous amount of work to be done. I believe that we can and must do better for our teachers, who will receive a mere $425 per year pay raise. We have to put stronger measures in place to protect our water and air quality. And we must organize and educate homeowners if we are to overcome opposition by powerful interest groups and pass sales price disclosure legislation to level the playing field for property tax payers. You can count on me to continue organizing on these issues in the coming months.
P.S. The Express News published a useful wrap up of the session, summarizing the status of major legislation. To read it click here.