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Thu Apr 20, 2017, 03:58 PM

Texans Gone Wild

' IN the wee hours of Nov. 9, I had an overwhelming urge to climb up on my roof here with a megaphone and shout to the rest of the country, “Welcome to Texas, y’all!”

Republicans have controlled all three branches of government in my home state for more than a decade. Many policies now being championed by President Trump and Congressional leaders seem old hat to Texans: defunding public education, going after immigrants, shredding the safety net. But rather than resting their boots on the table, political leaders in Texas have moved farther to the right.

Our 140-day every-other-year Texas legislative session began in January. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — who controls the Senate and is arguably more powerful than Gov. Greg Abbott — is leading the far-right charge. Under his sway, the Senate has already passed bills that starve government, crack down on undocumented immigrants and discriminate against transgender people. Despite opposition from law enforcement, business and nonprofit groups like mine, the bills sailed through the Senate and await consideration in the House. . .

There are two silver linings in the thundercloud of extremism billowing over Texas. One is the potential for a revived moderate middle that believes in fact-based public policy. The other is the groundswell of public engagement.

As a veteran local lobbyist joked recently, the only thing standing between Texas and the Middle Ages is the House, ably presided over by Speaker Joe Straus, Republican of San Antonio. In contrast to the Senate’s far-right agenda, the House’s common-sense priorities include remodeling our outdated school finance system and advancing mental health reforms. It remains to be seen whether moderates in the House have the votes to stop all the bad bills coming their way from the Senate.'>>>


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