Texas Matters: Mask Rebellion, Candidate Collier And Census Growth
Schools across Texas are starting back up as COVID-19 cases are surging and RSV a respiratory infection is spreading and related pediatric hospitalizations are sky rocketing. Children under 12 are not eligible for the safe and effective COVID vaccine. But masking up does protect children from the spread of both COVID and RSV. However, Gov. Greg Abbott has banned mask mandates for local governments including school districts.
Abbott says this is a personal responsibility issues. But now local governments say this is a public health crisis and they are fighting back in the courts.
San Antonio, Bexar County and Dallas County have all successfully sued the governor to implement temporary mask mandates, while the cases go to court. School districts across the state have announced their intent to defy the governor by mandating protective masks. After 17 months, many local officials have had enough said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff
“There is a groundswell, and whether that will lead to more losses, whether that will lead to the governor finally changing his mind. I don't know. But I do know, at least we've got a victory here,” said Wolff.
At least for now. TPR’s Paul Flahive reports regardless of outcome in court, the governor will be unable to shield himself from the criticism of putting kids in harms way.
Politics created the problem of Gov. Abbott banning mask mandates during a pandemic. And politics could be the answer. But then again this is Texas, where it’s been well over 20 years since a Democrat beat a Republican for a statewide office.
In November 2022 – more than a year from now – Texans will be voting for state leaders and in political terms that’s the way distant future.
Texas Democrats don’t even have a strong challenger for governor figured out yet. So then why should Greg Abbott be too concerned about the General Election? He can afford to ban masks, veto the legislature’s budget and push through unpopular legislation – who’s going to try to stop him?
Right now from the Democratic Party of Texas that answer is no body. But for Lt. Governor that answer is Mike Collier. Democrat Collier is seeking a rematch against Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. In 2018 Patrick won reelection with 51% of the vote – Collier had almost 47%.
Collier says the current situation in should be telling Texas voters that the state leadership is not looking out for their health and safety. Mike Collier is running for the Democratic Nomination for Lt. Governor. He is hoping for a rematch against Republican Lt. Governor Dan Patrick in November 2022.
After a 15-hour filibuster from Democratic Senator Carol Alvarado of Houston, Thursday morning the Texas Senate passed the state Republican’s priority election bill, Senate bill 1. To become law, though, the bill would still need to pass in the House. However, with House Democrats still not showing up in Austin, the partisan stand-off between Texas Democrats and Republicans over the election overhaul bill will continue.
Texas Republicans say it's a matter of keeping elections secure. Democrats maintain it’s a way to disenfranchise voters, based on debunked claims about election fraud. One of the biggest changes to election rules in the proposed legislation would be expanding the power of partisan poll watchers. Texas Tech Public Media’s Rob Avila reports on what exactly the bill would change and what’s at stake.
The new data released this week confirms a trend we already knew: Texas is growing, and young people of color are driving that change. But now the Texas Legislature will be drawing political maps that could be in place for the next decade.
And the question is will they draw maps that give the people of Texas, particularly communities of color, the fair representation they deserve – or will the maps be used to preserve the current power structure.
Joaquin Gonzalez is a staff attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project,
ARTICLE X VETO
It's been nearly two months since Gov. Greg Abbott vetoed the Legislature's budget — a move to punish Democratic lawmakers who walked out and blocked a vote on his priority election bill. The veto has hung over Texas's special legislative sessions all summer and was upheld by the state supreme court this week. The governor and other state leaders recently came up with a temporary fix, but as Houston Public Media's government reporter Andrew Schneider observes, that doesn't solve what some lawmakers are terming a constitutional crisis.
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