Thursday, June 27, 2013

Texas Parliamentarian Karina Davis has Record of Railroading Rules

Earlier, we presented an award to the Texas Senate's Parliamentarian for her terrible interpretation of the rules on Tuesday.  Turns out there's more.

Apparently Texas Senate Parliamentarian Karina Casari Davis already had a record of trying to circumvent the rules and railroad dissenting views.  In 2011, David Hanna, the Texas Legislative Council’s lawyer, sent an email to Karina Davis, copying her husband Doug Davis who was Dewhurst’s senior policy advisor on redistricting.

Hanna advised Karina that it would not be a good idea to upload a new redistricting plan with the Council—even though it would be hidden from the public—because it would still be time-stamped and thus show that amendments to be offered by minority representatives were clearly not going to be considered at all—even before they were even offered. So much for democratic principles!

He didn’t think it would be good for preclearance when the Justice Department would review Texas’s redistricting plans.  

In 2004, Dewhurst replaced Walter Fisher with Karina Davis, even though she had limited parliamentary experience.  A search on the State Bar of Texas site also reveals that she is not an attorney, a qualification you might expect for a new Senate parliamentarian with almost no experience.

Her husband Doug is one, a graduate of Texas Tech Law School and currently a lobbyist for the Texas Wholesale Beer Distributors.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Ron Wilson Award for Rules Enforcement Goes To...

Senate Parliamentarian Karina Davis:

For anyone who watched the Texas Senate on Tuesday, you saw Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth).

But you were also treated to the sight of a woman in white on the dais standing to the left of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R) and any other Republican Senator acting as chair.

Dressed in white you might have thought she was a shoulder angel, giving the Senate President the honest advice on how to handle the rules.

Unfortunately, this angel would have been better dressed in red and standing on the Senate President's right.

Salon probably sums it up best:
For at least an hour, it was great theater. State parliamentarian Karina Davis spent a lot of time looking like gymnast McKayla Maroney, whispering sideways into Dewhurst’s ear and seeming not terribly impressed.
This year's Ron Wilson Award for Rule Enforcement is presented to Senate Parliamentarian Karina Davis for her complete railroading of the rules.  You may remember when former Rep. Ron Wilson was installed by former Speaker Tom Craddick as House Parliamentarian in order to hold onto power at any cost.

Her performance last night proved she's not a parliamentarian, but a political hack.  Damn the rules, full speed ahead!  Any honest parliamentarian would have correctly interpreted the rules even to the dislike of the Republicans.

Talking about Planned Parenthood's budget in relation to an abortion bill is completely germane to a bill that would restrict abortion.  Strike 1. Talking about the sonogram bill that passed last session and is law and the additional burden placed on women if SB5 were to become law is completely germane to the bill.  Strike 2.  Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin) never yielded the floor to Sen. Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls), therefore Estes motion was out of order.  Strike 3.  Karina're out.

What's not germane is Karina Davis remaining parliamentarian when she clearly doesn't know the rules.

Women on Women Action in the Texas Legislature

Who would've ever thought you'd see women on women action taking place in a legislative body?  Let alone the Texas Legislature.

Yet that's what any observer has been treated to.  These are the Republican women in the Texas Legislature who have said that abortion by coat hanger in Texas is just fine.  These are the Republican women who have said that abortion can only happen if you can afford it...which will primarily be rich white women.

 These abortion clinics do more than provide abortions.  Let's take Planned Parenthood, since that seems to be the constant fly in the ointment for Republicans.

According to Planned Parenthood's website, they offer the following at their various clinics across the state: Abortion Referral, Abortion Services, Birth Control, General Health Care, HIV Testing, LGBT Services, Men's Health Care, Morning-After Pill, Pregnancy Testing & Services; STD Testing, Treatment & Vaccines, Women's Health Care.

Of the 58 clinics Planned Parenthood lists on their website, 14 provide Abortion Services or 24%.  52 provide Men's Health Care.  51 provide Birth Control, Morning-After Pill, Pregnancy Testing & Services, STD Testing, Treatment & Vaccines, and Women's Health Care.  50 provide HIV testing.  46 provide General Health Care. 36 provide LGBT Services. 2 provide Abortion Referral.

With the passage of SB 5, the women pictured above have essentially said goodbye to all these available services.

But they've said more than that.  They have essentially given the green light for women to have their epitaphs read, "Dead from regulation."

So tell me, how does closing these clinics and these services protect and improve womens' health?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Texas keeps bottom 10 rank in kids' welfare

The GOP-led Legislature wants to essentially outlaw abortion in Texas without explicitly outlawing abortion.  This is one of those issues where government regulation is okay.

So the GOP wants to get rid of abortion and force women to have babies.  So what type of Texas will these babies be born in to?

According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, not a very good one.  From the San Antonio Express-News:
Texas remains among the bottom 10 states when it comes to children's well-being, according to an annual ranking by a nonprofit that advocates for at-risk kids.

The state improved two places in the rankings, to 42 from 44, in the 24th annual 2013 Kids Count study, released Sunday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, based in Baltimore.

Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau and other sources, the study found that Texas generally improved in education and health while it stagnated in the area of family and community. Economic well-being worsened, reflected in the 1 percentage-point increase in the child poverty rate in Texas, to 27 percent in 2011, the latest number available. The national rate also rose 1 percentage point to 23 percent, but remained below Texas.

On the plus side, the state's rates of child and teen deaths fell, as did teen births. Its percentage of youngsters without health insurance also declined, from 18 percent in 2008 to 13 percent three years later.

Still, the U.S. rate of children without health insurance improved from 10 percent to 7 percent over the same period.

Texas Legislature in Schiavo Session

I think we can officially say that the Texas Legislature is no longer in Special Session.  They're now in Schiavo Session.

For those who remember the Terri Schiavo controversy, you'll remember when Congress was called back into session in order to pass some controversial social legislation on a Sunday.

Now the legislature is working on a Sunday trying to punish women with its abortion legislation

I guess the Scripture according to the GOP must include some additional passage about resting on a Sunday...except when it comes to attacking womens' health.  Then Sunday isn't a day of rest, it's a day to wage war.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

U.S. Attorneys General and their Law Schools

Of the 50 elected and appointed attorneys general in the U.S., 30 went to a law school in the state they currently represent, while 20 went to law school elsewhere.

Just some useless trivia. The 20 who went to law school out of state:

Attorney General State Law School Law School State
Greg Abbott Texas Vanderbilt Tennessee
Beau Biden Delaware Syracuse New York
Jack Conway Kentucky George Washington D.C.
Robert Cooper Tennessee Yale Connecticut
Catherine Cortez Masto Nevada Gonzaga Washington
Bob Ferguson Washington NYU New York
Joseph Foster New Hampshire George Washington D.C.
Doug Gansler Maryland University of Virginia Virginia
Michael Geraghty Alaska Seattle University Washington
John Hoffman New Jersey Duke North Carolina
Tom Horne Arizona Harvard Massachusetts
George Jepsen Connecticut Harvard Massachusetts
David Louie Hawaii UC Berkeley California
Thomas Miller Iowa Harvard Massachusetts
Patrick Morrisey West Virginia Rutgers New Jersey
Derek Schmidt Kansas Georgetown D.C.
Eric Schneiderman New York Harvard Massachusetts
Bill Schuette Michigan University of San Francisco California
William Sorrell Vermont Cornell New York
Luther Strange Alabama Tulane Louisiana

Saturday, June 15, 2013

State House District 146

HD 146.  This district has some things in common with our first district we looked at, HD 149.  Among other things, they're based in Houston/Harris County...and they've each only had 2 representatives.  HD 146 came into being in 1978/79.  From 1979-2007 and 2007-2011 it was held by Democrat Al Edwards.  From 2007-2009 and since 2011, the seat has been held by Democrat Borris Miles.  In 2006, Miles defeated Edwards by 409 votes in a runoff.  2 years later Edwards makes a comeback and beats Miles by 5,136 votes.  Another 2 years go by and Miles beats Edwards again...this time by only 8 votes.  Fast forward another 2 years, and this time Miles beats back a challenge from Edwards by 1,179 votes.  That's 4 elections in a row these 2 have faced off against each other...2006, 2008, 2010, & 2012.  Anyone care to take bets on 2014?



Obama - 78.8%; 39,909
Romney - 20.1%; 10,153

U.S. Senate

Sadler - 77.2%; 38,544
Cruz - 20.6%; 10,295

We've  been here before.

Making a second appearance, it's Hawaii.  Obama carried the Aloha State by 42.71%.  He won this district by 58.7%.  Sadler carried this district by 56.6%.  That 58% might seem like a stretch, but it's closer to Hawaii than Obama's best state*, D.C.

Miles is African-American and the district has a large African-American population.  So then it should come as no surprise that this was one of Obama's 10 best House Districts.  #6 to be exact.

Friday, June 7, 2013

State House District 104

HD 104 has been around since 1893.  It's currently based in Dallas County and is represented by Democrat Roberto Alonzo...for the 2nd time.  Alonzo was elected to this district in 1992.  In 1996 he was defeated for re-election by fellow Democrat Domingo Garcia in a runoff.  Garcia won by 291 votes.  Fast forward to 2002 and Alonzo beats Garcia by 41 votes.  Garcia recently lost a congressional bid to State Rep. Marc Veasey (D).



Obama - 72.7%; 21,287
Romney - 26.3%; 7,718

U.S. Senate

Sadler - 68.1%; 19,597
Cruz - 29.2%; 8,411

Last time we had Hawaii Five-0.  With our first Hawaii district, we have another TV show that took place in Hawaii...Magnum P.I.

The state this district best matched at the presidential level was Hawaii.  FYI, 21 of the Democrats' 54 state house seats best match Hawaii.  Put another way, 39% of the Democratic caucus come from districts as safely Democratic as Hawaii.  Obama won Hawaii by 42.71% and carried this district by 46.4%.  Sadler won here by 38.9%.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Overlooked 3rd Branch

With all of Sen. Chuck Grassley's (R-IA) recent bloviating about the D.C. Circuit Court, it's enough to bring crocodile tears to your eyes.

Chuck is vewy, vewy upset that Obama might tip the D.C. Court into a more liberal-leaning court and now wants to shrink the court by eliminating the 3 vacancies.  Grassley was just fine with the court as is until this year.  What changed?  The retirement of Republican appointed judges. 

Until February of this year, the court had a Republican majority since 1986* (except for a brief period in 2002 when it was tied 4-4-4).  The last time it had 4 Democratic appointees was 2005.  1985/86 was the last time Democratic appointees were a majority of the court.  In 1985, Johnson appointee Edward Tamm died and Reagan appointed his replacement changing the court from 7 Ds - 4 Rs to 6-5-1.  Reagan filled a vacancy in 1986 and created a tie at 6-6.  Then Kennedy appointee James Wright took senior status in 1986 and created another vacancy.  Reagan filled the vacancy that year and Republicans got a majority.

The court expanded to 11 seats in 1979, 12 seats in 1984, and then back to to 11 seats in 2008.

Below is a chart of the D.C. Circuit Court and it's composition.  Democratic appointees in blue, Republicans in red, and vacancies in green.

Bottom line, Grassley is upset because Obama has a chance to take the court in a more leftward direction.