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Minority groups want trial on Texas voting maps before 2018


Minority rights groups on Thursday told federal judges that Texas needs new election maps for 2018, which would likely boost Democratic candidates, following three recent court findings that Republicans intentionally discriminated against Hispanic and black voters.

Redrawn districts in Texas could bolster Democratic efforts to reclaim Congress in the first midterm election under President Donald Trump. It could also swing seats in the Texas Legislature, where Republicans showed their dominance overnight Thursday, passing a ban on so-called “sanctuary cities” that empowers local police to enforce federal immigration law against anyone detained.

A three-judge panel in San Antonio did not immediately decide a next step. Since March, the same court has found intentional discrimination in both congressional and Statehouse maps originally drawn by Republicans in 2011, a year after U.S. Census Bureau figures showed that minorities were driving Texas’ explosive growth.


Buckingham Seeks To Protect All Types Of Speech On College Campuses

You’ve probably been following the string of campus controversies from lower Alabama to Northern California – speaking appearances by alt-right politicos and others who’ve been branded as purveyors of hate speech. Some have canceled appearances amid concerns by universities that say they can’t ensure security and that there won’t be violence.

Amid these headlines, a proposal by Texas state Sen. Dawn Buckingham (R-Lakeway) is suddenly getting traction. Her bill, SB 1151, would forbid public colleges and universities in Texas from punishing students for engaging in expressive activities. It also would require schools to adopt policies outlining students’ right to assemble, protest and circulate petitions.

“It is very clear that the only speech that doesn’t really seem to be protected is conservative speech, especially on college campuses,” Buckingham says. “That’s what we’re trying to do is just ensure all speech – that includes conservative freedom of speech – are respected on our college campuses.”

Critics are asking why the protections under the First Amendment aren’t good enough to ensure free speech. Buckingham says if it were enough, we wouldn’t have problems. Her bill would build on protections in the First Amendment, but also seeks to inform students on what those protections are.


Longview and other cities’ payday loan ordinances at risk from Texas legislation

Bills making their way through the Legislature would affect — or even repeal — an ordinance passed in February 2016 by the Longview City Council that restricts payday lenders.

More than 40 Texas cities have passed laws restricting how much can be borrowed with payday or car title loans and how often they can be refinanced.

Some state lawmakers are pushing to pass measures that would either roll back those local ordinances or give payday and auto title lenders the power to take cities to court over ordinances they don’t like.

“The bill that would undo the ordinances that so many cities have worked to put into place without putting anything in its place at that state level is very upsetting,” said Councilwoman Kristen Ishihara, who was instrumental in Longview passing its ordinance. “If the true motivation behind the bill is to provide uniform regulations to the payday lenders across the state, then the state legislators should do their job and adopt a statewide regulation that adopts our uniform city ordinances.”

The state caps payday and auto title loan periods to six months. Loans are often approved for periods of two weeks or one month, with average annual percentage rates of 454 percent, according to a 2014 Pew Charitable Trusts study.



State Rep. “Lord Byron” Cook (R-Corsicana RER56) is no friend of the Texas liberty, or the Lord’s Church. Chairman of the powerful State Affairs Committee, liberty movement and religious liberty activists have labeled him one of their most ardent opponents.

Cook’s hostility toward activists surfaces in public, repeatedly. Here’s another example as he gets in a tussle with Pastor Stephen Broden of Protect Life & Marriage Texas.

Cook should be aware that Broden is a member of the State Republican Executive Committee, the board of directors of the state party. Broden has the authority to launch political action against Cook.

Broden and Cook verbally battled over HB2899 which is a Texas House version of the controversial SB9 so-called “bathroom bill”.


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