Monday, March 26, 2012

TDWCC Presents Gasland For Movie Night At The Angelika

Texas Democratic Women of Collin County Presents Josh Fox’s acclaimed documentary Gasland for Movie Night at the Plano Angelika Theater, Shops at Legacy, on Tuesday, April 10
6:00pm – 9:30pm.

Celebrate Earth Month! Get informed, inspired to save our planet and our neighborhoods, and support the TDWCC by attending Movie Night this month!

Gasland Movie Trailer

Gasland, an entertaining documentary about fracking and the dangers of this form of natural gas drilling. Join the TDWCC for a lively panel discussion after the movie, with Sharon Wilson of Earthworks Oil & Gas Accountability Project, John McCall Jr. of the Dallas Gas Drilling Task Force, and Kathy Martin, civil engineer in gas and oil regulations.

The movie ticket price includes the movie, coffee, and dessert. The theater has a cash bar.

You can learn more or purchase tickets by clicking to the TDWCC website.

Dessert and Coffee will be served before the movie including Kosher for Passover.

More about Fracking in Dallas

Thursday, March 15, 2012

OFA's Documentary "The Road We’ve Traveled"

Davis Guggenheim‘s 17-minute documentary, "The Road We’ve Traveled," about some of the calls President Obama made since taking the oath of office in January 2009. The documentary features interviews from President Bill Clinton, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Elizabeth Warren, David Axelrod, Austan Goolsbee, and more.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Poll: Obama Leads All GOP Candidates

President Obama is leading all of the Republican presidential candidates in head-to-head match-ups, according to a poll released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.

Pew's national survey taken March 7-11 shows Pres. Obama is leading Romney by 12 percentage points (54%-42%) and Santorum by 28 points (57%-29%) among voters.

Among the information pulled from from Pew's survey:

Obama's approval rating rises to 50 percent

For the first time since Osama bin Laden was killed last summer, half of all Americans (50 percent) say they approve of Pres. Obama's job performance, while just 41 percent disapprove.

Most think Pres. Obama will win a second term

By a 59-32 margin, most Americans think Pres. Obama will win the election if Mitt Romney is the Republican nominee. That margin is far wider if Rick Santorum is the GOP nominee: 68 percent think Obama would win, while just 24 percent predict a Santorum presidency.

A majority of Americans have an unfavorable view of the Republican candidates

Confirming fears among Republicans that the protracted primary is weakening all the candidates, the survey found that the contentious Republican primary has taken a toll on the image of the leading GOP candidates. In the current survey, just 29 percent of Americans say they have a favorable view of Romney, while 51 percent say they have an unfavorable impression.

Republicans are struggling with women and minorities

Pres. Obama's lead over Romney is attributable in large part to his wide advantage among women, younger voters, and nonwhites. Women favor Pres. Obama over Romney by 20 points—virtually unchanged from a month ago.

Nation split over federal health care overhaul

Two years after the passage of the Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act, which the GOP deride as "Obamacare," the public is evenly divided over the law.

Overall, 47 percent approve of the law, while 45 percent disapprove.

Romney's national lead widening among Republican primary voters

Mitt Romney has regained the lead in the support for his party's presidential nomination, as conservative backing for Rick Santorum has declined. Romney currently holds a 33-24 lead over Santorum among registered Republican and Republican-leaning independent voters, with 20 percent backing Newt Gingrich and 14 percent favoring Ron Paul. The poll was taken before Santorum's double victories in Alabama and Mississippi Tuesday night.

Don't LET Them Mess With the Women of Texas!

RH Reality Check by Beverly McPhail, University of Houston Women's Resource Center.

There are a multitude of excuses that women offer to rationalize their lack of political participation: We are tired. We are busy. We are working in our jobs and raising our families. There is laundry to be done, bills to be paid, and a project due at work. Politics is too messy. Or we are too busy surfing the web or watching reality television. Or this is about other women and not me.

However, such excuses are reminiscent of the famous statement attributed to Martin Niemoller about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power when, one by one, certain groups were selected for purging.

The text starts, “First they came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist . . . ”

The paraphrased version for Texas women today would read:

First they came for the women who needed abortions, and even though one in three women in the United States will have an abortion in her lifetime, I didn’t speak out because I didn’t think I think I would ever need one.

Then they came for poor women’s health care by shutting down the Medicaid Women’s Health Program, which provided breast cancer screenings and pap smears for cervical cancer screening, and I didn’t speak out because I am not a poor woman.

Then they came for outspoken women who express their opinions on birth control mandates in preventive health care policy, like Georgetown University Law Center student Sandra Fluke, and I didn’t speak out because I was afraid I, too, would be branded a slut and a prostitute.

Then they came to take away women’s birth control (more than 99% of sexually active women aged 15-44 have used at least one contraceptive method reports the Guttmacher Institute) and I did not speak out because I am beyond childbearing years.

Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me....

What will it take for Texas women to use our voices and our votes to protect poor women’s health care, roll back restrictive and onerous abortion regulations, and gain back control of our bodies, our lives, and our daughters’ futures?

Read the full article @ RH Reality Check

Texas GOP Staffer Quits Over Draconian Cuts to Women's Health Care, Speaks At Rally

RH Reality Check by Jodi Jacobson, Editor in Chief, RH Reality Check

Rallies were held in Texas yesterday on the eve of the elimination of funding to the Women's Health Program through the state, and subsequently to all Planned Parenthood clinics because... well, because the far right apparently doesn't like women to have health care.

So 130,000 more women in Texas will be without health care tomorrow, a state in which access to primary reproductive health care has already been made scarce since the legislature cut funds dramatically last year as well. The cuts will take place because Governor Perry is refusing federal funding that otherwise would go to these clinics. Perry, and other opponents of women's health care in Texas, claim there are "lots of alternatives" to the clinics now providing low-income women--mothers, students, employees--with health services, but as Andrea Grimes reported for us last year, those alternatives just don't exist.

And as Grimes reported, the 2011 state family planning cuts left 180,000 women without access to contraception and reproductive health services like pap smears and breast cancer screenings.

"The Women's Health Program serves an additional 130,000 women, bringing the total number of women without access to basic reproductive health care to 310,000," writes Grimes. "Some estimates put the number closer to 400,000. The Texas Legislative Budget Board has estimated that this will result in up to 21,000 additional births in the state--children born to families who are already in need of government assistance and who would otherwise have sought to avoid an unintended and unwanted pregnancy.

But the anger at these cuts in Texas and across the country is building and even women on the right are fed up. Today, according to the Austin Chronicle, GOP legislative aide, Allison Catalano, who began working for Texas state legislator Myra Crownover last summer, resigned her post, citing Crownover's support for the cuts to women's health funding.

In a letter to Crownover, Catalano wrote that she decided to resign her position because of "recent decisions made by you, Representative Crownover, along with other legislators" related to the draconian cuts to the women's health budget.

Republicans Losing on Birth Control as 77% in Poll Spurn Debate

Bloomberg BusinessWeek

Americans overwhelmingly regard the debate over President Barack Obama’s policy on employer-provided contraceptive coverage as a matter of women’s health, not religious freedom, rejecting Republicans’ rationale for opposing the rule. More than three-quarters say the topic shouldn’t even be a part of the U.S. political debate.

More than six in 10 respondents to a Bloomberg National Poll -- including almost 70 percent of women -- say the issue involves health care and access to birth control, according to the survey taken March 8-11.

That conflicts with Republican presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney, who say Obama is violating religious freedom by requiring employers -- including those with religious objections to birth control -- to provide a way for women to obtain contraceptive coverage as part of their insurance plans.

The results suggest the Republican candidates’ focus on contraception is out of sync with the U.S. public. Seventy-seven percent of poll respondents say birth control shouldn’t be a topic of the political debate, while 20 percent say it should.

“These candidates are talking to a relatively small subset even among Republicans,” said J. Ann Selzer, of Des Moines, Iowa-based Selzer & Co., who conducted the telephone poll of 1,002 respondents. “They may have the feeling, and their polls may be showing them, that this is a way in and this is a wedge issue within the party, but this does not dovetail with the views of the majority in the U.S.”

Read the full story @ Bloomberg BusinessWeek

Related: Romney: Planned Parenthood? "We're Going To Get Rid Of Them"

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Democratic Party County/Senatorial District Conventions On For April 21, 2012

The Democratic Party will conduct County/Senatorial District Conventions around the state on Saturday April 21, 2012 - five weeks before the rescheduled Democratic Primary Election Day of Tuesday May 29, 2012. Early voting for the May 29th Primary Election will run from Monday, May 14, 2012 to Friday, May 25, 2012 at the usual early polling locations around Collin Co.
Be A Delegate to the 2012 Collin Co. Democratic Convention at the Plano Centre in Plano, Texas! (map)

Any registered voter who signs an oath of affiliation with the Texas Democratic Party at convention check-in or during the convention may participate. To be a Delegate just check into the convention during registration from 8:00 am to 10:00 am on Saturday April 21 using your Voter Registration Card, Driver's License or other identification used for voting.

On March 1, the San Antonio U.S. District Court three-judge panel, which controls the state's interim redistricting maps and 2012 primary election schedule, issued an order that allows the Texas Democratic Party and Republican Party of Texas to hold their respective County/Senatorial District (SD) Conventions in April - before the Texas Primary Election that is now scheduled to occur on May 29.

In normal primary election years the state Democratic and Republican Parties conduct their respective SD/County conventions three weeks after primary election day and election precinct conventions, held immediately after the primary election.

Election precinct conventions normally kick off the three stage convention process by electing precinct delegates to attend the SD/County conventions. Delegates are then elected from the SD/County conventions to advance to each party's state conventions, which are held in early June. In presidential election years delegates from each party's state convention are selected to advance to the National Conventions to nominate each party's presidential candidates.

This year, drawn out court battles over the new redistricting maps have pushed primary election day from its usual first Tuesday in March date to Tuesday May 29. Since the Democratic and Republican Parties were already locked into holding their respective state conventions the weekend of June 9 - just over one week after the rescheduled primary date - they asked the San Antonio three-judge panel to issue an order allowing them to hold their respective SD/County conventions in April, five weeks before the primary election.

This year, the Texas Democratic Party convention and delegate selection process will skip preliminary Election Precinct Conventions and begin with County/Senatorial District Conventions on Saturday April 21, 2012.

This year, any registered voter who signs an oath of affiliation with the Texas Democratic Party at convention check or during the convention may participate in their County/Senatorial District Convention as a delegate. People who sign an oath of affiliation with the Texas Democratic Party -- which they would normally do when voting in the party's primary election -- cannot participate in another political party’s process, or vote in another party's primary election until after December 31, 2013, when the party affiliation cycle resets for the 2014 primary year.
From the Texas Delegate Selection Plan for the 2012 Democratic National Convention, Issued by the Texas Democratic Party:
  1. Texas will use a proportional representation system based on the results of county/senatorial district conventions and a state convention for apportioning delegates to the 2012 Democratic National Convention. This Plan allocates senatorial district level delegates based on the presidential preferences expressed by participants on sign-in sheets at the county/senatorial district conventions, and it allocates pledged party leader and elected official delegates and at-large delegates and alternates based on the presidential preference expressed by delegates on the sign-in sheets at the State Convention.
  2. The first determining step of Texas’ delegate selection process will occur on April 21, 2012, with the county/senatorial district conventions.
  3. Voter Participation in Process
    1. Participation in Texas’ delegate selection process is open to all voters who wish to participate as Democrats.
      • Voter registration eligibility ends 30 days prior to the county/senatorial district conventions (March 22, 2012).
      • Voters affiliate with the Democratic Party by signing an affidavit (oath) of affiliation when signing in at the county/senatorial district convention or at some other time in the current election cycle (Rules 2.A. & 2.C & Reg. 4.3).
      Signing an oath of affiliation with the Democratic Party shall be the only qualification to become a delegate at any level; attendance or delegate status at any party convention shall not be required.
    2. At no stage of Texas’ delegate selection process shall any person be required, directly or indirectly, to pay a cost or fee as a condition for participating. Voluntary contributions to the Party may be made, but under no circumstances shall a contribution be mandatory for participation (Rule 2.D. & Reg. 4.4.).
    3. No persons shall participate or vote in the nominating process for the Democratic presidential candidate who also participates in the nominating process of any other party for the corresponding elections (Rule 2.E.).
Summary of the Proposed TDP County/SD Convention and Delegate Selection Process

The Texas Convention and Delegate Selection process will begin on April 21, 2012 with the County/Senatorial District conventions. There will be no precinct conventions.

GOP Race Is Rallying Democrats

Pew Research Center for the People & the Press
Campaign Continues to Hurt GOP More Than It Helps

The Republican nomination battle is rallying Democrats behind Barack Obama. Currently, 49% of Democrats say that as they learn more about the GOP candidates, their impression of Obama is getting better. Just 36% of Democrats expressed this view in December, before the Republican primaries began.

In contrast, there has been virtually no change in Republicans’ views of the GOP field during this period. Just 26% of Republicans say their impression of the GOP field has improved as they have learned more about the candidates. That is largely unchanged from December (30%).

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and The Washington Post, conducted March 1-4 among 1,009 adults, finds that the overall balance of opinion about the GOP field remains more negative than positive.

About three-in-ten (29%) Americans say as they learn more about the field their impression of the Republican candidates has gotten worse, while just 12% say it has gotten better. Half (50%) say their impression has been staying about the same. That is little changed from December.

A Pew Research Center/Washington Post survey in late January found that ratings of the Republican field are lackluster even among Republican and Republican-leaning independent voters: At that time, 52% said the field of candidates was only fair or poor while 46% said it was excellent or good.

While an increasing percentage of Democrats say their impression of Obama has gotten better as they have learned more about the GOP candidates, overall public views have changed little since December.

About as many Americans say their impression of Obama is getting better (23%) as worse (21%) as they have learned more about the Republicans candidates. About half (51%) say their impression of Obama is staying about the same.

Research from Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

Monday, March 12, 2012

OFA Campaign Documentary Trailer “Tough Decisions”

The Obama campaign releases a new trailer from soon-to-be-released (March 15) campaign documentary, "The Road We’ve Traveled" by Academy Award-winning director Davis Guggenheim. This new trailer, entitled “Tough Decisions,” focuses on the events surrounding the successful mission to kill Osama bin Laden. The spot features narration by Tom Hanks, plus the requisite evocative music and still footage.

It also features a brief clip of former President Bill Clinton, who says “He took the harder and more honorable path. When I saw what had happened, I thought to myself, I hope that’s the call I would have made.”

Romney, you may recall, asserted that “any president” would have done what President Obama did to green-light the raid into Pakistan, even though in 20007, he told reporters that he opposed such a raid.

Here’s the clip, from Obama For America, followed by the campaign’s press release:

GOP War on Voting Targets Swing States

On March 7, 1963, civil rights activists were brutally beaten by police in Selma, Alabama, during the infamous “Bloody Sunday” march, for advocating for the right to vote.

This week, forty-seven years later, today’s civil rights leaders retraced the march from Selma to Montgomery, protesting what NAACP President Ben Jealous calls “the greatest attack on voting rights since segregation.”

Since the 2010 election, Republicans have waged an unprecedented war on voting, with the unspoken but unmistakable goal of preventing millions of mostly Democratic voters, including students, minorities, immigrants, ex-convicts and the elderly, from casting ballots in 2012.

More than a dozen states, from Texas to Wisconsin and Florida, have passed laws designed to impede voters at every step of the electoral process, whether by requiring birth certificates to register to vote, restricting voter registration drives, curtailing early voting, requiring government-issued IDs to cast a ballot, or disenfranchising ex-felons.

Within days, the crucial battlegrounds of Pennsylvania and Virginia will become the latest GOP states to pass legislation erecting new barriers to voting. If, as expected, the new laws lead to fewer Democrats casting ballots in November, both states could favor Republicans, possibly shifting the balance of power in Congress and denying Barack Obama a second term.

Pennsylvania will be the ninth GOP state since 2010 to require a photo ID in order to vote; the state’s law mandates a government-issued ID or one from a college or nursing home. According to a study by the Brennan Center for Justice, 11 percent of U.S. citizens lack a government-issued ID, but the numbers are significantly higher among young voters (18 percent), voters 65 or older (18 percent) and African-Americans (25 percent).

Based on these figures, as many as 700,000 Pennsylvanians may not be able to vote in the next election. (Pennsylvania Secretary of State Carol Aichele claims 99 percent of Pennsylvanians possess the proper ID, which seems unlikely given the state’s large student, elderly and African-American population).

The Pennsylvania measures are strikingly similar to model legislation drafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, an influential conservative advocacy group funded in part by the right-wing billionaire Koch brothers. In Pennsylvania, as in other states pushing voting restrictions, Republicans have hyped the bogeyman of “voter fraud” to promote the ID laws, even though, as the Associated Press noted, they were able to cite “no instances of voter fraud that the bill would somehow address.” The law, the very type of big-government expansion that Republicans so often decry, will cost the state anywhere from $4.3 million to $11 million to implement.

The law is an unnecessary expenditure by the state and an unreasonable burden on voters. In order to obtain a free ID card to vote, voters must first obtain a Social Security card, birth certificate or certificate of residency, along with two proofs of residency, which costs money and amounts to a poll tax by another name. A voter who shows up to the polls without a valid ID can cast a provisional ballot, but that ballot will count only if the voter provides the requisite ID to the county board of elections within six days. “This is de facto disenfranchisement,” says Andy Hoover, legislative director of the Pennsylvania ACLU. “The poll workers can avoid the discomfort of turning away a voter, but ultimately the chances that the vote will count are slim.”

Read the full article @ the Rolling Stone.

Rolling Stone: The GOP War on Voting - In a campaign supported by the Koch brothers, Republicans are working to prevent millions of Democrats from voting next year.

Wisconsin Voter Photo ID Law Ruled Unconstitutional

Dane County Wisconsin Circuit Judge Richard Niess today declared that state's new voter photo ID law unconstitutional and issued a permanent injunction blocking the state from implementing that law. Wisc. Gov. Scott Walker (R) signed the voter photo ID bill into law in May 2011, saying it is a "common sense reform" that would "go a long way to protecting the integrity of elections in Wisconsin."

"Without question, where it exists, voter fraud corrupts elections and undermines our form of government," wrote Judge Niess in his decision. "The legislature and governor may certainly take aggressive action to prevent its occurrence. But voter fraud is no more poisonous to our democracy than voter suppression. Indeed, they are two heads on the monster."

The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Education Network filed suit in Dane County Circuit Court last October on the grounds the Wisc. voter photo ID law violates the provision in the Wisconsin state constitution that determines who can vote. Judge Niess agreed with that argument:

In his 12-page ruling on the League of Women Voters plaintiff motion for summary judgment, Judge Niess found that the voter photo ID law (Act 23) violates the Wisc. Constitution's Article III, which guarantees the right to vote to all state residents who are 18 and over (Section 1) other than in cases where the legislature may place restrictions on convicted felons and those adjudicated to be incompetent (Section 2).

Article III is unambiguous, and means exactly what it says. It creates both necessary and sufficient requirements for qualified voters. Every United States citizen 18 years of age or older who resides in an election district in Wisconsin is a qualified elector in that district, unless excluded by duly enacted laws barring certain convicted felons or adjudicated incompetents/partially incompetents.

The government may not disqualify an elector who possesses those qualifications on the grounds that the voter does not satisfy additional statutorily-created qualifications not contained in Article III, such as a photo ID. He added that a "government that undermines the very foundation of its existence - the people's inherent, pre-constitutional right to vote - imperils its legitimacy as a government by the people, for the people, and especially of the people."

Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen (R) he plans to appeal the decision. The Dane County Circuit Court decision comes less than a week after another judge temporarily halted the implementation of the voter ID law.

Last December, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Wisconsin and the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty filed a federal lawsuit charging that Wisconsin’s voter ID law is unconstitutional and will deprive citizens of their basic right to vote:

“This lawsuit is the opening act in what will be a long struggle to undo the damage done to the right to vote by strict photo ID laws and other voter suppression measures,” said Jon Sherman, an attorney with the ACLU Voting Rights Project. “Across the nation, legislators are robbing countless American citizens of their fundamental right to vote, and in the process, undermining the very legitimacy of our democracy. We intend to redirect their attention to the Constitution.”

The ACLU complaint says that allowing only certain types of photo ID imposes a severe burden on the right to vote in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. It also states that the law violates the 24th and 14th amendments because it effectively imposes an unconstitutional poll tax. The lawsuit was filed the same day that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was scheduled to speak about the importance of ensuring equal access to the ballot box.

“The state of Wisconsin has created a voter ID system that is making it very hard or impossible for residents to exercise their cherished right to vote,” said Larry Dupuis, legal director of the ACLU of Wisconsin. “Countless Wisconsin residents, including veterans, minority voters and seniors who have been voting for decades, will be turned away from the polls under this law’s restrictive photo ID requirements. Our lawsuit aims to block this unconstitutional law so that Wisconsin can continue its proud tradition of high participation in elections.”

The law will also have a severe impact on homeless voters, many of whom do not have photo identification.

“Protecting homeless persons’ right to vote is crucial, since voting is one of the few ways that homeless individuals can impact the political process and make their voices heard,” said Heather Johnson, civil rights attorney at the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. “By limiting participation to Wisconsin residents with photo identification, this law effectively silences homeless persons’ voices. With homelessness rising by 12 percent in Wisconsin since the recession began, we cannot allow the state to set this dangerous and unconscionable precedent.”

The ACLU and the Law Center filed the complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin on behalf of 17 eligible Wisconsin voters who may not be able to vote under the law.

USDOJ Rejects Texas' Voter Photo ID Law

The U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) today rejected Texas' application for preclearance of its voter photo ID law, saying the state did not prove that the bill would not have a discriminatory effect on minority voters.

The department’s letter written by Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas E. Perez states that Texas did not meet its burden under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of showing that the law will not have a discriminatory effect on minority voters, and therefore the department objects to the Texas voter identification law. According to the state’s own data, registered Hispanic voters are much more likely than registered non-Hispanic voters to not hold a one of the select few government issued photo identification cards.

Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas E. Perez wrote in a letter to Keith Ingram, the director of Texas’ elections division:

“As noted above, an applicant for an election identification certificate will have to travel to a driver’s license office. This raises three discrete issues. First, according to the most recent American Community Survey three-year estimates, 7.3 percent of Hispanic or Latino households do not have an available vehicle, as compared with only 3.8 percent of non-Hispanic white households that lack an available vehicle. Statistically significant correlations exist between the Hispanic voting-age population percentage of a county, and the percentage of occupied housing units without a vehicle.

Second, in 81 of the state’s 254 counties, there are no operational driver’s license offices. The disparity in the rates between Hispanics and non-Hispanics with regard to the possession of either a driver’s license or personal identification card issued by DPS is particularly stark in counties without driver’s license offices. According to the September 2011 data, 10.0 percent of Hispanics in counties without driver’s license offices do not have either form of identification, compared to 5.5 percent of non-Hispanics. According to the January 2012 data, that comparison is 14.6 percent of Hispanics in counties without driver’s license offices, as compared to 8.8 percent of non-Hispanics. During the legislative hearings, one senator stated that some voters in his district could have to travel up to 176 miles round trip in order to reach a driver’s license office. The legislature tabled amendments that would have, for example, provided reimbursement to voters who live below the poverty line for travel expenses incurred in applying for the requisite identification.

... Hispanic voters represent only 21.8 percent of the registered voters in the state, Hispanic voters represent fully 29.0 percent of the registered voters without such identification.

...Thus, we conclude that the total number of registered voters who lack a driver’s license or personal identification card issued by DPS could range from 603,892 to 795,955. The disparity between the percentages of Hispanics and non-Hispanics who lack these forms of identification ranges from 46.5 to 120.0 percent. That is, according to the state’s own data, a Hispanic registered voter is at least 46.5 percent, and potentially 120.0 percent, more likely than a non-Hispanic registered voter to lack this identification. Even using the data most favorable to the state, Hispanics disproportionately lack either a driver’s license or a personal identification card issued by DPS, and that disparity is statistically significant.”

There are 34 Texas counties without a DPS office and 47 additional counties where DPS offices have been temporarily closed, according to documents furnished to the Department of Justice. Minorities make up a majority of the population in most of those counties. The line to get a driver’s license at one Houston location is so long, according to State Sen. Tommy Williams, that a guy called in a pizza order, got it delivered to him, and finished eating before he got to the front of the line.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

2.4 Million Of Texas' 12.8 Million Registered Voters Have No Photo ID

Houston Chronicle

The state’s contested voter ID law could provoke widespread complications in the upcoming presidential elections, with as many as 18 percent of all registered voters across Texas apparently lacking state government-issued photo IDs to match their voter registration cards, according to records obtained by the Houston Chronicle.

Texas secretary of state officials did not find matching 2012 driver’s licenses or state-issued photo IDs for 2.4 million of the state’s 12.8 million registered voters, though all but about 800,000 of those voters supplied a valid identification number when they first registered to vote. The findings come from documents submitted by the state to the U.S. Department of Justice as part of an ongoing review of the new voter ID law.

The “matching” exercises conducted by the state showed up to 22 percent of Bexar County voters apparently lacked the IDs, as well as 20 percent in Dallas County and 19 percent in Harris County, based on the Chronicle’s review of the state data.

If approved, the new law would require voters to present official Department of Public Safety IDs that basically mirror their registration cards. An unknown number of voters hold passports, concealed handgun licenses or military IDs that also would be accepted.

Read the full article @ Houston Chronicle

The Texas Democratic Party last fall sent a letter and spreadsheet to the USDOJ showing that in at least 46 Texas counties, over half the voters who do not have one of the required photo ID's are Hispanic. The Texas Democratic Party and various organizations staunchly opposed Texas new voter photo ID law (SB14) on the grounds it will disenfranchise elderly and minority voters.


Women's Health Care Suffers As Republicans Slash Funding

In this exclusive, unedited Daily Show interview, Jon Stewart talks with Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards about the mission of Planned Parenthood and the opposition it faces from political figures.

The Daily Show interview with Cecile Richards - pt 1

The Daily Show interview with Cecile Richards - pt 2

President of Planned Parenthood of America Cecile Richards discusses health care funding cuts in her home state of Texas.

On March 14, Texas Governor Rick Perry will cut off access to affordable health care for low-income women in Texas.

Even as more than one-quarter of Texas women are uninsured, and women in Texas have the third highest rate of cervical cancer in the country, Governor Perry is determined to make a bad situation worse for women in the state of Texas by cutting funding for the Medicaid Women’s Health Program.

With Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) leading the war on women, Texas Republicans in the 2011 Texas legislature cut funding for family planning clinics by two-thirds.

When the Texas Tribune asked Texas state Rep. Wayne Christian (R-Nacogdoches), a supporter of the family planning cuts, if this was a war on birth control, he said: “Well of course this is a war on birth control and abortions and everything.”

Family planning clinics are routinely referred to by many Republican lawmakers across the U.S. as “abortion clinics.”

None of the 71 family planning clinics in the state of Texas that receive government funding provide abortions.

Those family planning clinics provide reproductive health care services to women as well as information about and access to contraceptives.

As NPR notes, the state estimates that 300,000 women will lose access to family planning services because of these cuts, resulting in roughly 20,000 additional unplanned births. “Texas already spends $1.3 billion on teen pregnancies — more than any other state.”

The GOP’s concerted campaign against women’s health and right to choose to use birth control prescriptions has resulted in about 1,000 anti-abortion bills in state legislatures across the country that include attempts to eradicate women’s access to contraceptives by redefining “personhood” rights as beginning at the moment of conception.

Listen to NPR's report on Texas' Cuts to Women's access to birth control choices

Such laws will criminalize the most common birth control choice - the birth control pill.

Texas Tribune: Leticia Parra, a mother of five scraping by on income from her husband’s sporadic construction jobs, relied on the Planned Parenthood clinic in this impoverished South Texas town for breast cancer screenings, free birth control pills and pap smears for cervical cancer.

But the clinic closed in October, along with more than a dozen others, after financing for women’s health was slashed by two-thirds by the Republican-controlled Legislature.

The cuts, leaving many low-income women with inconvenient or costly options, stemmed from an effort to eliminate state support for Planned Parenthood. Although no clinic driven out of business performed abortions, and the cuts forced non-Planned Parenthood clinics to close too, supporters of the cutbacks say the abortion issue was behind them.

“I don’t think anybody is against providing health care for women. What we’re opposed to are abortions,” said state Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center. “Planned Parenthood is the main organization that does abortions, so we kind of blend being anti-abortion with being anti-Planned Parenthood.”

Now anti-Planned Parenthood sentiment is likely to prompt the shutdown next week of another significant source of reproductive health care: the Medicaid Women’s Health Program, which serves 130,000 women with grants to many clinics, including Planned Parenthood ones. Gov. Rick Perry and Republican lawmakers have taken the position that they would forgo the $40 million program — which receives $9 for every $1 the state spends — rather than give Planned Parenthood any of it.

Read the full article @ Texas Tribune

Education After The 82nd Texas Legislature

Join the Democratic Network of Collin County for its inaugural forum on the topic of "Education after the 82nd Legislature," Saturday, March 17th at the John and Judy Gay Library in McKinney, 6861 Eldorado Parkway, just east of Alma. (map)

In 2011 the Republican super-majority Texas Legislature cut $4 billion from the $50.8 billion 2011-13 public education budget, even as Texas' booming population saw public school enrollment grow by 160,000 students for this K-12 school term. They also cut $1.4 billion in grant programs.

That caused the amount of money Texas spends per student to fall to $8,908 per pupil, down $538 from last year and well below the current national average of $11,463, according to the National Education Association. Parents and students need to use this election year to tell Texas legislators that they must restore public school funding!

Event organized by the Democratic Network of Collin County

Wisc Judge Blocks Voter Photo ID Law, Citing Disenfranchised Marine Vet

Voter ID laws are popular among conservative lawmakers because they disproportionately disenfranchise poor, student and minority voters, all of which are typically more left-of-center than the average voter.

They also violate the federal Voting Rights Act’s prohibition on state laws that discriminate against minority voters.

According to Wisconsin Judge David Flanagan, they violate the Wisconsin Constitution too. In an order issued yesterday, Flanagan temporarily suspended his state’s voter ID law and strongly hinted that he will eventually strike the law down permanently.

As Flanagan’s opinion explains, the Wisconsin Constitution provides particularly strong protections for the right to vote — “[e]very United States citizen age 18 or older who is a resident of an election district in this state is a qualified elector of that district,” regardless of whether or not they have an ID. Moreover, the state supreme court has interpreted this constitutional provision very robustly. “Voting is a constitutional right,” according to the Wisconsin supremes, “any statute that denies a qualified elector the right to vote is unconstitutional and void.”

Flanagan accordingly subjects the law to the highest level of constitutional scrutiny, and finds it deeply lacking. As he explains, the law disenfranchises voters, sometimes in absurd ways, and targets a problem that is only slightly more real than fairies and unicorns:

[F]orty uncontested affidavits offer a picture of carousel visits to government offices, delay, dysfunctional computer systems, misinformation and significant investment of time to avoid being turned away at the ballot box. This is burdensome, all the more for the elderly and the disabled. . . . Mr. Ricky Tyrone Lewis is 58 years old, a Marine Corps Veteran and a lifelong Milwaukee resident. He was able to offer proof of his honorable discharge but Milwaukee County has been unable to find the record of his birth so he cannot obtain a voter ID card. Ms. Ruthelle Frank, now 84, is a lifelong resident of Brokaw, Wisconsin and a member of her town board since 1996. She has voted in every election over the past 64 years but she does not have a voter ID card. She located her birth certificate but found that her name was misspelled. She was advised to obtain a certified copy of the incorrect birth certificate and try to use that to obtain a voter ID card. . . .

The plaintiffs do not dispute, and the court certainly accepts fully the value of maintaining the accuracy and security of the ballot process. At this point, however, the record is uncontested that recent investigations of vote irregularities, both in the City of Milwaukee and by the Attorney General have produced extremely little evidence of fraud and that which has been uncovered, improper use of absentee ballots and unqualified voters, would not have been prevented by the photo identification requirements of Act 23.

Unfortunately, however, Flanagan’s decision will ultimately appeal to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, whose current members have a long history of handing down ideologically conservative 4-3 decisions.

Originally published at Think Progress.

Voter photo ID laws passed by Texas, Wisconsin, South Carolina, and several other state legislatures all mandate nearly the same restrictions on voters, including the exclusion veteran ID cards as form of voter ID. Every state has enacted a voter photo ID model bill written by the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC is a corporate clearinghouse for the promotion of "model bills" written by corporations who promote conservative legislation.

Last August, Ann McGeehan, director of the Texas Secretary of State's elections division, said at a seminar in Austin that photo ID cards issued by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs are not acceptable forms of military ID to vote in Texas under Texas' new voter photo ID law.

Texas voter photo ID law has not yet been precleared under the Voting Rights Act to be enforced. See Texas Voter Photo ID FAQ.