Friday, October 18, 2013

Progressive Referenda For March 2014 Texas Democratic Primary Ballot.

Two years ago I wrote an article for the Dem Blog News that said, in part:
"Perhaps the idea that the party's voter base, outside of Austin, is pervasively very conservative - an idea still active espoused by long time Democratic political strategists - is no longer right. Perhaps the idea that the party and it's candidates must continue to subscribe to conservative policy strategies, shunning all progressive/liberal policy positions, is a strategy that no longer works - even in Texas.

It is, perhaps, time for party leaders to seriously consider whether the party finds itself struggling to raise money and attract new candidates, not because it's not conservative enough, but because the Democratic Party offers Texas voters no real and contrasting choice to the Tea Party Republican brand of politics.

It is definitely time for the Texas Democratic Party to discuss within its ranks the need for the party to engage in a conversation with its base constituencies to understand how to rebuild the party from the grassroots. "
I wrote that article in Nov. 2011, after the the State Democratic Executive Committee (SDEC) refused to approve progressive ballot initiatives for the 2012 primary ballot. But the Texas Democratic Party has taken a decidedly progressive turn under the leadership of  Gilberto Hinojosa, who was elected chair of the state party at the June 2012 state Democratic Party convention. 

Demonstrating that Texas Democrats have a new will to offer Texas voters a contrasting choice to the Tea Party Republican brand of conservative politics, the SDEC, meeting in Galveston on Saturday October 12, 2013, approved 19 progressive ballot referenda measures for the March 2014 Primary.

The proposed referenda are expected to appear on the TDP web site in the near future for public review, and approval to be placed on Democratic Primary ballots in Texas' 254 counties.

The 19 proposed ballot referenda:
  1. Living Wage for all Texans – The Texas Legislature should raise the minimum wage to a livable wage and Congress should pass legislation raising the federal minimum wage to 110% of the federal poverty level for a family of four without exception.
  2. Medicaid Expansion – The Governor and the Texas Legislature should accept federal funds, as provided in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, for expansion of Medicaid to provide coverage to millions of uninsured and under insured Texans.
  3. Texas Dream Act – The Legislature should allow any Texas high school student, who has lived in the state for at least three years and lived here continuously for the last year, to be eligible for in-state tuition for higher education and be able to eligible to earn legal status through a higher education or military service.
  4. Fair Pay – The United State Senate and House of Representatives should pass the Paycheck Fairness Act to ensure that women lawfully receive equal pay for equal work and grant legal redress over gender based pay discrimination.
  5. Reproductive Rights – The Texas Legislature should repeal all legislation prohibiting women, in consultation with their doctors, from making their own health care decisions and affirm that the access to reproductive and contraceptive care cannot be abridged by an employer for any reason and must be free of harassment and discrimination.
  6. Comprehensive Sex Education – The Texas Legislature should fund targeted efforts to reduce Texas’ high teen pregnancy rates, through the provision of evidence based, accurate and effective, comprehensive age-appropriate sex education programs with abstinence and contraception components.
  7. Non-Discrimination Legislation – The Texas Legislature should adopt legislation that expands protections against discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
  8. Marriage Equality – The Texas Legislature should allow for the repeal of the Texas Marriage Constitutional Amendment and discriminatory marriage laws and grant the right of marriage equality to all Texans.
  9. Immigration Reform – The United States Congress must pass immigration reform, including an earned path to citizenship for individuals contributing to the economy and the dependents of those individuals.
  10. Reversal of Citizens United – The Congress of the United States shall pass a constitutional amendment that establishes that money is not speech, and can thus be regulated, and that only human beings, not corporations, are entitled to constitutionally protected rights.
  11. Global Climate Change – The Texas Legislature must encourage the use of alternative forms of energy and encourage environmentally-friendly energy resources and speed development of energy-efficient technology, vehicles appliances and green buildings.
  12. Education – The Texas Legislature and Office of the Governor must realize that public education is a right to be enjoyed by all students, not the privileged few, and ensure that funding levels are sufficient so that every student has access to the highest quality teachers, facilities, and supplies.
  13. Redistricting – The Texas Legislature should adopt fair political boundaries – respecting the notion of one person, one vote – while providing opportunities to minority candidates and voters to have their opinions valued and heard.
  14. Veterans – The Texas Legislature should advocate for veterans; including programs to assist veterans find meaningful employment and ensure benefits, including education, housing and medical care, worthy of their sacrifices.
  15. Buy American – The Office of the Governor should reconsider its stance and veto of the “Buy American Act”, recognizing the importance of Texan made goods to the economy, and not bend to the whims of international business conglomerates producing inferior products overseas with poorly paid labor.
  16. Broadband Access – The Legislature should enable usable, affordable high speed internet for every family across Texas, allowing all to participate in the twenty-first century’s technology-based economy and providing every child the opportunity to learn the necessary skills to compete in the competitive global environment.
  17. Texas Enterprise Fund – The Texas Legislature should implement oversight of the Enterprise Fund, halting the flow of taxpayer money to some of the largest, most profitable companies in the world as favors to political donors of elected officials.
  18. Statewide Transportation – The Texas Legislature should ensure that safe, efficient transportation throughout the state is a priority – especially in rural areas – appropriating sufficient funds to maintain paved roads that allow the state’s people and products to flow across them efficiently and quickly.
  19. Unions – The Texas Legislature should allow for workers, including public sector employees, to have the rights to collective bargaining and unionization, providing them with an important voice over workplace issues affecting their quality of life.

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