SCOTUS and Voting Rights

The U.S. Supreme Court this week hearing arguments in a landmark case that might forever change Texas election laws. The court is considering Shelby County v. Holder, which challenges the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. That is the part of the law that requires states with a history of discrimination, like Texas, to have changes to election law approved by the federal government.

Speaking at the State Capitol, today, lawmakers representing minority groups in the state called Texas a textbook example of why the Voting Rights Act should be upheld. Two key pieces of legislation passed by Texas lawmakers last session are in limbo because of the Voting Rights Act. Last summer, courts declined to pre-clear redistricting and voter identification legislation, citing that both laws intentionally discriminated against minorities. The state is appealing both cases, but neither is likely to be considered until the U.S. Supreme Court settles Shelby County v. Holder.

At Monday’s press conference, representatives from the Mexican American and Black Legislative Caucuses said those two pieces of legislation are perfect examples of why federal authorities need to pre-clear changes to election code before they take effect. Click the video link at the bottom of the post to hear their thoughts on the case.

 

On the Agenda

Is Texas turning blue? There has been plenty of chatter and some supporting poll data that Texas might be trending toward becoming the newest battleground state. Even Texas GOP Chairman Steve Munisteri acknowledged to Real Clear Politics that he takes the possibility seriously.

Gov. Rick Perry, however, isn’t swayed.  “The University of Texas will change its colors to maroon and white before Texas goes purple, much less blue,” Gov. Perry said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, in Washington D.C.

Click the video link below to hear Quroum Report’s Harvey Kronberg’s thoughts on the Governor’s tough stance.

Lobbying Texas

A bill being considered by the Senate would lift the cap on charter schools and establish a new authorization board to oversee their operations. The bill also requires that unused public school space be leased to charter schools at extremely low rates.

The bill, which was proposed by Sen. Dan Patrick, has drawn support from state Republicans. Some education advocacy groups, however, have come out in strong opposition. The Texas State Teachers Association argues legislation would result in an exploding number of charter schools and create huge regulation issues for the state.

“We don’t have the people in place to give oversight,” said TSTA Public Affairs Director Ed Martin. “What this is is basically an attempt to open the doors to anybody who wants to come slap down a charter school and do it ultimately to make some money.”

Click the video link below, to see Martin’s full remarks from Monday’s show.