To distract Texans from the massive cuts ahead due to the Republican-caused budget deficit, Governor Rick Perry has declared a number of “emergency” subjects for the upcoming Texas Legislative session to consider.
This emergency status allows topics deemed of great importance by the Governor to be rushed to the front of the regular legislative calendar. The Texas political blog Capitol Annex has more details on emergency declarations by the Governor.
Governor Perry’s emergency topics so far are–
* Legislation that will allow state government to force women seeking a Constitutionally legal abortion to have a sonogram and to hear an audio of the heartbeat of the fetus. It is not known at this time what other medical procedures the State of Texas will force citizens to undergo. Nor is it known if Texas will demand that law enforcement officers witness these procedures so they report back to the state that the law is being followed.
* Ending so-called Sanctuary City practices that allow local governments the discretion to check or not check the immigration status of people they stop or arrest. This proposed usurpation of local authority will expand the power of the state by allowing law enforcement to check the papers of any person who might be, in the eyes of the state, in the U.S. illegally. It is not clear how this determination will be made by government, or if this change will lead to police checkpoints where U.S. citizens will be stopped and asked to prove they are here lawfully.
* A bill that will call upon the federal government to balance the budget each year. Do you think this non-binding legislation is more important than the fact that Texas is first in the nation in the percentage of people without health insurance?
* A voter ID bill. Conservatives are obsessed with the notion that people of color are casting fraudulent votes. Yet there are very few cases of voter fraud in our state. In any case, why is this an emergency? What elections are scheduled between now and the end of the legislative session?
* Property rights legislation to deal with alleged eminent domain abuse. It is hard to imagine that after all the years of Republican control of Texas government, that property rights are not yet secure. What has Rick Perry been doing all this time? I thought protecting private property was a big deal to Republicans.
These are the “emergencies” at hand in Texas. They have nothing to do with the education, health care, or the economy. They have plenty to do with appeasing the most extreme far-right elements in Texas and with distracting Texans from the real issues. In the case of the sonogram bill, what is involved is an intrusion by the state into the doctor-patient relationship.
None of these things will be of value when the school your kids attend takes massive funding cuts because of the pending budget cuts, or when you cannnot afford college, or when you are sick and cannot afford treatment.