| Home
My Leaders   |   My Lobbyists   |   My Legislation   |  My News  |   My Links  |   My Free E-mail  |  My Campaigns


Return to Capitol Spotlight

Text of Governor Rick Perry's Remarks on State of Education in Texas
March 14, 2002
Thurs  7:45:26 P.M. CST

Thank you. Today I am honored to be in the presence of so many supporters of education, including education innovator Gail Fallon. Gail, thank you for being here.

Gail and I agree that education is our state's highest priority.

Texas is blessed to have so many dedicated educators making a difference in Texas schools. I see many of those leaders in education here today.

Anita and I are proud of your work. In fact, every school day we show ultimate faith in the job our educators do by sending our two children to a Texas public school.

I have invited you here today to discuss the state of education, and the future of education, in the Texas of the 21st Century.

I believe in a simple premise: every child…regardless of financial means, where they live, or the sound of their last name…is entitled to the best education possible.

Education gives power to the life and hopes of every child. Education means empowerment. It means opportunity. It means a brighter future.

Now, with the political season upon us, some candidates are trying to prop up their campaigns by tearing down Texas schools and Texas teachers.

But as they say out in the rural parts where I grew up, those claims are "all hat and no cattle."

The facts speak clearly: Texas public schools, and Texas students, are making outstanding progress.

Since 1995, the number of recognized and exemplary schools has tripled, while the number of low-performing schools has declined by 60 percent.

We have seen significant and measurable progress in reading. We have banned social promotion, and since 1999, more than 40 percent of all new state funds have been dedicated for public and higher education.

Education leaders around the country refer to our progress as the "Texas Miracle."

And children of every background, every ethnic group, are a part of the improvement.

Our Hispanic fourth grade students are first in the nation in math, second in writing, and ninth in reading. Our African-American fourth grade students are first in the nation in math and writing, and tenth in reading. Our fourth grade Anglo students are first in math, and second in reading and writing.

We have broken the mold. The old way of thinking held that no matter what our schools did - some children could not learn, some would excel, and the majority would be muddled in mediocrity. That way of thinking was wrong.

Texas educators, parents and policymakers have shown that all students can do better with motivated teachers, a high-standards curriculum, effective assessment tools and proven teaching methods.

We have succeeded because we have followed simple principles:

Parents, teachers, and local leaders know what is best for local schools and their children. High standards encourage high achievement. And a strong system of accountability brings out the greater potential of our children and our schools.

As long as I am governor, the state of Texas will not stand for mushy curriculum, weaker standards, or a system of toothless accountability. And we will not advance children who are not ready for the next grade, because to do so is to doom them to almost certain failure.

As we look to the future, we should not retreat from proven reforms based on high standards and accountability. Instead, we should build on that progress in five important areas where we must make improvement.

First, we must do a better job of preparing our young Texans for school before they ever set foot in a classroom. I call this giving our children an Early Start.

Second, we must do more to keep students from dropping out of school, and dropping out on their future.

Third, we must provide teachers greater support so they are empowered to do their jobs better.

Fourth, we must focus greater attention on science instruction: the most dynamic and ever-changing subject taught in our schools.

And fifth, we must invest in human capital by better preparing our teachers to incorporate technology in classroom instruction.

Let me discuss these five areas in greater detail.

Too often, children begin kindergarten already behind. We have taken steps in recent years to expand pre-kindergarten programs, and to adopt a pre-K curriculum.

But too many parents are not aware of the learning basics their children should know before starting school.

Children enrolled in Head Start and pre-kindergarten programs should get an Early Start.

Through the creation of a new Early Start initiative, all of our youngest Texans will benefit from early childhood learning programs that are in sync with the state's existing pre-kindergarten standards.

I would like to provide public and private daycare facilities, faith-based groups, and all pre-K programs the basic curriculum materials that will help prepare children for school. And I would like to make those standards more widely available on the Internet, so parents can measure progress at home, or at a library.

I support report cards at pre-K programs so parents can more actively participate in and monitor their child's early learning progress.

And just as every child learns to crawl before they walk, they learn to speak before they learn to read. There is substantial research and science on early childhood vocabulary development, phonics skills and language acquisition skills that our pre-K programs must utilize.

Once we ensure that all children are ready to learn, we must make sure they stay in school and continue to learn. For too long we have debated dropout definitions and dropout statistics, and spent too little time focusing on statewide strategies to prevent dropouts.

A child who falls behind is a child more likely to drop out. A student who must work, or who must meet extraordinary family obligations, also struggles to keep up.

Whatever obstacles to learning our children face, we must empower them to succeed. Students who drop out of school face a future of unfulfilled promise, and our state pays the price for it.

Here are the facts: Twenty-two percent of Americans over the age of 25 without a high school degree live in poverty. Half of all Texas welfare recipients have less than 12 years of education. And a high school dropout is four times as likely to be unemployed as a Texan with a bachelor's degree.

My dropout prevention plan will emphasize proven strategies to help schools with high dropout rates.

We will provide flexible class schedules and course options for students who must work or care for a child. We will make additional alternative learning
environments available, and increase our commitment to the summer school, after-school and mentoring programs at-risk children need. And we will provide greater emphasis on the role counselors and mentors must have in schools with high dropout rates.

High school graduation is no longer a goal, it is a necessity. A student that graduates from high school will earn more, have greater opportunities, and will lead a better life…especially if they go on to college.

It is time that we do for science what we have done for reading and math in Texas. A student who knows science is better prepared for college, and the technology jobs of the future.

Yet two-thirds of Texas teachers believe schools should place greater emphasis on science instruction. Clearly there are exceptions to that. As I witnessed last year, Booker T. Washington High School in Houston has an impressive robotics team that is tapping the scientific imagination of students.

I believe we must train Master Science Teachers who can better prepare students, and mentor teaching peers.

We need science academies for teachers to expand their knowledge of the core subject areas of science, while learning about advances in the ever-changing field of scientific discovery. We need to spotlight scientific achievement in the classroom, and we must close the science gap in Texas where male eighth grade students score 20 points higher than their female classmates.

Though Texas has taken the lead in putting technology into the classroom, we have not done enough to ensure teachers have the support they need to fully utilize these wonderful new tools.

We must change the culture in education starting at the top. Superintendents and principals should be trained in the use of classroom technology tools so they understand what teachers need. We can expand the technology leadership academy funded by the Gates Foundation to ensure that educational leadership means technology leadership for our schools.

We must make sure teachers get proper training, and continuous tech support when they run into a technology obstacle.

We must look to some of the newest tools, such as broadband, multimedia and wireless technology.

The computer revolution in our schools can also help identify and correct learning gaps before students get behind and discouraged.

We should use the interactive capability of the Internet to bring on-line diagnostic tests to the classroom.

And I want to take that one step forward. My vision is to one day eliminate paper versions of the TAKS test, and use interactive Internet technology to test students on-line.

In addition, we should further explore virtual charter schools, electronic textbooks, and other technology tools that can improve the learning environment.

Lastly, we must improve the classroom environment so teachers can focus on one objective: teaching.

I am proud of what we have done over the last three years for teachers. We provided a record $3,000 pay raise, a historic statewide health insurance plan, incentives for excellence in math and reading, assistance for mortgage payments, and new Teach for Texas Grants to encourage college students to pursue a teaching career.

But we can do more to build professional prestige. I support continuing to reward excellence in teaching. We must provide incentives for teachers who develop an expertise, who mentor peers and who develop professionally.

Good professional development requires access to continuing education, support from administrators, and easy access to peer mentors who can help our younger teachers gain confidence and remain in the classroom.

Mentoring programs for teachers are as critical as the training they receive to become teachers. It is much like a doctor performing a residency.

We know that a great many students arrive to the classroom without the school supplies they need…and teachers generously reach into their pockets on behalf of those children.

I believe it is time the state of Texas reimbursed our generous teachers who buy school supplies!

We also know that for many teachers, the greatest professional fear they have is the threat of being sued.

The time has come for lawsuit reform so teachers are empowered to properly handle disruptive students, and spend more time accomplishing what they set out to do…which is to expand the potential of young minds.

In Texas, we have come a long way in building better schools in a relatively short period of time. We must continue on the same path and build upon that remarkable progress.

We must go to every length, and make every effort, to educate every child. Educating every child means advancing every dream.
We cannot give up on any young Texan, no matter what learning obstacles confront them.

That means focusing first and foremost on making sure our children get an early start, and finish their education. Along with that commitment, we must provide greater support to teachers so they can maximize their talents in the classroom. And we must utilize new technology tools, and improve science instruction, if our children are to succeed in the classroom and beyond.

Education is the key to prosperity - our greatest hope for a better tomorrow. If we ensure our children start on track, and stay on track, they will be prepared for college, and the opportunities of the future.

Our every action today must be worthy of their tomorrow. Thank you, and God bless Texas.

© Copyright 2001-2002 Public Trends. All rights reserved.
The contents in this website are protected by the
Federal Copyright Act and shall not be duplicated,
published, edited, broadcast, modified, rewritten,
or redistributed without the express written
permission of Public Trends.  










 © Copyright 2001-2002 Public Trends. All rights reserved.
The contents in this website are protected by the
Federal Copyright Act and shall not be duplicated,
published, edited, broadcast, modified, rewritten,
or redistributed without the express written
permission of Public Trends.  

"Renewing the Spirit of Texas"

Remarks by Texas Gubernatorial Candidate Dan Morales
As Prepared
January 5, 2002
11 a.m.
Gunter Hotel
San Antonio, Texas
Note:  Minor deviations from the prepared text were made by the candidate.  

My name is Dan Morales and I am running for Texas Governor.  Christi and I, my parents and the rest of our family are genuinely overwhelmed by your presence, your encouragement and your support.  We would like to welcome each of you to the kick-off of a campaign that will end next November, when the people of Texas return a Texas Democrat to the Governor's Mansion.

I have been greatly blessed over the course of the last two decades with the opportunity to serve Texas as a prosecutor, a legislator, and as Attorney General.  Many of you have honored me with your support, your friendship and your prayers as we have fought and won important battles on behalf of all Texans.  I am proud of what we have accomplished together.

For the past three years, I have chosen to focus my time, attention and efforts upon my family and the private sector.  And although the rewards of family life have been a great blessing to my family and me,  having now my own to care for, has strengthened my resolve and renewed my desire, to carry on the fight for all Texas families and Texas children.  This morning, I humbly ask the voters of this great state, to support my journey to become the next Governor of Texas.

The horror that all Americans witnessed on September 11 has, I believe, forced each of us to reflect deeply upon those things, which are most important in our won lives and most important in the life of our country.  Faith, family, community, charity, service to those in need--these ideals represent the bedrock foundation upon which our state and our nation must now build.  We must pull together as never before and we will.

We all felt the loss and despair experienced by our brothers and sisters in New York City, in Washington, D.C., and by their families all across this country who were affected by those cowardly attacks.  But just as President Bush and Mayor Guiliani have rallied our country and New York City, so too must we reaffirm our allegiance to our country, and renew our commitment to strengthen our communities, our families and those in need.  It is time to renew our sense of purpose, and through strength, courage and compassion make our state, our country and our world a better place.  It is time to build our state for future generations and to prepare young leaders to guide it.  It is time for us to truly capture the richness in the heart and soul of the 21st Century Texas.

As Governor, I pledge to lead an unprecedented renewal of the spirit of Texas.  That renewal begins in our homes, our neighborhoods, our churches and synagogues, our schools, our hospitals and research centers, and in our markets of commerce.  It includes the men and women of the police and fire departments and sheriffs' offices who sacrifice each day so that we may be safe.  It includes our teachers who are developing the minds of our future.  It includes the senior Texans who have brought us to this great place and time.

As Governor, I will be committed to building the strongest, safest, healthiest and best-educated Texas possible.  And that Texas begins with our children.

I believe that our state's most valuable natural resource is a safe, healthy, well-educated child.  As a legislator, I supported efforts to increase state assistance for our public schools. As Attorney General, I urged the Legislature to address the inefficiency, inadequacy and inequity of our current school finance structure.  As Governor, working with our legislative leaders, I will lead the fight to make our public schools the envy of the nation.  And I will demand that our teachers be treated and compensated like the professionals they are.

We must demand from our public schools the necessary focus on academics, but we must not neglect training in essential life habits such as exercise and proper diet.  We are raising the most overweight generation of young people ever and it's not their fault.  It's ours.

Early on, we must teach our children the value of physical activity and proper nutrition.  We must place new emphasis on reinforcing in our classrooms the value of healthy living.  Our young people must understand that the healthy habits they acquire, will be their best weapons against such killers as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes.

The health of our public school system and the health of those children it serves, are closely related.  A sick child cannot be expected to perform academically at his or her best.  Texas continues to lag far behind most other states in terms of our commitment to our children's health.  More than a million Texas children today, do not even have basic medical insurance.  And our state's investment in childhood immunization and nutrition, pre-natal care, child abuse and domestic violence prevention, and health education programs ranks dead last or nearly dead last in the nation.

As a legislator, I supported reforms designed to improve the quality of health care for all of our citizens.  As Attorney General, I sued HMO's, insurance and drug companies, and the tobacco industry for harming public health in Texas.  The lobbyists and consultants of those industries spent millions of dollars attacking me politically and personally.  And those attacks continue to this day.  Well, to the tobacco lobbyists and their political consultants, I have a friendly message:  If you guys liked me as Attorney General, you'll love me as Governor.

I have always believed that the first function of government was to protect its citizens in their homes, their schools and their communities.  As Chairman of the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee in the House of Representatives, I authored legislation to toughen punishment for drug dealers, violent offenders and white-collar criminals.  As Attorney General, I created new divisions to attack gang violence and money laundering of drug profits.  We passed legislation to crack down on frivolous inmate lawsuits and fought to end our state's 20-year-old prison lawsuit.

My Crime Victim's Compensation Fund paid out more than $200 million to over 50,000 victims of violent crime and their families.  And my administration prosecuted more than 700 capital murder cases, with a success rate exceeding 99%.

As Governor, I will fight for the rights of crime victims to ensure they are not victimized twice.  I will insist that Texas continue its efforts to reduce domestic violence and to increase resources for the protection of children in dangerous environments.  The sheriffs, district attorneys, and police officers of Texas, with whom I have worked so closely for almost 20 years, need and deserve a Governor with front-line experience in law enforcement and prosecution.  I will be that Governor.

I firmly believe that Texas is the great state she is as a direct result, of the sweat, the toil and the grit of our senior citizens.  Our seniors are the ones who built the bridges, and raised the children and fought the wars which made America what she is today.  We are so richly blessed to live in the greatest state of the greatest nation on the face of this earth.  And, my friends, for that we owe our senior citizens a profound debt of gratitude.

I am proud that I was the first Attorney General in the country to create a special division to focus exclusively upon addressing and protecting the rights, the needs and the concerns of our senior citizens.  We successfully prosecuted hundreds of cases involving nursing home abuse and neglect, Medicaid fraud, and fraudulent telemarketing scams targeting the elderly.  When I am elected Governor, our senior Texans may rest secure in the knowledge, that they will have no more committed advocate than I.

My administration's record of fighting for Texas consumers, Texas taxpayers and Texas families is unsurpassed.  Our child support division shattered all previous records, and collected more than $4 billion for the children of our state.  Through our lawsuits against polluters, unscrupulous businesses, tax evaders and corporate con artists, my office recovered more than $1 billion for the people of Texas.  And our legal victory over the tobacco industry--$17 billion for Texas children and families--represents the single largest damage award in the history of American jurisprudence.

Friends, I solemnly pledge to bring to the Governor's office the same pro-active, aggressive posture I displayed as Attorney General.  Texans deserve a Governor who is prepared to with broad public experience fighting for who will not be afraid to take on powerful interests or sacred cows.  Texans deserve a Governor with a vision for a better Texas and the will to fight for it.

So friends, let us now begin this journey to renew the spirit of our state and to build the next generation of Texas.  And let us do it together.  May our actions reinforce in all of us that the greatest thing about being a Texan is being in Texas.

I look forward over the course of this campaign, to laying out one of the most ambitious gubernatorial platforms Texans have ever seen.  Our state is great, but our state can do better.  I am proud to be a Texan, but I am not always proud of the way Texas treats it weakest and most vulnerable.  Forgotten seniors in nursing homes, sick children living in disease-infested colonias, single moms struggling every single day to make ends meet--these Texans are not among the powerful, nor the influential nor the politically well-connected.  They do not attend political fundraising events nor do they make campaign contributions to politicians. Unlike the well-heeled interests, which are very well represented in Austin, our needy Texans cannot afford to hire the best lobbyists to plead their cause.  Well, my friends, they may not have a lobbyist, but with your help and God's, they have a Governor.  Let's get to work.  May God bless you and may God bless Texas.

© Copyright 2001 Public Trends. All rights reserved.
The contents in this website are protected by the
Federal Copyright Act and shall not be duplicated,
published, edited, broadcast, modified, rewritten,
or redistributed without the express written
permission of Public Trends.  

On Your Mark, Get Set, Let's See the Maps!
Sun Nov 11 2001 8:01:34 p.m. CST


In July, 2001, the five member Legislative Redistricting Board successfully passed a plan for the Texas House of Representatives.  The plan was drawn by Texas Attorney General John Cornyn and was deemed "legally superior" to all other plans.  Attorney General John Cornyn, Land Commissioner David Dewhurst, and Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander supported the map.  House Speaker Pete Laney and Lieutenant Governor Bill Ratliff voted against it.  Speaker Laney had supported a modified version of House Bill 150 because it successfully passed the Texas House of Representative by a narrow margin.

Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act requires that any redistricting plan submitted by the state of Texas be pre-cleared by the U.S. Department of Justice before it is implemented in any election.  If a plan retrogresses or dilutes minority voting strength, pre-clearance will be denied.  Legal challenges to redistricting plans can be made on various constitutional grounds;  however, a Section 5 pre-clearance determination cannot be challenged in court.

In October, 2001, the U.S. Department of Justice notified the state of Texas that it had pre-cleared the plan for the Texas Senate.   The Department also notified the Secretary of State that it needed an additional 60 days to review new information submitted by Texas Attorney General John Cornyn before it could issue a ruling on the map for the Texas House of Representatives.   General Cornyn filed a detailed response that specifically addressed retrogression concerns relating to Hispanics and African-Americans in Texas.  The new deadline for pre-clearance notification is December 10.


Under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, a federal court must first obtain pre-clearance before it can address constitutional challenges to a redistricting plan based upon claims of racial discrimination. See Connor v. Waller, 421 U.S. 656 (1975).  However, there is no language in the Voting Rights Act that specifically prohibits a federal court from conducting a trial to consider the merits of competing redistricting plans.  That is exactly what will happen on November 13 in Austin, Texas.

On November 8, U.S. District Judge John Ward, a member of a three-judge federal panel reviewing redistricting challenges in Texas, issued a notice to all interested parties that the trial on the redistricting map for the Texas House of Representatives will proceed on November 13 at 9:00 a.m.  In his notice, Judge Ward specifically noted that the Department of Justice could not provide a definite date by which it will complete its pre-clearance review of the Texas House map adopted by the Legislative Redistricting Board.  Judge Ward said, "[a]bsent pre-clearance, the Legislative Redistricting Board's plan for the House of Representatives is only a competing plan.  At trial, the parties should be prepared to urge upon the court their competing plans for the redistricting of the Texas House of Representatives.  Should DOJ pre-clear the Texas State House of Representatives plan before the completion of our trial, the court will  address the effect of such action at that time."

Pre-clearance of a redistricting plan can produce public relations and legal benefits.  It can demonstrate to the public and a court of law that a particular plan does not discriminate against minorities.  If pre-clearance is delayed, as is the case with the Texas House map, opponents will jump on the political bandwagon and claim that an alleged "legally superior" plan is gasping for breath as it slowly drowns in the sea of retrogression.  Last week, State Representative Delwin Jones (R-Lubbock), Chair of the Redistricting Committee in the Texas House of Representatives, speculated that the delay was an intentional attempt by the White House and the U.S Department of Justice to prevent a political embarrassment for the Legislative Redistricting Board and the state of Texas.

When the federal panel convenes on Tuesday, it will have plenty of plans to review.  33 maps were filed for consideration before the noon deadline last Friday.  Among the plans are various proposals by House Speaker Pete Laney.  His proposals modify various parts of the state including Hidalgo, Bexar, Harris, Tarrant, and Dallas counties.   The Mexican American Legislative Caucus submitted one plan and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), the attorneys for the plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit, submitted two plans.  Texas Attorney General John Cornyn submitted the official LRB approved House plan and his original proposal.  Eleven maps were submitted by private individuals.

If the recent trial on the Texas Senate map is any indication, the trial on the proposed  plans for the Texas House of Representatives should last about a week.

© Copyright 2001 Public Trends. All rights reserved.
The contents in this website are protected by the
Federal Copyright Act and shall not be duplicated,
published, edited, broadcast, modified, rewritten,
or redistributed without the express written
permission of Public Trends.  

He That Giveth Can Taketh Away: Judge Paul Davis' Congressional Two-Step
Sat Oct 13 2001 11:05 p.m. CST


In December, 2000, Texas Democrats launched the first salvo in the battle to control the U.S Congress by filing a lawsuit in Travis County to reconfigure Texas' congressional districts.  The goal was to establish venue in a favorable forum.  Between January and July 2001 several other lawsuits were filed throughout Texas, including one several days after the Texas Legislature announced Sine Die on May 28, 2001.  The lawsuit filed by the Democrats on May 28 was consolidated with the lawsuit filed in December, 2000.    

Prior to the end of the Regular Session of the Texas Legislature, the Committee on Redistricting in the Texas House of Representatives passed a congressional map.  House Republicans cried foul because they were not given sufficient time to study the map.  In the Texas Senate, Senator Jeff Wentworth (R-San Antonio) submitted a proposal to the members of the Senate Committee on Redistricting.  No action was taken in the Texas Senate.  The Legislative Redistricting Board which drew the state house and senate maps has no jurisdiction over congressional redistricting.

 In June Governor Rick Perry said he had "negative vibes" about calling a special session to address congressional redistricting.  In early July he announced that he would not call a special session "at this time."  After House Speaker Pete Laney (D-Hale Center) received notice that a special session would not be called, but before Lieutenant Governor Bill Ratliff (R-Mount Pleasant) received his official notice from the Governor, the Associated Republicans of Texas filed a lawsuit in Harris County claiming that the Governor would not call a special session.  The timing of the lawsuit raised a red flag and Democrats alleged collusion between Governor Rick Perry and attorneys for the Associated Republicans of Texas.  

Judge Paul Davis, a Democrat in Travis County and Judge Jane Bland, a Republican in Harris County  both claimed jurisdiction over congressional redistricting and scheduled trials in early September.  In order to determine which court had "dominant jurisdiction," the all Republican Texas Supreme Court intervened.  In a surprising 8 to 1 ruling, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that Judge Paul Davis had jurisdiction.  The court said that the appropriate time to file a lawsuit on congressional redistricting is immediately after the Texas Legislature adjourns Sine Die.


English statesman Benjamin Disraeli once said, "There are three kinds of lies:  lies, damn lies, and statistics."  In the redistricting game, however, statistics are the beacons of light that guide campaign strategists and political leaders thru a dark and volatile political sea.   A slight change in a congressional boundary can alter the statistical make-up of a particular district. It can change the number of Democrats, Republicans, Hispanics, Blacks, and Anglos.  In short, redistricting is "centimeter politics."

There are various ways to reconfigure districts that will sustain legal challenges.  However,  boundaries cannot be manipulated to deny minorities the opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice.   Minority members of Congress are protected by the Voting Rights Act, but Anglos, especially Anglo Democrats, are not.  Thus, Anglo Democrats are expendable in the redistricting process.

Prior to the trial, Judge Paul Davis received several maps for consideration.  Democrats submitted maps that would preserve the status quo and Republicans submitted maps that would give them an advantage.   All parties argued that their map was legally superior to the others.  However, on October 3 Judge Davis issued a proposed map which looked very similar to the map submitted by Lieutenant Governor Bill Ratliff (R-Mount Pleasant).  Lieutenant Governor Ratliff was the only witness asked to testify twice.

In order to determine the electability of a candidate in a congressional district, a statistical benchmark was adopted.  The statistics of the 1998 Texas Comptroller's race between Carole Keeton Rylander (R) and Paul Hobby (D) were adopted as the benchmark because they are regarded by political operatives and party leaders as good indicators of the political propensity of a particular district.   

Using the 1998 Texas Comptroller's race statistics, the October 3 proposal was a disaster for Texas Democrats.  Under that plan, only 13 congressional seats could be won by Democrats.  Republicans could win up to 19 seats.  The new plan would create alter the balance in the Texas congressional delegation.   The current political split is 17 Democrats and 13 Republicans.   Texas Democrats and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund were disappointed with the proposed map.  They threatened to appeal to a three judge panel in Tyler, Texas if the map was eventually adopted.  Judge Davis gave all parties until October 5 to submit proposed modifications to his map.

On October 10, Judge Paul Davis issued a devastating blow to Texas Republicans.  He issued a final judgment in the case and in his Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law "the Court rejected all plans submitted by the parties and adopted its own plan --01089C.  The Court rejected all plans submitted by the parties, finding that, in the main, the parties plans sought to advance partisan political interests rather than to advance the collective interests of the citizens of the State of Texas."  In its Conclusions of Law, the Court ruled that the final plan complied with the one person/one vote requirement, the plan is not retrogressive in violation of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act and preserves minority voting rights in accordance with Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, the plan creates 7 Hispanic effective districts, 2 African American effective districts, and 2 effective combined minority districts.  

Republicans were particularly upset because the final map was significantly altered. Using the 1998 Texas Comptroller's race statistics, Democrats could now claim up to 18 out of the 32 congressional districts.  In short, Democrats would preserve the status quo in Congress.

With the slim majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, President George W. Bush and the Republican National Committee need to make sure that Republicans hold a majority if they are to advance their congressional agendas.  Thus, statistics showing a Republican majority in each congressional districts are critical.

Republicans have already said they will appeal Judge Davis' congressional map to the three judge panel in Tyler, Texas and eventually to the U.S. Supreme Court.  If the congressional litigation during the 1990s is any indication, the final statistics for each district will not be available until 2007.

© Copyright 2001 Public Trends. All rights reserved.
The contents in this website are protected by the
Federal Copyright Act and shall not be duplicated,
published, edited, broadcast, modified, rewritten,
or redistributed without the express written
permission of Public Trends.  

June 21, 2001

 Texas Monthly Announces Selection of Its "Best and Worst Legislators"
Governor Rick Perry Listed as "Furniture"; Special Awards Given

At a press conference earlier today Texas Monthly announced its selection of the best and worst legislators for the 77th Texas Legislature.  This is the fifteenth time in the magazine's history that it has chosen Texas legislators based on their performance.  Paul Burka, the senior executive editor, and Patricia Kilday Hart, a writer-at-large, made the selection, published on pages 76-88 in the July 2001 issue.  This is Burka's fourteenth and Hart's seventh time to report the story.  

At the press conference, Burka said, "Two elements go into the making of a best legislator.  The first is performance in the current legislative session....The second element is reputation...Successful legislators practice what is taught in kindergarten--how to play on the playground and work well with others."

Best Legislators
Representative Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) for his "praiseworthy performance" on Medicaid issues.

Senator Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock) for his active involvement on various issues, including workers' compensation reform and DNA testing of prison inmates.

Representative Jim Dunnam (D-Waco) for his leadership on "charter-school reform and tougher restrictions on open containers of alcohol."

Senator Rodney Ellis for (D-Houston) for his leadership on the budget and hate crimes legislation.

Representative Juan Hinojosa (D-McAllen) for his criminal defense reform efforts.

Lieutenant Governor Bill Ratliff (R-Mount Pleasant) for his moral leadership and guidance.

Representative Paul Sadler (D-Henderson) for passing state-funded teacher health insurance.

Representative Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) for her work on the hate crimes bill and for being the "best bill passer."

Representative Arlene Wohlgemuth (R-Burleson) for her conservative leadership in the Texas House.

Senator Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) for "increasing state spending on poor children's health care."

Worst Legislators
Senator John Carona (R-Dallas) for being a tool of the "industry representatives."

Representative Gary Elkins (R-Houston) for being a "small fish" that fails to swim in the "dangerous waters of floor debate and important bills."

Senator Mario Gallegos (D-Houston) for confusing "ranting with representing."

Representative Domingo Garcia (D-Dallas) for being a "one man leper colony."

Representative Rick Green (R-Dripping Springs) for his "ethical pratfalls," including appearing in an informercial for a company that sells nutritional supplements to "supercharge your brain."

Representative Suzanna Gratia Hupp (R-Lampasas) for wasting her talents in not seeking respect of mainstream Republicans.  She is considered the "belle of the Black Helicopter Caucus, the name given by mainstream Republicans to a small group of their dissident and alienated brethren."

Senator Chris Harris (R-Arlington) for being the "biggest, meanest bully in the Texas Legislature."

Representative Fred Hill (R-Richardson) for "starting out with the best intentions, he ends up with the worst of results."

Senator Mike Jackson (R-La Porte) for being the "pluperfect example of furniture - a legislator so inconsequential that he is indistinguishable from the desks and chairs."

Senator Carlos Truan (D-Corpus Christi) for practicing "in the art of longevity - and nothing else...He doesn't do his homework nor does he contribute; he take's up everybody's time."

The award is given to recognize "those who participated little more than the desks and chairs."

Governor Rick Perry is the sole recipient for having a "legislative program lighter than helium" and for failing to lead.

Honorable Mention (Special Award)
Speaker Pete Laney (D-Hale Center)

Representative Fred Bosse (D-Houston)

Representative Kim Brimer (R-Fort Worth)

Representative Judy Hawley (D- Portland)

Senator Steve Ogden (R-College Station)

Senator Royce West (D-Dallas)

Tomb of the Unknown (Special Award)
This award "commemorates the anonymous legislative hero who, after many years of combat, fell from the heights."

Senator David Sibley (R-Waco) and candidate for Lieutenant Governor is the sole recipient.

Best Quip (Special Award)
Senator Buster Brown (R-Lake Jackson):  "I thought Senator Moncrief was the official health nut."

Best Yogi Berra-ism (Special Award)
Representative Tommy Merritt (R-Longview) on who helped him draw a particular redistricting plan:  "Single-handedly, with the help of others."

Most Dubious Argument (Special Award)
Senator Eddie Lucio (D-Brownsville) on delaying the starting date of a school year:  "Not one of the Senators on the floor today started school before Labor Day and we all turned out fine."

Best Prop (Special Award)
Representative Gene Seaman (R-Corpus Christi) for inflating a life vest on the House floor to protest a redistricting map that paired him with Representative Ignacio Salinas (D-San Diego).

© Copyright 2001 Public Trends. All rights reserved.
The contents in this website are protected by the
Federal Copyright Act and shall not be duplicated,
published, edited, broadcast, modified, rewritten,
or redistributed without the express written
permission of Public Trends.  

June 12, 2001


 Tips on Testifying Before the Legislative Redistricting Board

Pursuant to Article III, section 28 of the Texas Constitution, The Legislative Redistricting Board convened last week and agreed to schedule five hearings in which to consider redistricting state house and senate districts. The Legislative Redistricting Board is responsible for drawing new state districts because the Texas Legislature failed to do so before May 28, 2001. The Board does not have jurisdiction over congressional districts.  Acting Lieutenant Governor Bill Ratliff (R), House Speaker Pete Laney (D), Attorney General John Cornyn (R), Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander (R), and Land Commissioner David Dewhurst (R) comprise the Board.  The Chairman of the Board is Attorney General John Cornyn.

The five hearings will be held in the Texas Capitol Extension Auditorium (E1.004) on the following dates and times:

June 18, 2001     9 a.m.     Public Testimony and Proposals on Redistricting               Official Agenda
June 26, 2001     9 a.m.     House and Senate Members' Testimony and Proposals    Official Agenda
July 10, 2001      2 p.m.     LRB Members' Proposals.  No Testimony Allowed.
July 16, 2001      9 a.m.     Public and Legislative Testimony on LRB Proposals
July 24, 2001      9 a.m.     Final Vote on LRB Proposals

Public testimony is part of the redistricting process, and Board members want to hear how Texans feel about redistricting. Because of the 60 day constraint imposed by the Texas Constitution, concerned citizens will only have two opportunities to testify before the Board about redistricting.  If you plan to testify on June 18, 2001 or July 16, 2001, the following tips are provided for your consideration:

Know Your Audience.  Redistricting is a complicated legal and political process that will not be easily resolved.  The Board members are not redistricting experts and are meeting to fulfill a constitutional duty.   However, they have attorneys and staff who will advise them about your testimony.  Be respectful of the time and effort the members will dedicate to this difficult task.  Even though you will be addressing the Board, there will be legislators, lobbyists, political leaders, and other interested parties in the audience listening to what you have to say.  Don't be intimidated.  Stay focused on the five Board members.  They are the ones who will ultimately draw and vote on the official plans.  

Follow the Rules.  All witnesses must register prior to testifying before the Board.  The witness forms will be available at the entrance of the auditorium.  If you plan to submit redistricting proposals to the Board or ask a particular Board member to submit a proposal on July 10, 2001, the proposals must be prepared in accordance with the following guidelines adopted by the Legislative Redistricting Board:

Information Required for LRB Consideration of a Proposal or Amendment
Redistricting Guidelines:  Texas Senate
Redistricting Guidelines:  Texas House

If you are an employee of the State of Texas or the Texas Legislature, speak with your agency or department supervisor to determine if you can testify.  State employees are prohibited from lobbying members of the Texas Legislature.  State employees cannot testify "for" or "against" legislation.  However, they can be resource witnesses and testify "on" legislation. Since the Board members will be hearing general testimony about redistricting and not considering any specific piece of legislation, the lobby prohibition may not apply.   Consult your personnel manual to be sure.

The Public Information Act and the Open Meetings Act govern the activities of the Legislative Redistricting Board.  All public testimony, map proposals, and correspondence to members of the Legislative Redistricting Board are subject to public disclosure.   Requests for public information can be made by calling the open records toll-free number:  1-877-OPEN TEX.

Submit Written Testimony.  Any presentation to the Board must be clear, concise, and factual.   If you are submitting written testimony, make at least 15 copies and present them to the Board's staff  prior to your presentation.  Your oral presentation should be a summary of your written testimony.  Do not read your testimony.  Your presentation should not last more than two to three minutes.   Your testimony is part of the legal record and may be used in court.

Protocol is important when testifying before the Legislative Redistricting Board.  Begin your presentation by recognizing the Chairman first and then the Board members.  The following introductory statement should suffice:  "Chairman Cornyn, members of the Legislative Redistricting Board.  Thank you for the opportunity to testify about this very important issue.  My name is_______ and I represent self/interest group/political party, etc."

After the introductory statement, briefly summarize key facts you want the Board to remember about redistricting or your written testimony.   Once your presentation is done, thank the committee members and offer to answer any questions they may have.   Respond to any questions by using the member's appropriate title, e.g. Chairman Cornyn, Speaker Laney, etc.

NOTE:  If you cannot attend any of the public hearings to present written testimony, you can contact the Board members directly at the following addresses:

The Honorable John Cornyn
Legislative Redistricting Board
P.O. Box 12548
Austin, Texas 78711-2548
(512) 463-2100
The Honorable Bill Ratliff
Acting Lieutenant Governor
Capitol Station
P.O. Box 12068
Austin, Texas 78711
(512) 463-0001
The Honorable Pete Laney
Speaker of the House
P.O. Box 12548
Austin, Texas 78711-2548
(512) 463-1000

The Honorable Carole Keeton Rylander
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Capitol Station
P.O. Box 13528
Austin, Texas 78711-3528
(512) 463-4444
The Honorable David Dewhurst
Texas General Land Office
P.O. Box 12873
Austin, Texas 78711-5001
(512) 463-5001

Focus on Communities of Interest.  A paramount consideration in drawing legislative districts is preserving communities of interest within applicable legal constraints.  A community of interest can be an ethnic neighborhood, a school district, or a geographic area that receives the same newspapers, television stations, or public services.  There is no predetermined number of communities of interest.  If you want the Board members to preserve a particular community of interest, clearly identify it and explain how a particular district configuration will affect the community.

Incorporate the Voting Rights Act. The Voting Rights Act was passed by the U.S. Congress in 1964 and implemented in Texas in 1975.  Because of Texas' history of discrimination against ethnic minorities, all redistricting plans must be pre-cleared by the U.S. Department of Justice pursuant to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.   Minority voters cannot be "packed" or "fractured" in any plan, and any dilution of minority voting strength could be a violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.  Your testimony should make references to the Act.  Any map proposals you submit must not disenfranchise minority voters.

Refrain from Making Political Contributions.  Even though Legislative Redistricting Board members can receive an unlimited amount of political contributions while they consider drawing state legislative districts, they cannot receive contributions "inside" the Texas Capitol.  Making political contributions inside the Texas Capitol to influence a district's configuration is illegal and unethical.   Therefore, if you plan to testify, leave your checkbook at home.

Recognize What's at Stake.  Redistricting is about power.  The new district lines are important because they will ultimately determine which political party controls the Texas Senate and Texas House of Representatives.  There are currently 16 Republicans and 15 Democrats in the Texas Senate and 78 Democrats and 72 Republicans in the Texas House of Representatives.  Any change in a district's configuration can alter the balance of power in the Texas Legislature.  Both Republicans and Democrats have a lot at stake in redistricting.  Senate Republicans want to keep or expand their majority in the Texas Senate and House Republicans want to take control of the Texas House of Representatives.  House Democrats want to preserve the status quo.  During the Regular Session of the 77th Texas Legislature,  both parties drew maps that protected their interests.  However, none of the maps made it through the legislative process.  Thus, there are no official maps.

Four Republicans and one Democrat comprise the Legislative Redistricting Board, and capitol observers speculate that the Board will adopt maps that will give Republicans strong majorities in both the Texas Senate and Texas House of Representatives.  However, the redistricting maps adopted by the Board must comply with the U.S. Constitution, federal and state laws, and survive legal challenges in state and federal courts.  In other words, the Board will not have the last say in this matter.   Final Senate and House maps will not be ready until all the litigation is resolved.

Enjoy the Process.  Redistricting happens once every ten years.  Smile, laugh, and have fun at the Texas Capitol!

© Copyright 2001 Public Trends. All rights reserved.
The contents in this website are protected by the
Federal Copyright Act and shall not be duplicated,
published, edited, broadcast, modified, rewritten,
or redistributed without the express written
permission of Public Trends.