Latest News

The "G" Word
Posted by Eric Johnson (Texas) on June 16, 2017 at 9:49 AM

Gentrification is a real challenge facing several Texas cities, including Dallas.  I attempted to address the potential negative impacts of gentrification during the 85th Texas Legislature through House Bill 2480, a bill that would have provided additional tools for the City of Dallas to increase the availability of affordable housing and protect longtime residents from involuntary displacement due to this phenomenon.  Due to unfortunate circumstances, House Bill 2480 failed to pass.  Now, I am working with city leaders to address this issue at the local level.  

The following articles in D MagazineThe Dallas Morning News, and KERA describe in detail the challenges Dallas is facing in dealing with gentrification.  They also describe some ways the city might minimize its negative effects on the "housing insecure", something that needs to happen sooner rather than later.

Finally, I would refer you to an article in Governing Magazine that provides a good background on exactly what gentrification is and why it is proving to be a major challenge for cities across the United States.  Read the article here.

85th Texas Legislature: A Failure of Leadership
Posted by Eric Johnson (Texas) on June 12, 2017 at 3:16 PM

The 85th Texas Legislature was my fifth as an active participant.  I participated in the 76th Texas Legislature as a legislative director for a veteran member and in the 82nd through 85th Texas Legislatures as a member in my own right.  I have never been more embarrassed by our state government's inability to serve the interests of the people of Texas than I am by the legislative session we just concluded.  For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you already know that I coined the hashtag #worstsessionever to describe the 85th Texas Legislature.  For those of you who don't follow me on social media, let me tell you what I told the Associated Press recently: the 85th Texas Legislature was nothing if it was not a lesson in failed leadership.

Republicans control Texas state government, and they control it entirely.  Our Governor is a Republican.  Our Lieutenant Governor is a Republican.  The Speaker of the House is a Republican.  Every statewide elected official, from the Attorney General to the Comptroller to even the justices on the Texas Supreme Court are Republicans.  The chairpersons of every major legislative committee --  House Appropriations, House Calendars, House State Affairs, House Public Education, House Ways and Means, Senate Finance, Senate Education, and Senate State Affairs  -- are Republicans.  How is it then, that we find ourselves asking the taxpayers to foot a $1,000,000 bill for what amounts to a "do over" special session to take care of what we had a 140 day regular session to handle?  The answer, as I discussed last week in the Princeton Alumni Weekly, is a failure of leadership, and a failure of Republican leadership to be precise.

The 85th Texas Legislature had ample opportunity to adopt meaningful reforms in the areas of property taxes and school finance, as well as pass legally required sunset legislation for certain state agencies, in the 140 days of regular session mandated by our state constitution.  The 85th Texas Legislature also could have adopted legislation dealing with such important issues as racially discriminatory gerrymandering, maternal mortality, and early childhood education.  Instead, our state's Republican leaders decided to spend the entire 140 days posturing and fighting among themselves and the result was the least productive legislative session in at least two decades.  There will be some who will want to parse out which Republicans are most to blame: the self-styled House Freedom Caucus?  The lack of "true conservative" leadership on the part of the House Speaker?  A power hungry Lieutenant Governor?  An absentee and largely feckless Governor?  Whomever you wish to blame, one thing is clear: it wasn't the Democrats who brought our state government to this very sad point.

One party rule is proving disastrous for our state and after this #worstsessionever, I'm hoping it won't be long before my fellow Texans see this, too.

Capitol Report: Combatting Voter Fraud, NPR Interview & More
Posted by Troy Williams on April 25, 2017 at 6:55 PM

We have a little over a month left in the 85th Texas Legislature and are heading into the most hectic part of the session.  Follow me on Facebook and Twitter to get daily updates every step of the way as we approach the Legislature's end, or sine die

Here are some important updates from last week.

Read more

Capitol Report: Bill Layouts, Houston Chronicle Article & More
Posted by Troy Williams on April 18, 2017 at 3:59 PM

There are less than six weeks left in the 85th Texas Legislature.  As we approach this session's final days, the Texas Capitol is abuzz with activity as members strive to advance their legislation through the process before final adjournment, known as sine die.

Here are some important updates from last week.

Read more

Capitol Report: Princeton's Students and Alumni of Color Symposium, Budget Debate & More
Posted by Troy Williams on April 11, 2017 at 3:41 PM

There are only seven weeks left of the 85th Texas Legislature and less than four weeks remain for House Committees to take up and consider House bills.  This week, I will be laying out three important pieces of legislation: House Bill 3972 to protect senior citizens from financial exploitation, House Bill 1489 to freeze the pay of state agency heads who fail to meet contracting goals with women and minority-owned businesses, and House Bill 2480 to combat involuntary displacement in gentrifying areas of West Dallas and South Dallas.

Here are some updates from last week and key information to keep you informed on what is happening in the Legislature.

Read more