AUSTIN, Texas —
Three things to know in Texas politics
The saga of the botched attempt by the Texas secretary of state to remove non-citizen voters from rolls has seemingly come to an end. Texas Secretary of State David Whitley reached a settlement with the groups suing the state over the list his office sent to Texas elections officials of 95,000 registered voters flagged for possibly being non-citizens. It turns out thousands of those people are in fact citizens. Under the settlement, the secretary of state will still send lists of questionable voters to county voter registrars but the names will be of people who registered to vote before they got a driver's license or ID card from DPS and self-identified as non-citizens. This way people who became naturalized citizens and register to vote after they've gotten a license won't be on the list. It's worth noting Whitley's appointment still hasn't been approved by the State Senate.
Another lawsuit to update: a federal judge temporarily blocked Texas's law prohibiting government agencies from doing business with contractors boycotting Israel. Governor Greg Abbott signed the law back in May 2017. Last December, a Pflugerville speech pathologist of Palestinian descent sued the state, saying a clause in her contract with the school enforcing the anti-BDS law violated her right to free speech. Last month the House of Representatives passed a bill amending the law to exclude cases like the one Pflugerville, but it hasn't passed the Senate. The Texas attorney general plans to appeal the ruling.
In national news, combat veteran MJ Hegar officially launched her campaign for the U.S. Senate, challenging Republican Senator John Cornyn. Hegar ran against Congressman John Carter in the last election and nearly beat him. She gained national attention with an ad titled "Doors" and used portions of it to launch her Senate campaign.
It's also worth mentioning there has been some movement on the top two priority bills of the session. The Senate Committee on Education took up House Bill 3, the School Finance Reform Bill, on Thursday. And that same day the House Committee on Ways and Means voted out an amended version of Senate Bill 2, the property tax reform bill. All this just means the wheels are turning to pass two of what Gov. Greg Abbott considers the most important bills of the session.
Democratic presidential candidate Tim Ryan
Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan talks with Ashley Goudeau about why he's running for president.
Ashley Goudeau: Lets just get right to it, why are you running for president?
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio): "Great question. You know I represent a lot of people in northeast Ohio that have been unseen, unheard. We've not dealt with some of the major issues that people are dealing with every day -- anxiety levels, stress levels around the economy, healthcare. I'm running for those people and I think I have an agenda that they're going to be very interested in about turning this country around."
Goudeau: Tell us a little bit about that agenda.
Ryan: "Well, you know I want to change the conversation. I've listened to some of these political shows and we're not even talking about the real issues in the campaign. I think first and foremost, we need an industrial policy that actually lifts middle-class wages. There are some industries that are growing like crazy that we're falling behind in -- electric vehicles. You know we're actually going to make 30 million electric vehicles somewhere in the world in the next 10 years. I want those made in the United States. I want the batteries made in the United States. I want the charging stations made in the United States. And I want that investment to go to communities that really have been left behind -- communities of color, communities in the Rust Belt, Appalachia. We can grow this economy, but right now China's dominating that industry to the tune of 40 percent. Same with solar, great industry. China dominates it 60 percent. We need an industrial policy in the United States. And what's interesting about health and education is that I want to move the conversation from the disease-care system that we have today, just take care of you and spend a lot of money when you get sick. We spend two and a half times as much as every other industrialized country on healthcare and get the absolute worst results. I want a conversation around how are we healthy, how do we stay healthy, how do we incentivize health, our doctors, our patients, our healthcare systems. How do we have a conversation around food and the foods system in the United States and how do we have a conversation around agriculture? And then with education I want to implement social and emotional learning in every school. We're dealing with major trauma with some of our kids, a lot of adverse childhood experiences, social and emotional learning. Again, food in the schools -- what are we actually feeding our kids -- I think that's really important for heightened levels of cognitive function. And vocational training -- get back to the basics is what I'm going to be pushing and I'm excited about it. And we're getting a good response. We just found out we are gonna be on the debate stage in June, so we were excited about that first hurdle to get over."
Goudeau: Let's talk a little bit about some of those issues relative to Texas. I think when you talk to Texans one of the foremost issues on people here on their minds is immigration. Obviously there's not a one-size-fits-all fix for immigration, but talk to us about your ideas about how we address the number of people coming into this country.
Ryan: "Well I think we've got to move out of this kind of bipolar discussion that we're having -- you're either for border security or you're for immigration reform. I'm for both. I mean I think we need a strong border. I come from Ohio. We have a huge opioid epidemic in Ohio. We need to keep heroin out of the United States but it doesn't mean you put a wall in the middle of the Rio Grande River. That doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. So the problem is through the ports of entry, through the water and through the United States Postal Service. So if were going to spend billions of dollars, lets spend it there, to keep the drugs and the bad guys out. And then have a compassionate, economically viable immigration system where we have a pathway to citizenship, where we respect and have compassion for people coming over here, refugees, people seeking asylum like from Central America. We're a strong enough country to be able to do both and it will be good for our economy. So strong border and a compassionate, economically viable immigration system."
Goudeau: Let's talk a little bit about Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report. On the surface level, I feel like a lot of people see this and we're hearing from the Democrats the word impeachment thrown out a lot. Where do you stand on that?
Ryan: "I read the report a couple of times. I think that, and I have a law degree but I'm not as sophisticated as Robert Mueller, that there's no question that there was obstruction here. I mean the legal counsel was literally the president, 'Do not talk to Jeff Sessions. That is going to be obstruction.' And a couple of days later, he pulls him aside at Mar A Lago and talks to him about this particular issue that he was not supposed to talk to him about. And there were several other issues like that. I think he obstructed. I think the next step is for Chairman Nadler to continue to have hearings and I think Mueller needs to testify, I think other people in the administration need to testify. I think that's the natural next step. And then lets see where it goes from there. I mean, we ask Mueller, if this wasn't the president of the United States, right now, under the same facts that are on the ground, would you prosecute him? I want to know that question, I want to know the answer to that question and so lets let this come out."
Goudeau: And so where are you on the idea of impeachment? Are you a yes or a no?
Ryan: "I'm a no right now. I mean I think let this play out and then let's see what happens, but we've got to also educate the American public -- a lot of people still aren't paying attention to this. You can't move into impeachment proceedings without the support of the American people and we know what the Senate's going to do. The Senate is not going to do anything with it. So we've got to weigh that in the process as well."
Goudeau: The pool of candidates is mighty deep. It just got a little deeper this week with former Vice President Joe Biden entering. First off, 20 candidates, what are your thoughts on that many people? I mean most people at home can't name half of the candidates.
Ryan: "Yeah, I only worry about them being able to name one. (laughs) But yeah, it's great. We're going to have a bunch of debates that'll be robust and freewheeling I'm sure and I think that's good. I hope the debates are about ideas. There is no other candidate talking like I'm talking. There's no other candidate talking about the issues I'm talking about that actually gets to the real solutions, addressing the real problems with real solutions. So I'm already standing out. I've been in the race three weeks, we've already qualified for the Democratic debate in June and July through polling and I think in large measure because what I'm talking about is not just interesting and different but it will actually solve these problems. So I'm just going to keep talking about that. I come from an area of the world in Ohio, northeast Ohio, where a lot of Democrats are saying, 'Well a guy like Tim Ryan can win Pennsylvania and Ohio and Michigan and Wisconsin.' And if you win those states, the Democrats will win. And I win in a district Donald Trump did pretty well in. So we can pull a lot of those Trump voters back and I think this new agenda speaks to them as well."
The Last Word
In this week's The Last Word, Ashley weighs in on a letter a Houston high school principal sent home, implementing a dress code for parents.