What went on during the 88th Texas Legislative Session? Nancy Thompson, the founder of the Political Action Committee (PAC), Mothers Against Greg Abbott, joins us for a conversation to give us the scoop. Nancy walks us through ‘the good, the bad, and the ugh’ of the session. We start with a quick rundown of the political action committee and how they get funds and jump straight in. Nancy reviews the bills and explains her lens: are these bills good for all Texans? We conclude by talking about the importance of democracy and reminding ourselves that the fight is worth it!
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‘The Good, The Bad, And The Ugh’ Of The 88th Texas Lege: Nancy Thompson From Mothers Against Greg Abbott Gives Us The Scoop
Let’s talk about what’s happening in this session. You were at the Capitol a lot for the 88th Legislative Session. What was your overall experience of the bills that were being brought up, the way legislators were conducting themselves, and the people you saw at the Capitol? Describe to us or paint a picture of what it was like being at the Capitol day after day.
In the beginning, it starts out with such good energy to want to do good things for Texans, especially with such a huge surplus that we have this 2023. As the weeks were going by, it was pretty clear that this was about culture issues and it wasn’t about Texans. It wasn’t. It wasn’t about doing anything good for Texans, supporting Texans, and doing anything good for Texas. It was all nothing but Republican fear tactics and culture bills that were being rammed down people’s throats. We do have a few good wins, but for the most part, it could have been so good and it wasn’t.
One thing that we want to make sure that we highlight, too, is your work with Mothers Against Greg Abbott and how that’s structured. You run a political action committee. For folks who don’t know what those are, could you give us a brief description of what a PAC is?
In the very beginning, I didn’t know what committee to set up. I knew that I couldn’t be a C3 because a C3 is supposed to be nonpartisan and nonprofit. I know that we didn’t want to do that. We were trying to give ourselves a gateway to choose a type of structure that would allow us to raise a lot of money if we were able to.
We chose a political action committee. In Texas, we wanted to focus on Texas candidates which meant putting together a GPAC, which is a General PAC for the State of Texas. We do not publicly back any US congressional candidates. We are focused on only the governor and down all the way to the city level, so state candidates only.
How did you figure that out?
I got a lot of advice. I ask questions from people that I thought were experts that would know. They advised me that setting up a PAC was probably the best decision for what I wanted to achieve in the group. What I wanted to achieve from the very beginning is we’re not here to replace the Texas Democratic Party, which they do a great job doing their thing.
What we wanted to focus on is creating good odds and fighting back because it seemed like the Democrats, especially at that time, were not fighting back. We’ve seen a lot of things from the Democratic Party with all the dark brands and stuff and everybody leaning into fighting back. I feel that the odds in some of our positioning I’m fighting back allowed the Democratic Party as a whole at the state level, local level, and even at the federal level to say, “They’re fighting back. We can fight back too.”
The thing is that every day Texans, especially Democrats, want us to fight back because they don’t want us to roll over and be a doormat on these issues and let people walk all over us. It was striking when the timing was right, when the fire was hot, and fighting back at an opportune moment when it was appropriate to say we’ve had enough and take that opportunity to fight back.
What do you mean by fighting back against or fighting for instead?
Mostly, at the time, there probably is a difference. We were fighting back against being accused of being these terrible things. You see it all the time. I get posts all the time calling me a groomer, a socialist, and terrible names. It’s insulting.
It is the narrative of, “This is what these people are.”
We have to be the drivers of our own narrative. We cannot let other people define who we are. It is time for us to define who we are and say, “No, what you said is a lie, false, and unacceptable.” That’s okay. We need to be able to call out those moments. Just because we call out those moments doesn’t mean we’re not also for something. It isn’t like you can’t be one and not the other. Only because we’re fighting back doesn’t mean we’re not fighting for Democracy, fighting for other Texans, or fighting for families. Our motto is we’re fighting back but we’re fighting for families.
PACs have come up in past conversations that we’ve had. One of the things that we’ve pointed out, especially when we talk about dark money and politics, is we have talked about how sometimes PACs can make it seem as if there’s an outsized voice that maybe exists. We’ve seen this a lot in some of the tactics that the right uses. When we watched the CNN documentary Deep in the Pockets of Texas, what we found is that it seemed like there were all these grassroots organizations who had moved the Overton window far to the right, only to discover that when you pull the curtain back, it’s a couple of West Texas billionaires who are funding all of those initiatives. Do you have grassroots funding? Are you funded by billionaires?
We are not funded by billionaires. At this point when we started now, I can count on two hands how many donations we’ve had over $1,000. It is a small-dollar donation. During the election cycle, our average donation was $58. Currently, our average donation is around $38. It’s a little bit less because we’re not currently in an election cycle. We are funded by small donors. This is the PAC that is built by the people, created by people for the people. We are the true thing as far as grassroots. We’ve been doing this with elbow grease $25 at a time, and that’s what we have built.
We love it. That’s super impressive. I’m sure lots of people are like, “What’s the secret sauce?” I wish we could talk about that, but we want to talk about the bills. For another day, you can reveal all your secrets. Turning to the bills, we like to have hope and optimism in this show. Let’s start with the good bills. What were some of the good bills that were passed this legislative session that you think will make things better for Texans and families?
I have a list. I’m prepared.
We’re so glad they exist, by the way.
There are a few of them. There are more bad bills than good bills, but there are a few of them. First, we are in the process of finalizing the Tampon Tax Bill and we think that’s going to pass. It has two different numbers on it. It’s SB379 and HB300. This was the one that was originally put together by Donna Howard that gets rid of the tax on tampons and diapers for both children and adults, which is great. It’s such a good bill.
By the way, maybe we should also clarify when we say good bills, do we mean good for families?
When I say good for families, I’m saying this is a beneficial thing for all Texans. We want to look at the big picture here because we need to focus on passing laws that are good for all Texans and not just laws that are only good for a few Texans.
The next one is HB12, and that one passed. It was the Medicaid Expansion Post-Pregnancy. There was a little bit of a glimpse of this bill where some of the Freedom Caucus Group and Brian Harrison and were trying to say that this particular bill funded women who had abortions. That is a lie because abortion is illegal in Texas. A true miscarriage and abortion are not the same thing.
Some of that language needs to be clarified. The point of this entire bill was to support women post-pregnancy, especially after that they had a baby and do the Medicaid expansion for that, so that part is good. The next one is closing gun loopholes by increasing gun penalties. We did pass those bills. It’s HB2454 and HB165. That was a good bill. There’s another one on HB1883 and it recognizes holidays during school assessments. It’s for public ed, so they won’t put certain tests on holidays, which is important.
For holidays, beyond Christian holidays?
Beyond Christian holidays. I’m talking about all the holidays, Muslim holidays, Jewish holidays, that thing. It is super-duper important. We’re going to see a lot of recognition for at least some religious equity in that department. That was something we can all be proud of. There was HB3159, which made it easier for disabled people to vote. I thought that was good. We also did pass a cost of living increase for teachers who were retired, which is important. There are a few bill numbers that go with that. We did pass that, and the next was Senate Bill 435 which allowed the Santa Fe families to finally see the autopsy report for their children who were murdered in the Santa Fe mass shooting.
That took a legislative bill. I did not realize that.
It’s little teeny-tiny things like that, but they mattered to those families. The families want and deserve some closure so that part is good. There was another Senate Bill 477 that had some other accommodations for people with disabilities so they could also vote. There was also a Senate Bill 975 that allowed people to register to vote when they were surrendering their driver’s licenses. They give up their driver’s license from the state of Virginia and come to Texas. They can register to vote at the same time.
We learned that you couldn’t do that before. That’s so great.
There are a lot of assumptions we have had, and in the show, we’re like, “It’s not what we assumed.” What confused me about this bill, especially that one, is when I am from New Mexico and I moved to Austin, I had my New Mexico driver’s license. I went and gave it to them. I registered to vote at the same time. I don’t know, did something happen in between there?
Something did happen because that is my memory of registering to vote too. We’re old folks and didn’t realize when something changed.
Those are a few good things that have happened in this session.
That’s good to know. I like the scope of the bills and how it touches different areas. I know some of those like the Tampon Tax. They’ve tried to pass for many sessions and, finally, it sounds like this was the time to move towards progress and limiting that unnecessary tax.
There were some other Bills about the energy that I thought was pretty good. Those were put out by Senator Nathan Johnson. I don’t have all the specifics with me on those Bills. He did put out some very good bills that also passed on energy. Anything else on the good, Nicole, before we move on?
No, I’m going to take those wins. I’ll say this for the good. Aside from bills, were there any legislators who impressed you like what you would give gold stars to?
I have a few gold stars.
Let’s hear it.
I have quite a few gold stars. I do think that for the most part, the Democrats have a lot to be proud of. There were some people that were great. First of all, Donna Howard is also consistently awesome and I love her. The same thing goes with Gina Hinojosa. Gina Hinojosa did this thing where if she’s at a hearing, she was so respectful. She always looked at people in their eyes. I thought that was very respectful.
A lot of these folks were like that, especially with the Uvalde families coming in for the hearings. The Democrats did the best job they could to take care of these families. Vikki Goodwin was always fast on her feet and she never missed an opportunity to move on something. I enjoyed a lot of that. Along with that, in that same entire line of thinking, John Bryant was also one of these legislators that surprised me this session.
He was fast on his feet. Everything he said was smart and he is there to win. I wasn’t expecting that fight, and he impressed me. He has a lot of fights in him. Victoria Neave Criado is also amazing. I have a lot of respect for her. James Talarico was also excellent. Jarvis Johnson is also excellent. Trey Martinez Fischer had a few great moments on the floor. Especially with his little banter with Jared Patterson that I thought was also good. James Talarico had some of the best comebacks and questions that were zingers, that put people in line and put things in a different light and different perspective. I thought that they were all great.
Shout out, we’re super fans. This is a great list but Representative Vikki Goodwin and Representative James Talarico hold a special place in our hearts because they were on our show.
Were they? That’s fun.
I also will shout out Representative Ann Johnson out of Houston, my college roommate.
I thought Ann Johnson did a great job and she was in the hearing about Ken Paxton, which is a whole other thing. She did a great job in that hearing.
She’s a good question, isn’t she?
She was great.
Thank you for all that. We will close the book on the good and turn to the bad. This was a stressful session for a lot of folks. It sounds like if there was a theme, you would probably say it was culture wars. I’m assuming a lot will come up regarding culture wars. Let’s talk about some of the bad bills that were passed.
The bad bills were so incredibly bad. They were based on culture wars. Honestly, a lot of them were baseless and they were bullying. It was flat-out bullying behavior. I have a whole list, but let’s go through the Trans ones first because the Trans and the LGBT communities had to bear the brunt of all this bullying and nitpicking for this session the entire time.
Seriously, it must have been like Dan Patrick’s greatest day. He’s like, “I created all these little bullies. I’m so proud of myself.” That’s probably what he was thinking, but it’s been a pretty terrible session for these communities and I’m disgusted by the bills that they passed. They don’t say Gay Bill. That’s a little concerning.
I have a few lists. Don’t say gay. There was where they cut healthcare for Trans youth, and that wasn’t good. They say it’s illegal for Trans to participate in school sports. The thing is that this affects everyone. One of the questions that came up during this bill process is they asked them, “Is there anyone currently in the State of Texas Trans playing collegiate sports?” They said no. If the answer’s no, then what are we doing here?
There is so much time and energy. As a reminder for folks who don’t follow this super closely, the legislature meets every other year for 140 days where everything has to be hashed out. Bills have to be written to help like the Santa Fe families, and yet what gets the oxygen? This is what we talk about. We talk about bad bills. We’re solving “problems” that don’t exist. Why would you give this so much attention?
It seems ridiculous. The DE&I Bill is also one of those bills where I was like, “Why?” We want our colleges to be diverse. We want our colleges to be accepting. We’re trying to set up our children to go out in the real world and, in the real world, it’s diverse. It’s not whatever. It doesn’t mean that it’s being pounded down their throat.
It means that there are more things that are paying attention to make sure that different populations are represented and supported. That’s very important when you want everyone in the population of a college to be seen and heard. It’s so important. Also, this gets rid of certain departments and the way that most of the world is going as far as equity. It’s going to be a big interrupter as far as higher education in the long run.
We’re going to see fewer people come to Texas in a few years. We’re going to see a population decrease in college. There are going to be some big effects, but the biggest effect that’s coming into higher ed is they got rid of tenure for college professors. That’s a problem. You have to think about this. When we have sciences and engineering, people want to invest in long-term science and engineering projects and grants.
They’re not going to be coming to Texas very soon because nobody’s going to stay here if somebody could be fired or could leave at any time. Some of these projects, we know like if they’re studying cancer or how to do genome sequencing. That took years. We need a consistent staff, and that needs tenure. Now that Texas is getting rid of that, we are going to see less investment from other institutions and grants in Texas.
It’s not going to show up in 2024. It might not show up the year after that, but we’ll start seeing it show up by year 3, year 4, year 5, by year 9, or 10 years from now when my little youngest kid is going off to college. I don’t think education in Texas is going to be where it’s at now. It’s going to be at a much lower scale. I’m a little bit concerned about that. Along with that, they passed some bills on education in having chaplains in schools.
What world am I in? It is because it seems like every other week, a priest is getting arrested for being a child molester and people in churches are getting arrested for doing things to people who are underneath them, but we’re now going to allow them in our schools? It’s a priority bill from the Christian nationalists. That’s what that is. Not everyone who attends public school or in schools is Christian. I thought that was a little bit of a reach.
We’re concerned in this show about the blurring of church and state and how that seems to be the direction Texas is headed in. It’s little things like this that interest closer and makes people wonder, “Are we a Christian nation?” and retool that narrative, which is false. When you have chaplains in schools and you have, “In God, we trust,” signs on walls, all of a sudden, it feels like reality and it has been there all along. That’s very alarming.
At least we don’t have the Ten Commandments. That did not make it, thank goodness. At least we don’t have that, but some of these things I question. We can talk about the things that they passed some laws on greenhouse gas emissions that were not good for solar energy or green energy. They passed a law that utility companies can raise the rates at any time and not tell us. Can you believe that? That’s pretty crazy.
Most Texans would not like that.
I completely agree.
They passed something that the state can take over election systems. Now your local election system could be taken over by the state and they can throw out votes. They can do whatever they want. This is full-on fascism that we’re starting to see, and I have a lot of concerns about that. They passed some laws just to make it. They banned drag shows. They did another one on the LGBTQ community, which is the problem.
Let’s talk about the book ban. That is House Bill 900. That was controversial in education. They passed that. They’re making it harder for our students to have access to books in school. Things that they’re trying to take away aren’t LGBTQ. It’s also in any education or bills about people of color, whether they are Asian, Black, or Hispanic, taking away their history out of the books and out of the libraries. That’s concerning as well. Especially since the mid-30s, 35% or 38% of Texas is White. The rest of it is people of color.
A majority and minority state.
They’re pulling the books to teach people of color about their history and pulling books that help the LGBT community be seen. I’m a little concerned about that. They’re doing all this while touting that parents’ rights matter and parents matter. A parent’s rights matter and parents matter. Why don’t they let the parents make these choices for their own families?
That right already existed. This is the only way to act as if it didn’t already exist. Parents already had the discretion to opt out of certain books. If a class was going to study it and they didn’t want their child to participate, they already had the right to opt out of that. Libraries were already age appropriate. It’s wild.
Everything is crazy. They also passed House Bill 7, which establishes a border protection unit. When people cross the border, it’s an automatic felony. Basically, it can be malicious all over the border, which is a little bit worrisome. They also passed some bills that allow them to take money away from public schools, which is also concerning. That is HB5 and HB313. Both of those bills say the same thing.
We know public schools are underfunded and we’re creating more mechanisms for taking money out.
They’re trying to pass their vouchers. They snuck in a voucher stipulation in the HB100, which is the Finance Bill because they’re determined to pass vouchers this session. One thing that they also didn’t do this session is they put it under their emergency. Remember when Greg Abbott had this big like, “These are the emergencies at his State Union address?” They were talking about fentanyl.
We have not had one hearing on fentanyl. There are tons of bills that were written, and not one bill has passed on fentanyl. Not one hearing has passed on fentanyl. That shows you that they care more about cultural issues than they care about helping real Texans. They had an opportunity to raise the age to 21 on gun laws and vote on it. Again, they killed that bill because they don’t want to help real families. They don’t want to help real Texans, but they want to pick on a very small percentage of Texans, the LGBTQ community. It was more important for them to pick on 1% of the population than it was to help most of the population.It was more important for them to pick on 1% of the population than it was to help most of the population. Click To Tweet
We’re all in danger.
That gives you a good idea.
That’s a list. I’m sure in this series, we’re going to dig into specific topics and learn more about some of the bills and the consequences of them, good or bad. Stay tuned for that, readers. Can you tell us about some representatives that disappointed you this session and who you thought would’ve been better?
The biggest thing that happened during this session was with the legislators. First of all, the Freedom Caucus and the Republicans can do what they want to do. They’re pushing Christian Nationalism and that’s what they’re going to do, so we know that, but let’s talk about the Democrats. The shocking thing about this session was the fact that we are a lot weaker than we think we are, and that’s the truth.
We have a handful of Democrats that aren’t Democrats. They’re DINOs, Democrats In Name Only. There are some that I imagine are going to flip parties at the end of this session, which is going to be disappointing, but we are going to try to see if we can get people to primary them. The biggest disappointment in this session was Shawn Thierry.
She had so much potential for good. She had a great bill on the maternal mortality rate. I was so excited about some of the bills that she wrote at the beginning of the session. At the beginning of the session, I was ready to dive in and be the number one supporter of Shawn Thierry. Once she started her thing and her attitude and how she treated other people, other grassroots people, etc., she showed us who she was. She’s not to be trusted. She has been the biggest disappointment to Texas Democrats, by far. She’s not a supporter of the LGBTQ community. She lives in a district that is 80/20 Biden. She’s not representing or supporting her district, which is a highly democratic district. She’s not supporting them. I’m a little concerned about that.
Harold Dutton has also been one of these people who I was also disappointed with in the session. It hasn’t come as a surprise. He disappointed in the last session as well. This session, he seems to be voting against Democrats nearly all the time as well. He and Shawn Thierry are both humongous disappointments. There are a few people that we don’t understand
They’re from border towns and border communities. They have to walk a fine line. To a certain degree, we understand that sometimes they have to vote Conservative and sometimes they have to vote with Republicans, but they’re not very strong. They’re not doing strong work. It doesn’t seem like they enjoy being part of the Democratic Caucus.
Those are, Eddie Morales, Oscar Longoria, and Richard Raymond. Richard Raymond is probably the most disappointing out of all of them because we felt like he had the most potential to stick with the Democratic Caucus and do good and be part of the team. We expected Eddie Morales and Oscar Longoria to play with the Republicans a bit, but Richard Raymond is probably the most disappointing in that aspect.
Let’s move on to the next section. This can be they spent time on these bills. Maybe they passed or didn’t pass. As we mentioned, there’s not a lot of time in the year to pass legislation. This is like, “Of all the things, this is what we’re spending our energy on?” How does your list look?
It comes down to a couple of people. It’s the Freedom Caucus bills and the COVID mandate Bills. It’s funny that they want to pass all these, “COVID this and COVID that,” bills when like, “Look at us, we’re not even wearing masks anymore.” We’re not necessarily saying COVID is over-over, but everyone has already moved on, but they want to pass these crazy bills like outlawing COVID, outlawing masks, outlawing mandates, and all kinds of stuff that people have already themselves have said, “That’s enough. We’re ready to move on and get back to where we used to be.” They seem out of touch with where we are.
It sounds like they want to re-legislate from years ago. They’re still fighting that fight.
That was interesting. They had a bunch of bills that are trying to do away with any benefit of wind and solar. Even getting rid of our wind and solar panels like our windmills and our solar panels, they want to punish them for existing.
This is like true retrogression. That’s what all of this is. It is looking back, trying to move backward.
It is. I was thinking like, “Did they forget Rick Perry wanted solar and wind? Are we living on the same earth? Don’t they forget that this was part of it?” This was originally their idea. I don’t get that at all. The other thing is that they make ridiculous things up like taxpayer-funded lobbyists. They beat that because they want to want to get rid of TASB or the Texas Association of School Boards. They want to get rid of TASB because they want to create their own organization that’s like TASB. They got one ISD to leave TASB, and that was South Lake. South Lake is going to discover the long and hard way that they’re going to have to pay more for services that they would get with TASB for a lot less.
For folks who don’t know, can you tell us what TASB does and how they help Texans?
You could probably tell them that more than I could.
My understanding is that it trains school board members and helps them learn how to do their job. It is its own entity that school districts join, but it’s also for comradery, to get together, and learn from one another. School board races are nonpartisan already, but I don’t think it’s a partisan organization but it’s being painted as though it is. That’s where this backlash is coming from again, trying to weaponize public education and distrust. I’m assuming this is where they’re going with, “TASB is also the boogeyman.” It’s like, “TASB? All they do is train folks on how to be good school board members.”
They also provide them with some insurance, which they ensure the school boards in case somebody needs it. We have to have insurance for everybody, so somebody ensures the school boards. They do that as a group, so they get a much lower rate for all of the school boards. They save school boards ISDs thousands of dollars by working together and through some of the programs that they put together.
It’s silly to turn them into a boogeyman, but they did that. Those are some of the things where I was like, “This is completely crazy.” All of those are coming from those Freedom Caucus folks. I’m talking about Brian Harrison, Tinderholt, and Creighton. We know that group. It’s coming from that group, all of them. They’ve been whining because a lot of their bills got killed. They’re getting on Twitter and whining about, “My bill got killed.” They’ll put out a statement about their bill getting killed, and it’s like, “Get over it.”
Do you know how many bills of ours you guys killed or haven’t gone anywhere? We’re not talking about it like you guys are. You guys are a bunch of whiners. They are and they’re whining about voucher bills not getting attention and some other stuff. Anything can happen in the next couple of days, so I’m holding my breath that we can hold that off. I imagine they’ll call a special session in September for vouchers.
The chatter is if vouchers don’t pass in this session, which is going to be over soon and over by the time you all read this, the idea is to have a special session about vouchers in September because teachers will be back in school and they won’t be able to advocate for themselves and the impacts of vouchers would have on their profession and schools.
Fascinating. I see this is where I show the things I don’t know, my ignorance, which is I thought special sessions were always immediately after the session. Although, of course not because after Uvalde, people wanted him to call a special session, which wouldn’t have been immediately following a legislative session. I’m learning.
It’s at the governor’s discretion when they come back. Do you know, Nancy?
It’s at the governor’s discretion. He’ll call them back and they’ll be back. A couple of times, they came back for two weeks or certain periods at a time. This last time and during the 87th, they had to come back twice. They had two special sessions and he threatened a third, but we never got the third. He had two of them.
The governor has a lot of power, as a reminder that we should be voting for each and every time.
I have to add something funny that also happened. The Freedom Caucus has been passing these crazy bills and bullying the LGBTQ community, Black, Brown, Latino, and Asian communities like crazy. Some Texas legislators banded together and got together. They teamed up and made sure that some bills didn’t make it. They got revenge on a few senators, which is great.
Brandon Creighton was on the receiving end of some of these tactics. It’s not to say that it’s Democrats that are doing that. They’re doing this now to Cole’s bills because they didn’t like what Sheryl Cole said about something. They’re doing a payback to Sheryl Cole as we’re sitting here together on Sheryl Cole’s bills. They’re not letting Sheryl Cole’s bills move on in the senate because they don’t like what she said about something. They’re petty, for sure.
It is exactly the word that went through my head. Things get petty.
That would make me say, like, “Are we children over here? Come on.”
Let’s be grownups.
Should we talk about how maybe they’re not grown up?
Sure. How are they not grown up?
Let’s talk about the drunks in this session.
I’ve seen some videos.
You’ve seen some videos?
It looks drunk to me.
I remember one of the first weeks, I was at the Capitol. I was walking around and literally there were interns or people working for them carrying big huge push carts full of liquor to people’s offices. It’s like, “Somebody’s having a party.” There’s a lot of drinking going on behind the scenes. It isn’t just Republicans. It’s Democrats, too, but to a certain degree, they’re having a good time.
Until you get caught on video.
Here’s the deal. I’m going to flat-out tell you. We deserve sober legislation. As Texans, we deserve sound decisions being made by sober people.We deserve sober legislation. As Texans, we deserve sound decisions made by sober people. Click To Tweet
It sounds like a minimum of what we should expect.
Is it too much to ask for sober people?
I wouldn’t want a doctor performing on me who was drunk or a teacher teaching my child that was drunk because they need to have a clear mind. These are real bills that impact all of us, and the last thing you want is someone who’s not clear.
Anyway, that was the little tidbit here at the end of the legislation. The other tidbit was Ken Paxton. The House of Representatives has investigative authority over cases like they do in US Congress. The House has a committee that things get reported into, and they investigate them, then they give a proposal of recommendations. We could possibly be getting our proposal of recommendations on the possible impeachment of Ken Paxton as early, which is going to be great.
As a reminder, he’s our Attorney General. He is the law enforcer of the state, isn’t he?
He is, but he’s corrupt.
It’s a story where if we only had time to get into, but folks should look that up.
Look up Ken Paxton. We’ll let you all look that up on your own and look up the committee hearing that happened.
If you want drama, if you’re looking for a soapy moment, it will deliver.
It involves an affair, a real estate agent, a remodeled kitchen, and multiple houses. It ends in a dumpster fire. It is crazy. It’s like the Watergate of Texas. It’s going to be fun.
I’m going to watch this in five years and be like, “Can you believe it?”
We’ve lived through that.
Let’s wrap up and move on to what’s next. Quickly tell us what you would like to see the priorities be in the next legislative session. How do we course correct so that we’re passing laws that do have good impacts on Texan’s lives?
I have a couple of things to say. First of all, we all need to vote. We all need to not get out there and vote. We need to encourage other people to get out there and vote. We need to talk to people about their voting apathy and we need everybody to show up to vote. That’s first of all. I’m going to say that to everybody, everywhere all the time.
We need to vote for people who are going to do the work for Texas families. In your area, I’m not going to say all Republicans are bad because most are, but there are a few good Republicans and we should recognize them as such. You can vote for them. If you feel they’re doing a good job, vote for them, but if not, consider voting for Democrats because now, we’re fighting for democracy. These people are doing the work fighting for families. That is one.We need to vote for people who are going to do the work for Texas families. Click To Tweet
We also want to make it as seamless and easy as possible to be a part of that because that is a huge piece of power that a lot of people leave on the table.
The biggest issue that we’re going to end with in this legislative session is that we had a $33 billion surplus and we wasted it. This money could be going to Texans all over the state to do good things for Texans, and we wasted and squandered those opportunities.
Is it still in the bank? What happened?
It’s in the bank, but I don’t think any of it’s going to the things that matter the most to Texas families, which is public education. They’re not raising as far as I know now. They’re not raising the allotment. They’re still negotiating over these last little details, but so far, nothing has happened. I don’t know what’s going to happen at the end of the day. The group that is paying the price for all of this now is public education, public school teachers, administrators, our students, and our kids. At the end of the day, like most of this legislation, when you look at it from environmental and healthcare to all the things, there is a common thread amongst all of them. That is our kids.
Our kids are at the receiving end of almost every single bill in this legislative session in which they’re the ones that are being affected and they’re the ones that are missing out. It’s a shame. We had an opportunity to do so much good. We live in one of the richest states in the United States. There’s no reason that every single student living in Texas can’t go to college or a trade school program for free. There’s no reason for us not to invest in each other and to invest in our children. There’s no reason for it. We could be doing so much good, but people forgot what doing good looked like. That’s a shame because that’s what I see in this, shame. They forgot.
It is planning and prioritizing like you’re saying.
Did I answer your question?
Yes. Next time around, let’s turn to the things that matter to people, and a big thing that matters to a lot of us is our future, which is our kids. Our kids deserve every opportunity to succeed. That means great schools, investing in teachers, making sure they have everything they need, and not taking money out of the public education bucket. That’s what we’ve seen a lot in this session, and it’s a shame because the excuses in the past have been we don’t have money. We did have money and we still didn’t do it? It’s disappointing.
Vote for Texas. Believe in Texas. Do something for Texas. Quit thinking about all of these cultural issues, especially when so many of them are from a federal level on up for us to be divided and for us to hate each other and for us not to get along. Let’s think about ways that we can focus on how we can get along, how we can support each other, and how we can support each other’s kids. It’s a shame. We could have been so much better and done so much more with the surplus, but it’s messy. We’re all messed up, and we’re very much a divided Texas.
We’re hopeful that something will change and, hopefully, more folks will be educated and start to wonder why is it so divided and find common ground solutions because we have a lot in common at the end of the day. We just have to talk to each other and discuss these complicated things and, hopefully, have a growth mindset, which is what’s important instead of believing your echo chamber over and over but being curious.
I want to underline too. I want to remind us when we have those conversations and we’re trying to activate people to vote that we do have to state voter apathy in the face and recognize that we do have a long road. It’s not going to be easy and pretty, but it is worth the fight. We all have to band together because we have the numbers. That is what we have on our side, but we might not have short-term wins. It is going to take a long-term investment and a belief that we are moving, however slowly, in the right direction.
As we wrap up, we want to turn back to democracy and how we reclaim that people power. Tell us, Nancy, what does democracy mean to you? How do you feel about democracy these days?
It’s important and it’s worth fighting for. We all have to invest in it. Voting is a verb. I heard that on that podcast. We all have to actively participate in civics education and democracy. This is something we have to be comfortable with doing.
Thank you. Any last thoughts, Nicole?
That was so good. We hit it all. It was great.
There’s much more we could dig into, but this was a great recap to get us going on what happened in the 88th legislative session. A lot went down. A lot of us have no idea what these ripple effects are going to feel like, but the more we can inform ourselves, the better prepared we will be to know what’s coming. If we don’t like it, how do we change it? Thank you again for your time. It was great chatting with you.
Thank you. It was great to be here.
About Nancy Thompson
Nancy Thompson couldn’t sleep the night the T.E.A. issued its “guidance” before the school year. She felt angry and helpless, her anxiety high after a recent scare with her unvaccinated youngest who had come down with a random virus earlier that week. At this point, She realized that She had no way to protect my children when they go to school. Other than giving them a KN95 mask, she had nothing.
The morning of Friday August 6th, she wrote down Mothers Against Greg Abbott on a Post-It note, inspired by movements like Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Moms Demand Action. A lightbulb went off when she recognized the acronym – a MAGA I can finally believe in! So she grabbed the only two poster board sharpies (good thing they were red and blue) and wrote it down.
In case that message didn’t fly, Nancy wrote on the other side “Abbott Pro-Guns Pro-Covid Anti-Children.” She got ready and drove to downtown Austin and stood in front of the Capitol by herself. A protest of one mad Mother Against Greg Abbott.
She posted her picture on a Facebook board and Twitter. Passersby took my picture and posted it to their socials. Within hours Nancy was not alone, but hundreds of people were liking and retweeting the images and message. A week later, She was no longer a lone Mother against Greg Abbott, but one of thousands of Mothers, Fathers, Sisters, Brothers, Kids, Women, Men, Aunts, Uncles, Grandmothers, and Grandfathers Against Greg Abbott – a community of change that was coming together.
We recognized that there is power in numbers and that we have an opportunity for change in the 2022 election. So we decided the best next move is to form a State PAC and help drive the change Texas families want for Texas.