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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

10 Resolutions to Watch at the Texas Democratic Convention

Posted By on Tue, Jun 14, 2016 at 6:00 AM

click image This photo shows President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act on July 2, 1964. Lone Star State Democrats will take up a resolution at the Texas Democratic Convention this week supporting the Equality Act of 2015, which would add protections for sexual identity and gender orientation to the Civil Rights Act. - CECIL STOUGHTON, WHITE HOUSE PRESS OFFICE (WHPO) | WIKIPEDIA
  • Cecil Stoughton, White House Press Office (WHPO) | Wikipedia
  • This photo shows President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act on July 2, 1964. Lone Star State Democrats will take up a resolution at the Texas Democratic Convention this week supporting the Equality Act of 2015, which would add protections for sexual identity and gender orientation to the Civil Rights Act.
The Texas Democratic Convention will spill into San Antonio at the end of the week, when Lone Star State Democrats will choose who to send to the national convention where Hillary Clinton is expected to beat Bernie Sanders for the presidential nomination. 

But that's not all that goes on at the convention. Texas Democrats will also vote on resolutions to shape the party's state platform.

With that said, here is our pick of 10 resolutions recommended by the party to keep an eye on: 

10. The Equality Act of 2015

As the country mourns for the 49 victims killed at a popular gay bar in Orlando by a gunman just weeks before the anniversary of the historic U.S. Supreme Court ruling affirming the right of same-sex couples to marry, Texas Democrats will likely back a resolution supporting the Equality Act of 2015.

This federal legislation would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity, which is particularly important in Texas as Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has vowed to introduce a bill next year that would discriminate against transgender people by making it illegal for them to use the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity. 

click image PIXABAY
  • Pixabay
9. Radioactive Waste Storage

There's not much out in West Texas, but does that make it the perfect place to store radioactive waste?

A company called Waste Control Specialists, which already stores low-level radioactive waste at a facility in Andrews County, near the New Mexico border, applied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission seeking permission to store high-level nuclear waste like spent fuel rods, the Associated Press reported in April. The proposal would cart radioactive waste from across the country to the tiny rural community.

Texas Democrats will vote on a resolution that opposes not only the storage of high-level radioactive waste, but also the use of Lone Star State highways and railways to transport the toxic substances.

click image MIKE LICHT | FLICKR
  • Mike Licht | Flickr
8. Respecting Religious Diversity and Defending Religious Liberty

On June 26, one year will have passed since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have the constitutional right to marry.

Since then, numerous states across the country have been devising or planning to amend laws that protect religious liberty. While that sounds like a no-brainer, some of these laws — like this Texas proposal — are seen as underhanded maneuvers to discriminate against the LGBT community.

At issue in this resolution is the 1999 Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was bipartisan legislation protecting religious liberty by barring government from "substantially burdening" religious belief and expression. In 2015, Republican efforts to amend the law by removing the word "substantially" stalled after opposition from the business community, the Texas Tribune reported.

Supporters of the effort claim the amendment is needed to allow people to decline certain services — like marrying a couple — if it conflicts with their religious beliefs. Opponents say that the effort allows for discrimination against the LGBT community under the guise of religious liberty.

This convention resolution would affirm the Texas Democratic Party's support of the original 1999 Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the right of all faith communities to self-govern while opposing efforts to amend the law. 

  • Ralf Roletschek | Wikipedia
7. Opposing All Blue Laws

Texas is one of 12 states in the country where you can't buy booze from a liquor store on Sundays, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. The Lone Star State also prohibits people from buying cars on Sundays.

These arcane laws are Prohibition-era leftovers that were crafted to enforce religious rules. This resolution opposes these laws and encourages Democrat legislators to file bills repealing the state's remaining blue laws.

  • Gabby Mata | San Antonio Current
6. Opposition to Campus Carry

On August 1, campus carry becomes a reality in Texas. Signed by Gov. Greg Abbott last June, the legislation allows concealed license holders to carry handguns on public college campuses. The bill also allows for the storage of handguns in dorms.

This resolution might be a pipe dream, but it reaffirms the Texas Democratic Party's opposition to campus carry and signals an effort to amend the bill to also allow public colleges to opt out of campus carry like private universities, which are allowed to decide whether to permit or prohibit concealed carry on campus.

  • Wikimedia Commons
5. Protection of Transgender Detainees in DHS/ICE Facilities

While there is a new facility in California where undocumented transgender women are detained, the federal government still has a long way to go in how it treats this vulnerable population.

However, transgender women who seek asylum in the U.S. by turning themselves in at the border are still routinely held in male facilities and Immigration and Customs Enforcement hasn't made any concrete plans to change that policy, according to a March Human Rights Watch report.

For Monserrath López, a transgender woman from Honduras who was beaten, kidnapped and sexually assaulted, the three-month journey north to Eagle Pass ended in a bus ride to a male detention center after four days in isolation at a Border Patrol station, according to the Human Rights Watch report.

At the detention center, López told Human Rights Watch investigators that she was repeatedly sexually assaulted, verbally harassed and denied access to hormone replacement therapy. When she reported a sexual assault, guards threatened to place her in solitary confinement. She was granted asylum in May, 2015.

This convention resolution would call on President Barack Obama and the Department of Homeland Security to find alternative ways to house transgender immigrants.

  • Joshua Doubek | Wikipedia
4. Fracking and Disposal Wells

Last year, in response to a fracking ban approved by Denton, Republican legislators crafted a bill that Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law prohibiting Texas cities from outlawing fracking.

This convention resolution calls on legislators to work toward repealing the law that overturned Denton's local ordinance. The resolution also calls for more regulation of oil and gas companies through public notice requirements, stricter permitting and more info on the chemicals used in fracking, which are currently not public information.

  • Wikimedia Commons
3. Private Prisons

This resolution is short and to the point: end the for-profit prison industry.

According to the Texas Democratic Party, the state not only has a higher rate of incarceration than any other, it also has more private prisons. 

Having for-profit prisons may serve as a motivator to incarcerate people, contributing to the state's large inmate population, according to the resolution.

However, this resolution falls short by not making any recommendations on how to end the for-profit industry in Texas.

  • Mark Buckawicki | Wikimedia
2. Repeal the Voter ID Law

Texas has the strictest voter ID law in the country, and attorneys for the state have battled a challenge to the legislation that is now in the hands of the Supreme Court.

A ruling could come as soon as this week on whether the law prevents voting fraud or discourages minorities from voting.

This resolution slams the law, saying it was crafted to suppress minority voter turnout, and seeks to repeal it altogether. 

  • Neil Ballantyne | Wikipedia
1. Trans-Pacific Partnership

What do Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton all have in common?

They all oppose President Barack Obama's signature trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

This resolution states that the deal would harm wages, hurt the environment, damage the U.S.'s human rights and cost the U.S. 500,000 jobs.

If approved, the Texas Democratic Party would officially oppose the deal while calling on the Texas Congressional Delegation to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership. 

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