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Analysis: Texas Democrats, in Their Own Words

The Texas Democrats have taken their crack at how the world ought to look, packing their version into a 44-page platform at last weekend’s biennial state party convention.

The Texas Democratic convention at the Alamodome on June 17, 2016.

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The Texas Democrats have taken their crack at how the world ought to look, packing their version into a 44-page platform at last weekend’s biennial state party convention.

It’s a guide to what the delegates think their candidates and officeholders ought to be up to — just as the Republican Party of Texas platform approved by GOP delegates in Dallas last month was supposed to serve as a handbook for their representatives in government.

In their platform, the Democrats included some broad points of potential disagreement with Republicans, saying Texans have inalienable rights to health care, that corporations are not people, that minimum wage should be increased to $15 an hour and that people should be free “from government interference in our private lives and personal decisions.”

That’s all between the preamble and the start of the specific planks in the state party’s platform.

Officeholders pick and choose from these things as they wish, embracing some things and ignoring others. But here, in their own words, is a sampling of what the Democrats put into writing over the weekend in San Antonio:

• Repeal of the highly restrictive Texas photo Voter ID law.

• Automatic voter registration upon age 17 years and 9 months for all persons who meet Texas voter registration requirements.

• Same day voter registration.

• Online voter registration.

• Creation of a nonpartisan redistricting commission to end gerrymandering in our redistricting process.

• A constitutional amendment to eliminate the electoral college and award the presidency to the winner of the nationwide popular vote.

• Legislation to move towards public campaign and election financing.

• Full disclosure of funding sources for political advertisements, including the largest major funders of all political television, radio, print, slate mailer, and online advertising for ballot measures, independent expenditures, and issue advocacy.

• We should end the double-dipping of retirement for elected officials.

• The state should establish a 100% equitable school finance system with sufficient state revenue to provide every child the opportunity to learn in an exemplary program.

• Oppose the misnamed “school choice” schemes of using public tax money for the support of private and sectarian schools.

• Every eligible Texas child must have access to high-quality, full-day Pre-K and kindergarten.

• Bring Texas teacher pay in line with the national average.

• Guarantee early acceptance to college and a teaching job to high school students in the top 20% of their class who commit to a teaching career upon certification.

• Oppose test-based performance pay.

• Replacing high-stakes tests that effectively punish students, teachers and schools, with 
multiple measures designed to diagnose student needs and improve instruction.

• Oppose A-F school ratings, which serve only to stigmatize schools and undermine struggling communities while doing nothing to improve children’s education.

• Strengthen state oversight of homeschooling.

• Provide universally accessible after-school programs for grades pre-K-12.

• School campuses and functions must be weapon-free and drug-free.

• Full compliance with Title IX implementing regulations regarding a student’s gender identity 
and with the DOE and DOJ directive to school principals contained in the document 
“Examples of Policies and Emerging Practices for Supporting Transgender Students.”

• We support policies that provide opportunity, free from debt, and a vision for tuition-free higher education system for college students.

• Legislation to reduce the inordinately high costs of college textbooks, technical manuals and 
other instructional materials.

• The continuation of the Texas DREAM Act and passage of the federal DREAM Act.

• Providing tuition-free community college to Texas high school graduates.

• Maintaining the “Top 10% Rule” established by Democrats that guarantees access to our universities for the best students from all communities and regions of Texas.

• Encouraging universities to offer culturally competent and culturally diverse curricula, student activities, and student recruitment policies that promote understanding, respect and acceptance.

• Repealing campus carry policies for public university and community college campuses.

• Comprehensive programs to combat the campus sexual assault crisis.

• We support requiring a minimum wage that is at least $15-an-hour that is indexed to keep it from eroding again.

• We support the ability of individuals to come together collectively and negotiate their wages, healthcare and work conditions to improve job safety and eliminate the stagnation of wages and reduction of benefits. We oppose anti-union laws and policies, such as so-called “right-to-work” laws, and support laws and agencies that protect the safety of workers and the payment of prevailing wages for public projects.

• We categorically oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

• We also categorically oppose so-called “free trade” proposals which hurt American jobs 
and workers, the environment, and the American consumer. We support fair trade deals to bring back and protect Texan and American jobs.

• We support eliminating tax policies that reward businesses for shipping jobs overseas and encourage reform that strengthens investment in domestic job creation and protection. 

• We support promotion of and assistance for the arts and music.

• We oppose foreign-owned U.S. toll roads that require Americans to contribute to the 
balance-of-trade deficit when they travel on local roads.

• Support accepting the over $100 billion in federal dollars available to provide Medicaid 
coverage to the hard working families that have been denied health care by the state’s 
Republican leaders.

• Support guaranteed access to affordable, comprehensive universal coverage for all United 
States citizens and legal residents.

• Medical decisions regarding treatment options should be made by physicians in consultation with patients, not by an insurance company or government lay people.

• The most efficient and universal and adequate way to provide health care is through a 
single payer system.

• Increase access to mental health and substance abuse services by increasing the 
number of treatment facilities while ensuring their financial viability.

• Support the elimination of the out-dated ban on non-celibate gay men donating blood 
and apply a uniform, non-discrimination policy.

• Oppose state cuts to HIV services in favor of high spending on abstinence-only 

• Trust the women of Texas to make personal and responsible decisions about when and whether to bear children, in consultation with their families, physicians, personal consciences, and/or their faith.

• Support the repeal of HB2, which has created dangerous restrictions on Texans' access to abortion care, and oppose any future TRAP (targeted regulation of abortion providers) legislation.

• Support targeted efforts to reduce high rates of teen pregnancy and repeat teen pregnancy in Texas, including the provision of evidence-based, accurate and effective, comprehensive age-appropriate sex education programs with an abstinence and contraception component.

• Recognize the product of a joined egg and sperm has no independent status, standing, entitlements or rights that would in any way usurp or supersede the rights of the mother or woman which are paramount.

• Support family planning funding for pregnancy prevention and preventive health care by all qualified providers in regulated, licensed medical facilities, including Planned Parenthood.

• Institution of a revenue neutral carbon tax increasing in rate each year and rebating a flat amount to each taxpayer so that those whose energy usage generates the least carbon benefit the most.

• The use and development of renewable energy, while recognizing the importance of the 
oil and gas industry and seek safe, responsible and well-regulated fracking and other tertiary recovery.

• The rights of local governments and voters to regulate oil and gas operations within their communities, including the right to establish setbacks and bans on hydraulic fracturing 

• The implementation of aggressive water conservation and reuse practices.

• Actions to prevent depletion and exploitation of limited state water resources including banning the use of non-brackish water for hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), prohibiting speculative water marketing, and acquiring open space to protect aquifers and watersheds.

• Working more closely with the Environmental Protection Agency and ending the current 
hostile litigious relationship

• Retiring the oldest, heavy-polluting, coal burning Texas power plants that are so outdated 
that pollution controls are not an economically viable option.

• Halting the plan to import high-level radioactive waste for consolidated storage in Texas due to risks of water contamination, security concerns and transportation accidents, and we oppose transport of high-level radioactive waste on our highways or railways.

• Halting expansion of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline in Texas, and construction of the Trans Pecos Pipeline.

• Statutory jurisdiction should require the Railroad Commission to consider quality of life 
factors and seismic activity when evaluating drilling and disposal permits.

• Political contributions to Railroad Commissioners from the oil and gas industry should 
be banned.

• Increased funding for the upkeep, maintenance, and acquisition of state park land and for the protection of state park land in the event of natural disasters such as the recent 
drought-caused wildfires.

• Strengthening and reforming current laws requiring a background check prior to the purchase by a firearm by requiring a sufficient waiting period to provide adequate time for law enforcement officials to conduct a mandatory, background check.

• Repealing laws that allow the open carry of firearms.

• Supporting peace officers with current equipment, technology (including body cameras, dashboard cameras, and prisoner compartment cameras) and training to balance their dual role to serve and protect.

• Revising sentencing guidelines for non-violent offenders.

• Fully funding mental health services and a more robust continuum of services as 
necessary to provide appropriate mental health services to redirect individuals from the 
criminal justice system.

• Changes to our current bail system, which unfairly keeps poor people jailed when they 
pose little or no risk, moving away from a money-based bail system, and codifying the right to a speedy trial which will amount to a victory for civil rights and racial justice.

• Ending and reversing the privatization of Texas prisons.

• Ending the use of county jails as mental health facilities.

• Urge the immediate decriminalization of possession and use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

• Support and urge the passage of legislation that would abolish the death penalty and replace it with the 
punishment of life in prison without parole.

• Support and urge the Governor, Texas Legislature, and Texas Judiciary and Texas Prosecutors to impose a 
moratorium on capital punishment while an unbiased and objective study of the entire process, from arrest, conviction/sentencing, appeals at all state levels, and the execution process itself is shown to be reliable and without such grievous failures as have been evident in the recent past.

• The right of every person to be tried by a jury that broadly reflects the ethnic makeup of the community, including legislation to eliminate the disgraceful practice of using all-white juries and grand juries in cases involving people of color.

• Enacting a constitutional amendment to prevent extending the sales tax to food and Medicine, while opposing Republican efforts to impose a sales tax to replace local property taxes with a tremendous increase in state sales taxes.

• Requiring state government to spend taxes and fees for the reason they were collected.

• Support comprehensive immigration reform, including an attainable path to citizenship.

• Support allowing all Texas residents to obtain a driver’s licenses regardless of immigration status.

• Denounce any type of bans based on religious affiliation or country of origin.

• Denounce efforts to build a border wall of any size and the unrealistic claims a foreign 
country will pay for a border wall.

• Calling an emergency session of the Legislature to consider a broad-spectrum, across the board overhaul of the Department of Family and Protective services.

• We support adoption of children by loving qualified parents regardless of marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and the rights of families created by 
those adoptions.

• Work with the Texas Parks and Wildlife to manage the wild hog population, and provide 
small scale farmers subsidies to construct deer/hog fences using local labor.

• Amend the Texas Constitution and relevant laws to eliminate giving private entities commonly understood governmental authority to exercise the powers of eminent domain in condemnation of private property.

• Preserve confidential, unrestricted access to affordable, high quality, culturally sensitive health care services, including the full range of reproductive services, contraception and abortion, without requiring guardian, judicial, parental, or spousal consent.

• Support the right of all people to use facilities and participate in all aspects of life in a 
manner that is consistent with their gender identity, irrespective of the gender they were 
assigned at birth.

• Support the inclusion of gender reassignment surgery in Medicaid.

• Support a ban on so-called “reparative” therapy.

• The development of a state rail plan for Texas to be eligible for federal high-speed rail funding, and rail and mass transit systems that do not harm the environment or infringe on property rights.

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