ALDINE – State Representative Armando Walle and two other Democratic legislators, Ana Hernandez and Garnet Coleman, returned from their hiatus in Washington to the state Capitol in Austin last week. Their absence, along with about 50 others, had kept the Texas House from having a quorum and unable to pass controversial Voter Restriction legislation that the Democrats said would disenfranchise many minority voters.
However, with all Republicans plus these three Democrats and a few others who never left, the Speaker of the House Dade Phelan declared they had a Quorum, and would proceed to act on legislation.
The three returning Democrats received a great deal of criticism for allowing this to happen, from labor unions, minority voter groups, and their colleagues that were still in Washington.
Walle’s office issued the following statement in defense of the return:
WASHINGTON, DC – More than 50 Texas Democratic legislators remain holed up in a Washington, D.C. hotel, blocking an effort by Republicans to pass more restrictive voting laws during the present special session since state law requires at least 100 reps to have a quorum.
The legislators have been meeting with national Democratic leaders, such as Vice President Kamala Harris, but also dealing with an outbreak of COVID-19 among its members. At least a half dozen legislators, who say they were already vaccinated, have tested positive for the virus while in the nation’s capital.
The legislators are pushing for federal voting legislation, called the For the People Act, which has already passed the U.S. House but remains bottled up in the Senate. Without changes to the Senate filibuster rule, passage seems unlikely. The special session in Austin ends Aug. 7, but Abbott has vowed to call another one if the Democrats remain absent, effectively stopping any legislation from passing.
On March 8, Speaker Dade Phelan announced the first phase of the House’s legislative reforms to protect consumers and strengthen our state’s electric grid in the aftermath of the recent, unprecedented cold weather event. Speaker Phelan highlighted the following key legislation filed by members of the Texas House of Representatives:
HB 10 – Reforming Energy Reliability Council of Texas Leadership
HB 10, filed by Representative Paddie, restructures the ERCOT board, replacing the unaffiliated members with members appointed by the Governor, Lt. Governor, and Speaker of the House. HB 10 also requires all board members to reside in the state of Texas and creates an additional ERCOT board member slot to represent consumer interests.
HB 11 – Protecting Consumers and Hardening Facilities for Extreme Weather
Early voting started Tuesday, Oct. 13 in Harris County, and will continue through Friday, Oct. 30. Election Day is November 3rd. Voters can go to any polling location, which can be located at www.harris votes.com. This year you will not be able to vote a straight ticket, so it will take longer to choose each candidate by name.
Important races include President Trump versus his challenger Joe Biden. Also Texas Senator John Cornyn is running against MJ Hegar, a war-wounded veteran.
U. S. Representatives that face challengers include Dan Crenshaw, Sheila Jackson Lee, Sylvia Garcia, and Brian Babin. All of these represent some part of local districts.
In state races, incumbents Dan Huberty and Briscoe Cain face challengers. Armando Walle, Senfronia Thompson, and Ana Hernandez are running unopposed in their districts.
State Officials Sylvia Garcia and Ana Hernandez turned away
By Allan Jamail
Edited by NCS staff
CHANNELVIEW, TX. – North Channel – Friday, June 29, 2018 — State Senator Sylvia Garcia and State Representative Ana Hernandez went to Casa Montezuma, a child detention facility in their district, to check on migrant children being housed there. The children have either been separated from their parents who immigrated to the United States seeking political asylum from violence and persecution, or else they arrived without parents.
Armed officers in uniforms bearing the name Fort Bend County Patrol swarmed Garcia and Hernandez, stopping them and telling them they could not enter to see the children even though they both proved they were elected state officials.
Allan Jamail, a photojournalist for the North Channel Star, accompanying the state officials, had his camera grabbed by an officer whose uniform identified him as Chief G. Fuentes. Fuentes told the visiting group that the area is private property and off-limits to visitors and photo-taking.
Fuentes said, “Visitors must first make an appointment by phone to visit the facility,” but when Garcia and Hernandez told Fuentes they’ve called for days but no one will answer the phone, Fuente then said, “I know because they don’t want any visitors, so they’re not going to answer the phone.”
Not easily persuaded to leave without first checking on the welfare of the kids, for almost an hour a standoff with security in over 100 degree scorching heat, finally Fuentes agreed to allow Garcia and Hernandez to go to the front door to make an appointment for a visit on another day.
The door was locked and no one inside would come to the door or answer the intercom system, so after numerous attempts Chief Fuentes said, “You need to leave because no one is going to come talk to you or allow you inside. They don’t want visitors.”
Fuentes said he was only doing his job, but Garcia and Hernandez responded and told him he was preventing them from doing their jobs to check on the welfare of children in their District.