Any issue that finds partisans on one side in overwhelming agreement over the fundamentals of an issue pitted against a divided opposition is one that provides major political advantages for the unified side. Legislating the lives of transgender people is one of those issues.
New UT/Texas Politics Project Poll: Most Texans look to Republican leaders to resolve differences, deliver on major priorities
The latest University of Texas/Texas Politics Project Poll finds large majorities of Texans saying that it’s important for the legislature to improve the reliability of the state’s energy grid and water supply while reducing property taxes – even as disagreements among the state’s Republican leadership about how to accomplish some of these goals, particularly property tax reduction, but also grid reliability, continue to boil over in public.
The poll reveals much less agreement and more partisan division in opinions about what the legislature needs to accomplish, and in response to specific policy proposals, especially on social and cultural issues that continue to roil politics across the nation, including abortion, transgender rights, and education.
In the latest Second Reading Podcast, Jim Henson and Josh Blank discuss how the attitudes of different elements of the majority Republcan coalition are likely to impact the movement of legislation, or lack thereof, in hot-button areas as the legislature heats up.
Gov. Greg Abbott issued a proclamation calling for the third special session of the 87th Texas Legislature Tuesday afternoon, adding four items to the agenda in addition to the expected focus on redistricting, and setting September 20 for the legislature’s return. n addition to the Constitutionally mandated drawing of new district maps for the U.S. House of Representatives, the state legislature, and the State Board of Education, Abbott called on the legislature to consider and act on allocating federal COVID relief funds, “disallowing” students from competing in UIL athletics “designated for the sex opposite to the student’s sex at birth,” prohibiting COVID-19 vaccination mandates, and the dog abuse bill that the governor vetoed after the regular session. We’ve compiled results of recent polling to provide the public opinion context for all but one of the issues on the governor’s call.
This week, the Supreme Court released its much anticipated decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Civil Rights Commission, narrowly ruling for the plaintiffs and spurring both sides in the debate over LGBTQ rights to claim larger victories than justified by the decision. While LGBTQ rights were clearly being tested, beliefs about discrimination in America lurk just below the surface of responses to the decision — and those beliefs vary markedly among partisans.
On the Texas side of politics, this week felt like a flashback to last Spring, as the anti-sanctuary city law, the bathroom bill, and the general tone of the 85th Legislature all got rehearings. It’s hard not to feel yet again that there are much bigger goings-on nationally, as students not on spring break staged a national walk-out to protest inaction on gun policy, the Democrats won a squeaker in a Pennsylvania special election, and we discovered what many presupposed, that Special Counsel Mueller has some questions about the Trump business empire and its connections to Russians. Read on for Texas public opinion data linked to some of the big stories from the week in politics.
When it comes to legal cases in general, and legal rights in particular, it's important to note that public opinion can often act as a poor guide to a just outcome, and in many cases, may have no relevance on particular legal proceedings. With that caveat aside, public opinion is useful in determining how elected officials, including the Attorney General, might react to court decisions, and further, whether the state chooses to push ahead in the legal process in the face of adverse decisions.
Speaker of the House Joe Straus continued his efforts to shift his party’s agenda into the realm of economic development and to re-engage the business sector. Meanwhile, over at the White House, apparently tired of Congress’s inability act on the ACA, Donald Trump used executive power to launch a frontal assault on Obamacare this week, with extremely uncertain political and policy results to come. Texas Governor Greg Abbott also expressed some very public frustration with Congress, who as a group had a pretty tough week even as they uncharacteristically tried to do their jobs by moving another disaster relief bill, which was passed by the House. One of those members, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, outraised his expected Democratic opponent, though also got word that he may have a primary challenger. And lest you think Congress deserves some sympathy, their response to the Las Vegas shooting devolved into the usual puddle of avoidance and utter predictability from all involved.
Most of the post-session coverage among the Texas political press has predictably focused on the politics of the big three and how much (or how little) of Greg Abbott’s agenda was acted on by the Legislature – coverage led by public signalling from both the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor. But a look at some of the lower profile aspects across the arc of both the regular and special sessions of the 85th Legislature reveals a lot about the nature of the for-now dormant legislature and, more broadly, Texas politics as the political mix shifts more heavily toward electoral politics.
Public Opinion Notes on Gay Marriage and Discrimination in the Wake of the Texas Supreme Court Ruling
The Texas Supreme Court appears to have slowed down the progression in LGBTQ rights since the U.S. Supreme Court's 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision that ruled gay marriage constitutionally protected. Per Alexa Ura's coverage in the Texas Tribune, the Texas Supremes have remanded "a lower court ruling that said spouses of gay and lesbian public employees are entitled to government-subsidized same-sex marriage benefits" back down the chain in order to clarify whether and how much the state can limit benefits associated with marriage. The June 2017 University of Texas / Texas Tribune Poll included the latest version of our standard gay marriage question, as well as an item on whether religious beliefs should be a legal rationale for exemptions from anti-discrimination laws.