Not a good night for incumbents in Dallas County or Texas

John Carona

State Sen. John Carona

Challengers did unusually well against incumbents in both the Democratic and Republican primaries on Tuesday.

Several members of the Texas House and Senate will not be returning.

Sen. John Carona, whose district includes parts of Oak Lawn, lost his bid for re-election to tea party favorite Don Huffhines. Carona, a moderate Republican, has served in the Legislature since 1990.

Staunch LGBT ally Rep. Lon Burnam of Fort Worth lost his bid for re-election to Ramon Romero who has no connection to the Democratic Party and has mostly donated to Republicans, according to the Burnt Orange Report. Burnam has the endorsement of all Democratic groups, including Hispanic groups.

Rep. Linda Harper-Brown, an Irving Republican, lost her bid for re-election to tea party favorite Rodney Anderson. During redistricting, Harper-Brown and Anderson were drawn into the same district. Anderson decided to sit out the last election.

Arlington Republican Diane Patrick lost her bid for re-election to Tony Tinderholt. Patrick was the author of the final anti-bullying bill that passed the Legislature in 2011. Among Tinderholt’s complaints against Patrick is a bill she authored that would have required kindergarten children to have a dental exam before entering first grade. He’s running on a platform of securing the border, gun rights and fighting Obamacare and abortion and an almost cartoonish picture on his homepage shows him with his buxom blond wife, a former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader, in a tight red sweater.

Matt Rinaldi beat Carrollton Rep. Bennett Ratliff. Rinaldi is endorsed by Liberty Institute’s Kelly Shakelford, Texas Home School Coalition and Texas Values President Joanathan Saenz.

In other races, former Dallas City Councilwoman Linda Koop edged out Rep. Stefani Carter. Koop didn’t receive 50 percent of the vote, so they will face off in a runoff.

State District Judge Lena Levario is one of a number of incumbent Democratic judges who lost their primary races on Tuesday. Levario held District Attorney Craig Watkins in contempt of court last March. He was later acquitted, but his prosecutor, Tammy Kemp, challenged Levario, raised twice as much money and won the primary.

Other local judges were defeated for r-eelection by Watkins prosecutors. The list of defeated incumbents includes Lori Chrisman Hockett, Andy Chatham, Carlos Cortez, Marty Lowy, Larry Mitchell, Bill Mazur, Michael E. Miller and Chris Wilmoth.

In the Republican race for lieutenant governor, incumbent David Dewhurst received only 28 percent of the vote. Sen Dan Patrick polled 43 percent. They face each other in a runoff.

Metroplex Republicans President Rob Schlein lost his bid for re-election as Republican Precinct Chair 2069. Former Stonewall Democrats President Omar Narvaez lost his race for re-election as Democratic Precinct Chair 2062.

—  David Taffet

Gov. Perry signs anti-bullying bill

Gov. Rick Perry

Gov. Rick Perry, under fire of late for hosting a Day of Prayer funded by an anti-gay hate group, on Friday quietly signed the anti-bullying bill that became Equality Texas’ top priority in this year’s legislative session.

HB 1942, by Rep. Diane Patrick, R-Arlington, doesn’t include specific protetions for LGBT youth but for the first time requires school districts to adopt anti-bullying policies and adds bullying by electronic means to the state’s definition. The bill also integrates bullying prevention into the state’s health curriculum and allows districts to transfer bullies to another classroom or campus (previously, only victims could be transferred).

Last month, the Human Rights Campaign issued a statement calling on Perry to sign HB 1942. Although there was never any indication that Perry planned to veto the bill, he could have allowed it to take effect without his signature.

Also Friday, Perry signed a suicide prevention bill backed by Equality Texas and authored by State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston. HB 1386 calls on the state health department to annually provide school districts with a list of suicide prevention programs. The bill allows districts to implement programs from the list and adopt policies on suicide prevention.

Coleman’s bill was originally called Asher’s Law, in honor of the gay 13-year-old from the Houston area who took his own life last year. However, Asher’s name, along with references to LGBT youth, were later removed from the measure.

Perry didn’t mention either bill in a statement released Friday about major legislation the governor signed and vetoed from the Legislature’s regular session.

—  John Wright

LEGE UPDATE: Best. Legislative. Week. Ever.

Daniel Williams

The passage of not one but two anti-bullying bills, the final death of an anti-trans marriage bill and the failure of amendments designed to defund and ban campus LGBT resource centers made this, the final full week of the Texas Legislature’s 20-week regular session, perhaps the best legislative week for LGBT Texans ever.

Friday, May 20th dawned amid fears that Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, would attempt to amend Senate Bill 1811 to include provisions designed to defund and ban LGBT resource centers from Texas universities. SB 1811 is one of several “fiscal matters” bills that compliment the budget, further clarifying details of how appropriated funds should be used. Christian pre-filed two amendments the previous Thursday. The first was identical to an amendment he attached to the state budget that was later removed in the Senate. The amendment required schools that appropriated state funds for LGBT resource centers to spend an equal amount on “family and traditional values centers.” The second would prohibit any state funds from being spent on LGBT resource centers and would prevent them from being housed in campus buildings.

For seven hours the House considered amendment after amendment to SB 1811. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, who carried the legislation in the House and chairs the powerful Appropriations Committee had promised both the Republican and Democratic caucuses that he would oppose all but 11 “perfecting” amendments to the bill. For the most part the House respected his opposition and the House rejected the vast majority of amendments. Late in the debate word came over that another of the fiscal matters bills, Senate Bill 1581, had passed the Senate. SB 1581 deals specifically with fiscal matters affecting secondary and higher education. Because of the late hour, and because most of the amendments to SB 1811 weren’t passing anyway, Simpson and several of his colleagues withdrew amendments dealing with education with the assumption that they could be amended to SB 1581 the next Monday, when it would be debated in the House.

Just after midnight on Saturday morning, SB 1811 passed the House, without the Christian amendments.

—  admin

TX Senate unanimously OKs anti-bullying bill

Rep. Diane Patrick, R-Arlington

The Texas Senate voted 30-0 this afternoon to approve HB 1942, a bipartisan anti-bullying bill from Rep. Diane Patrick, R-Arlington, that has become Equality Texas’ top priority in this year’s legislative session. Because there was a technical correction to the bill in a Senate committee, it now goes back to the House, which has already approved it, for a concurrence vote. From there, it’s on to Gov. Rick Perry’s desk. Although the bill doesn’t provide specific protections for LGBT youth, Equality Texas says in its fact sheet on HB 1942 that it would do the following:

• Amends the Education Code to allow staff development to receive training in the prevention, identification and reporting of and response to bullying.

• Provides for the transfer of the bully to another classroom or campus upon the discretion of the board of trustees. Currently, if a student wants to get away from the person who bullied him or her, the victim has to move to another classroom or campus.

• Mandates that the State Board of Education, “in consultation with the Texas School Safety Center” amend the health curriculum to “include evidence-based practices that will effectively address awareness, prevention, identification and resolution of and intervention in bullying and harassment.”

• Includes the definition of bullying in Chapter 37 (Discipline) of the Texas Education Code for the first time.

• Definition of bullying includes an “expression through electronic means”.

• Definition of bullying applies to “conduct that occurs on school property, at a school-sponsored or school-related activity, or on a vehicle operated by the district […]”

• Expands the definition of bullying to include actions “Exploits an imbalance of power between the student perpetrator and the student victim through written or verbal expression or physical conduct[…]”

• Mandates that each board of trustees of each school district adopt an anti-bullying policy that:

1. prohibits retaliation against anyone “who in good faith provides information concerning an incident of bullying […]”;
2. establishes a procedure for notifying a parent or guardian of the victim and the bully;
3. “establishes the actions a student should take to obtain assistance and intervention in response to bullying […]”;
4. “sets out the available counseling options” for the victim, witness to an incident of bullying or the bully him/herself.
5. “establishes a procedure for reporting an incident of bullying, investigating a reported incident of bullying, and determining whether the incident of bullying occurred […]”

—  John Wright

ACTION ALERT: Contact your state senator and ask them to vote in favor of anti-bullying bill

HB 1942, the anti-bullying bill that’s become Equality Texas’ top priority in this year’s legislative session, has been placed on the Senate’s Intent Calendar for Saturday. The bill has already passed the House. Equality Texas is urging people to contact their senators and ask them to vote in favor of HB 1942, by Rep. Diane Patrick, R-Arlington. To email your senator, go here.

—  John Wright

ACTION ALERT: Anti-bullying bill stalled in TX Senate committee — contact members now!!!

UPDATE, 7 p.m.: Equality Texas reports that the bill was voted favorably out of committee, 6-0.

From Equality Texas:


We are running out of time!

HB 1942 by Rep. Diane Patrick is pending in the Senate Education Committee. Unless the bill gets favorably reported out of committee by the end of this week, we will run out of time to get the bill passed by the full Senate, concurred in the House, and to the Governor for signature.

HB 1942 is the single best opportunity to pass meaningful anti-bullying legislation this session. Don’t let the clock run out!

The Senate Education Commission is scheduled to meet THIS EVENING (Thursday) at Senator Shapiro’s desk to address pending business.


Chair Senator Florence Shapiro at 512-463-0108
Vice-Chair Senator Dan Patrick at 512-463-0107
Senator John Carona at 512-463-0116
Senator Wendy Davis at 512-463-0110
Senator Mario Gallegos at 512-463-0106
Senator Steve Ogden at 512-463-0105
Senator Kel Seliger at 512-463-0131
Senator Leticia Van de Putte at 512-463-0126
Senator Royce West at 512-463-0123


—  John Wright

Anti-bullying bill clears Texas House

HB 1942, the anti-bullying bill by Rep. Diane Patrick, R-Arlington, cleared the Texas House today on its third and final reading, by a vote of 94-41. According to Equality Texas, which now lists Patrick’s bill as its top priority in this year’s session, no Democrats voted against the measure, which now proceeds to the Senate. From Equality Texas blog:

The Texas House of Representatives today passed anti-bullying legislation supported by Equality Texas on a final vote of 94 to 41. HB 1942 by Rep. Diane Patrick (R-Arlington) is the collaborative product of Rep. Patrick and members of the House Committee on Public Education, including Rep. Mark Strama (D-Austin), Rep. Mark Shelton (R-Fort Worth), Rep. Ryan Guillen (D-Rio Grande City), and Committee Chair Rep. Rob Eissler (R-The Woodlands). The House had tentatively approved HB 1942 on Tuesday night on a 102 – 34 vote.

HB 1942 is the single best opportunity this session for the Texas Legislature to address the problem of bullying, cyberbullying, and harassment in Texas schools.

HB 1942:

• For the first time, includes the definition of bullying in Chaper 37 (Discipline) of the Texas Education Code,

• Updates the definition of bullying to include that through electronic means (cyberbullying),

• For the first time, provides for the transfer of the student who engages in bullying. Currently, only the target of bullying may be transferred.

• Allows staff development to include training on preventing, identifying, responding to, and reporting incidents of bullying.

• Mandates that each board of trustees of each school district adopt a policy, including any necessary procedures, to address the prevention, investigation and reporting of incidents of bullying.

Upon final passage by the House, HB 1942 must now begin the process in the Texas Senate. The bill must be secure a Senate sponsor, secure a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Education, be passed out of committee, and then be passed by the full Senate.

We must not let up in our efforts to secure passage of this bill into law.

Watch for Advocacy Campaigns upcoming to secure the support of your Texas State Senator.

—  John Wright

Texas House tentatively OKs anti-bullying bill

Rep. Diane Patrick, R-Arlington

An anti-bullying bill that’s become the top priority for Equality Texas in this year’s legislative session received tentative approval from the Texas House tonight, in a 102-34 vote.

HB 1942, by Rep. Diane Patrick, R-Arlington, doesn’t provide specific protections for LGBT youth. However, experts say the bill represents the last, best chance for the Legislature to crack down on bullying this year.

From the Texas Tribune:

The bill lays out a definition of bullying and calls on school districts to adopt procedures that prohibit it, make students aware of their options for seeking assistance, protect “whistle-blowers,” establish procedures for notifying parents and guardians about incidents of bullying, and set out counseling options for both the victim and the bully. The bill also gives authority to a school board to transfer a bully — as opposed to a victim — to a different classroom and different school, if necessary.

Equality Texas has issued action alerts over the last few days calling on people to contact their state representative and urge them to support the bill. The bill must be voted on once more by the House before moving to the Senate, which could happen Wednesday.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Bin Laden dead; early voting begins; Texas House to take up anti-bullying bill

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. In case you’ve been under a rock for the last 12 hours, Osama Bin Laden is dead. Watch President Barack Obama’s statement from Sunday night above. You probably thought there was no gay angle to this story, but The Washington Blade has it.

2. Early voting begins today in local municipal elections. For a complete list of early voting locations in Dallas County, go here. If you haven’t made up your mind yet in the Dallas mayor’s race, all four candidates are scheduled to attend a forum sponsored by the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce tonight at Cityplace. I’ll be joining Robert Wilonsky and Jim Schutze of the Dallas Observer to moderate the forum, which is free and open to the public. For more info, go here.

3. It’s not too late to contact your state representative and urge them to vote for HB 1942 by Rep. Diane Patrick, R-Arlington, an anti-bullying bill that’s scheduled for debate on the House floor today. Experts say Patrick’s bill represents the last, best chance for the Texas Legislature to address bullying in this year’s session. Equality Texas, which supports the bill, has been urging members to email their representatives by going here.

—  John Wright

Equality Texas action alert on anti-bullying bill

Equality Texas has issued an action alert calling on people to contact their representatives and urge them to vote in favor of HB 1942, an anti-bullying bill by State Rep. Diane Patrick, R-Arlington. The bill has been placed on the House General State Calendar for Monday. Click here to send an email to your state representative. Here’s the full text of Equality Texas’ alert:


Vote is Monday, May 2nd on Anti-Bullying Bill HB 1942!

Fact: Time is running out on the Texas Legislature to pass meaningful legislation to address the loss of life associated with bullying, cyberbullying, and harassment. Barely over one month remains in the Session and lawmakers are focused on the budget and redistricting.

Fact: According to information compiled by the Texas School Safety Center at Texas State University – San Marcos, there have been four bullying-related suicides of Texas students since the 2009 Legislative Session when lawmakers also failed to pass meaningful legislation.

Fact: House Bill 1942 by Rep. Diane Patrick has just been placed on the House General State Calendar for Monday, May 2nd.

Fact: We need thousands of Texans to contact their State Representative now and urge passage of  House Bill 1942 by Rep. Diane Patrick .

We simply cannot allow the clock to run out again without taking meaningful action to protect the lives of Texas children.

Please act now.

Click here to send an email to your State Representative.

—  John Wright