The process of drawing the single member districts that Austinites voted for last November is underway, and one spot on the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission is reserved for a student. We certainly need a strong student voice on the commission that will draw the new city council districts so that students are represented on city council and their needs are not neglected. If you are a student who thinks this is a trivial matter, consider the proposed zoning ordinance that currently threatens both Co-operative and Greek houses, and that will be voted on by city council.
Fortunately, one spot on the 14-person commission is reserved for a current student. Unfortunately, many students interested in serving on the commission may not qualify because of past political work, and those applying to the commission will have to accept some future restrictions on their dealings with the city.
Just as importantly, students can also apply to the Review Panel that will select the 60 candidates from which at least 8 members of the redistricting commission will be selected.
I know there are plenty of students out there who are more than capable of representing Austin’s student population on the redistricting commission and the review panel. I know you are busy, but the application deadline is February 22 for both the commission and the panel. Get to it.
At 5:30 in the evening last Friday, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst released Texas Senate Committee assignments and some bad news to those hoping that the legislature might find a way to fund Texas public schools.
Democrats lost influence in the Education Committee. They held four of nine positions in the committee in the 82nd legislature; they hold three of nine positions in the 83rd session.
Perhaps more significant than the numerical move, is who moved. Democrat, Wendy Davis was taken off and three freshmen Republican Senators jumped on to education. Davis, who has twice previously served on the Senate Education Committee, has had a hand in legislation that would increase the guaranteed amount of state and local funds per student.
Despite the change in makeup of the Education Committee, the Legislature may be forced to give back at least part of the more than 5.4 billion dollars it cut from public school funding last session because of a pending lawsuit that a group of public school districts have brought against the state.
Regardless of how the lawsuit turns out, I hope all members of the Senate Education Committee remember that there is a portion of our state constitution that reads,
“A general diffusion of knowledge being essential to the preservation of the liberties and rights of the people, it shall be the duty of the Legislature of the State to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools.”
On Wednesday, the University Democrats will conduct its officer elections for spring 2013. These are important because UDems will play an important advocacy role on behalf of students and young people next semester. Nominees in contested races were asked to submit candidacy statements to The Texas Monitor. Continue reading →
The battle to replace the late Sen. Mario Gallegos (D-Houston) is fully underway. Rep. Carol Alvarado and former Commissioner Sylvia Garcia have been fundraising, blockwalking, volunteering, picking up endorsements and so much more. A runoff is expected with multiple candidates throwing their hat in the ring, including Republican RW Bray. There is only one thing missing from this race… an election day.