Today's Fair Shots - June 6th, 2017

1-Video Targets Rep Who Called ICE on SB 4 Protesters

2-Gamboa: SB 4 Did Not Arrive in Vacuum; Texas Has History of Discrimination Against Latinos

3-Texas AFT Discusses Bills That Improve Public Schools

4-Report: Legislature Passed Fewest Bills Since 1995; Weeping Not Heard Anywhere

5-EPI: Fiduciary Rule Fight Is About Whether Your Financial Advisor Represents You or His Own Bank Account; Texans Lose an Estimated $1 Billion a Year When the Latter Happens

6-Union Retirees Release Report Card on Congress

1) A new video by the Workers Defense Action Fund, a 501(c)(4) group” and Texas Organizing Project takes State Rep. Matt Rinaldi, R-Irving, to task for calling federal immigration officers during a peaceful Capitol protest against SB 4, the "show me your papers" bill targeting immigrants.

 Photo from Dallas Morning News

Photo from Dallas Morning News

  The Dallas Morning News reports political organizing is well under way against Rinaldi in a House district that a Democrat came close to winning in 2016: 

  [T]he groups that produced the video have pledged to fight to kick him out of office and have dubbed him "Racial Profiling Rinaldi." They are some of the same groups that helped propel freshman Rep. Victoria Neave, D-Dallas, into office.

  "Rinaldi started a fight with Texas families -- now Texas families are gonna finish it at the ballot box," Jose Garza, executive director of the Workers Defense Action Fund, said in a news release. "Voters from across the state are ready to hold SB 4 supporters accountable."

  Michelle Tremillo, executive director of the Texas Organizing Project, said in a news release that Rinaldi had made a mistake by picking on people he thought had no way to fight back. 

  "He's about to learn that being brown and speaking Spanish doesn't mean undocumented, doesn't mean voiceless or powerless," she said. "We look forward to ushering him out of our state legislature."

  Read more:


2) On the same subject, Suzanne Gamboa, a long-time Texas journalist and friend who now works for NBC News Latino, posted a summary of the history of discrimination that underscores discussion of SB 4.

  Gamboa makes a strong case that the charge that SB 4 will stoke racial profiling is based solidly in history. At the top of the story, a photo of an old sign declaring "We Serve White's (sic) Only" illustrates that history:

  When Texas leaders approved a tough new immigration enforcement law known as SB4, they did so in a state that has had a long, continuing and sometimes unacknowledged struggle for equity by the state's residents of Mexican descent. 

  That struggle has existed since before Texas became a state and has ranged from mob violence and massacres - some perpetrated by the Texas Rangers - to voting and employment discrimination and school and housing segregation. More recently, courts have declared the state's voter ID law and redistricting maps discriminatory. 

  Consider that, during the period from 1848 to 1928, at least 232 people of Mexican descent were killed by mob violence or lynchings in Texas - some committed at the hands of Texas Rangers, according to research by William D. Carrigan and Clive Webb, authors of "Forgotten Dead: Mob Violence Against Mexicans in the United States." Texas led 12 states in killings of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans, the authors solidly documented. 

  In addition, the effort to place Texas under the anti-discrimination provisions of the Voting Rights Act was the genesis of the 1975 expansion of the act to extend its protections of voting rights of Latinos and other people who were then called "language minorities." 

  More recently, Texas' voter ID law, enacted in 2013, has been struck down in a series of court decisions that found it discriminatory. 

  Also, Texas' education board only added Mexican-American studies as an elective course to its public school curriculum in 2014...

  [H]istorians and civil rights activists see a thread of historical racism and discrimination running through the implementation of SB4. 

  "This is a step backwards in terms of having Mexican-Americans thought of as really U.S. citizens, as opposed to foreigners rather than interlopers," González said. 

  Thomas Saenz, president and CEO of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), a civil rights legal group, is more blunt. "This law has racism written all over it," he said. 

  Read more:

3) Texas AFT posted miscellaneous results on education issues from the recently concluded legislative session. While the United Labor Legislative Committee wasn't asked to take positions on the issues, they are a representative indicator of the breadth of what Texas AFT addresses among hundreds of education-related bills:

  While impasses engineered by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on school finance and other matters dominated the headlines, the legislative session just ended did see some little-noted progress on other issues of importance to parents and education employees. For example: 

  Special education-SB 1398 by Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. (D-Brownsville) and Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) will scale back the use of video surveillance in special-ed classrooms, so that a request for video monitoring by a parent applies only to the classroom of that parent's child, not campus-wide or district-wide. Separately, the Legislature also prohibited any continuation of the arbitrary cap imposed by the Texas Education Agency on the percentage of students who qualify for special-ed services (SB 160 by Sen. Jose Rodriguez, D-El Paso, and Rep. Gene Wu, D-Houston). 

  Nurse-staffing notification-The Legislature finally passed a long-sought bill to notify parents when their child's school lacks full-time nurse staffing. SB 196 by Sen. Sylvia Garcia (D-Houston) applies to school districts with 10,000 or more students. The bill also requires notification of the lack of full-time counselor or librarian staffing. Sen. Garcia and Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) deserve a lot of credit for getting the bill passed. It has been a longstanding priority of the Texas AFT School Nurse Task Force. Now it's up to the governor to decide whether to allow SB 196 to become law. His deadline for vetoes is June 18.   

  Three-point seat belts on school buses-Starting with model year 2018, school buses newly purchased by school districts must include three-point seat belts, unless the local school board convenes a meeting on the issue and votes against the seat-belt requirement on budgetary grounds. That's the gist of SB 693 by Sen. Garcia and Rep. Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont).  

  Online version:

4) Speaking of the legislative session, the Houston Chronicle reports you would have to go back to 1995 to find a year in which lawmakers passed fewer bills than the 1,211 sent to Gov. Greg Abbott's desk this year. In that year following a wave election, just 1,088 bills made it to the finish line.

  Based on his work in 2015, Abbott seems likely to knock off a substantial number of bills with vetoes. The high point for bills passed, the Chronicle reports, was in 1999, when 1,622 measures made it out of both the House and Senate:

  "The entire system is set up to kill bills, not pass them. It's much, much easier to kill a bill than to pass one," said Sherri R. Greenberg, a former member of the Texas House who held office in the 1990s and is now a clinical professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.

  "There are many reasons that lawmakers will file bills and not all of them are to actually pass those bills," she said.

  Read more:

5) Few financial terms that are important to you will cause your eyes to glaze over more quickly than the words "fiduciary rule." 

  Yet few financial terms are as important. Under President Obama, the federal government tightened the rules to say that your financial advisor has to put your financial interest first. That seems so simple and obvious, but the structure of the American financial industry hinged for decades on the desire of advisors to make commissions on what they sold to you, as opposed to maximizing your pot of money.

  Of course, all things Obama are under attack by President Trump and this Congress, so the fiduciary rule has been delayed and is in danger of falling by the wayside, the Economic Policy Institute reports. In a state-by-state analysis, EPI estimates that Texans are losing $1 billion a year because of conflicted advice from unscrupulous advisors. Savers may, once again, need to take these matters into their own hands if the rule does not take effect:

  When financial advisers are paid through fees and commissions that directly depend on which investment products their clients choose, the advice they provide is "conflicted"-what is best for the adviser may not be best for the client. This creates incentives for advisers to steer their clients into investments that provide larger payments to the adviser but are not necessarily the best choice for the investor. Every year, retirement savers lose $17 billion acting on advice from financial advisers who have conflicts of interest.

  The map below shows how much retirement savers lose annually in each state as a result of receiving conflicted advice. Annual losses from conflicted investment advice range from $24.2 million in Wyoming to $205.3 million in Iowa to just over a billion in Texas and to nearly $1.9 billion in California.

  This fleecing of retirement savers should be illegal. Financial advisers, like lawyers and doctors, should be required to act in the best interests of their clients. That's what the "conflict of interest" rule-also known as the "fiduciary" rule-does. Set to go into partial effect June 9, the conflict of interest rule would require financial advisers to act in the best interests of clients saving for retirement.

  But this rule is under threat from the Trump administration, which has demonstrated that weakening or rescinding the rule is a core priority. 

  Read more:

6) The Alliance for Retired Americans released a 2016 report card on members of Congress that portrays a chasm between Republicans and Democrats on labor issues affecting retirees.

  The report states that U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn of Texas each had zeroes from ARA in 2016, though Cruz was absent for most of the votes while campaigning for president. Cruz's lifetime record is 11 percent; Cornyn's is 6 percent.

  On the House side, in the Texas delegation every Democrat, with one exception, was at 100 percent while every Republican was at 0 for 2016. The exception was Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, who was at 80 percent. Lifetime scores for Republican House members are in the single digits (though none at zero); Democrats are either in the 90s or at 100 percent, with the exception of Cuellar at 80 percent.

  Via ARA:

  Washington, DC - The Alliance for Retired Americans today released its 2016 voting record report which scored every U.S. Representative and Senator on issues affecting current and future retirees. The Alliance's voting record is produced each year. The 2016 report examined 10 key Senate and House votes in 2016, showing the roll calls on issues such as:

* attacks on core earned benefits programs: Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid;

* health care policy, including repealing the individual and employer mandates, expanding Medicaid, and offering tax subsidies that help older Americans aged 50-64 purchase health insurance on the Affordable Care Act exchanges; and

* tax breaks for higher income Americans and tax increases for lower-income and middle class families.

"The record of the Republican Senate leadership is particularly bad on retiree issues. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY), Majority Whip John Cornyn (TX), Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (UT) and Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (WY) together took 40 votes on senior issues. Only 2 votes could be considered pro-retiree," said Robert Roach, Jr., President of the Alliance. "We clearly need changes in our leadership in Washington."

Forty members of the U.S. Senate achieved perfect scores of 100 percent in 2016, while another 12 received zeroes. In the U.S. House of Representatives, 176 members received perfect scores of 100 percent in 2016 while 233 received scores of zero.

Among the House of Representatives leadership -- including Speaker Paul Ryan (WI), Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA), and Majority Whip Steve Scalise (LA) -- none cast even a single pro-retiree vote. Similarly former Rep. Tom Price (GA) scored 0% last year before becoming Secretary of Health and Human Services. Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney (SC) also scored 0% before joining the White House.

"The Voting Record shows how committed each member of Congress is to the needs of older Americans," President Roach said. "It helps us to know who is, and isn't, on our side."

See the report: