Justin Miller

Justin Miller is the politics reporter for the Observer. He previously covered politics and policy for The American Prospect in Washington, D.C., and has also written for The Intercept, The New Republic and In These Times. Follow him on Twitter or email him at [email protected].

By Justin Miller:

Politics

Governor Abbott’s Sales Tax Ploy Diverts from the Real Problem: Huge Tax Breaks for Corporations

The Big Three’s proposed sales tax hike obscures the real culprit behind the state’s broken property tax system: corporate plunder.

Homeowners are getting smothered by skyrocketing property tax bills. Republicans would have you believe this is because big cities and school districts are led by spend-happy liberal bureaucrats. In fact, the state government has let highly profitable corporations off the … Read More

local control
Politics

Progressives Scramble to Fight Back Against Texas Republicans’ Attacks on Local Control

From capping property taxes to banning paid sick leave ordinances, GOP lawmakers want to stomp out liberal policies in cities across the state. A progressive network is going on the offensive.

There hasn’t been a steady stream of protests at the Capitol and no lawmakers have called ICE on activists (yet) this session. In fact, the Legislature is on the verge of actually increasing funding for public schools. But one thing … Read More

Politics

‘Democracy at its Best’: Texas Regulators Approve Gig Economy Rule Written by Unregistered Lobbyists

With more questions than answers about the gig economy giant Handy’s role in lobbying for a labor rule, state commissioners ignored concerns and voted to approve the rule instead.

A couple dozen workers and activists stood outside the Texas Workforce Commission’s office at the Capitol complex Tuesday morning holding signs, including one reading, “Ruth Hughs got caught with her Handy in the Cookie Jar.” The sign was a reference … Read More

Politics

Handy Wanted to Disrupt Texas Labor Laws. It May Have Also Disrupted Texas Lobbying Laws.

After reporting from the Observer, two Texas lobbyists updated years of disclosures that show they had worked for Handy, “the Uber for Home Services,” to change state labor regulations.

by Justin Miller April 3, 2019 Silicon Valley startups fancy themselves bold disruptors of the status quo. As the mantra goes: Move fast and break things. But for Handy, a company vying to become the “Uber for home services,” that … Read More

texas city, school safety, guns
Education

‘The Wolf is in the Henhouse’

A former Secret Service agent pledges to do whatever it takes to secure schools in Texas City ISD — and he couldn’t care less what you think.

by Justin Miller March 25, 2019 – When Texas City Independent School District Superintendent Rodney Cavness heard about the shooting at Santa Fe High School on the morning of May 18, he sped the 30 minutes down the road to … Read More

Economy

How Silicon Valley Lobbyists Secretly Pushed Texas Regulators to Rewrite the Rules of the Gig Economy

Documents show that lobbyists for Handy.com dictated a rule to the Texas Workforce Commission that would give legal shelter to gig economy companies who don’t want to treat workers like employees.

In December, seemingly out of nowhere, the Texas Workforce Commission tentatively approved a new rule that looked like a favor to giant on-demand companies such as Uber. Labor advocates suspected that some shadowy Silicon Valley behemoth was pulling the strings. … Read More

third ward
Politics

How Trump’s Tax Cuts Could Accelerate Gentrification and Inequality in Houston

Tucked inside Trump’s 2017 tax cuts is a tax break for real-estate investors worth $1.5 billion. Critics say it could become a gentrification accelerant.

Once a crown jewel of Black Houston, the Third Ward is no longer affordable for many longtime homeowners and tenants. High-end townhomes have subsumed many parts of the historically African-American neighborhood just east of downtown. From 2000 to 2013, median … Read More

Politics

Why is Beto Running for President, Exactly?

In the national spotlight, O’Rourke’s ideological amorphousness could prove to be too great a liability. Or it could be his biggest strength.

Four months since Election Day 2018, Beto O’Rourke’s much-hyped announcement that he’s running for president begs the question of, “Why?” As we all know, O’Rourke narrowly lost to Ted Cruz. But in doing so, he accumulated envious amounts of political … Read More

Education

‘We’re Not Stupid’: Texas Teachers Take on Dan Patrick and the Legislature over Dismal Education Funding

After years of cuts and attacks, educators are on the offensive this legislative session. But will lawmakers do enough, and what will teachers do if they don’t?

In 2018, teachers led a wave of strikes and walkouts in red states around the country, demanding not just better pay but more public school funding after years of cuts — and for the most part, they got it. And while … Read More

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