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:


Five Months Later, the State’s Unemployment System is Still Broken for Many Texans

The state’s unemployment insurance system was woefully unprepared when the COVID-fueled economic crisis hit in March. Months later, unemployed Texans are still struggling to get—and keep—their benefits.

In March, after losing her job with Rolfson Oil, Laura Orozco filed for unemployment. Her claim was denied. The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), which administers the state’s unemployment insurance system, said that based on the agency’s formula, she hadn’t earned … Read More

UNITED STATES - JULY 1: Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, looks on, as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., makes a statement during the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing titled "The End of One Country, Two Systems?: Implications of Beijing's National Security Law in Hong Kong," Rayburn Building on Wednesday, July 1, 2020. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)
Texas Politics

Joaquin Castro Says He’ll Champion Progressive Foreign Policy

The representative from San Antonio is vying to become the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

San Antonio U.S. Representative Joaquin Castro is vying to become chair of one of the most powerful committees in Washington: the House Foreign Affairs Committee. But to do so, he’ll have to overcome the centrist and pro-military forces in the … Read More

An illustration of COVID molecules and a field of oil rigs.

From Boom to Bloodbath

The Permian Basin’s shale revolution is over and renewable energy is surging. What does that mean for Texas’ future?

From Boom to Bloodbath The Permian Basin’s shale revolution is over and renewable energy is surging. What does that mean for Texas’ future? By Justin Miller July 27, 2020  For the past three years, Josh Thomas labored away on … Read More

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate MJ Hegar speaks to supporters during her election night party in Austin, Texas, Tuesday, March 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Texas Legislature

Historic Runoff Turnout Sets Stage for Texas Democrats in 2020’s ‘Biggest Battleground’

MJ Hegar won a contested Senate runoff and Democrats broke their record for runoff turnout as nearly 1 million voters cast ballots.

The Texas primaries in March feel like a lifetime ago. Soon after Super Tuesday, the coronavirus pandemic spread across the country and ground political campaigns to a halt. Governor Greg Abbott delayed the runoff elections by two months while state … Read More

State Senator Royce West responds to questions during a broadcast interview after announcing his bid to run for the US Senate during a rally in Dallas, Monday, July 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Texas Politics

Amid a National Reckoning Over Racial Injustice, Royce West Seeks to Upset MJ Hegar—and the DSCC

Texas’ Democratic Senate runoff to face John Cornyn has taken on new political significance as a Black state senator vies to defeat the national party’s favored candidate.

Texas Democratic Senate candidate Royce West was fed up. In the final days of early voting for the runoff election, frontrunner MJ Hegar put out a new ad in which she says that Texans will “stand together against the systemic … Read More

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott gives an update on the COVID-19 outbreak at the Texas Department of Public Safety warehouse facility in Austin, Texas, Monday, April 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Abbott Puts Cabal of His Billionaire Donors, Industry Lobbyists in Charge of Restarting Texas’ Economy

The governor’s ‘strike force’ is composed of some of the most powerful moguls in the Lone Star State. In a time of pandemic, critics say it’s reckless pay-to-play politics.

Even as it’s still far from clear whether Texas has seen the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Greg Abbott is gearing up to restart the state’s economy. On Friday afternoon, he announced the creation of the “Strike Force to … Read More

Texas Politics

‘I’m in Limbo Here’: Texans Are Met with an Overwhelmed and Antiquated State Unemployment System

The safety net meant to support the second largest workforce in the country is using decades-old technology. The workforce agency was trying to replace it when the pandemic hit.

Four months ago, Alan Chastain moved from Louisiana to the Houston area for a promising new job as a sales representative at a sign company. By late March, Chastain had been let go. It wasn’t a shock; as the coronavirus … Read More

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, center, gives an update on the coronavirus, Friday, March 13, 2020, in Austin, Texas. Abbott declared a state of disaster Friday as the coronavirus pandemic spread to all of the state's biggest cities. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Texas Politics

A ‘Stay-at-Home’ Order by Any Other Name

At a time when clear and decisive action is paramount, Governor Greg Abbott has delayed, deferred, and equivocated, likely costing lives.

Twenty-six days after an elderly Fort Bend man became the first presumptive positive case of COVID-19 in Texas, Governor Greg Abbott convened a press conference at the Capitol. It was the last day of March, and Texas’ official case count … Read More

In this Oct. 22, 2018, file photo, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick speaks during a campaign rally in Houston. Patrick has been called away from his duties overseeing the opening of the state's legislative session for a meeting at the White House. Patrick headed Donald Trump's 2016 campaign in Texas and his trip to Washington comes as the president prepares to address the nation on the partial government shutdown sparked by a fight over funding for a U.S.-Mexico border wall. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
Texas Politics

Texas Republicans’ Pandemic Performance Is True to Form

Dan Patrick performs for Fox News; Greg Abbott dithers; and John Cornyn defiantly refuses to log off.

On Monday evening, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick went on Fox News with Tucker Carlson and issued a call for the American economy to ramp back up in the very near-term, even if it means exposing vulnerable members of society, namely … Read More