Sam DeGrave

Sam DeGrave is a legislative fellow based out of Austin. Before moving to Texas, he worked as a reporter in Juneau, Alaska.

Photos: SB 4 Protesters Flood Capitol to Jump-Start ‘Summer of Resistance’

From an overnight mariachi-themed protest at the governor’s mansion to more than 1,000 protesters flooding the Capitol, here’s what the Observer saw at the start of the “summer of resistance.”

When Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 4 into law, opponents of the anti-immigrant “show your papers” legislation answered with a promise. Two days after the governor signed the bill — on a Sunday night over Facebook Live — lawmakers … Read More


Texas Republican Called ICE on SB 4 Protesters, Threatened to Shoot Colleague

The incident happened as more than 1,000 immigrant rights supporters flooded the Texas Capitol.

A Texas Republican threatened to “put a bullet in one of his colleague’s heads” during a scuffle on the House floor over the state’s new anti-‘sanctuary cities’ law on Monday, the final day of the regular legislative session. Representative Matt … Read More


3 A.M. ‘Sanctuary’ Protest at Governor Abbott’s Mansion Blares Mariachi Music

“You’ve disturbed our peace, so we’re disturbing yours,” one sign held by protesters read.

While most Texans slept early Sunday morning, dozens of opponents of the state’s new “sanctuary cities” law, including undocumented immigrants, protested loudly outside the governor’s mansion. At 3 a.m. Sunday, around 50 protesters met in front of the downtown Austin … Read More

LGBT Rights

Photos: They Fought the Lege (and the Lege Won)

The Observer recaps the efforts of those who challenged the Republican-controlled Legislature. Photos and reporting by Sam DeGrave As far as controversial sessions go, the 85th Texas Legislature probably won’t stand above all others, but it was certainly wild and … Read More

Human Rights

In Passing ‘Bathroom Bill,’ Joe Straus’ House ‘Rolled’ By Dan Patrick

“We are being rolled by the Senate, and trans children are part of that bargain,” said Representative Celia Israel.

In the final days of the 85th Texas Legislature, the House bent to the will of Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick by approving a version of the anti-transgender bathroom legislation that has drawn fierce opposition from civil rights advocates. With legislative … Read More

Criminal Justice

Sandra Bland Act Passes Senate Unanimously After Key Provisions Dropped

“I would’ve preferred a more robust bill, but I’m happy — I’m elated — that there is a bill,” said author Garnet Coleman, D-Houston.

The version of the Sandra Bland Act that unanimously passed the Texas Senate Thursday afternoon isn’t the uncompromising criminal justice overhaul it was once was. If it were, it likely wouldn’t have cleared the ultraconservative body at all, let alone … Read More

Human Rights

Overnight Hearing on House ‘Bathroom Bill’ Draws 95 Percent Opposition

Beginning at 11:40 p.m., lawmakers heard more than five hours of heartfelt testimony on HB 2899.

Lawmakers on the House State Affairs Committee didn’t begin considering the chamber’s so-called bathroom bill until nearly midnight Wednesday, after a marathon debate of other bills that lasted almost 12 hours on the House floor. For a high-profile meeting on … Read More