Sam DeGrave

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

By Sam DeGrave:

Border

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

Traffic Ticketing Program That Feeds Debtors’ Prison Pipeline May Be in its Final Year

To repeal the Driver Responsibility Program, lawmakers are proposing to increase all Texas traffic fines by $20.

Since 2003, an obscure Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) program has trapped more than a million Texans in a cycle of debt, opponents say. For nearly as long, lawmakers critical of the program have sought to repeal it. This … 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

Economy

Two House Democrats Vote for Legislation that Would Eliminate Billions from Future State Budgets

Democrats have few ideas for how to replace the missing revenue, even as they complain about the tight budget.

Two Democrats in the Texas House have joined the apparently bipartisan crusade to kill one of Texas’ main sources of tax revenue, potentially wringing billions from a state budget that is already in fiscal straits. With the help of Democratic … Read More

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