Vicky Camarillo

Vicky Camarillo is a legislative fellow at the Texas Observer and a master's candidate in the journalism program at the University of Texas at Austin.

Criminal Justice

Texas Legislature Considers Bills to Break the Cycle of Debtor’s Prison

“It turns out that when you give someone reasonable financial demands, they actually try to meet the commitment instead of ignoring it as unpayable.”

The vicious cycle started in 2013, when a law enforcement officer in Bell County pulled over Anthony Lofton, now 62, for a faulty tail light. The officer found that Lofton was driving with a suspended license and had no car … Read More

Confederate Soldiers
Texas Legislature

Republicans Push Back Against Making Election Day a Texas Holiday

Citing lost productivity, GOP lawmakers pounced on a bill that would make voting a little easier for state employees.

Confederate Heroes Day, honoring the likes of Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee, has been a state holiday in Texas since 1973. But during a House Committee on State Affairs hearing on Wednesday, two Republican lawmakers chafed at a proposal … Read More

Criminal Justice

Third Time’s The Charm? Marijuana Decriminalization Gets Another Chance in Texas

The first marijuana reform bill heard in committee this session would downgrade possession of an ounce to a civil offense and a fine up to $250.

Police chiefs from Plano, North Richland Hills and Grand Prairie told a Texas House committee on Monday that marijuana is a dangerous gateway drug that leads to violent crime. In the same hearing, David Sloane, a 60-year-old criminal defense attorney … Read More

Health Care

The ‘Fetal Heartbeat’ Bill Has 57 Authors. All but 3 of them Are Men.

Even two of the state’s largest anti-abortion groups have stopped short of endorsing House Bill 1500 because of its glaring constitutional problems.

In a legislative session so far characterized by a focus on school finance and property tax cuts, growing support for a controversial abortion bill is threatening to disrupt the relative harmony among lawmakers. Fifty-six House Republicans have signed onto a … Read More


The Border Debate is Changing at the Capitol. With Newfound Influence, Can Democrats Go Beyond Playing Defense?

With more than a dozen new Democrats in the Legislature, opponents of Trump’s wall and the state’s long-running border surge want to focus on facts, not warped rhetoric.

In between singing Texas’ economic praises and listing his emergency items for this legislative session, Governor Greg Abbott named another pet priority during his State of the State address last week: fully funding security at the Texas-Mexico border, to the … Read More