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EDITORIAL All Fear, No Foresight 111 he first week of May was a discouraging one for democracy in Texas. The Texas House pushed three bills that fly in the face of the historical moment in which the state finds itself. In doing so, the GOP leadership revealed a partisanship that puts the maintenance of political power above the interests of the state. The demographic changes underway in Texas are undeniable and irreversible. In only a few decades, Texas will be majority Latino. Recent immigrants from Mexico will make up much of the new majority. Given this reality, one would think that state leaders would proactively be doing everything they could to bring minorities and immigrants into the mainstream as quickly as possible. The very future of the state depends on it. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. On May 3rd, the House passed House Bill 1706 by Rep. Mary Denny \(Rto produce as many as three forms of identification before casting a ballot. No longer would a valid voter registration card do. The bill’s sponsor tried to justify the legislation as a reaction to voter fraud but could not produce any evidence that widespread fraud is occurring. In a moment of candor during the debate on the bill, Denny admitted that the bill would only make it harder for certain people to vote. The comment fueled charges by Democrats that the true goal of the bill is to disenfranchise minorities and the elderlyconstituencies on which the Ds depend. The day before, a more raw version of the leadership’s attitude toward immigrants was on display in the House Law Enforcement Committee. Members heard House Bill 327 by Rep. Tony state from accepting identity documents from a foreign consulate for the purpose of obtaining a Texas drivers’ license. In his opening statement, Goolsby painted a dire picture of illegal immigrants swarming across the border every day, many coming from “countries that are hostile to America.” “The influx of illegal immigrants into Texas has put a strain on our state’s finances through education, health care, and generally the economy,” said Goolsby. One person testifying in favor of the bill from a group called Citizens for Immigration Reform railed against “third-world unskilled illegals” that “should never be given the rights that the name American confers.” Another blamed illegal immigrants for “all the problems of society.” Never mind that more documentation will facilitate law enforcement’s ability to track immigrants and thus increase safety or that easier access to drivers’ licenses will ensure that more people are covered by auto insurance. Lost on those who want to shut immigrants out are the value, both economic and cultural, that immigrants have brought and will continue to bring to Texas and the nation. In addition to restricting the ability vote, Denny also played an important role as Chairwoman of the Elections Committee in killing an ethics bill on May 2 that would help stop specialinterest cash from contaminating Texas elections. In 2002, Denny directly benefited from the corporate-backed campaign spearheaded by the Tom DeLayinspired Texans for a Republican Majortigation by two Travis County grand juries. Despite a century-old recognition that corporate cash can corrupt the democratic process, the House leadership refuses to forgo its use. Is this the best Texas can do: A democratic system closed to recent immigrants and elderly voters, but open to corporate influence? Fortunately, Democratic senators have indicated that they plan to block Denny’s bill. And then there are those grand juries… JB THE TEXAS OBSERVER I VOLUME 97, NO. 10 I A Journal of Free Voices Since 1954 Founding Editor Ronnie Dugger Executive Editor Jake Bernstein Editor Barbara Belejack Associate Editor Dave Mann Publisher Charlotte McCann Circulation Manager Lara George Art Direction Buds Design Kitchen Poetry Editor Naomi Shihab Nye Copy Editors Roxanne Bogucka, Laurie Baker Webmaster Adrian Ouesada Editorial Interns Kris Bronstad, Megan Giller, Star Silva, Forrest Wilder Lege Interns Elayne Mae Esterline, Monica Gutierrez, Chris Mahon, Lauren Reinlie, Jonathan York Contributing Writers Nate Blakeslee, Gabriela Bocagrande, Robert Bryce, Michael Erard, James K. Galbraith, Dagoberto Gilb, Steven G. Kellman, Lucius Lomax, James McWilliams, Char Miller, Debbie Nathan, Karen Olsson, John Ross, Andrew Wheat Staff Photographers Alan Pogue, Jana Birchum Contributing Artists Sam Hurt, Kevin Kreneck, Michael Krone, Gary Oliver, Doug Potter, Penny Van Horn Editorial Advisory Board David Anderson, Chandler Davidson, Dave Denison, Sissy Farenthold, John Kenneth Galbraith, Lawrence Goodwyn, Jim Hightower, Kaye Northcott, Susan Reid Texas Democracy Foundation Board Lou Dubose, Molly Ivins, D’Ann Johnson, Jim Marston, Gilberto Ocarias, Bernard Rapoport, Geoffrey Rips, Sharron Rush In Memoriam Bob Eckhardt, 1913-2001, Cliff Olofson,1931-1995 The Texas Observer \(ISSN 0040copyrighted 2005, is published biweekly except every three weeks during January and August \(24 issues dation, 307 West 7th Street, Austin, E-mail World Wide Web DownHome page . Periodicals Postage paid at Austin, TX and at additional mailing offices. Subscriptions One year $32, two years $59, three years $84. Full-time students $18 per year; add $13 per year for foreign subs. Back issues $3 prepaid. Airmail, foreign, group, and bulk rates on request. Microfilm available from University Microfilms Intl., 300 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Indexes The Texas Observer is indexed in Access: The Supplementary Index to Periodicals; Texas Index and, for the years 1954 through 1981, The Texas Observer Index. POSTMASTER Send address changes to: The Texas Observer, 307 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. The Books & the Culture section is partially funded through grants from the City of Austin under the auspices of the Austin Arts Commission and the Writer’s League of Texas, both in cooperation with the Texas Commission on the Arts. MAY 13, 2005 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3