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Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Texas Matters: Senate Passes Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

Late last night, the Texas Senate finally passed House Bill 950, a state version of the federal Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. TX State Rep. Senfronia Thompson photo RepSenfroniaThompson_zps8bbb0ebc.jpg Authored by Democratic state Rep. Senfronia Thompson (HD-141), who has served for four decades and is a force to be reckoned with, HB 950

clarifies that pay discrimination claims based on “sex, race, national origin, age, religion and disability” accrue whenever an employee receives a discriminatory paycheck. Under the measure, a 180-day statute of limitations for filing an equal-pay lawsuit resets with each new discriminatory paycheck.

The bill passed after two Republicans weakened amended it:

One change to the bill, made by state Sen. Robert Deuell, R-Greenville, would limit the equal protection rights to wages, and not to benefits or other compensation. Another change came from state Sen. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock, and it would require that the act apply only to claims that occur on or after the law takes effect in September.

Every Democratic legislator in the House and the Senate voted for HB 950, but many Republican lawmakers did not. Unfortunately, it wasn’t just Republican men who voted against equal pay for Texas women. Katherine Haenschen at the Burnt Orange Report sums up the situation:

What’s most appalling to me is the number of Republican women who voted against letting other women address gender-based pay discrimination. Jane Nelson, Joan Huffman, Cindy Burkett, Stefani Carter, Angie Chen Button, Myra Crownover, Marsha Farney, Susan King, Stephanie Klick, Lois Kolkhorst, Jodie Laubenberg, and Geanie Morrison — what the heck is wrong with you?! Do you really not recognize that women are paid less than men? Have y’all had such rarefied or willfully ignorant experiences that you don’t realize the need for this legislation? (I don’t understand the pathology of women who vote Republican anyways, but this seems like an extra dose of Stockholm syndrome here.)

When conservative Republican men can vote for this bill — whether for craven political reasons or out of a genuine concern for economic fairness, on some levels it matters not, seeing as the bill passed — and a bunch of professional, successful women serving in our Legislature cannot, these women need to reevaluate their decision-making criteria.

Equal Work Deserves Equal Pay! photo equalpaysign_zps12c10cec.jpg

Here’s a fact that should have gotten the attention of more Texas GOP lawmakers, especially the women. Based on reports in the 2012 Census, Texas women outvoted men by approximately 625,000.

Selected Voter Turnout Data for Texas (in thousands)

Texas (Citizen) Total Citizen Population Percent Registered Percent Voted

Now obviously not all women vote for Democrats, but State Senator Wendy Davis (SD-10) was re-elected in 2012 in part because of a gender turnout gap that had women in her district outvoting men at a greater level than in Texas overall.

When HB 950 gets to his desk, Republican Governor Rick Perry should not be afraid to sign this bill. After all, businesses get to decide whether or not to pay all of their employees fairly:

“Employers who are doing the right thing and treating women fairly don’t view this bill as a threat,” said state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, who sponsored the bill in the Senate. “Equal pay decisions should be made in the CEO’s office rather than a courtroom.”

And regarding the Republican women who voted against equal pay for equal work, many working women and those who care about them might be inclined, as Haenschen at the BOR was, to recall former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s saying:

“I think there is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”

Battleground Texas logo photo BattlegroundTexaslogo_zps8a701385.jpg

The first step is to register more voters in Texas. With only 66.9 percent registered, there’s plenty of room to grow. In Texas, those who want to help to register voters are required to attend Volunteer Deputy Voter Registrar training. Battleground Texas is actively working to schedule VDVR training in counties all around the state.

In addition, they have already held a voter registration drive in Austin as well as phone banks in Austin, Lubbock and Midland. Get involved.

Texas Democratic Party
Comal County Democratic Party
Dallas County Democratic Party
Harris County Democratic Party
Travis County Democratic Party
Battleground Texas
Burnt Orange Report
Equality Texas
Progress Texas
Texas Kaos
Texas Redistricting & Election Law
Who represents me? (Texas)

Cross-posted from Orange.


  1. Texas GOP Introduced At Least 24 Anti-Abortion Bills This Year, But Not A Single One Advanced

    Over the past several years, Texas lawmakers have kept themselves busy by launching multiple attacks on women’s health. In 2011 and 2012, state officials slashed family planning funding, repeatedly attacked Planned Parenthood, and enacted stringent abortion restrictions. Not so this session.

    As the San Antonio Express-News reports, every single anti-abortion bill proposed in Texas this year was successfully blocked before it reached the House or Senate floor. Of course, that wasn’t for lack of trying – altogether, anti-choice lawmakers introduced at least 24 different measures to restrict Texas women’s reproductive rights. Some of those bills even had the backing of key leaders in the state, like Gov. Rick Perry (R) and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R). But Democratic members of the state legislature pushed back, and won.

    “Democrats stuck together very well this session and made strong arguments and strong advocacy on behalf of a woman’s right to choose,” state Sen. Kirk Watson (D), the head of Texas’ Democratic caucus, told the Express-News.

    Big smiles here. Women’s issues are a BHD because women vote.

  2. I thought the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was a federal law which changed the way the statute of limitations was calculated. Does your new law, which we hope gets signed, cover state courts where the federal law covered federal courts? Isn’t pay discrimination a federal issue?

    I am not a lawyer so I hope you can explain it.

  3. The president’s new Support The Voter commission was announced and will work on ways to help people to vote, I hope to make it easier to cast a vote.

    I also found this while poking around looking for information on a post I am working on about voting: Report on 2012 Voter Turnout.

    Turnout in Texas was 50.1%. Out of 7.8 million voters, 3.3 million voted to reelect President Obama. If you assume that the 4.5 million Romney voters are not going to flip to Democrats, that still leaves you around 7 million potential voters who did not cast a ballot in 2012. Let’s target them  and find 1.2 million who want to vote for a better life.

    It is time to start thinking about what we are going to do for 2014 and beyond and it starts with finding us some voters who we don’t have to first deprogram before we can present our ideas to them.  

  4. wordsinthewind

    did a good job holding the line on redistricting this session especially in light of what they were offerred as inducement to undermine our long term goals. That worked for the Rs in the 2012 negotiations, self-serving Dems threw everyone else under the bus and we got districts that were unfair and everyone knew it when they were finalized for the elections. Good thing the Rs didn’t succeed in making those permanant and did actually recognize the D C court’s ruling that the plan they drew up was discriminatory by intent and so the Lege couldn’t get away with that. We’ll see how SCOTUS rules on Sec 5 VRA this summer. Everyone is waiting to see if Texas is going to be burdened with Constitutional requirements.  

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