Month: June 2013

Rule One: Follow the Rules

Rules matter. In the legislative process rules can decide whether a bill lives or dies – as they did this week with a high-profile bill attacking women’s health, Senate Bill 5. More broadly, however, legislative rules provide structure for a chaotic process and establish certain expectations for how the legislative process will proceed. In other words, the rules create a (somewhat) fair playing field within which all legislators must function. When any lawmaker breaks the rules, his or her colleague may correct the violation with a parliamentary maneuver known as a “point of order.” Traditionally, the rules have worked...

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Reforming Redistricting

Only an hour after a fairly friendly and bipartisan Texas legislative session ended, Governor Rick Perry called lawmakers back together to debate one of the most partisan and polarizing issues facing the legislature: redistricting. The redistricting process, through which legislators redraw the state’s political boundaries in order to ensure elected officials represent the same number of constituents as his or her colleagues, is understandably contentious. The party that controls redistricting essentially controls the outcome of elections by defining which politicians will represent which voters. Through redistricting, lawmakers are able to move political boundaries around to fit their needs, lumping...

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A Fight for Health and Education: The Real Brazil Protests

On Monday Brazilians took to the streets for another night of protests against government corruption and poor services. São Paulo, Brasilia and Rio de Janiero have been sites of protests and some violent police reactions over the past week. Headlines in the United States have described the protests as a fight against a 10-cent increase in bus fares. Anyone present in Brazil can attest that there is way more at play than just small change. Since I arrived in Rio a week ago, I have been surrounded by Confederations Cup and World Cup hype, as well as concerned cariocas...

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Quick Jump