News: Obama Lawsuit, Minimum Wage, UAW

HOUSE LAWSUIT AGAINST OBAMA

Obama & Boehner - So Sue MeSpeaker of the House John Boehner initiates lawsuit against Pres. Obama: “Here’s the complete text of the letter Speaker John A. Boehner sent Wednesday to House members, regarding his decision to initiate a lawsuit on behalf of the House against President Barack Obama over the administration’s use of executive actions. — (Read complete text at =>) Roll Call 6/25/14

Obama to Republicans: “So sue me”: “President Barack Obama dared Republicans to follow through on their threats to bring a lawsuit against his administration over his use of executive action.

“Middle-class families can’t wait for Republicans in Congress to do stuff. So sue me,” Obama said Tuesday at an event in Washington.” — CNN Politics 7/1/14

Boehner: Why we must sue Obama: “Every member of Congress swore an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. So did President Barack Obama.

“But too often over the past five years, the President has circumvented the American people and their elected representatives through executive action …”

“That’s why, later this month, we will bring legislation to the House floor that would authorize the House of Representatives to file suit in an effort to compel President Obama to follow his oath of office and faithfully execute the laws of our country.

“The President’s response: “So sue me.”CNN Opinion 7/7/14

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MINIMUM WAGE

States that raised their minimum wage experiencing faster job growth: “Think a higher minimum wage is a job killer? Think again: TheMinimum Wage states that raised their minimum wages on January 1 have seen higher employment growth since then than the states that kept theirs at the same rate.

“The minimum wage went up in 13 states — Arizona, Connecticut, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington …”

“[A]ll but one of those states are experiencing increases in employment, and nine of them have seen growth above the median rate.” — Think Progress 7/3/14

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UAW AND VOLKSWAGEN

UAW logoUAW is back in Chattanooga, Tennessee: The UAW today announced the formation of UAW Local 42, a new local union providing representation for employees at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga.

“Organized by Volkswagen employees, Local 42 offers workers the opportunity for a voice in the workplace through the German automaker’s “works council” approach to employee engagement. Volkswagen’s business model is premised on employee representation, and Local 42 will represent any interested employees who join the local as members. No employees will be required to join.”UAW News 7/10/14

Why Volkswagen agreed to UAW local in Chattanooga: “In a move that’s unusual but not unprecedented, the United Auto Workers union has sidestepped its loss in a worker vote in February and created a local union to represent workers at the Volkswagen plant in Tennessee.

“And what’s surprising, considering decades of fierce anti-union efforts from the other foreign transplant automakers in the South, this time the union had the tacit approval of Volkswagen itself.”USA Today 7/11/14

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Supreme Court Decisions

               SUPREME COURT RULES IN FAVOR OF HOBBY LOBBY AGAINST OBAMACARE

Supreme Court Justices

Supreme Court rules against Obamacare contraception mandate: “A sharply divided Supreme Court on Monday ruled that “closely held” for-profit corporations cannot be forced to abide by Obamacare’s mandate to cover contraception for female employees in their insurance plans at no extra cost.

“The decision is a major victory for Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood, two businesses with Christian owners which sued for relief from having to cover emergency contraceptives like Ella and Plan B due to their religious beliefs. The ruling is narrower than it could have been” — Talking Points Memo 6/30/14

Supreme Court sides with employers over birth control mandate: “The Supreme Court struck down a key part of President Obama’s health-care law Monday, ruling that family-owned businesses do not have to offer their employees contraceptive coverage that conflicts with the owners’ religious beliefs.

“The decision deeply split the court, not only on its holding that the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) protects some businesses from offering contraceptive coverage but also on how broadly the ruling will apply to other challenges in which businesses say laws impose on their religious beliefs.”Washington Post 6/30/14

Supreme Court BuildingSCOTUS sides with Hobby Lobby: “Obamacare’s contraception mandate infringes on religious liberty and must be waived for some business owners, the Supreme Court said in a 5-4 ruling Monday. 

“Certain employers cannot be forced to include contraception in their health care plans if doing so would violate their religious beliefs, the Court said. The justices did not strike down the birth-control mandate altogether, but their decision will weaken the policy’s reach.

“Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito said the decision applied only to closely held corporations, like the two firms that filed this challenge.”National Journal 6/30/14

Boston Women protest SCOTUS decision

Meet the companies and institutions you should avoid after Hobby Lobby: “It’s not just Hobby Lobby. There are one hundred cases that have been filed for the right to discriminate against women’s healthcare. NOW calls them the “Dirty 100″.

“Here they are in all of their infamy: The following is a list of plaintiffs in the 100 cases that have been filed in opposition to the birth control mandate in the Affordable Care Act, as provided by the National Organization for Women.” PoliticusUSA 7/1/14

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News: Food Stamps, Labor Unions, Gay Rights

FOOD STAMPS

NY State EBT CardCongress passes $8.7 billion food stamp cut: “It’s official: 850,000 households across the country are set to lose an average of $90 per month in food stamp benefits.

“The Senate on Tuesday voted 68-32 to send the 2014 Farm Bill – which includes an $8.7 billion cut to food stamps – to President Obama’s desk. Nine Democrats opposed the bill, and 46 members of the Democratic caucus voted for it, joining 22 Republicans.

“The House passed the law by a similarly commanding margin last Wednesday. After the House vote, White House press secretary Jay Carney made clear that the president would sign off on the legislation.”MSNBC 2/4/14

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LABOR UNIONS

Unions claim lawmakers deprived workers of their rights UAW logoby interfering with Volkswagen vote: “On Friday, the United Auto Workers (UAW) union filed an appeal with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) of a recent vote to unionize in a Volkswagen (VW) plant in Tennessee, claiming a “firestorm of interference from politicians and special interest groups” interfered and made it impossible to have a free election.

“The week before, workers narrowly defeated an attempt to unionize the plant in Chattanooga, which would have also led to the creation of the first-ever works council in an American plant, a formalized structure for employers to share information with workers and for workers to give feedback on workplace safety and productivity. The failed vote came as somewhat of a surprise, given that VW had vowed to remain neutral and organizers believed a majority of workers supported the idea of a union.

“But it also came after strong statements from some Tennessee lawmakers against the campaign to organize.”Think Progress 2/24/14

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GLBT RIGHTS

Rainbow Flag

Exposing the Christian Right’s new strategy for reversing progress on Gay Rights: “With LGBT rights activists winning court victories in state after state, the Christian Right has opened a new battlefield in the nation’s cultural war, and they’re leaving nothing behind in their effort to enact Jim Crow-era laws against gay Americans.”

“… Republican lawmakers have pushed a slew of bills under the guise of “religious freedom.” This means businesses or individuals would be granted not only the right to deny services or employment to LGBT American[s], but also immunity against prosecution for discrimination.”AlterNet 2/21/14

The “Religious Liberty” bill fight continues in Georgia and other states: “With a defeat in Kansas and now a defeat in Arizona, the “religious liberty” movement gets set for Battleground: Georgia, with other states soon to follow, including Missouri, Mississippi, and Oklahoma.”

“Jim Crow hits the nail on the head. As Ian Millhiser wrote the other day on ThinkProgress, “religious liberty” was once “used to justify racism instead of homophobia.”” — PoliticusUSA 2/28/14

Antigay laws gain global attention: “After Uganda criminalized homosexuality, the White House immediately warned that the law would “complicate” the country’s relationship with Washington, and the Netherlands and Norway cut off bits of development aid.”

“The issue of gay rights has catapulted up the diplomatic agenda in recent years, as international organizations have extended rights protections to gays and lesbians and donor nations have faced new challenges in dealing with governments that discriminate.”New York Times 3/1/14

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Legal Marijuana In the U.S.

Here is a brief look at what has happened so far this year since two states in the U.S. — Washington and Colorado — legalized the sale and regulation of marijuana.

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Legalize It pot leaf

World’s first state-licensed marijuana retailers open doors in Colorado: “The world’s first state-licensed marijuana retailers legally permitted to sell pot for recreational use opened for business in Colorado on Wednesday with long lines of customers, marking a new chapter in America’s drug culture.

“Roughly three dozen former medical marijuana dispensaries newly cleared by state regulators to sell pot to consumers interested in nothing more than its mind- and mood-altering properties began welcoming customers as early as 8 a.m.”

“Hundreds of patrons, some from distant states and many huddling outside in the bitter cold and snow for hours, cued up to be among the first buyers.”Yahoo News 1/1/14

Rethinking Pot The First Sales

Legal Weed Sales Bring Long Lines To Colorado: “Long lines and blustery winter weather greeted Colorado marijuana shoppers testing the nation’s first legal recreational pot shops Wednesday.”

“The world was watching as Colorado unveiled the modern world’s first fully legal marijuana industry — no doctor’s note required (as in 18 states and Washington, D.C.) and no unregulated production of the drug (as in the Netherlands). Uruguay has fully legalized pot but hasn’t yet set up its system.

“Colorado had 24 shops open Wednesday, most of them in Denver, and aside from long lines and sporadic reports of shoppers cited for smoking pot in public, there were few problems.”Talking Points Memo 1/2/14

Marijuana Leaf6 Things You Should Know About Buying Pot In Colorado: “January 1 marked a high point for Colorado’s Amendment 64 — the first day recreational marijuana businesses can legally operate in the state. A little more than a year after Colorado passed its ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana, individuals can for the first time sell, produce, and purchase marijuana legally, even without a doctor’s prescription. But to both those eager to light up and those fearful of the consequences, it is worth remembering that there remain more restrictions on the marijuana industry than there are allowances, which proponents hope will better control the health and safety of the industry. With Colorado’s law, federal law, and local law all affecting regulation, here are some key facts about Wednesday’s roll-out:”AlterNet 1/1/14

See History Being Made: 6 Scenes of Americans Buying Marijuana Leaf KaleidoscopeMarijuana on 1st Day of Legalization: “It’s been one mighty historic week of legal marijuana business transactions in Colorado to begin the New Year.

Smell the Truth‘s fearless leader David Downs reported live from all the snow and festivities, bringing words and pictures throughout New Years day, while also managing to enjoy bushel upon bushel of legal ganja. Here are a few of the images he grabbed of the opening madness that started the morning of January 1 at 8 a.m.” — AlterNet 1/2/14

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News Mix

RIGHT-WING GROUPS

Shadow MenSocial Conservatives make big money plans: On a recent snowy day in the Washington suburb of Tysons Corner in Northern Virginia, some of the religious right’s wealthiest backers and top operatives gathered at the Ritz-Carlton to plot their entry into the conservative civil war.

“Their plan: take a page out of the playbooks of Karl Rove and the Koch brothers by raising millions of dollars, coordinating their political spending and assiduously courting megadonors.”

“It’s all geared toward elevating the place of social issues like abortion and gay marriage in conservative politics. They’ve been largely relegated to the sidelines as the business wing of the GOP establishment wages a bitter and expensive struggle against the tea party for the soul of the Republican Party.”POLITICO 1/2/14

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UNEMPLOYMENT

10 Reasons why long-term unemployment is a national Unemployed worker with signcatastrophe: “Unemployment is bad. Obviously long-term unemployment is worse. But it’s not just a little worse, it’s horrifically worse. As a companion to our eight charts that describe the problem, here are the top ten reasons why long-term unemployment is such a national catastrophe:

1. It’s way higher than it’s ever been before. When the headline unemployment rate peaked in 2010, it was actually a bit lower than the peak during the 1980 recession and only a point higher than the 1973 recession. As bad as it was, it was something we’d faced before. But the long-term unemployment rate is a whole different story. It peaked at a rate nearly double the worst we’d ever seen in the past, and it’s been coming down only slowly ever since.” — Read more at => Mother Jones 12/23/13

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MINIMUM WAGE

Minimum WageSeattle will raise minimum wage to $15.00: “Just three days on the job, Seattle’s new mayor Ed Murray, announced plans to raise the minimum wage for city workers.

“Today I will issue an executive order directing my department heads to develop a comprehensive strategy to implementing a $15 minimum wage in the City of Seattle for city employees,” Murray said in a news conference Friday morning.”

“Getting a $15/hr minimum wage for all of Seattle is going to take longer, but it is going to happen or be put to the voters.”Daily Kos 1/3/14

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PARTY AFFILIATION

Record high number of Americans identify as Republicans vs. Democratsindependents: “Forty-two percent of Americans, on average, identified as political independents in 2013, the highest Gallup has measured since it began conducting interviews by telephone 25 years ago. Meanwhile, Republican identification fell to 25%, the lowest over that time span. At 31%, Democratic identification is unchanged from the last four years but down from 36% in 2008.”

“Americans’ increasing shift to independent status has come more at the expense of the Republican Party than the Democratic Party. Republican identification peaked at 34% in 2004, the year George W. Bush won a second term in office. Since then, it has fallen nine percentage points, with most of that decline coming during Bush’s troubled second term.”Gallup 1/8/14

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News: Marijuana Policy, Jobs and Unemployment

MARIJUANA POLICY

Marijuana Leaf Kaleidoscope

2013: The Year In Review – NORML’s Top 10 Events That Shaped Marijuana Policy:

#1 Public Support For Legalizing Marijuana Hits Historic Highs: An unprecedented 58 percent of Americans believe that marijuana ought to be “made legal” for adult consumption, according to survey data reported in October by Gallup. The percentage is the highest level of support ever recorded by Gallup, which has been inquiring on the issue since 1969, and marks a ten percent increase in voter approval since 2012. Regional polls conducted this year in several states, including California, Louisiana, and Texas, also reported majority support for legalization.

#2 Nation Of Uruguay Passes Legislation Regulating Cannabis Use: Lawmakers in the South American nation of Uruguay enacted legislation authorizing the licensed production and retail sale of cannabis to all citizens age 18 and older. Residents will be able to legally purchase up to 40 grams of cannabis per month from state-licensed stores at a price of $1 per gram. Uruguay is the first country in modern history to officially legalize and regulate the licensed production and retail sale of cannabis.

#3 Feds Pledge Not To Interfere In State-Licensed Retail Sales Of Cannabis: Deputy Attorney General James Cole issued a three-page memorandum in August affirming that the US Justice Department will allow Colorado and Washington to move forward with statewide efforts to license and regulate the adult marijuana market. Cole later reaffirmed the agency’s position in testimony before the US Senate, stating, “We will not … seek to preempt state ballot initiatives.”

Read the rest of the list here => NORML 12/26/13

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JOBS AND UNEMPLOYMENT

Jobless March

Older Americans Are Getting Booted from Their Jobs and Denied New Opportunities: In every corner of America, millions of people are terrified of losing their jobs and falling into financial ruin. Men and women with impressive professional achievements and credentials are being let go, nudged out and pushed aside. They are pounding the pavement and scouring the job sites, but find themselves turned away even for the most basic retail jobs. Not because they aren’t competent. Not because they lack skills. But simply because they have a gray hair or two.

“This is not just a story of people in their 60s or 70s. Workers as young as 50 are shocked to find themselves suddenly tossed onto the employment rubbish heap, just when they felt on top of their game. They’re feeling stressed, angry and betrayed by a society which has benefited greatly from their contributions.”AlterNet — 12/22/13

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News Bag

GUN RIGHTS

No GunsGun advocates upset over NFL’s rejection of assault rifle ad: “A year after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, America’s gun nuts are in a major tizzy over what may be the biggest and most unlikely victory for sane firearms policy in 2013: the National Football League’s rejection of an assault rifle TV ad in the upcoming Super Bowl. “AlterNet 12/6/13

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UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE

Vermont approves Single-Payer health care: “The Patient Protection & Affordable Care ActAffordable Care Act continues to plow ahead, despite Republican attempts to fight it at every turn.”

“The biggest downside of the ACA is the reliance on the private insurance industry.  It does not have to be this way, however.  There is yet another provision in the Affordable Care Act that can open the door for states to institute their own single-payer healthcare system.”

“The ACA provided states with federal funds to institute a Medicaid expansion. The states [that] chose to expand the program also were able to set up their own state exchanges, which were relatively free from the problems the federal site had. Vermont decided to take it a step further by setting up their very own single payer system.”Truthout 12/7/13

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LEGAL MARIJUANA

Marijuana LeafUruguay: Lawmakers authorize marijuana production and sales: “Members of the Uruguay Senate approved legislation this week authorizing the licensed production and retail sale of cannabis to all citizens age 18 and older. Members of Uruguay’s House had previously approved the measure months earlier. The bill now goes to President José Mujica, who intends to sign the measure into law in the coming days.

“Once adopted, Uruguay will be the first nation in modern history to regulate the licensed production and sale of cannabis.

“This is an attempt to bring an end to the illegal drugs trade by identifying the market and bringing it into the light of day,” said President Mujica in a statement.”NORML 12/12/13

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News Mix

LETICIA VAN DE PUTTE RUNS FOR TEXAS LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR

Leticia Van de Putte announcement

Van de Putte joins race for Lt. Governor: “Long rumored to be a contender, state Sen. Leticia Van De Putte has now made it official: She is running for lieutenant governor.

“I want to be your lieutenant governor because Mama ain’t happy — because Texas, we can do better,” Van de Putte said in a roughly 25-minute speech Saturday that touched heavily on the importance of family in her life.”Texas Tribune 11/23/13

Leticia Van de Putte Declares For Texas Lt. Governor

More on Leticia Van de Putte: Texas blogger Charles Kuffner has a roundup of articles about State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte and her announcement to run for Texas Lt. Governor on the Democratic ticket joining State Sen. Wendy Davis, the candidate for Governor => Off the Kuff 11/26/13

Wendy & Leticia It's A New Day For Texas

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SUPREME COURT RULES ON OBAMACARE

Supreme Court dismisses challenge to Obamacare Supreme Court Buildingmandate: “The last, great hope of Republicans to see Obamacare killed outright is officially dead. They haven’t been able to repeal it. They ran a presidential campaign on ending it, and were overwhelmingly rejected. The Supreme Court decided not to overturn the entire law once already, and has now dismissed the last big case challenging the underpinnings of the law.”

“They’re not going to kill it outright. They’re officially out of opportunities. They’re out of time legislatively, since they’re going on the long recess on December 13. They’ll have to change strategies now, because after January 1 repeal means taking people’s insurance away, something even most Republicans will recognize isn’t politically smart.  So now it’s going to be more efforts to chip away, to refuse to allow any fixes, to create as many obstacles as possible at the state level for implementation.”Daily Kos 12/2/13

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News Roundup

ENDA

Senate passes Employment Non-Discrimination Act: “The Rainbow FlagSenate passed a historic piece of gay rights legislation Thursday that would ban workplace discrimination against gay and transgender employees, another milestone victory for a gay rights movement that has been gaining favor in the courts and electoral politics.

“The 64 to 32 vote to approve the Employment Non-Discrimination Act marked the first time federal lawmakers had approved legislation to advance gay rights since repealing the military’s ban on gay men and lesbians in uniform in late 2010.”Washington Post 11/7/13

“The Senate on Thursday approved the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in a tempered win for gay rights advocates who still need a reluctant, GOP-controlled House to take up and pass the bill.

“In a bipartisan vote, 64 senators supported the ENDA legislation, championed in the Senate by Democrat Jeff Merkley of Oregon. The bill, if it were to become law, would set a federal non-discrimination standard to ensure that private employers cannot fire employees based on their sexual orientation or identity.”Roll Call 11/7/13

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NEW WORLD TRADE CENTER TOWER

110813wtc38CS

New World Trade Center Tower is finally beaming: “Lower Manhattan residents were awestruck Friday night as the bright lights atop 1 World Trade Center were switched on in a test for the first time.”

“The Port Authority said the glow can be seen for up to 50 miles.” – New York Post 11/9/13

Official One World Trade Center Time-Lapse 2004-2013

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Wendy Davis Files For Texas Governor

WENDY DAVIS OFFICIALLY FILES FOR TEXAS GOVERNOR

Wendy Davis For Governor website

Democratic State Sen. Wendy Davis makes it official – Files paperwork for Texas Governor: “The leading candidates for Texas governor made it official Saturday, submitting the required paperwork and fees to compete in their respective primaries, giving pep talks to volunteers and laying out a couple of key attack lines a year ahead of their expected general election showdown.

Sen. Wendy Davis signing paperwork for Texas Governor

Sen. Wendy Davis signing paperwork for Texas Governor

“Democratic State Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth went first, signing her application …”

“Davis, elected to the state Senate in 2008 after serving on the Fort Worth city council, rose to fame after temporarily derailing a restrictive abortion law with an 11-hour filibuster this summer. Republicans passed the measure, known as House Bill 2, in a subsequent special session.”Texas Tribune 11/9/13

Wendy Davis re-defines “Pro-life”, enrages anti-choicers: “The right-wing blog world is erupting again at Wendy Davis.

“The state senator first became the focus of conservatives’ burning scorn for her 11-hour filibuster of the bill that is responsible for abortion providers now going out of business across Texas.

“Now that she’s declared she is running for governor of the Lone Star State, the Harvard Law-educated Davis has done it again.

“I am pro-life,” she told a University of Texas at Brownsville crowd on Tuesday.” – National Memo 11/6/13

Wendy Davis I Am Pro-Life

“Wendy Davis hinted at how she’ll handle the issue of abortion on the campaign trail in the conservative Lone Star State.

“The Democratic candidate for Texas governor declared, “I am pro-life,” suggesting her stance on women’s reproductive rights doesn’t mean she doesn’t care about people or life itself.

“I care about the life of every child: every child that goes to bed hungry, every child that goes to bed without a proper education, every child that goes to bed without being able to be a part of the Texas dream, every woman and man who worry about their children’s future and their ability to provide for that future,” Davis said, according to The Dallas Morning News. “I care about life and I have a record of fighting for people above all else.” MSNBC 11/7/13

Leticia Van de Putte websiteDemocratic State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte will announce plans to run for Texas Lt. Governor with Wendy Davis: State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, on Friday took another step toward entering the race for lieutenant governor, a campaign that would make her fellow Sen. Wendy Davis’ running mate.

“That means two women would top the Democratic Party’s ticket next year in the 2014 general election, a first for Texas.

“In an email to supporters, the veteran Texas lawmaker said she will make a formal announcement about her political future on Nov. 23 at San Antonio College.”

“A Davis-Van de Putte ticket for the Democrats would bring together two senators who made headlines in June during a 13-hour filibuster by Davis to stop a controversial, GOP-supported bill to restrict abortion services. As Republicans moved to cut off Davis’ long-running speech, Van de Putte challenged their authority to do so with remarks that went viral online with women’s rights groups:

“Dewhurst declined to recognize her to speak, and Van de Putte then said: “At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?”

“A public gallery packed mostly with opponents of the bill then jumped to their feet, shouting and yelling and creating pandemonium that left senators unable to complete their last-minute vote on the bill. Though the midnight deadline passed and the bill died, it was approved in a subsequent special legislative session.” Statesman 11/15/13

Texas State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte brings the gallery to their feet with her now-famous remarks during Wendy Davis’s marathon filibuster:

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