State of Texas: Castro’s exit, guns in church, and stopping surprise bills


AUSTIN (Nexstar) – “It simply isn’t our time.” With those words in a video posted on Twitter, Julián Castro announced his exit from the 2020 race for president.

The former mayor of San Antonio could not earn enough support in the polls or in his fundraising to stay in the race.

But in the last days of his campaign, Castro began to criticize the way Democrats select their presidential nominee. He talked about how the early focus on states like Iowa and New Hampshire hurts candidates of color.

After he dropped out, other candidates in the field praised Castro for speaking out. Some of the remaining candidates may be looking for a boost from his supporters in Texas.

“I think he could be most helpful as a surrogate here in Texas,” said Patrick Svitek, political correspondent for the Texas Tribune. Svitek pointed out that several state lawmakers had endorsed Castro. Those endorsements could help other candidates in the fast-approaching March primary.

“Knowing state lawmakers and being able to get those endorsements… is helpful in terms of networking and setting up the infrastructure that you need to ramp up quickly in Texas,” explained Svitek.

Praise for guns in church

A shooting in north Texas is bringing new debate over guns in church. Video from the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement shows a man pull out a shotgun and kill two people in the congregation. Within seconds, Jack Wilson, an armed, trained security volunteer shot and killed the gunman.

Wilson and other armed volunteers at the church are being praised for saving several lives. But some Texas lawmakers are also getting credit. That’s because of a new state law that made it legal for those volunteers to carry guns in church.

State Senator Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) authored the bill that passed last session. It gives churches the option whether to allow people to carry guns inside. She says the White Settlement shooting shows why the law is necessary.

“It’s smart to have a security detail,” Campbell said. “But if they don’t have a security detail but they do allow carry in church, then there is at least some good guys with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun.”

Limits to law preventing surprise bills

On January first, a new Texas law took effect to protect patients from surprise medical bills.

“Consumers were fed up and legislators were fed up,” said Stacey Pogue of the Center for Public Policy Priorities about the new law.

Surprise bills can come in situations where people don’t get to choose their doctor, like in an emergency. “You get these bills with prices that are much higher than what you’d pay in network,” Pogue explained.

But the new Texas law does not help everyone. It only applies to Texans with state-regulated health care plans. Change for people covered by large employer-sponsored plans or Medicare must come from lawmakers in Washington.

“Until we get federal action, there are about 9-million Texans who will have no protection,” said Congressman Lloyd Doggett. The Austin Democrat is trying to build support for a bi-partisan bill in Congress.

“It’s designed to ensure the patient doesn’t get trapped between an insurance company and a healthcare provider and get hit with a big bill,” Doggett said of the legislation.

Both Republicans and Democrats have voiced support for measures to end surprise bills. But Doggett says it has not been easy to reach an agreement.

“The biggest hurdle are the powerful lobby groups in Washington who devote millions of dollars to advertising and significant contributions political campaigns of people in both political parties,” Doggett said. “I hope we can overcome that.”

Yancey challenges Cornyn in GOP primary

Sen. John Cornyn has support from President Donald Trump and the Republican Party establishment. He’s the clear favorite in the March primary. But he still faces challengers for the nomination.

Dallas businessman Mark Yancey is one of four Republicans challenging Cornyn for the nomination. Yancey has spent 33 years in the private sector and says his business perspective would make him a good leader in Washington.

“I’ve created hundreds of well-paying jobs,” Yancey said. “I want to take that same concept to Washington.”

Yancey has no experience in government. He sees that as a good thing, saying the current system in Washington is broken.

“It is so politically charged, nothing’s being accomplished up there, and we think John Cornyn is a big part of that,” Yancey said. “Something needs to change.”

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