New Web Series Highlights Women in Texas Politics

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By Becky FogelFebruary 10, 2017 10:39 am

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The Dallas Morning News has launched a new interview series for the 85th legislative session. Brandi Grissom is their Austin Bureau Chief.

“’What She Said’ is a weekly Facebook live program that we’re doing here in the Dallas Morning News Austin Bureau” Grissom says. “It’s the lady reporters of the Austin Bureau.”

They’re talking to women in Texas politics about Texas politics.

“We’re talking with lawmakers, right now, making our rounds around the capitol,” she says. “Talking with senators and representatives from both parties, and we’ll probably also make our way to lobbyists and consultants and any other women in politics who wants to be on our show.”

Grissom and her team wanted to highlight what women in the legislature are working on, but when planning the show – the small number of female politicians was something they had to take into account.

“It would have been easier if we said it was a show for anybody, or men in particular because they’re so many of them to find,” she says. “We had to think about it if there would be enough female lawmakers for us to bring on the show to keep us going for the whole legislative session, we figured out there just barely are if everyone agrees, so that’s our mission is to get every single female lawmaker on by the end of the legislative session and we’ll see how that goes.”

Women only account for about 20 percent of all lawmakers in TexasAnd that, says Grissom, is another reason the Morning News wanted to launch “What She Said.”

“One of the reasons we wanted to do this is because there aren’t a lot of women in Texas politics and we wanted to talk to women about why that is, what is the challenge in terms of getting more women interested in and involved in civic life here,” Grissom says. 

So far, three women lawmakers have already been on: State Rep. Victoria Neave of Dallas, Rep. Sarah Davis of Houston, and Rep. Celia Israel of Austin. Next up is Sen. Donna Campbell.

The series is live on Facebook every Monday.

A new report from the Dallas Women’s Foundation finds 17 percent of all women and girls in Texas live in poverty.

The foundation is using the report to ask legislators to support more policies that help women.

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus has assigned members to about three dozen committees – and that means bills can start moving through the Texas legislature. Mark Jones is a political scientist at Rice University.

“Once again, we’re going to see a Texas House that’s dominated by the center-right, not by the right or by the left, with all the key leadership positions generally occupied by members of team Straus, who are in the center to centrist-conservative wing of the Texas Republican Party,” Jones says. 

On top of the 38 standing committees, Straus created two select ones: there’s now the Select Committee on State and Federal Power and Responsibility and the Select Committee on Texas Ports, Innovation, and Infrastructure.