Republicans, Democrats make purple statement

AUSTIN, Texas—Feel-good terms like “civil discourse,” “good will,” and “bipartisan” weren’t exactly on the tips of lawmakers’ tongues two years ago, but they sure are now.

And in an unusual display of unity, just about all of the 41 new members of the Texas House have been wearing purple—a combination of Republican red and Democratic blue—every Thursday to help get them into the spirit of bipartisan harmony. These “purple Thursdays” have even started to catch on among more senior members and legislative staffers.

“While we are going to disagree on policy, the way the system works best is when Democrats and Republicans can work together,” said Rep. Ron Simmons, R-Carrollton, who came up with the idea of purple Thursdays. “One of my goals is to try to promote civil discourse.”

Nearly two months into the 83rd session, only the debate on House Bill 10, the Medicaid IOU bill that authorizes $4.5 billion to pay for the amount lawmakers left unfunded last session, has offered any chance for a political throw-down. But the measure passed unanimously after Republican leaders pledged to address Democrats’ concerns about restoring some of the $5.4 billion that was cut from education last session.


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