In Remembrance of Ms. Sandra Bland / Special Session Preview: Annexation Reform / Redistricting Update/ ACA Repeal Effects on Mental Health

In Remembrance of Ms. Sandra Bland

Thursday, July 13, 2017 marked two years since Ms. Sandra Bland’s tragic death in the Waller County jail. Representative Garnet F. Coleman released the following statement:

“I want to thank the family of Ms. Sandra Bland—Ms. Geneva Reed-Veal, Ms. Sharon Cooper, Ms. Shavon Bland, and Ms. Shante Needham—for their sacrifice to bring justice to their family member, Ms. Sandra Bland, and to protect Texans. Their bravery deserves high praise. We will continue to work on criminal justice reform. Ms. Sandra Bland and her family deserve no less.”

#SayHerName

Click here to view the official press statement.


SPECIAL SESSION PREVIEW

Over the past few weeks, we have been going in-depth on issues that are on the special session agenda. The Texas Legislature will come back on July 18th for a special session to address issues that are important to Lieutenant Governor Patrick and his far-right base. This special session could have been avoided, but Lt. Governor Patrick refused to act on the sunset bill.

Click here for our coverage on revenue caps and local control.
Click here for our coverage on the Maternal Mortality Task Force.
Click here for our coverage on women’s health care.

 

SPECIAL SESSION PREVIEW:
ANNEXATION REFORM

A bill was filed during the regular session regarding the annexation process for municipalities that would have changed how cities annex land within their extraterritorial jurisdiction. The proposed legislation would make it more difficult for cities to annex property.  Without approval from half of those property owners, the annexation process would fail.

Annexation is a valuable tool for city planners and state annexation rules are already complex and limit how much property cities may annex. Holding an election costs money and could create a financial burden. In 1999, the Texas Legislature passed legislation mandating that cities had to submit an annexation plan at least three years before they absorbed a new area.

I voted against this legislation during the regular session. This is another needless attack on local control when we need to address real issues like school finance reform and the sunset bill.

Click here to read more on this issue.


Redistricting Update

As reported by Houston Public Media, the week-long trial on Texas’ court-drawn state House and congressional maps will conclude on Saturday. Groups have argued for six years that the Republican-dominated Legislature in 2011 intentionally discriminated against Latino and black voters in redrawing the state’s House and congressional maps.

In spring of this year, a panel of federal judges ruled lawmakers did discriminate in map drawing, but those maps never actually took effect. Instead, the same judges created temporary maps before the 2012 elections, and the Legislature adopted them in 2013.

If the judges find the state intentionally discriminated minority voters, the ruling could place Texas’ election laws back under the federal government’s watch—and the San Antonio court has previously ruled in a way that’s raised that possibility. More immediately, the state’s largest argument—that it can’t be knocked for following the court’s wisdom and adopting its temporary maps—would be weakened.

Click here to read more coverage from the Texas Tribune.


    Photo: Texas Politics Project


Federal Health Care Update

On Thursday, U.S. GOP Senators unveiled yet another federal health care plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

In the new plan, known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), insurance companies will be able to offer cheaper plans, but at the expense of not covering things like maternity care, mental health care, and other essential health benefits (EHBs) required under the ACA.

To pass, 50 of the 52 GOP Senators need to vote in favor of the health care plan. Some U.S. GOP senators are still not on board, so the fate of the health care repeal is still uncertain. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) will release their report on Monday that will outline the cost of the health care plan and determine its effects on Americans. It is reported U.S. GOP senators will attempt to vote on a “Motion to Proceed” the following day.

Under the last version of the BCRA, it was estimated 22 million Americans would lose insurance by 2026 and make deep, permanent Medicaid that will affect Texas children, pregnant women, seniors, and people with disabilities. It would strip consumer protections for pre-existing conditions and essential benefits, cut billions of dollars from health care to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy, and will increase premiums and deductibles for many Americans, particularly those over age 40.


NAMI: Effects of Repealing the ACA on Mental Health Care

On July 13, 2017, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) released the following statement regarding the threat mental health care faces under the U.S. GOP health care plan:

“NAMI is deeply disappointed that the revised Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), released today retains provisions that impose significant barriers to treatment and services for people with mental illness.  The BCRA contains severe cuts to Medicaid benefits that would threaten access to critical mental health services millions of Americans rely on to lead healthy and productive lives.

Medicaid is the largest funding source for public mental health services in our nation.One-third of people covered by Medicaid expansion lives with a mental health or substance use condition.Medicaid also covers 1.75 million American veterans – nearly 1 in 10 of the veteran population – who rely on this coverage for primary and mental health care.

The BCRA will further worsen the mental health crises communities across the country are currently facing in homelessness, suicides, emergency room boarding and burdens on law enforcement.

Rather than moving forward with a bill that threatens to destabilize our nation’s already struggling mental health system, NAMI urges Senators to reject the revised BCRA and to focus instead on small group and individual insurance market reforms needed in many states.  This will ensure that Americans will receive the mental health care they need to lead healthy and productive lives.

Please call your U.S. Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz and ask them to vote NO on the GOP health care plan. Sen. Cornyn:
(202) 224-2934 in Washington D.C.
(713) 572-3337 in Houston
Fax: (202) 224-5220
Click here to email Senator Cornyn.

Sen. Cruz:
(202) 224-5922 in Washington D.C.
(713) 718-3057 in Houston
Fax: (202) 228-0755 in Washington D.C.
Click here to email Senator Cruz.


The Texas Legislature is convening next week in Austin for a special session. Our song of the week is Wiz Khalifa’s “See You Again.”

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