Today the Texas House and Senate Democratic Caucuses held a joint press conference, where we proposed real solutions for all Texans led by House Caucus Chair Chris Turner and Senate Democratic Caucus Chair José Rodríguez .
Below are the bills Texas Democrats are filing to better the lives of Texans, pictures from the press conference, the Texas House Democratic Caucus’ press release, and one pagers on our real solutions for Texans.
Texas House & Senate Democrats Propose Real Solutions for All Texans
Democratic Focus: Our Kids, Our Economy, Our Health and Our Communities
House & Senate Democrats: Special Session Should be About Real Solutions, not Misplaced Priorities
(Austin, TX) — Today, House and Senate Democrats called on Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and the Legislature to focus on real solutions to the challenges facing Texas in the special session that begins tomorrow.
During an afternoon press conference, members of the House and Senate Democratic Caucuses unveiled proposals aimed at fixing our broken school finance system, increasing access to healthcare, improving the economy and strengthening communities.
“Dan Patrick and Greg Abbott spend too much time focusing on topics like the job-killing bathroom bill, rather than focusing on more important issues,” said Representative Chris Turner, Chair of the House Democratic Caucus. “If we are going to have a costly special session, Democrats in the House and Senate believe we ought to use it get some real work done. So today, we are here to propose some real solutions to the problems facing Texans, in contrast to the dangerous and divisive policies proposed by the governor and lieutenant governor.”
“Texans expect us to focus on the real needs of our constituents, starting with reducing property taxes by funding education. Wasting taxpayer dollars on an unnecessary and divisive extra session that only benefits some leaders’ positions in the next primary and does little to help Texas families is anything but conservative,” said Senator José Rodríguez, Chair of the Texas Senate Democratic Caucus.
Chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus Senator José Rodríguez and other members of the Texas House and Senate Democratic Caucuses at the press conference this afternoon.
Chair of the House Democratic Caucus Representative Chris Turner and other members of the Texas House and Senate Democratic Caucuses at the press conference this afternoon.
- HJR 18 by Rep. Donna Howard and SJR 6 by Senator José Rodríguez: would allow voters to approve a constitutional amendment requiring the state pay at least 50% of the cost to educate our young Texans
- HB 64 by Rep. Richard Raymond and SB 35 by Senator Borris Miles: would appropriate $1 billion from the economic stabilization fund (Rainy Day Fund) for teacher pay increases
- HB 104 by Rep. Senfronia Thompson: would ensure that women are paid equal to men for their equal work
- HB 105 by Rep. Senfronia Thompson: would increase the state’s minimum wage
- HB 51 by Rep. Shawn Thierry and HB 59 by Rep. Armando Walle: would extend the Maternal Mortality Task Force, which performs vital functions needed to study why Texas’ maternal mortality rate is the highest in the developed world
- HB 102 by Rep. Garnet Coleman and SB 44 by Senator Rodríguez: would guarantee coverage for the screening and treatment of postpartum depression to any mom whose baby is enrolled in CHIP
- HB 142 by Rep. Jessica Farrar: would extend Medicaid coverage to one year after giving birth
- HB 112 by Rep. Armando Walle and SB 27 by Senator Borris Miles: would automatically enroll eligible women in Healthy Texas Women, ensuring continuity of care
- HB 53 by Rep. Ramon Romero: would repeal the harmful “show me your papers” law, which is opposed by law enforcement across our state
- Raise the Age by Rep. Harold Dutton: would increase the age of criminal responsibility from 17 to 18, to prevent children from being placed in the adult criminal justice system
- HB 66 by Rep. Ina Minjarez: would make sure Texans are automatically registered to vote when they get a driver’s license
- SB 36 by Senator José Rodríguez and legislation by Rep. Celia Israel: would expand voting by mail, while protecting the integrity of our elections
Real Solutions for All Texans: Our Community
Texas House Democrats want to make Texas safer and stronger through criminal justice reforms and increased civic engagement.
We Know the Problem, and We Have the Solution
Where civic engagement counts the most – criminal justice and elections reform – there are common-sense solutions to the problems we face. We need policies to reduce recidivism, expand voting access, and strengthen community trust. These types of community-focused ideas improve our democracy by bringing safety, security, and certainty to how we work together as neighbors and fellow Texans.
Our Policy Solution: Restore Trust in Our Communities and Our Elections
There are many examples of how to strengthen our communities. For example, “Raise the Age” legislation would keep kids out of adult jails, helping reduce recidivism rates while ensuring teenagers are safe from exposure to the dangers found in older adult prisons. The passage of SB 4, the misguided “show me your papers” law, has done nothing to keep our communities safer. This law has only helped to tear communities apart, which is why House Democrats support a repeal of this harmful policy. On election reform, House Democrats support measures which would allow for online voter registration, let more Texans vote by mail, and ensure we have more places to vote so there are shorter voting lines on Election Day.
We Need Legislation that Emphasizes Democracy, Not Discrimination
Instead of pursuing these common-sense reforms, Governor Abbott and the state of Texas will be in federal courts all summer, defending discriminatory policies on sanctuary cities, photo ID, and redistricting. We need to stop going down a dangerous path of division and discrimination that weakens our bonds as Texans.
By the numbers:
- 20,000 – Number of 17-year olds arrested in Texas each year
- 49th – Texas’ rank, nationally, in voter turnout in the 2016 election
- 6 – number of federal court rulings finding that Texas’ photo ID and redistricting rulings intentionally discriminated
Real Solutions for All Texans: Our Economy
Texas House Democrats fight to strengthen the Texas economy for all Texans.
We Know the Problem, and We Have the Solution
A strong economy is what gives Texans the freedom and opportunity to succeed. Texans need more money in their pocket and that should be our focus — not divisive, partisan social issues that will hurt, not help, our state’s economy.
The best return on investment will come from investing in the people of Texas. We can avoid the political distractions, but only if statewide officials like Governor Abbott and Lt. Governor Patrick can demonstrate they know how to lead.
Our Policy Solution: Better Wages and More Money in Every Texans’ Pockets
There are a number of critical solutions the Texas Legislature can and must pursue that can turn our state’s economy around and attract businesses and high-skilled workers alike. Raising the minimum wage, enacting robust equal pay policies, and pushing for paid family leave are three popular, common-sense ideas that will put more money directly into the pocketbooks of hard-working Texans.
We Need Legislation That Puts Texans First, Not Damaging Social Distractions
The call for the special session does not contain a single pro-jobs item on the agenda. Without action, Texas will continue to fall behind other large states like California when it comes to issues like unemployment, wage growth, and overall economic strength. For Governor Abbott, regulating bathrooms and controlling how cities manage 100-year old trees are more pressing issues than job creation and supporting a strong economy.
Real Solutions for All Texans: Our Health
Texas House Democrats fight to expand access to health care and lower maternal mortality rates.
We know the problem, and we have the solution.
Every Texan deserves access to quality, affordable health insurance. Despite progress under the Affordable Care Act, Texas still leads the nation in the number of uninsured Texans. Until we expand coverage, Texans will suffer – especially Texas mothers who face real health challenges and risks after giving birth.
A state-backed task force found that between 2011 and 2012, the maternal mortality rate in Texas nearly doubled. Texas’ maternal mortality rates are the worst in the country and higher than any developed nation in the world.
One Policy Solution: Increase Coverage for Women Who Recently Gave Birth
State Representatives Armando Walle and Shawn Thierry filed legislation during the 85th Regular Session that would put into place maternal mortality task force recommendations. For example, current Texas law kicks women off health care two months after they give birth. Legislation proposed by these House Democrats would allow women to keep their coverage for a full year, expanding care in a way that directly confronts the crisis.
We Need Legislation That Gets the Job Done, Not Another Task Force
Governor Abbott said he wants legislators to revisit and renew Texas’ Maternal Mortality Task Force. His decision to only renew a task force is weak leadership. We don’t need to keep studying the problem, we need to fix the problem.
By the Numbers:
- 2011-2012: maternal mortality rate in Texas nearly doubled
- 189 – Texas mothers who died within a year of giving birth (2011-2012)
- 29% – Percent of deaths of African American women in Texas, though they only account for 11 percent of births
Real Solutions for All Texans: Our Kids
Texas House Democrats fight to improve public education funding and create real property tax relief for all Texans.
We Know the Problem, and We Have the Solution
Texas kids deserve a quality public education. Democrats and many Republicans in the Texas House agree that our school finance system is broken and is failing our kids. We also agree that if we invest in our kids, we can create a better and brighter future for all Texans.
Increased funding will help us attract and retain high quality teachers, keep classroom sizes low, and make sure our entire community can support public education and long-term opportunities for Texas children.
Our Policy Solution: Increase the State’s Share of Education Funding
State Representative Donna Howard filed HJR 47 in the 85th Regular session. Her bill would put before Texas voters a constitutional amendment raising the state’s share of public education to 50%. The bill provides a vehicle for Texas voters to clearly tell Texas elected officials that the clearest and simplest way to lower property taxes is to increase the state’s investment in public education.
Invest in Classrooms, Not Bathrooms
Our focus should be on classrooms, not bathrooms. We don’t need studies and rollback elections to tackle school finance – we need to increase the state’s share of funding. Unless and until Governor Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Patrick realize this most basic public policy reality, our state will suffer.
By the numbers:
- 5,400,000 – Number of children attending Texas public schools
- 1,200 – Number of Texas public school districts
- 37% – Texas’ share of public education funding in the 2018-2019 budget