Ending Maternal Mortality/TX Dems Push for Real Solutions/MALC Press Conference/Halftime in the Special Session/Flush SB3/Federal ACA Repeal Fails

Ending Maternal Mortality in Texas

Last week, I filed House Bill 102 to expand CHIP and Medicaid services from 60 days to a year after giving birth, and to include screening and treatment for postpartum depression (PPD). A report by Texans Care for Children shows that PPD affects approximately one in six new mothers in Texas and approximately half of all cases of PPD go undetected and undiagnosed. Increased access to screening and treatment for PPD is critical because a healthy mom equals a healthy baby.

I filed this bill during the regular session as well, where it was well received. My bill was awarded Bill of the Week by the Austin Chronicle, alongside my colleagues Representatives Sarah Davis and Jessica Farrar who also filed bills addressing PPD in Texas.


Texas Democrats Urging Real Solutions During Special Session 

The Special Session called by Governor Abbott to address a right-wing agenda began last week and in response, the Texas House and Senate Democratic Caucuses held a joint press conference to propose real solutions for all Texans led by House Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner and Senate Democratic Caucus Chair José Rodríguez.

I am proud of the bills Texas Democrats are filing to better the lives of Texans, which you can read about below. More bills will be filed that will help all Texans.

OUR KIDS

  • 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

OUR ECONOMY

  • 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

OUR HEALTH

  • 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

OUR COMMUNITIES

  • 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

Chair of the House Democratic Caucus Representative Chris Turner and other members of the Texas House and Senate Democratic Caucuses at the press conference last Monday.

Chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus Senator José Rodríguez and other members of the Texas House and Senate Democratic Caucuses at the press conference last Monday.


Mexican American Legislative Caucus To Fight Against Discriminatory Legislation

 

Last Tuesday, the Mexican American Legislative Caucus (MALC), that I am a member of,  held a press conference led by MALC Chair Rafael Anchia.

We are dedicated to fighting against discriminatory legislation like the law banning sanctuary cities which has a dangerous “Show Me Your Papers” amendment attached to it.


MALC Chair Rafael Anchia and other members of the caucus at the press conference last Tuesday.


We’re Nearly Halfway There:
Sunset & Sine Die
 

On Tuesday, under the strong leadership of House Speaker Joe Straus, the Texas House passed the critical Sunset Bill. The Sunset Bill will extend operations for the Texas Medical Board, the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists, the Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists, the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors and the Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners that were all slated for closure without passage of this critical legislation.

Now the Sunset Bill needs to be approved by the other chamber.

You can read coverage from the Houston Chronicle here.


Flush the Bathroom Bill

As reported by the Texas Tribune here, on Tuesday, the Texas Senate advanced Senate Bill 3—the so-called “Bathroom Bill”—which would “restrict bathroom use in local government buildings and public schools based on the sex listed on a person’s birth certificate or DPS-issued ID, and gut parts of local nondiscrimination ordinances meant to allow transgender people to use public bathrooms of their choice.”

Last Friday, the Senate State Affairs Committee held its first public hearing on SB 3, where more than 200 people came to the Capitol to voice their opposition of this discriminatory bill. After 10 hours of emotional testimony—mostly in opposition—the Senate State Affairs Committee ultimately passed the measure 8-1. I do not support SB3 as it blatantly targets the transgender community. I will continue to champion the rights of those in the LGBT community rather than discriminate against them.

Those who support SB 3 are doing so under the guise of “safety” and in 2007, I passed legislation that actually did make public restrooms safer. My amendment strengthened House Bill 1804 that made it a state felony to record an individual in a bathroom or dressing room after a series of incidents involving criminals filming women in public restrooms and posting the content online.

Once again, I stand firmly against Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s discriminatory bathroom bill. I killed the bill during the regular session and will work with my Democratic colleagues to do so again. Below is last Friday’s press release from the Texas House Democratic Caucus with a statement from Chair Chris Turner on this discriminatory bill.

* * * * *

(NOT SO) SPECIAL SESSION – DAY 4: BATHROOM BILL 

While Senate Republicans focus on misplaced priorities that will cost our state billions, Texas House Democrats offer real solutions to help Texas workers

AUSTIN — State Representative Chris Turner, Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, released the following statement in reaction to today’s Texas Senate hearing on the bathroom bill:
“Under Governor Abbott and Lt. Governor Patrick, the Texas economy has dropped from #3 to #21 in the nation. But what do Abbott and Patrick want to talk about? Bathrooms. While Senate Republicans are wasting time on discriminatory and harmful policies, House Democrats believe we need an economic plan that helps Texans who work hard every day.” 

To help hardworking Texas families, Representative Senfronia Thompson has filed HB 104, which would guarantee equal pay for equal work, as well as HB 105, which would raise the minimum wage for the first time in eight years.  In contrast, the bathroom bill is estimated to cost the state of Texas $3.3 billion annually and 35,600 jobs.”

 * * * * *


Thank you to IBM for coming to Austin last week and speaking out against the discriminatory bathroom bill.


GOP Efforts to Repeal and Replace Affordable Care Act Fail Again

As reported by the New York Times here:

Around 1:30 this morning, the U.S. Senate GOP’s last-ditch effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) failed yet again when three GOP Senators voted against the “Skinny Repeal” plan, deemed the “Health Care Freedom Act”.

The three GOP Senators, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and John McCain of Arizona, cast the decisive vote to defeat the proposal. The 49-to-51 vote is a setback for the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who has spent the last three months trying to devise a repeal bill that could win support from members of his own caucus.

The “Skinny Repeal” plan that failed was unveiled only hours before the final vote and was far less than what the GOP initially proposed. The GOP bill would have:

  • Increased the number of people who are uninsured by 15 million next year compared with current law, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO)
  • Increased premiums for people buying insurance on their own by roughly 20 percent, according to the CBO
  • Ended the requirement that most people have health coverage, known as the individual mandate, without putting in place other incentives for people to obtain coverage—a situation that insurers say would leave them with a pool of sicker, costlier customers
  • Ended the requirement that large employers offer coverage to their workers
  • Cut off federal funds for Planned Parenthood for one year
  • Increased the limit on contributions to tax-favored health savings accounts
  • Made it much easier for states to waive federal requirements that health insurance plans provide consumers with a minimum set of benefits like maternity care and prescription drugs
  • Eliminated funds provided by the ACA for a wide range of prevention and public health programs

Thank you for calling your Senators and urging them to vote no on this dangerous bill that would have put our most vulnerable Americans in jeopardy. I will continue to keep you updated on this very important issue.

Click here to read the full New York Times article.


The special session is in full swing. Our song of the week is “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay” by Whitney Houston.

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