Thank you for Voting & Joint Hearing Announcement / ACA Update / Coronavirus Hearing and Info

THANK YOU FOR VOTING

& JOINT HEARING ANNOUNCEMENT

Thank you to everybody who voted, and congratulations to those who have advanced to the general election. I am humbled to have been re-elected by you. I will continue to fight for our values in Austin.

As many of you are aware there were extremely long wait times at the Texas Southern University (TSU) voting location on Election Day. Because of that yesterday, the Texas Legislative Study Group  (LSG) Caucus that I chair along with the Mexican American Legislative Caucus (MALC) and Texas Legislative Black Caucus (TLBC) announced we would be conducting a joint hearing on the issues facing Texas voters. Particularly those experienced at the polls during the March 3rd, 2020 Primary Election.

I also released the following statement:

The long lines that kept voters waiting till after midnight on Election Day to vote at Texas Southern University (TSU) in the district I represent is unacceptable. It may have been the worse at TSU but long lines that deterred people from voting was far from an isolated problem on Tuesday in Texas. 

That is why I’m glad MALC Chair Rep.Rafael Anchia reached out to TLBC Chair Rep. Harold Dutton and I as Chair of the LSG to work together on addressing this important issue before the general election in November. 

Additionally, the elimination of straight-ticket voting for the General Election will only make wait times worse in November. This bad public policy—that we three chairs along with many of our caucus members voted against in 2017—will go into affect for the first time this year.

I look forward to working with my fellow Chairs and the members of our caucuses to identify what is causing the delays, what solutions we as a state can implement before the general elections in November, and what Legislative action we need to take next session.


Update: Supreme Court to Take Up Challenge to ACA
Earlier this week the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) decided to take up another challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which is aptly named California v. Texas. This is the case lead by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, and was forum shopped here in Texas to an activist district judge looking to dismantle the ACA. That district judge ruled against the ACA a month before last session began. This prompted me to file House Bill 565 to codify ACA protections into state law and expand Mediciad in Texas. For more on my bill and the initial ruling click here.

Like many of his national Republican counterparts, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said in a Dallas Morning News story after the district court ruling that he would help formulate a healthcare plan to replace the ACA.  Yet, neither Abbott nor the Trump administration and his supporters in Congress have put forth a plan to replace the ACA. In contrast, despite different approaches, progressive presidential candidates have put forth clear plans to build upon the success of the ACA, and health care will be an important issue this year and in the next legislative session.

What’s at Stake
The ACA has been positive for Texas despite interference from the Trump administration:

  • The ACA helped lower the uninsured rate in from 22.1% to 16.6% from 2013-2016 according to CPPP.
  • The ACA helped lower the number of uninsured from 5.7 million to 4.5 million from 2013-2016 according to CPPP.
  • If Texas were to expand Medicaid, another 1.1 million Texans would be eligible for coverage, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
  • Many other provisions of the ACA, including protections for pre-existing conditions, allowing young adults to stay on their parent’s insurance until age 26, and eliminating out-of-pocket expenses for many preventive services have broad public support.

For a deeper dive into the benefits of Medicaid expansion please click here to read the LSG’s policy paper on Medicaid expansion.

SCOTUS will not hear the case until October 2020 and will likely rule well after the general election in the Spring of 2021. Whatever happens I will remain committed to working to expand affordable, quality healthcare coverage in Texas.

For Additional details on this case please read these news stories:


House Public Health Hearing on Coronavirus and Tips
This coming Tuesday, March 10th the House Committee on Public Health chaired by Representative Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) and, which I am the most senior member of will have a hearing at the Texas State Capitol regarding COVID‑19 commonly known as the Coronavirus and Texas’ preparedness for it. Please see below for details
TIME & DATE:
10:00 AM, Tuesday, March 10, 2020 

PLACE:
Texas State Capitol, Room E2.028, Austin, TX 78701

NOTICE OF ASSISTANCE AT PUBLIC MEETINGS

Persons with disabilities who plan to attend this meeting and who may need assistance, such as a sign language interpreter, are requested to contact Stacey Nicchio at (512) 463-0850, 72 hours prior to the meeting so that appropriate arrangements can be made.

As you are probably aware there is a suspected case of Coronavirus in the Houston area in Fort Bend County. There is no need to panic the Texas Department of Emergency Managment (TDEM) and Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) have been preparing for this for several weeks, and they have experince dealing with other infectious diseases like H1N1. You can help prevent the spread of the disease and keep your family healthy by:

  • Washing  your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow the CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask:
    • The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID‑19.
    • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID‑19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).

For more information on the disease please visit DSHS Coronavirus page by clicking here.

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