Happy Independence Day/ Right to Vote / COVID-19 resources

EARLY VOTING FOR PRIMARY RUNOFF ELECTIONS
Early Voting
Early Voting for the Primary Runoff Elections continues today July, 2nd, and will begin again after the holiday break on Sunday, July 5th. CLICK HERE TO FIND A POLLING LOCATION NEAR YOU. (no early voting on Friday, July 3rd and Saturday July 4th) I highly encourage you to vote early to avoid the long lines and crowded polling places on election day. When going to vote make sure you wear your mask at all times.

Endorsements
Please see below for my endorsements for the Democratic Primary Runoffs:

U.S. Senate:
Royce West

State Representative, District 142:
Harold V. Dutton, Jr.
State Representative, District 148:
Anna Eastman

THE RIGHT TO VOTE
As we celebrate Independence Day, we must not forget there is still a fight over the ability to vote. Republican leadership in Texas has made it more difficult for people of color to vote and be represented. They have drawn district lines to suppress the ability of people of color to choose candidates who represent them. They have passed discriminatory laws — like voter ID laws and the elimination of straight-ticket voting — that make it more difficult for people of color to vote. Most recently, they have made Texas one of only four states that have blocked efforts to allow expanded voting by mail during the pandemic.

I’m proud that I fought and voted against these laws that are aimed at suppressing the vote of people of color. During the last round of redistricting in 2011, I wrote a letter that you can read in its entirety here to the Justice Department to call attention to the redistricting plan that passed in the Texas House that suppressed the voices of people of color. In 2012, I testified in front of the federal D.C. district court urging the panel to reject the Texas electoral maps under the pre-clearance requirement of Article V of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). Before that case could be decided, the U.S. Supreme Court wrongly struck down the Article V pre-clearance requirement of the VRA in Shelby County v. Holder — making the 2012 case moot.

I also testified in front of the three-judge panel in San Antonio in 2014, describing how the maps as drawn discriminate against communities of color. The testimony given by me and others helped the judges determine that the Texas congressional map discriminated against minority voters. Regrettably, the Supreme Court ruled against us in 2018.

It took over 7 years to settle the Texas redistricting that started in 2011, and we will start the process again next session. However, it can be different this time. Texas Democrats have a real chance to take back the Texas House for the first time since 2001. With a Democratically controlled Texas House and Speaker, we can make sure that unfair maps are not rammed through the legislative process over the legitimate complaints that people of color are not being fairly represented.

Texas Democrats are also working through the court system to try to ensure that every Texan has the right to vote by mail. The federal case argues that under the 26th Amendment, everyone should have the right to vote by mail if voters over the age of 65 are able to do so already. In this federal case, the district court ruled that everyone can vote by mail, but then the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals stayed the district court’s decision, meaning that the lower court’s decision would not go into effect. The merits of the case are waiting to be heard by the 5th Circuit.  The Supreme Court has allowed the 5th Circuit Court’s stay order to stay in place, but by no means is this case close to being over.

The second case that has been decided was based on state law and what the term “disability” means in Texas’ vote by mail statute. Texas Democrats argued that because all voters lack immunity to COVID-19, there would be a significant risk to them voting in person, constituting a disability under this statute. The Texas Supreme Court — made up of nine Republican judges — disagreed and ruled that fear of contracting COVID-19 did not constitute a qualifying disability to vote by mail in Texas. This case illustrates another reason why we need to elect more Democrats to the Texas Legislature so we can pass laws that will allow everyone the right to safely vote.

For voting rights and so many more reasons, it is imperative to get out and vote in this election and in November to make sure we have strong leaders at the table who will make sure we are represented.


WORK SMART. WEAR A MASK

We are in the middle of a pandemic, with case numbers rising in Harris County, and all of Texas. That is why I agree with Judge Lina Hidalgo that even though we are not under a mandatory stay-at-home order we need to act like we are as much as possible to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Additionally,  wearing a mask is good for the economy. According to a recent study a national mandatory mask policy could save the U.S. Economy $1 Trillion dollars. Please stay safe this Fourth of July weekend.

This is especially true if you are part of the population who has a high risk for severe illness such as those 65 years and older, or who have an underlying health condition. If you do have to go out please practice good hygiene and public health safety measures when you do go out. Such as:

  • practice social distancing;
  • limit when you go out in public;
  • when you do go out wear a face mask; and
  • wash your hands and avoid touching your face.

There are people whose work requires them to go out to help us all stay safe, healthy, and fed. We can help those essential workers by staying home. If we work together, we can do our best to minimize the number of deaths by following the recommendations above and encouraging our friends and family to do the same.


COVID-19 RESOURCE UPDATES

As our community continues to work to slow the spread of the coronavirus, I wanted to make you aware of some of the resources out there to help you through this difficult time.

Summer Meals
From HISD: The Houston Independent School District will begin providing the Summer Meals Program for all children ages 1 to 18. This year, the meals will be distributed curbside to adhere to social distancing requirements.

Beginning June 1, families will be able to pick up boxed student meals twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays at one of 71 designated schools across the district. Each box will contain a day’s worth of meals, including breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack. Pick up sites will provide parents with multiple boxes — three on Mondays and four on Thursdays — for each child.

Boxes will be provided for all children in the vehicle at pickup. Children are not required to be present, but parents must have proof of enrollment in any school district (report card, student id, etc.) or birth certificate.

Click Here for additional info and locations.

CVS OPENS DRIVE THRU TESTING SITE IN HD 147
CVS Health has opened up a drive thru testing site in our district at the CVS Pharmacy at 1003 Richmond Avenue, Houston, TX 77006. The drive-thru will be available to individuals who meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria, in addition to age guidelines. Patients must register in advance at CVS.com beginning Friday, May 22 to schedule an appointment.

HOUSTON COVID-19 TESTING FOR EVERYONE
Good news Houston, we now have the capacity to test anyone who wants to be tested. Houston’s two community based testing sites are now available to ANYONE who wants to be tested for COVID-19. You no longer need to have symptoms. However, you do need to call ahead. If you would like to be tested please call 832-393-4220 to be provided a unique identification code and directions on where to go.

Internet Access
If your family or a family you know is in need of internet access to help continue a child’s education, some of Houston’s cable providers are offering free internet for the next 60 days. Listed below are companies and numbers to call to help set you or someone you know up with internet access while a child (K-12 & college) may require an internet connection to continue their education.

  • SuddenLink 888-633-0030
  • Charter/Spectrum 844-488-8395
In addition to those companies Sparklight and Comcast are working with customers to waive late fees, defer payments, and avoid disruption in internet service. If you believe you are going to have difficulty paying your internet bill please reach out to your provider before the bill is due so that they can work with you during this difficult time.

Houston Health
The Houston Health Department is operating a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) call center for Houston residents needing more information COVID-19. Houstonians can call the center at 832-393-4220 to speak to department staff and obtain information about the disease or get their questions answered. The call center will open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Texas Workforce Commission
The waiting week for unemployment benefits has been temporarily waived, allowing the Texas Workforce Commission to pay your UI benefits sooner during this declared disaster. Additionally, For workers impacted by the Coronavirus, the Workforce Commission has waived requirement that one must be looking for work in order to apply for unemployment benefits.

If your employment has been affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19), apply for benefits either online at any time using Unemployment Benefits Services or by calling  TWC ’s Tele-Center at 800-939-6631 from 7 a.m .- 7 p.m. Central Time every day including Saturdays and Sundays.

Healthcare is available through the ACA marketplace if you lost yours
Regrettably, 1,608,000 Texans have lost their employer-sponsored insurance (ESI). However, many people who have lost their ESI are eligible for subsidized healthcare on the marketplace thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This is because the ACA allows people to sign-up anytime after a major life event such as marriage, birth of a child, a family death, or loss of employer coverage. If, you unfortunately have lost your ESI please visit healthcare.gov to see if you qualify for the marketplace’s special enrollment period.

Census 2020:
While at home you can still perform your civil duty and fill out the 2020 Census online. It is important for you to fill out the census to ensure that our community receives its fair share of funding for SNAP, Medicare and Medicaid, infrastructure, public education, and more. Click here to fill out the 2020 Census Online if you have not already.
What To Watch This Week:
This week’s clip is from ABC news on the Supreme Court striking down restrictive abortion law in LouisianaClick here or below to watch.
Cartoon of the Week

Adam Zyglis Copyright 2020 Cagle Cartoons
Song of the Week
Our song of the week is “The Star Spangled Banner” by Jimi Hendrix performed at Woodstock.

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