What a week!
After what can only be described as a rough legislative session for common sense and sound policy, recent Supreme Court decisions have brought some much-needed good news to Texas.
Thanks to our nation’s highest court, more than 1 million of our neighbors are no longer in danger of losing their health insurance, all men and women across our state finally have the right to marry the person they love and the draconian abortion law of two years ago has been put on hold.
I want to continue to be an advocate for those priorities and for the people of House District 101, which is why I will seek re-election in 2016.
As we prepare for the 2016 campaign, I need your help. Today is a very important deadline and to show early support, I hope I can count on you to be one of the very first contributors to the 2016 campaign. Help me get a strong start and make a contribution today.
North Texas lawmaker urges state leadership to not impede the progress that has been made
Arlington, TX — State Representative Chris Turner (HD 101 – Grand Prairie) released the following statement in reaction to today’s United States Supreme Court decision regarding marriage equality:
“This is truly a historic day. Millions of men and women across our nation will have the ability to legally marry the person they love. Finally, LGBT Texans in committed relationships, will be afforded the same rights as other married couples.
“Unfortunately, here in Texas, today’s decision will face resistance by our state’s leadership. Like many that have come before, history will prove this decision to be the right one. I urge our state’s Republican leaders to not impede the progress that has been made.”
Last week, in the wake of the mass murder at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, I wrote something on my Facebook page to express my horror and disbelief at the heinous crime that had occurred. I referred to the shootings as an “unspeakable tragedy.”
A commenter on my post disagreed with the word “unspeakable” – there are “a lot of words to describe white supremacy and racism,” she argued – we just have to be willing to use them.
I used the word “unspeakable” because its definition – “incapable of being expressed in words” and “inexpressibly bad” – fit exactly how I felt upon learning that nine African Americans were gunned down in cold blood while studying the Bible in a historic Black church. I really could not find the words.
But the commenter was right in saying that we have to acknowledge this act for what it is and we need to have some honest conversations about race in America.
830,000+ Texans no longer in jeopardy of losing critical tax credits
ARLINGTON, TX — Today, State Representative Chris Turner (HD 101 – Grand Prairie), who authored contingency legislation to protect more than 830,000 Texans from losing their health insurance tax credits, released the following statement in response to today’s United States Supreme Court decision in the case of King v. Burwell:
“I am glad the Supreme Court agreed that it’s clear that Congress intended for the tax credits to be available to all Americans who purchase health coverage in an exchange and are between 100 – 400 percent of the poverty level, regardless of who runs the exchange.
The impact of a different decision would have been devastating. If the Court had decided in the plaintiffs’ favor, more than 830,000 Texans would have been negatively impacted and would have faced a 300 percent increase in their premium costs. Many would not have been able to afford coverage and would have returned to the ranks of the uninsured – a category in which Texas unfortunately already leads the nation.
Despite non-stop partisan, political attacks on the Affordable Care Act, thousands in our communities and across our state have affordable health insurance coverage. Now that this decision has been made and this issue is behind us, we can move forward and get even more Texans enrolled in affordable health care plans.”
It’s been just over a week since the legislature adjourned “Sine Die,” meaning the 84th Legislative Session is in the history books. If you saw what went on during those 140 days in the Capitol, you’d probably agree that the end could not have come soon enough.
Recently, I was asked by a local paper to describe the “theme” of the session. My response: “Do just enough to get by, but avoid as many tough issues as possible.”
Certainly, there were some accomplishments. The Legislature finally funded long-overdue Tuition Revenue Bonds for public universities, including $70 million for UT-Arlington for a science and education innovation and research building. This facility is essential as the school continues to establish itself as a leading urban research university.
If approved by the voters in November, homeowners will see an increase in their homestead exemption – from $15,000 to $25,000 a year – which will slightly ease property tax increases (but don’t expect your bill to go down).
I was grateful to get significant parts of my legislative agenda passed in what was a very challenging political environment. After three years of work to ban elected officials “double dipping” a salary and a pension at the same time, I passed a bill to end that practice. In addition, a bill I authored to protect police officers from forms of online retaliation and retribution also made it to the governor’s desk.
Politicians will no longer be allowed to collect salary, pension simultaneously
AUSTIN – Today, State Representative Chris Turner’s (HD 101- Grand Prairie) measure to bar elected officials from collecting a salary and state pension at the same time passed the final legislative hurdle and is headed to the governor’s desk.
“Today, the House and Senate sent a strong message to the people of Texas by banning the practice of ‘double dipping’ by elected officials,” said Turner. “This is an important step toward strengthening the public’s trust and faith in both elected officials and the laws under which we serve, and I am pleased that HB 408 is headed to the governor’s desk.”
“Three years ago, I made a promise to the people of the district I represent that I would close this loophole, and today I am one step closer to fulfilling that promise,” said Turner. “This is an important ethics reform, but more is needed. I look forward to continuing my work on this important issue during future legislative sessions.”
Final Version of HB 1 leaves too many Texans behind
AUSTIN — Today, State Representative Chris Turner delivered the following remarks outlining his opposition to the conference committee report to HB 1, the two-year state budget:
When this budget was voted on in the House, it was a budget I was proud to vote for, I think a lot of us were proud to vote for it. Now that this budget has come back from the conference committee and is before us for a final vote, the picture I see is much, much different than what we had here two months ago.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some positive aspects of this conference committee report on the budget. On Higher Education, I’m very grateful that this budget funds our first Tuition Revenue Bonds in nearly a decade, and that the budget provides a needed formula funding increase for our universities and colleges. I know that that would not have happened were it not for our House negotiators, led by Chairman Otto.
There are other things to like in this budget — there are things we can all like. On the major issues that will shape our state in the years ahead, this budget misses the mark.
Today is the last day the Texas House can give preliminary approval to new legislation. After today, we’ll be approving or rejecting bills that have been negotiated between the House and Senate.
It will make for a long day, as we debate until the midnight deadline.
What issues, you ask, will we be considering? Good question.
Today we reflect upon the meaning of Memorial Day and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom.
Politicians should not be allowed to collect salary, pension simultaneously
AUSTIN – Today, State Representative Chris Turner (HD 101- Grand Prairie) passed HB 408, which would bar elected officials from collecting a salary and state pension at the same time, if their retirement payments are a result of their service as an elected official. Turner first proposed this legislation in 2013.
“This legislation simply says that if politicians want to start collecting a state-funded pension as a result of their time in office, they need to really retire and no longer collect a salary. Our state leaders frequently tout Texas as a national example for fiscal responsibility. This measure is about fiscal responsibility — it’s just plain common sense that an elected official should not be getting paid twice for doing one job,” said Turner.
“Banning double dipping is an important step to strengthening the public’s trust and faith in both elected officials and the laws under which we serve,” said Turner. “I want to thank the members of the House for overwhelmingly approving this legislation with a vote of 144-1.”
…and lose some.
I’m in my third term in the House of Representatives and I’ve been privileged to pass a number of bills through the Legislature and into law…the Veterans Cash lottery scratch-off game which has raised millions for Texas veterans…new consumer protections for apartment tenants…a measure to crack down on child pornographers…those are just a few of the measures I’ve been fortunate to work on and convince my colleagues to support.
And then this week, something new (for me) happened. I presented a bill to the House that my staff and I have been working on for more than two years — a measure to require bars to carry liquor liability insurance. This has always seemed like a fairly straight-forward, common-sense idea to me. In fact, when I would tell people about the bill, the reply I would most often receive was, “that’s not already the law?”. So I thought this was something that would have a decent chance of passing.
Was I wrong about that — not only did it not pass, the vote wasn’t even close.