Today we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom and ensure that our nation remains the greatest in the world.
Although we will never be able to repay the tremendous debt our nation owes these heroes, we can honor their sacrifice by serving our communities, making a difference in the lives of others and by shaping the future for our state and our nation.
Take a moment today and every day to remember those who through their selfless acts of courage gave what President Lincoln called “the last full measure of devotion.”
A general diffusion of knowledge being essential to the preservation of the liberties and rights of the people, it shall be the duty of the Legislature of the State to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools.
Texas Constitution, Article 7, Sec. 1
In a ruling last Friday, the Texas Supreme Court apparently overlooked that part of our state’s constitution when it declared our broken, underfunded and inequitable school finance system to be…“constitutional.”
Needless to say, this ruling stunned a lot of people, myself included.
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I say it often — the most important part of a state representative’s job is being responsive to the needs of constituents.
This can mean helping constituents navigate what can be a complex and confusing system of state services, by answering questions regarding state law, or providing information by hosting events like our Town Hall earlier this month or the utilities forum we’re hosting in May.
I want to take a moment to highlight one example of why these constituent services are so important.
I am sure by now you have heard the name Leiliana Wright. Last month, the Grand Prairie four-year old was tied up, choked and beaten to death. In the months preceding her death, attempts had been made to involve Child Protective Services (CPS) in what had become a very dangerous situation for this young child. Sadly, due in part to inaction by the state agency charged with protecting Texas children from abuse and neglect, her innocent life was cut short.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t an isolated case of a child tragically “falling through the cracks.”
“What weighs on me the most as a pediatrician is that adults with mental illness say their symptoms began in childhood and we missed most of them when they presented in front of us…More children in Texas suffer from mental illness than we would otherwise expect, which really speaks to the unfortunately hidden nature of these conditions.”
Anu Partab, MD, Pediatrician
Testimony, House Select Committee on Mental Health, March 22, 2016
Half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14 and seventy-five percent by age 24.
Please take a moment and let that sink in. It is a startling statistic and one that should not be ignored.
Last week, I was in Austin for the House Select Committee on Mental Health hearing, where the focus was child and adolescent mental health. We spent several hours hearing from health care providers, educators and others on the frontline of this critical issue. It quickly became clear that while many in our state are doing great work and finding innovative ways to address this issue, there is much more that needs to be done.
I am still processing much of what was said, but my initial takeaway is this: it is critical that we improve access to care, increase early intervention and find innovative ways to address an overwhelming need. Ultimately, the more resources we bring to bear to address children’s mental health care — time, money and people — the more likely we will achieve better educational outcomes, lower rates of incarceration and keep more of our neighbors off the streets.
Please join Representative Chris Turner to share your views and discuss the critical issues impacting Arlington, Grand Prairie and the State of Texas.
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Nearly two years ago, I hosted more than 100 constituents and community leaders for “Texas 101 Day,” to discuss acute issues impacting Arlington and Grand Prairie. By the end of day, working together, we identified several key topics we believed were not receiving adequate attention and began to brainstorm potential solutions to address these needs.
The most important key to success is for citizens, the business community, Faith leadership, non-profits and all levels of government to work together to affect change in our community.
As a result of that first meeting, we formed our Texas 101 Task Force focused on four key areas: healthcare, predatory lending, transportation and local economy and jobs.
Fast forward to today. We are seeing meaningful movement on some of these key issues, and I am proud that our Task Force members have been involved in these efforts.
Today is the first day of early voting.
It goes without saying that this is a critical election and beginning today, voters will cast their ballots to pick party nominees from the courthouse to the White House. I urge you to be a part of this historic election and to vote in the Democratic Primary. When doing so, I hope you will consider voting for the candidates I have endorsed, including:
- Hillary Clinton for President
- Marc Veasey for U.S. Representative, District 33
- Lon Burnam for Texas Railroad Commission
Early voting for the Texas primaries begins next Tuesday, February 16. I hope you will vote in the Democratic Primary and join me in voting for Hillary Clinton for President of the United States.
I’m supporting Hillary because she is a proven leader with the experience, judgement and values I want to see in our next president.
Hillary has the most experience of anyone running for President on either side of aisle. As First Lady, U.S. Senator and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has proven to be unmatched in dealing with the challenges that the president must face.
This week and next, I will be joining many of our neighbors at events honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
During these celebrations of Dr. King’s life, we will often be reminded of his work fighting each and every day for equality and justice for all. I hope you will join me in honoring his legacy and his work not just this week or next, but each and every day of the year.
It’s easy to be distracted by the divisive rhetoric we hear in our state and country sometimes, especially in the midst of a presidential election. But as Dr. King understood so well, our diversity is a strength, not a weakness, and the differences we have pale in comparison to our shared goals and values. It’s up to us to remind others – and ourselves– of this and speak out against those who would divide us. We must be vocal advocates for our communities, our nation and our world. In Dr. King’s words, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
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Last month, the Speaker of the House announced the creation of the House Select Committee on Mental Health, appointing thirteen lawmakers to address a complex issue that touches every Texan in one way or another. As the only Tarrant County legislator on this committee, I look forward to the opportunity to better understand our community’s concerns on this topic and share them with my colleagues in the Legislature.
Beginning early next year, the Committee will start to take a serious look at current mental health and substance abuse services and how state agencies, in partnership with local governments and other entities, can collaborate to address critical needs across our state.
My staff and I have recently spent a great deal of time learning about what state agencies, local governments, first responders, school districts, non-profits, and others are doing to address mental health care. We’ve learned a lot already but know that we’ve just scratched the surface of this very complicated issue.
There’s a few things I am already certain of, though – mental health issues do not discriminate, every Texan is impacted and there are not enough resources to offer adequate support to those in need.