Dear Mayor Cluck:
I recently learned that the Arlington South Service Center will not be utilized as an early voting location for the upcoming 2015 municipal election, and I have serious concerns about the impact this decision will have on the constituents of House District 101.
As a state legislator, I try my best to avoid involving myself in city business; however, this matter has the potential to be precedent-setting, affecting the location of early voting sites not only in the May election, but in all elections going forward. Ensuring our constituents can exercise their right to vote without confusion or undue inconvenience must be a priority for all of us in public office, so I hope to provide you and the Council with an additional perspective on this issue.
Yesterday, House Republicans announced a plan to pass more than $4.8 billion in tax breaks. Using a combination of a sales tax reduction and a business tax cut, this plan would go even deeper than what the Senate proposed a few weeks ago (in case you missed my earlier email on this topic, click here).
According to the early math, the House plan would mean about $172 more each year for the average family of four. This would come from reducing the state sales tax — which would go from 6.25% to 5.95%. This is something that’s never been done before, and something I could be willing to support, because it would benefit all Texans.
With that said, I still strongly believe that before we reduce revenue through cuts, we must ensure our state’s priorities are addressed. As it stands now, there’s more than adequate money to do both. As I mentioned in last week’s rundown of the budget, at the end of the 2017, we will have $11 billion in the Rainy Day Fund, plus we still have up to another $8 billion right now in general revenue that is unbudgeted.
After a floor debate clocking in at over 17 hours, yesterday morning the Texas House overwhelmingly passed our version of the state’s two-year budget.
As with every state budget, it wasn’t perfect, but it was definitely a step in the right direction in addressing critical needs, including adding more funding for public education.
In fact, the House version of the budget increases funding for public schools by $2.2 billion, with another $800 million to be added if an important school finance measure is passed. It’s important to note that with this new addition, the amount the House approved for public education is nearly $3 billion more than that proposed by the Senate.
Bills reforming candidate/PAC reporting, expanding personal financial statements and improving access to state agencies heard this week in House committees; Measures join “double-dipping” ban to round out Turner’s transparency and ethics legislative package
AUSTIN − This week, state Representative Chris Turner presented three measures before House committees, all of which would increase ethics and transparency in state government. These bills join HB 408 to round out Turner’s ethics and transparency legislative package; that bill would ban so-called “double dipping” by state elected officials and passed unanimously from the House Committee on Pensions.
HB 1059 would expand the information required on Personal Financial Statements (PFS), filed by candidates and elected officials. Specifically, the measure would require filers to give a more accurate picture of their finances, including whether or not they receive income from a pension plan. The bill would also require the statements to be posted online and available to the general public. HB 1059 was heard today in the House Committee on General Investigating and Ethics.
There’s been a lot of talk about tax cuts around the Capitol. Which taxes should be cut will be hotly debated, but at the end of the day, it’s pretty likely that there will be some major cuts considered and probably passed.
On the Senate side, Lt. Governor Patrick unveiled a proposal that would cut taxes by about $4.5 billion through changes to residential property taxes and by limiting the number of businesses required to pay the franchise tax. Regarding the latter, by early calculations, it would mean that only 55,000 of Texas’ one million businesses would have to pay. As a quick reminder, this tax is used to generate some much needed revenue to help pay for public education.
Of course, with more people comes a greater need for added infrastructure, at both state and local levels. In cities like Arlington and Grand Prairie, this growth will especially impact our communities, because neither city has a comprehensive public transit system.
As I have expressed many times in the past, the issue of mass transit is of critical importance to our district. I have filed two pieces of legislation to try and find solutions to this issue and to arm our local officials with the tools they need.
In some parts of House District 101, there’s a payday or auto-title lender on every street corner. In fact, over a ten-year period, the number of these types of businesses has doubled in and around our area. Although the number has grown considerably, the level of oversight and regulation by the state remains limited and inadequate.
As a result, many communities throughout Texas have passed local ordinances to fight back against predatory lenders and to protect their citizens from high interest rates and fees or from losing their vehicle, which is often their only means of transportation. As a result, cities like Dallas, which has been a leader on cracking down on predatory lenders, have seen a decrease in the number of these businesses in their communities.
Measures would allocate $1 billion to address holes in walls, leaking ceilings and rat infestations
Austin — Yesterday, State Representative Chris Turner filed two measures, HB 2841 and HB 2842, to provide funding to fix state agency and university buildings in dire need of repair. Each measure would transfer $500 million from the Economic Stabilization Fund (Rainy Day Fund) to pay for needed renovations.
In a request to members of the House Committee on Appropriations, the Texas Facilities Commission estimated needed state building repairs, ranging from critical to recommended, could cost nearly one billion dollars.
Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of King v. Burwell. At issue is whether or not people who chose health insurance plans through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace, and not through a state-based health insurance exchange, are eligible for tax credits, which are used to defray the cost of premiums.
Representative Turner with THA CEO/President Ted Shaw and Texans in danger of losing their tax creditsIf the Court decides in the Plaintiffs’ favor, it could be devastating for over a million Texans.
In order to provide a safety net and make sure Texans don’t lose their tax credits, I filed two pieces of legislation, HB 817 and HB 818, both of which would create a state-based health insurance exchange.
On Thursday, I will join hundreds of Texans on the south steps of the Capitol to speak at a rally supporting access to women’s healthcare. As I prepare my remarks, I can’t help but think about the 2013 special sessions and standing on those same steps looking out at a sea of women, men and children donning orange shirts in support of healthcare access.
I’ll never forget seeing and hearing the thousands of people in their Capitol opposing a draconian measure that has now resulted in clinic closures across our state and reduced access to cancer screenings and birth control.
In a state with the highest rate of repeat teen births and the fourth-highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation, access to medical resources like contraception is essential. Equally essential is access to quality medically accurate, evidence-based sex education.
This morning, Governor Greg Abbott delivered his first “State of the State” address to a joint session of the House and Senate. If you’ve never witnessed this address, it’s very similar to the “State of the Union,” but focused on the issues impacting Texas, while giving direction to the Legislature.
After touting our state’s successes, Governor Abbott focused on five emergency items, issues he wants the Legislature to address sooner than later. The issues include, education, transportation, border security, and ethics.
Last week was pretty eventful.
On Wednesday, committee assignments were announced and I’m pretty happy about where I landed. This session, I will serve on three committees — Higher Education, Ways and Means, and General Investigating and Ethics.