ARLINGTON, TX – State Representative Chris Turner released the following statement in response to today’s announcement that the Texas Department of Insurance has extended Texas Health Insurance Pool coverage through the end of March, 2014:
“Extending Texas Health Insurance Risk Pool coverage for three months is the right thing to do, under the circumstances. If Governor Perry and the Republican leadership had created a state-based insurance exchange for Texans, this step probably would not have been necessary, but given their failure to do so, this is the right decision.”
FORT WORTH, TX – Today, State Representative Chris Turner filed paperwork for re-election to the Texas House of Representatives at the Tarrant County Democratic Party headquarters.
Turner, who is currently serving his second term in the Legislature, represents Tarrant County’s District 101, a rapidly growing and diverse area, which includes major portions of Arlington and Grand Prairie.
“During my first two terms serving in the Texas Legislature, I’ve focused on the issues that matter to folks in our district,” said Turner. “As a result, we’ve gotten some good things done, ensuring that tenants do not fall victim to unscrupulous landlords, that the lives of service members who made the ultimate sacrifice are not forgotten and that additional protections are in place to so that children do not fall victim to sexual predators, just to name a few.
“My priorities will continue to reflect the needs of the people I represent – creating jobs in our community and state, strengthening public schools and increasing access to affordable health care for all Texans. And I will continue to stand up against misguided, partisan efforts to roll back voting rights and women’s rights,” continued Turner.
Arlington, TX – Today, state Representative Chris Turner released the following statement in response to the announcement that Attorney General Greg Abbott has dropped his opposition to the merger between North Texas-based American Airlines and US Airways:
“Five weeks ago, I sent Attorney General Abbott a letter asking a series of questions about his lawsuit against American Airlines, a lawsuit that put at risk thousands of North Texas jobs. I never received a response from Mr. Abbott, and now I know why − because he didn’t have any good answers. We may never know why Mr. Abbott decided to sue a major North Texas employer, but we can be glad he has backtracked and abandoned this job-killing lawsuit.”
Click here for a copy of Chris’s letter to Attorney General Greg Abbott from August 26, 2013.
Texas should be subject to preclearance under VRA due to past findings of “intentional discrimination”.
AUSTIN, TX — In reaction to today’s announcement that the U.S. Department of Justice will pursue legal action requiring Texas to receive “preclearance” prior to amending election laws, state Representative Chris Turner (HD101 – Grand Prairie) released the following statement:
“I commend the Department of Justice for its support of re-instituting ‘preclearance’ requirements for Texas election laws. Texas has a long and unfortunate history of disenfranchising voters. Most recently, the D.C. District Court found that the 2011 redistricting maps drawn by Texas Republicans intentionally discriminated against minorities, and the court also determined that the state’s voter photo ID law discriminated against Texans living in poverty, many of whom are minorities.
“The recent refusal by Republican leaders to make substantive changes to redistricting maps recommended by minority groups and their obsession with creating new hurdles for voters by rushing to implement the voter photo ID law, shows that Texas should continue to be subject to pre-clearance under the Voter Rights Act.”
140-day session brings positive improvements to public education & water, but fails on Medicaid expansion
AUSTIN − As the 83rd Texas Legislature prepares to adjourn, Representative Chris Turner offered closing thoughts on the final day:
“Some good progress was made this session for Texans and their families. We were able to pass a final budget that restores the majority of public education funding that was slashed two years ago and makes a serious investment in water infrastructure for our state. We will finally use the System Benefit Fund as it was originally intended − to help low-income Texans with high electric utility bills and at the same time, eventually end the fee for good. I am also pleased that several measures I authored are headed to Governor Perry’s desk for his signature.
“Public education got a much-needed boost this session. The Arlington Independent School District and the Mansfield Independent School District both stand to gain significantly in per-student funding over the next two years. We also passed a cost-of-living adjustment increase for retired teachers, the first they have received in more than a decade. Equally important, I was proud to co-author legislation that dramatically reduces standardized testing and improves curriculum options for public school students.
“Although I was successful in passing several pieces of legislation, there were far too many critical issues the Legislature failed to address. My greatest disappointment from this session is that the Legislature failed to take any steps to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. This short-sighted decision is fiscally irresponsible and denies affordable health care to millions of uninsured Texans. Nonetheless, I will continue to advocate for increased access to affordable health care.”
Measure creates notification process between utilities, landlords, tenants, and municipalities in the event of an electric or gas utility disconnect
Texas House of Representatives has given final approval to HB 1772, which would establish an important process of notification between utility service providers, municipalities, landlords, and tenants in the event of an electric or gas utility disconnection. HB 1772 deals specifically with nonsubmetered master metered multifamily properties. These are “all bills paid” properties which do not have individual meters assigned to each unit. Bills for utilities such as gas and electricity are generally paid directly by the landlord, using funds built into the tenants’ rent.
“This consumer protection measure empowers tenants by ensuring they have advanced notice if gas or electric service is about to be disconnected through no fault of their own,” said Turner. “This type of situation has occurred all too often in Arlington and elsewhere: the landlord doesn’t pay the utility bill, tenants are left high and dry, and cities are faced with a potential public health crisis because they have citizens who are displaced or suffering from heat or cold exposure,” Turner continued.
“HB 1772 addresses this problem by giving both tenants and cities advanced warning so that both can plan accordingly,” Turner said. “I appreciate the City of Arlington’s leadership in crafting this measure, along with the other stakeholders who have helped in this process.”
Turner’s bill will help local law enforcement officers better patrol Texas waterways
AUSTIN − State Representative Chris Turner (HD 101 – Grand Prairie) announced today that the Texas House of Representatives has passed HB 1222, a bill which allows citations issued on Texas waterways by municipal law enforcement officers to be heard in municipal court. Currently, these citations can only be brought before justice and county courts. State Senator Royce West has filed an identical bill in the Senate (SB 501).
“This bill was an issue brought to me by the City of Grand Prairie before the legislative session even started,” said Turner. “HB 1222 is a product of local and state governments working together on legislation that benefits everyone in this state. With warm weather quickly approaching, giving our law enforcement officers every possible resource to keep Texans safe on our lakes and rivers is critical.”
House budget plan underfunds education, delays payments to Medicaid, and denies women family planning and women’s health services, while leaving $13 billion in state’s coffers unspent
AUSTIN — Tonight, State Representative Chris Turner voted against the proposed state budget in the Texas House of Representatives. Turner’s main objection centered on public school funding, which was cut by $5.4 billion two years ago, and remains underfunded in the budget passed by the House.
“I think people in Tarrant County and across our state expect a government that makes smart decisions to invest in our future,” said Representative Chris Turner. “There is no greater investment in our future than doing everything we can to help the nearly five million school children of Texas realize their full God-given potential by providing the very best public education for each and every one of them. This budget falls well short of that basic values test, which is why I voted no.”
Turner’s bill would waive residency requirement for U.S. military service members applying for commercial driver’s license
AUSTIN − State Representative Chris Turner (HD 101) announced today that the Texas House of Representatives has passed HB 860, a bill which would waive the residency requirement for service members applying for a commercial driver’s license. State Senator Wendy Davis has filed an identical bill, SB 229.
“This bill is an important step in bringing down the high unemployment rate that our veterans are facing right now,” said Turner. “What is an easy part of the application process for most, is extremely difficult if you are active duty or reserve, unexpectedly relocated to Texas, and need to get back to work as soon as possible. I’m proud to continue working with Senator Davis on such an important issue. This is small way we can continue to honor the service of these men and women.”
HB 860 is supported by Texas Veterans Coalition Organizations (TCVO) and the Texas Motor Transport Association (TMTA.)
AUSTIN − State Representative Chris Turner (HD 101 – Grand Prairie) and state Senator Leticia Van de Putte (SD 26 – San Antonio) have filed identical measures aimed at addressing concerns raised by some Texas universities regarding the expense of Hazlewood, the state’s veteran higher education financial aid program. The legislation would allow schools to use “B-On-Time” funds that are not utilized at the institution at which they are collected to offset that school’s Hazlewood and Hazlewood Legacy tuition exemption programs.
“Hazlewood represents a solemn promise from the state of Texas to our veterans and their families and our legislation is aimed at keeping that promise,” Turner said. “By allowing our state’s colleges and universities to utilize unused B-On-Time funds that are currently being transferred back to the state to instead offset Hazlewood costs, we will strengthen our veterans benefits and help our colleges and universities.”
“The first and foremost consideration is that we help the 1% who defend our freedoms and have earned their Hazlewood benefits,” Senator Van de Putte said. “It makes sense to give schools the flexibility to utilize monies already appropriated for their campuses before looking at additional state dollars. This bill will help our universities do the right thing for our veterans and their families.”
Reforming candidate/PAC reporting and expanding personal financial statements join “double dipping” bill to round out Turner’s transparency and ethics legislative package.
AUSTIN − In addition to House Bill (HB) 413, which would prohibit so-called “double dipping” by state elected officials, state Representative Chris Turner has filed three more pieces of ethics-focused legislation aimed at increasing transparency by government officials, candidates and political action committees (PACs).
“Elected officials owe it to the people they represent to be as open and transparent as possible,” said Turner. “The changes I am proposing in House Bill 2190 will help give the public a clearer view of elected officials’ and candidates’ personal finances. By requiring us to report income from pensions, this bill goes hand-in-hand with the measure I filed to prohibit ‘double dipping’ in our state, the practice which allows elected officials to use state service to trigger state annuity benefits while still holding office.”
Bills would expand job opportunities, boost assistance fund and help surviving spouses
AUSTIN − State Representative Chris Turner (HD 101) has filed six measures to aid veterans, service members and their families. Turner’s veterans’ package covers several areas, addressing veteran unemployment, providing an additional funding source for the Permanent Fund for Veterans’ Assistance and exempting spouses of service members killed in the line of duty from paying property taxes on their home.
“Since my first term, I have been incredibly fortunate to work on initiatives to honor the service and sacrifice of our service members, veterans and their families,” said Turner. “With unacceptably high veteran unemployment rates, many of the bills I have filed this session focus on helping service members and veterans get good-paying jobs that capitalize on the skills they attained during their time in uniform.
“We must also never forget the spouses of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation,” continued Turner, “which is why I filed a measure to exempt the spouses of service members killed in the line of duty from paying property taxes on their homes, the same benefit we currently extend to 100 percent disabled veterans and their surviving spouses. It’s one small way that we can honor those who died defending our country and provide crucial economic help to their families.”