New Maps Must be Drawn Immediately

Today’s ruling on the state House map proved what we’ve known all along — Republicans in the Legislature cynically and intentionally divided minority voters so Republicans could enhance their power. By doing so, Latinos and African-Americans saw their ability to elect the candidate of their choice diminished.
As the ruling clearly states, “The impact of the plan was certainly to reduce minority voting opportunity statewide, resulting in even less proportional representation for minority voters.” This is shameful and unacceptable – new maps must be drawn immediately.

Turner Named to Select Committee on Mental Health

AUSTIN — Earlier today, Texas House Speaker Joe Straus named Representative Chris Turner (HD 101-Grand Prairie) to the House Select Committee on Mental Health. The committee is charged with examining the current status of mental health care in Texas, as well as identifying what areas need to be addressed.

In response to his appointment, Turner released the following statement:

“Mental health care is a critical issue that impacts every person in our state. I am honored to serve on this important committee and grateful that Speaker Straus has made this issue a top priority.

“Over the next year, I look forward to learning more about what programs and initiatives have worked in addressing our state’s mental health needs, as well as exploring gaps which exist.

“With the second largest population of veterans in the nation, we must delve deeply into how veterans’ mental health is being addressed and what more can be done to prevent military and veteran suicide and homelessness.”

Turner brings with him extensive experience working on issues impacting veterans, including passing legislation which has led to tens of millions of dollars in funding for organizations which aid veterans and their families.

In 2014, Turner was elected to serve his third term in the Texas House of Representatives and his second term representing District 101, which includes major portions of Arlington and Grand Prairie. In addition to the House Select Committee on Mental Health, Turner serves on the House Committees on Higher Education, Ways and Means, and General Investigating and Ethics. Turner is the only member from Tarrant County to be appointed to the committee.

Turner: Supreme Court Gets it Right on Marriage Equality

gavelNorth 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.”

During his three terms in the Texas House of Representatives, Turner has been a vocal proponent of marriage equality and has co-authored legislation to allow LGBT unions. In addition, Turner has been lauded by Equality Texas for his efforts and support on issues impacting the LGBT community.

TURNER: King V. Burwell Decision Good News For Texas

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.”

During the 84th Texas Legislative Session, Turner filed contingency legislation to address the need for a state-run health insurance exchange. House Bill 817 would have required the Health and Human Services Commission and the Department of Insurance to create a state-run exchange in the event of a judicial ruling which eliminates tax credits for Texans enrolled in the federal exchange. This bill would give the state the ability to determine which plans are eligible to participate, review rates and determine whether plans include coverage of essential health benefits.

Late in the session, Turner tried to add an amendment identical to House Bill 817 to another bill, but the amendment was defeated on a party line vote.

Based on the number of Texans receiving tax credits as of March 31, 2015, The Kaiser Family Foundation determined that 832,334 Texans would have lost tax credits totaling $205,586,498 per month/$2.5 billion per year. In addition, according to their estimates, premium costs would have increased an estimated 305 percent as a result of lost tax credits.

Turner’s Ban on “Double Dipping” By Elected Officials Passes House 144-1

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.”

The measure will prevent state elected officials from being eligible to receive state annuity payments as a result of their service as an elected official by preventing their time as an elected official from triggering retirement eligibility until they have left office.

This issue came to light when it was reported that during his final term in office, Governor Rick Perry was collecting a state pension, in addition to his salary as governor. This was discovered after Perry filed a personal financial disclosure statement with the Federal Elections Commission as a requirement of his 2012 presidential candidacy. Because this type of information is not required to be submitted as a part of Texas’ personal financial statements, it is unclear if other state officials also collect both a pension and salary.

The modifications proposed are not retroactive, nor would they impact state retirees who become eligible for retirement benefits as a result of service in a non-elected capacity and then later run for and are elected to office.

Turner’s Statement On President Obama’s Executive Action On Immigration

ARLINGTON — In anticipation of tonight’s announcement by President Barack Obama that he will sign an executive order addressing immigration, State Representative Chris Turner (HD101-Grand Prairie) released the following statement:

“Comprehensive immigration reform has been stalled in Congress for far too long. I applaud the President for taking action to fix a broken system that has put millions of law-abiding families — including many in North Texas — in constant fear of being ripped apart.

“It is my hope that this announcement will finally spur Congress into action and they will pass comprehensive immigration reform. Such legislation will not only benefit immigrants, but our local, state and national economy. Additionally, millions will finally be able to come out of the shadows.”

The Center for American Progress estimates that allowing undocumented immigrants who have been in the U.S. for at least five years to be eligible to apply for work permits would add $6 billion in payroll taxes in the first year of the program. Over five years, these workers would contribute $45 billion in payroll taxes and help grow our nation’s economy.

Turner’s Statement on Texas Transportation Commission’s Approval of SH360 Agreement

AUSTIN — In reaction to the Texas Transportation Commission’s (TTC) approval of the SH360 project agreement, state Representative Chris Turner released the following statement:

“Today’s decision by the Texas Transportation Commission to approve the agreement is a significant milestone toward extending SH360 south. There are still a few steps left in the process, but once the project is complete, it will have an incredible impact on those who live and work in southeast Tarrant County’s fast growing communities.

“I commend the TTC and NTTA’s leadership for understanding the critical need for this project and for working together to ensure it is funded and constructed in a timely manner. Extending SH360 has been one of my top priorities since first taking office in 2009 and I look forward to seeing the continued progress and eventual completion of the project.”

In 2009 and 2010, Turner organized a stakeholders group that brought community leaders, officials from the NTTA, Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG), as well as officials from Arlington, Grand Prairie, Mansfield, and Tarrant County together in an effort to improve SH360.

The agreement requires TxDOT to loan $294 million and the NTTA to be responsible for road operations and maintenance. TxDOT will now move forward with procuring design-build contracts for the project. It is anticipated that the extension of SH360 will be completed in 2018.

Turner’s Statement On NTTA’s Approval Of SH360 Agreement

ARLINGTON — In reaction to the North Texas Tollway Authority’s (NTTA) unanimous approval of the SH360 project agreement, state Representative Chris Turner (HD-101) released the following statement:

“Today’s action by the NTTA is a major milestone in the effort to extend SH360 south from Sublett Road/Camp Wisdom Road. I commend the NTTA for its leadership on this issue and look forward to the Texas Transportation Commission also approving this project.

“Extending SH360 has been one of my top priorities since first taking office in 2009. I know that once the project is complete, it will have a positive impact on the quality of life for families in southeast Tarrant County.”

In 2009 and 2010, Turner organized a stakeholders group that brought community leaders, officials from the NTTA, Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG), as well as officials from Arlington, Grand Prairie, Mansfield, and Tarrant County together in an effort to improve SH360.

The agreement approved today requires TxDOT to fund $294 million and the NTTA to be responsible for road operations and maintenance. The agreement must still be approved by the Texas Transportation Commission. Once that occurs, the NTTA anticipates the extension of SH360 will be completed in 2018.

Turner Speaks Out Against Proposed Navigator Regulations

With 6.4 million uninsured in Texas, state agency needs to put people ahead of politics

AUSTIN – Today, state Representative Chris Turner attended the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) hearing on the proposed rules regarding the regulation of navigators to share his concerns. The following are excerpts from his prepared remarks:

“After the September 30 hearing and subsequent meetings, I had begun to hope that the proposed rules might reflect the legitimate concerns that have been laid for the last two months by elected officials and navigators, nonprofit organizations and others who are working hard every day to connect uninsured Texans with access to affordable health insurance.

These rules, for the most part, do not appear they are aimed at protecting consumers; rather, they seem clearly intended to make a political statement, a statement that if it’s made, will be done to the determent of millions of uninsured Texans.

For some organizations, the financial impact could very well force them out of providing navigator services altogether, which will have a negative impact on our state.

Now, everyone knows that politics is everywhere when it comes to the ACA. Navigators have simply become the latest easy target in an all-out assault on the Affordable Care Act.

The Texas Department of Insurance mission and purpose is too important to allow the agency to become a political prop. This agency’s mission should be far above election year politics and posturing. If elected officials think attacking the ACA will help them win an election, I respect their right to do that. That’s why we have elections.

But what I can’t respect — and none of us should tolerate — are officeholders pressuring an agency to adopt punitive, overreaching and unnecessary regulations in an effort to derail a law that they simply don’t like.

The bottom line is, these rules won’t help the 6.4 million Texas consumers who lack health insurance.“

State Rep. Chris Turner Again Named CLEAT’s “Best of the House”

Turner Honored by Recognition from State’s Largest Police Association

turner-cleatAUSTIN – On Monday, State Representative Chris Turner received the “Best of the House” award from the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT) in recognition for his work on issues affecting the law enforcement community. This is the second “Best of the House” Turner has received from CLEAT; he also received the award in 2009. This year, Turner is one of only ten House members to receive the recognition.

“To have the opportunity to work on behalf of the brave men and women who serve and protect our community is reward enough,” said Representative Turner. “However, I am incredibly honored to receive recognition from the largest police association in Texas.”

“Representative Turner has been a loyal friend to law enforcement not only in his district but in the Capitol,” said Charley Wilkison, CLEAT’s Executive Director. “He has remained committed to the rights and interests of the law enforcement community no matter the pressure from opposing sides.”

Wilkison presented Turner with the award at his Capitol office on December 9, 2013.

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