Interest and fees trap low-income families in a cycle of debt | 850 vehicles a week repossessed by auto-title lenders | Legislature must act
BY CHRIS TURNER
Special to the Star-Telegram
Can you imagine taking out a $500 loan and it costing more than $1,100 to pay it back?
Every day in the Fort Worth-Arlington metro area, many of our neighbors are doing just that and paying up to 484 percent in interest and fees on small, short-term “payday” and auto-title loans.
These absurd interest rates are completely legal in Texas, due to the inaction of the Legislature, which refuses to pass meaningful reforms to rein in what is largely an unregulated industry.
As a result, payday and auto-title lenders are allowed to charge unlimited interest and fees, effectively trapping low-income families in a cycle of debt.
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.
Dallas Morning News | March 27, 2013
AUSTIN — Paving the way for Texas to finally implement its plan to ensure adequate water supplies, the House voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to create a huge revolving loan account for community projects and conservation.
Last week, I filed my first bill of the session, HB 413, which will ban the “double-dipping” of a state pension and salary at the same time by elected officials. You may remember this issue from Governor Perry’s run for President when it was revealed that the governor has “retired” from state service in order to begin collecting a state pension – even though he was still on the job and collecting his regular salary.
It’s important to note that Governor Perry is almost certainly not the only elected official who is taking advantage of this loophole; he just happens to be the one we know about due to financial disclosures associated with his presidential campaign.
Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, filed a bill that would prevent future state elected officials from drawing their retirement while still accepting their regular salaries.
Just over a year ago, Gov. Rick Perry applied for his retirement funds and began drawing an extra $92,000 annually from the state in addition to his $133,000 salary.
The retirement only came to light after Perry filed the federal papers to run for president, necessitating his declaring his income sources.
“Our state leaders frequently tout Texas as a national example for fiscal responsibility,” Turner said. “This legislation helps accomplish that goal by not allowing elected officials to get paid twice for one job.”
BY ANNA M. TINSLEY
This year’s Legislature will have a different look and feel. New faces will make up nearly a quarter of the Texas House, and many government watchers believe that this could be one of the most conservative sessions ever in Austin. Five of Tarrant County’s seven new House members are ranked among the top 12 freshman lawmakers expected to be the most conservative in the 83rd legislative session.
Rep.-elect Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, was the only local House freshman not to make Hailey’s list.
He said he hopes that both parties can work together.
“The Republicans no longer hold a supermajority, and as a result, there will be a greater need for bipartisanship and compromise,” Turner said. “It is my hope that we can tackle the issues facing our state pragmatically, not based on political rhetoric.”Our state is changing very rapidly, and all the members must take the needs of the changing population into account.”
BY DAVE MONTGOMERY
The selection of a speaker will be one of the first orders of business in the 150-member House on Tuesday when lawmakers open their 140-day biennial session to deal with state spending and host of other issues.
Although Straus is favored to easily retain his post in the GOP-controlled House, Simpson’s challenge perpetuates an element of conservative dissent that has periodically dogged the speaker through his two terms in the leadership post. A threatened conservative uprising in 2011 evaporated when Straus’ two challengers withdrew.
Rep.-elect Chris Turner of Grand Prairie, a Democrat who will represent the new district in east Tarrant County, says he plans to cast his vote for the incumbent speaker and is calling for a more bipartisan approach in the Republican-controlled House to deal with issues such as health care, education and transportation.
“I think Straus is clearly going to be elected speaker again'” he said.
BY ANNA M. TINSLEY AND SCOTT NISHIMURA
Each year countless guns change hands at thousands of guns shows nationwide — including quite a few in North Texas.
But the way those guns are sold could soon change if President Barack Obama and gun control advocates succeed in closing the “gun show loophole” that has been hotly debated for years as criminal justice officials explore ways to keep weapons out of the wrong hands.
… [S]tate Rep.-elect Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, said he believes closing the loophole is reasonable.
“I think we should have background checks for all gun purchases,” Turner said. “I think the American public expects that. We want to know when someone purchases a gun, there’s no criminal or other history that would prevent them from buying it.”
Staff and wire reports
State Rep.-elect Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, said Perry should be keeping the focus on more pressing issues about government spending rather than focusing on politically charged social issues.
“Gov. Perry is once again ignoring the issues that matter to Texans, including reversing his devastating cuts to public schools and women’s health care, reducing the huge number of uninsured and investing in basic infrastructure so we can grow our economy.”The next legislative session is far too important to simply become a partisan sideshow in the governor’s 2016 presidential campaign.”
Thank you. Our victory is the result of the hundreds of volunteers and donors and the thousands of voters in District 101 who believe we need change in Austin and want to have a representative who is not afraid to stand up to the special interests and partisan agendas. I am so honored that the voters have placed their trust in me to fight for their families in our state’s capitol.
Former Democratic state Rep. Chris Turner of Arlington supported the new map.
“In a county where the bulk of the population growth has occurred in minority populations, it’s only fair that minority voters have increased opportunities to elect the candidates of their choice,” Turner said
“Representative Chris Turner proved to be a staunch advocate for Texas veterans during the 81st Texas Legislature. …”