Medicaid Expansion

On Monday, advocates from across the state, including many from North Texas, rallied on the Capitol steps in support of Medicaid expansion.

On Tuesday, in the House Committee on Insurance, I presented State Representative Garnet Coleman’s HB 565, which would expand Medicaid coverage to working adults. It would also add key protections afforded under the Affordable Care Act to state law, including ensuring that Texans with preexisting conditions would remain eligible for healthcare coverage.

Yes, this is an issue that I’ve written about often. For good reason. Texas still has the highest rate and number of uninsured adults (and children) in the nation…and that rate is climbingIt is also an issue that is a priority for the people of House District 101.

Expanding Medicaid should be a no brainer. It would provide coverage for over 1 million Texans basically overnight and draw down billions of federal dollars in the process. Yet, even with an incredible need and funding in place, Texas still remains one of the only 14 states to put politics ahead of the people in its refusal to expand Medicaid.

In addition to Coleman’s measure, other members (all Democrats) have filed expansion bills. At least three of these measures would put Medicaid expansion on the ballot, to let voters — you, me and our neighbors — decide. This approach has been successful in Idaho, Maine, Nebraska and Utah.

Medicaid expansion isn’t the only pressing healthcare item on the agenda this legislative session. Other critical measures include:

Healthcare measures

I support each and every one. All of these measures are critical to the long-term health of our state. We’ll see if our state’s leadership agrees.

Let’s Put Texas Kids First!

Last Thursday, I joined several of my Democratic House colleagues as we unveiled the Texas House Democratic Caucus’ Texas Kids First Plan, which would set aside $14.5 billion to address many of the critical needs facing our public education system.

The nuts-and-bolts of the plan:

  • Put more money into our classrooms by raising per-student funding
  • Give teachers and support staff a much-needed raise, while also helping them with health care premiums and covering the cost of classroom supplies
  • Fund full-day Pre-K
  • Add counselors to campuses to help address mental health needs

All this, while giving Texas homeowners a real property tax break by doubling the homestead exemption from $25,000 to $50,000.  Which, unlike the 2.5% revenue cap being proposed by the governor and lieutenant governor, will keep money in the pockets of homeowners.

Early estimates show that homeowners in Arlington ISD will save $342 per year and Mansfield ISD taxpayers will save around $385 per year under our plan. This will force the state to pick up more of the tab for public education, a share that has been dwindling over the past 10 years. Local taxpayers now pick up the majority of the cost of neighborhood schools.

Here’s a snapshot of property tax savings for homeowners in several North Texas communities:

Tax savings

Yes, adding more money to our classrooms, providing full-day Pre-K and paying teachers and support staff more will cost money. As I mentioned above, an estimated $14.5 billion for the two-year state budget cycle. Our Texas kids and teachers are worth every penny (and more) of this investment.

Texas will have a record $15 billion expected in the Economic Stabilization Fund (aka the Rainy Day Fund) at the end of the budget cycle. This is coupled with a positive economic outlook and the need to revisit outdated tax exemptions that have cost our state billions of dollars.

The money is there, we just need to make our kids, our classrooms, our teachers and the future of our state a priority.

We have the plan to do it.

State of the State

Yesterday, Governor Greg Abbott delivered his “State of the State” speech, highlighting his priorities for the remainder of this legislative session.

As predicted, he spent time talking about the need for public school finance reform, naming this and teacher pay as emergency items.

I agree with him that both need to be addressed immediately and I look forward to learning more about his proposals, because as we all know, the devil is in the details. We need a real fix that puts more money into our classrooms and gives teachers the tools they need to succeed.

As expected, the governor named property tax reform as an emergency item. I agree. Property taxes are too high – but it’s because the state relies on rising property values to shirk its responsibility on public education funding.  School finance reform that mandates the state pay more of the share of public education is the best way to reduce property taxes, not an arbitrary revenue cap that will make it more difficult for Arlington, Grand Prairie and other communities to pay for public safety and other priorities.

As I pointed out in the Democratic Response to the State of the State Address, the Governor’s speech was notable for a key omission.

Governor Abbott failed to mention anything about the fact Texas still leads the nation in the number of and rate of uninsured.  Nearly 5 million Texans are uninsured – that is unacceptable, and it holds our state back and hurts all of us.

We need to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.  That would insure more than a million Texans immediately and provide much-needed funding for health care services. 

My Democratic colleagues and I will be working this session to address these and other priorities facing the people of Texas.  I hope the Governor will join us in working for real solutions to these challenges.

Leadership

Last week, members of the Texas House of Representatives, including 17 new Democrats, took the oath of office. We also officially welcomed two new Democratic state senators from North Texas, including my good friend, Beverly Powell.

It was a good day.

In addition to the many new faces, we elected a new Speaker of the House, Dennis Bonnen from Angleton.

I have witnessed Speaker Bonnen in action both on the House floor and as a member of the House Ways & Means Committee, which he chaired. He has a no-nonsense style of leadership and deep respect for the institution he now leads.

During the many conversations my colleagues and I have had with Speaker Bonnen, he has stressed the need for bipartisanship and working together to address the critical issues facing our state, including public education. In his acceptance speech, he reiterated this commitment, as well as not getting “caught up in the things that don’t lead to real results.”

This week, we heard similar assurances from our state’s top two elected officials — Governor Greg Abbott and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick — after they were sworn in for their second terms. I was sitting in the audience during their inauguration and I was struck how their tone this year was markedly different from what I heard four years ago.

Gone was Republican red-meat rhetoric on immigration and social issues.  Talk of bathrooms was replaced with promises about classrooms and more money for our teachers. They stressed bipartisanship; a talking point that has been largely absent from these two in the past.

It’s apparent that the last election has made an impact on the agenda for the Legislature — at least at this early stage.  For now, though, Texas leaders are talking about the issues Texans really care about, including more funding for our public schools and higher pay for our teachers.

I hope that these issues, plus increasing access to affordable healthcare, lowering property taxes and fixing problems in our Medicaid managed care system, will be the focus for the next five months.

Time will tell.

Tuesday

On Tuesday, January 8th, the 86TH Legislature begins and I will take the oath of office to continue representing the people of House District 101. It’s an incredible honor to continue serving a community that means so much to Lisa and me.

Our 140-day legislative session provides a short window of time to tackle the critical issues impacting our state with the goal of finding real solutions for all Texans.

To me, this means adding more funding for our local public schools, increasing access to affordable healthcare coverage, improving options for transportation and protecting our state’s most vulnerable children and adults.  It also means rejecting divisive, partisan measures like the bathroom bill.

If you’re in Austin Tuesday (or on any day), swing by and say hello. Our office is in the basement of the main Capitol building, GN.11. Scroll down for a map and more details about Tuesday‘s opening day.

If you can’t make next week, but still want to take a trip to the Capitol, don’t forget that Texas 101 Day is right around the corner! If you’re planning to attend and haven’t had a chance to RSVP, click here. If you need more details, call the Arlington district office at 817-459-2800.

I hope to see you soon.

Join us for opening day of the 86th Legislature.

Map to Office of Representative Turner

Warmest greetings and best wishes

As the year draws to a close and we reflect on our blessings, I want to tell you how grateful we are for your support and friendship. I appreciate how much you care about our state and its future – and how hard you work to make it even better. Thank you.

Lisa and I hope you and your family have a safe, restful and joyful holiday season. We look forward to seeing you in 2019!

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays,

Chris & Lisa Turner

First bills

Last week, I filed my first pieces of legislation ahead of the 86th Legislative Session. These measures will address several critical areas, including predatory lending, child safety, campus sexual assault, ethics reform, and consumer tax savings. Here’s a quick snapshot of the first five bills I have filed:

Phone HB 447 would prohibit payday and auto-title lenders from making unsolicited calls to Texans on the state’s “Do Not Call” list. Current law has a loophole that allows predatory lenders to be exempt from the list’s requirements and, as a result, they have carte blanche to call Texans to push their harmful predatory loan products. As you may know, this is a largely unregulated industry in Texas, resulting in the highest interest rates and fees in the nation and many of our neighbors becoming trapped in a cycle of debt.
Baby Currently, 12 states, including Oklahoma, Nebraska and South Carolina, have updated their child restraint laws to require children under age two remain in a rear-facing car seat while riding in a vehicle. The measure I filed, HB 448, is based on American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) recommendations and will better protect our youngest Texans when riding in a vehicle and may well save lives and prevent serious injuries.
Notation HB 449 would help ensure that students who are facing expulsion or suspension due to a code of conduct violation, including sexual assault, may not withdraw and transfer to a different institution of Higher Education during the adjudication process without the new institution being made aware of a possible violation. By adding a notation on a student’s transcript, a university where a student applies will have all the pertinent information.
Magnifying glass HB 450 would provide additional transparency by requiring elected officials’ personal financial statements (PFS) be posted online for members of the public to easily access. Currently, in order to obtain this information, a member of the public must contact the Texas Ethics Commissions and submit a written request. This measure would make the information — which includes a candidate or elected official’s sources of income — publicly available via the internet.
Light bulb HB 451 would add LED light bulbs to the list of tax-free items during the ENERGY STAR® Sales Tax Holiday. Although ENERGY STAR® LED light bulbs use 70 to 90 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs, they are not currently included on the list of tax-free items.
These bills are just the start.  We are working on several additional bills that we will be filing in the weeks ahead. As we approach the 86th Legislature and throughout our 140-day session, I will continue to keep you updated.In the meantime, let me know what you’d like to see addressed. Email me at chris.turner@house.texas.gov.

Meet Our 17 New Texas House Democrats

Democrats made historic gains in Texas this year.
And we’re excited to welcome our new members to our Caucus!

 

Early Voting Locations

Early voting runs from Monday, October 22 through Friday, November 2. Visit mytexasvotes.com or call 1-844-TX-VOTES to find the nearest polling location.  During early voting, you can vote at any location in the county in which you are registered.

Tarrant County polling locations, dates and times are listed below.

Tarrant County Early Voting Locations & Times:

Monday, October 22 to Friday, October 26: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.   

Saturday, October 27: 7:00 a.m. — 7:00 p.m. 

Sunday, October 28: 11:00 a.m. — 4:00 p.m. 

Monday, October 20 to Friday, November 2: 7:00 a.m. — 7:00 p.m. 

Bob Duncan Center 2800 South Center Street Arlington 76014
Elzie Odom Athletic Center 1601 NE Green Oaks Boulevard Arlington 76006
Center for Community Service Junior League of Arlington 4002 West Pioneer Parkway Arlington 76013
South Service Center 1100 SW Green Oaks Boulevard Arlington 76017
Tarrant County Sub‐Courthouse in Arlington  700 E Abram Street Arlington 76010
Tarrant County College Southeast Campus EMB ‐  Portable Building C 2100 Southeast Parkway Arlington 76018
BJ Clark Annex Room (Sala) (Phòng số) 4 603 Southeast Parkway Azle 76020
Bedford Public Library 2424 Forest Ridge Drive Bedford 76021
Benbrook Community Center 228 San Angelo Avenue Benbrook 76126
Colleyville City Hall 100 Main Street Colleyville 76034
Crowley Recreation Center 405 S Oak Street Crowley 76036
Euless Public Library 201 North Ector Drive Euless 76039
Forest Hill Civic and Convention Center 6901 Wichita Street Forest Hill 76140
All Saints Catholic Church Parish Hall 200 N.W. 20th Street Fort Worth 76164
Diamond Hill‐Jarvis Library 1300 NE 35TH Street Fort Worth 76106
East Pointe Church of Christ 3029 Handley Drive Fort Worth 76112
Griffin Sub‐Courthouse 3212 Miller Avenue Fort Worth 76119
JPS Health Center Viola M. Pitts/Como Lower Level  #100 4701 Bryant Irvin Road N. Fort Worth 76107
Longhorn Activity Center 5350 Basswood Boulevard Fort Worth 76137
Rosemont Middle School 1501 West Seminary Drive Fort Worth 76115
Southside Community Center 959 East Rosedale Street Fort Worth 76104
Southwest Community Center 6300 Welch Avenue Fort Worth 76133
Southwest Regional Library 4001 Library Lane Fort Worth 76109
Southwest Sub‐Courthouse 6551 Granbury Road Fort Worth 76133
Tarrant County Elections Center Main Early Voting Site  2700 Premier Street Fort Worth 76111
Tarrant County Plaza Building 201 Burnett Street Fort Worth 76102
Villages of Woodland Springs Amenity Bldg. 12209 Timberland Boulevard Fort Worth 76244
Worth Heights Community Center 3551 New York Avenue Fort Worth 76110
Asia Times Square 2615 W. Pioneer Parkway Grand Prairie 75051
The REC of Grapevine 1175 Municipal Way Grapevine 76051
Haltom City Northeast Center 3201 Friendly Lane Haltom City 76117
Hurst Recreation Center 700 Mary Drive Hurst 76053
Northeast Courthouse 645 Grapevine Highway Hurst 76054
Keller Town Hall 1100 Bear Creek Parkway Keller 76248
Kennedale Community Center 316 West 3rd Street Kennedale 76060
Sheriff’s Office North Patrol Division 6651 Lake Worth Boulevard Lake Worth 76135
Mansfield Sub‐Courthouse 1100 East Broad Street Mansfield 76063
Dan Echols Center 6801 Glenview Drive N Richland Hills 76180
Eagle Mountain‐Saginaw ISD Administration Building  6 – Training Room 1200 N Old Decatur Road Saginaw 76179
Southlake Town Hall 1400 Main Street Southlake 76092
White Settlement Public Library 8215 White Settlement Road White Settlement 76108

 

Tuesday, October 23  to Thursday, 25: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Naylor Student Center  1900 West Boyce Avenue Fort Worth 76115
Texas Wesleyan University Baker Building  3021 E Rosedale St. Fort Worth 76105
UNT – Health Science Center MET 2nd Floor Mezzanine  1000 Montgomery St. Fort Worth 76107

 

Tuesday, October 30 to Thursday,  November 1: 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Tarrant County College Northeast Campus Student Center NSTU 1506   828 W. Harwood Road Hurst 76054
Tarrant County College Northwest Campus WSTU 1305  4801 Marine Creek Parkway Fort Worth 76179
Tarrant County College South Campus Student Center SSTU 1112 5301 Campus Drive Fort Worth 76119

 

Monday, October 29 to Thursday,  November 1: 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

UTA – University of Texas at Arlington Maverick Activities Center  500 W. Nedderman Drive Arlington 76019
TCU – Texas Christian University Brown‐Lupton University Union  2901 Stadium Drive Fort Worth 76129

Finding solutions

On Saturday, September 22nd, we held our biennial Texas 101 Day at Tarrant County College Southeast Campus where residents of District 101 and others joined together to discuss major issues impacting our area. This year we focused solely on transportation and improving the health of our community.

After presentations from the JPS Health Network on the proposed bond election (click here for the presentation) and the Tarrant Transit Alliance on local transportation needs (click here for the presentation), we divided attendees into smaller groups to discuss one of the two issues.

When we merged after an hour or so of small group discussion, here’s some of what they had to say:

HEALTHY COMMUNITIES
Challenges
  • There’s a need for increased access to medical services in our community
  • Texas leads the nation in the rate of uninsured, which impacts the cost of medical care for all in our state and the health of our communities
  • Low voter turnout & lack of transportation could negatively impact the success of the November 6th JPS Bond election

Solutions

  • Passage of the JPS Bond will help increase access to care with additional and expanded facilities
  • Expanding Medicaid would directly impact the uninsured rate by providing coverage for over 1 million Texas adults and would likely lower health insurance costs
  • Vote! – and do your part to get others to vote on this important measure. Access to transportation and health care go hand in hand. Need to expand transit options to ensure that people can not only vote, but also seek medical treatment.

TRANSPORTATION
Challenges

  • No access to a local comprehensive mass transit system, which negatively impacts many in our community, including many students attending UT Arlington and Tarrant County College Southeast Campus
  • There’s a lack of education about different options and services
  • Past elections when this issue was not approved by voters had extremely low turnout
Solutions

  • Increase opportunities to discuss transit options and engage college students in the process as they play a key role in our community
  • Add more voices to the discussion about positives and possibilities of increasing transit options; those in support need to make their voices heard. Use social media to educate and create a call to action.
  • If there is an applicable measure, strongly urge city leaders to put it on a November ballot to ensure higher turnout.
Working together, the women and men in attendance were able to confront existing challenges with potential solutions. By doing this, not only did they feel empowered to have the conversations — which sometimes can be difficult — but many felt driven to act.
At the beginning of the event, before the presentations, I reminded attendees how powerful this type of gathering and collaboration could be for our community. Four years ago, we had a room full of people talking about payday lending and how these predatory practices have negatively impacted so many of our neighbors. Now, in part due to the action by the people in the room that day, both Arlington and Grand Prairie now have payday lending ordinances in place. 
As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” 
Texas 101 Day is a prime example of such commitment.
I look forward to continuing to work together on these critical issues and to our next Texas 101 Day in Arlington in 2020.

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