2017 Constitutional Amendment Election

This week marks the start of early voting for the 2017 Constitutional Amendment election. While these constitutional amendment elections normally don’t have high turnout rates, they’re still important for our state and our community.

The voter ID procedure for this election is the same as it was in 2016.  If you have a photo ID, you should bring it to the polls to vote. If you don’t have a photo ID, you can still cast a ballot as long as you bring other proof of identification, such as your voter registration certificate, utility bill, or bank statement. You’ll then have to sign a “reasonable impediment declaration” stating that you were unable to obtain a more official form of ID. If you have any questions on the process, please call my office or check out the good Q&A on this website, www.GoVoteTexas.org.

Here’s what’s on the ballot:

Proposition 1: Expand Property Tax Breaks for Disabled Veterans
Current law allows a disabled veteran to claim a partial property tax exemption for a home donated by a charity at no cost. The change in Prop 1 would expand current law to include any home donated by a charity for less than the market value of the residence homestead. This measure provides additional financial relief for veterans that may not otherwise be able to afford a home.

Proposition 2: Updating Home Equity Loan Laws
This amendment is designed to modernize Texas’ home equity loan process. Overall, the amendments makes five updates. First, borrowers have a lower cap on fees charged for their home equity loan, and there would be more lenders to choose from. It will be easier for homeowners to pay off their equity line of credit in advance, and under certain conditions, a home equity loan can be refinanced as a non-home equity loan. Finally, agricultural homesteads could qualify for these kinds of loans. The bill creating this constitutional amendment passed unanimously; for more details, I encourage you read this op-ed from the San Antonio Express-News that details how the changes proposed by this constitutional amendment could help.

Proposition 3: Change to Length of Service for State-Appointed Officials
The central question of Proposition 3 is whether or not an unpaid state-appointed official whose term has expired should be allowed to continue serving in that position until a replacement is named. Current law allows these officials to serve indefinitely until a replacement is named; this amendment creates a hard cut-off date for an appointee whose time has expired. If you want to ensure volunteer, state-appointed positions are properly turned over so that new volunteers can serve on them, you should vote for the amendment. If you think these unpaid appointees should be able to remain in their positions on boards and commissions until a replacement is named, then you should vote against the amendment.

Proposition 4: Requiring Notice to the Attorney General of a Challenge to State Law
This amendment simply ensures that if a state law is challenged in a Texas court, the Attorney General must be notified. There can then be a waiting period of up to 45 days of that notification during which the law itself cannot be ruled unconstitutional. It would make sense for the state to have a right to defend itself in a lawsuit brought before it and for the state to be made aware of any challenge. The 45-day delay raises fair concerns about whether or not unconstitutional laws would be allowed to remain in effect, even temporarily. However, once the state responded, that 45-day delay would be over. Additionally, the delay only applies to a final judgment “holding the statute unconstitutional.” A court could still place a temporarily hold on a law that could limit constitutional rights, ensuring it didn’t go into effect while the court case was settled.

Proposition 5: Expanding Charity Raffles
This measure expands a recent constitutional amendment that allows professional sports teams to conduct raffles at home games. The original law limited this to only well-established sports teams. Prop 5 would allow minor league teams to hold such raffles, as well as anyone hosting a motorsports racing event or professional golf tournament.

Proposition 6: Property Tax Relief for Families of Fallen First Responders
This amendment lets families of first responders who have already suffered a devastating loss ensure they have relief on rising property taxes for their home. The law would operate the just like current Texas laws that allow spouses of military men and women who die or become disabled in the line of duty to receive some exemptions on his or her property taxes. This measure is appropriate for firefighters, police officers, and all first responders who risk their lives to keep us safe.

Proposition 7: Allowing Raffles for Savings Accounts
This measure, authored by State Representative Eric Johnson, ensures that banks and credit unions are allowed to offer prizes to individuals who create savings accounts. Many Texans lack a savings account or three-month emergency fund. This measure creates an incentive for individuals who establish those accounts, thereby encouraging more cost-effective and secure ways of saving money, as opposed to seeking out predatory payday lending options.

Early voting starts today and runs through November 3rd. Election Day is November 7th. For voting locations in Tarrant County, click here.

Also, feel free to call my Arlington office if you need more information. My staff may be reached by calling 817-459-2800.

Please vote this election!

Health Care: Take Action Now!

This week on Capitol Hill, there’s been a lot of talk about the Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill, the Republicans’ latest scheme to repeal Obamacare.

I know that it’s hard to keep track of all the proposals the Republicans in Washington have been floating around; however, according to every report I’ve read, this may be, by far, the most harmful plan yet.

According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, if Graham-Cassidy becomes law, those with low to moderate incomes, Medicaid recipients (read: seniors, people with disabilities and families with children), and people with pre-existing conditions will be the most negatively impacted. Based on Congressional Budget Office calculations of a previous measure, it’s estimated that a repeal-and-replace plan like Graham-Cassidy could mean 32 million people would lose healthcare coverage.

That’s clearly unacceptable – and that many people losing health coverage simply means that health care costs will skyrocket for everyone as health care providers provide more and more uncompensated care.  If that’s not concerning enough, the federal government will give states block grants and control of how the money is spent, the power to determine what will be covered and how much that coverage will cost. There are several problems with this. Among them, block grants would disappear after 2026, leaving states to fully cover the cost, unless Congress reauthorizes the funding. Even worse, block grants will give state leaders the power to decide whether or not insurance companies have to cover pre-existing conditions, mental health care, substance abuse and maternity care.

I am afraid of what Texas’ leaders would do with the money. Our current governor has been very vocal in his opposition to the Affordable Care Act and has refused to expand Medicaid, which would insure another 1 million Texans. That’s compounded by the fact that our state has a long history of failure when it comes to healthcare.

For example:

  • Two years ago, Texas Republicans directed the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to slash spending for acute therapy services for kids, resulting in thousands of children being denied access to speech, occupational and physical therapy.
  • In 2003, Republicans passed a bill that made it harder for lower-income working families to get CHIP health coverage for their kids. As a result, in the three years after the bill was signed into law, 215,729 children lost access to their health coverage.  To add insult to injury, the bill required the privatization of the implementation of the program, at a cost over nearly $1 billion that resulted in scandal and fiscal mismanagement.

It’s important to point out that it’s not just Democrats who oppose the Graham-Cassidy bill; many Republicans do too. Several Republican and Democratic governors have sent a letter calling on Senate leadership to shelve the Graham-Cassidy measure and instead work toward a bipartisan solution.

I hope more Republicans lend their voice in opposition and soon. This bill is on the fast track.

What can you do to help stop this assault on health care? Join me in contacting Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz to tell them to oppose Graham-Cassidy.

U.S. Senator John Cornyn
North Texas Office
(972) 239-1310
Washington, DC Office
(202) 224-2934

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz
North Texas Office
(214) 599-8749
Washington, DC Office
(202) 224-5922

This is a bad bill for Texas and for people across our nation. Let’s make our voices heard.

 

Paying for College Events

Please Join
State Representative Chris Turner
For a Paying for College Seminar

Tuesday, September 26
6:00 to 7:30 PM
Seguin High School (Cafeteria)
7001 Silo Rd, Arlington
OR
Wednesday, September 27
6:00 TO 7:30 pm
Timberview High School (Auditorium)
7700 S Watson Rd, Arlington

Representatives from UT-Arlington & TCC will share information on:
Federal College Financial Aid
State Financial Aid
Scholarships
Veterans Educational Benefits
and more!

Click here, call 817-459-2800
or email chris.turner@house.texas.gov to RSVP or for details

Immediate needs — Hurricane Harvey

Last week, I emailed a list of organizations working to help those impacted by Hurricane Harvey. The response was incredible – thank you!

There’s still more we can do to help.

I have been in communication with my House colleagues who represent the impacted areas, as well as Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis’s office, to get an update on current needs in their communities.

In parts of Harris County, now that the cleanup process has begun, residents are in most need of bleach. In addition, the supply of children’s diapers, specifically larger sizes (4,5,6) are running low, as are adult diapers.

To help aid in the effort to collect these items, my staff has created an Amazon list with the needed items, which will ship directly to Commissioner Ellis’ office in Southeast Houston. Click here to go to the list and place an order for immediate shipment.

If you would rather ship directly or are able to drop off items in person, the address is: Commissioner Rodney Ellis, 2727 El Camino Street, Houston, Texas 77054.

As needs change or are fulfilled, we will update the Amazon list. Please share.

If you would rather make a monetary donation to one of the many national, regional or local organizations working on relief efforts, please visit the list on my website, which you may find by clicking here.

Thank you for helping our neighbors.

PHOTO CREDIT: Tony Gutierrez, AP

Charlottesville

Anger and disgust — those are two of many words that come to mind when I think of what happened in Charlottesville this weekend and of the hatred and division that has risen to the surface during the past several months.

The violence in Virginia was an act of domestic terrorism, plain and simple. These white supremacists and Nazis (or as they call themselves, the alt-right) are anything but patriots – they are un-American. Their goal is simple — to rip apart the fabric of what makes our nation great: its diversity, its compassion and its inclusion of all races, genders, religions and creeds.

On Saturday, after the president made his statement in response to the protests, I was reminded of something the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said: “the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Two full days later, Trump finally condemned members of the KKK and other white supremacy groups, but as has been his modus operandi, his actions and words were too little too late.

Let me be clear, I know these groups and this hatred existed before the Trump presidency, but it is his harmful rhetoric that has emboldened the Richard Spencers and David Dukes of our nation. Dukes said it himself that, “We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in. That’s why we voted for Donald Trump.”

We — you, me, our neighbors, family members and friends — can stand together to help stamp out this hateful rhetoric. We can donate to groups that fight this hate. We can talk to our friends and family. We must acknowledge and be honest about the divisions of racism. We can call our government officials and ask them to denounce the extreme activities of white supremacists.

We must not let anyone say this comes from “many sides,” because those opposing Nazism aren’t responsible.

Finally, we must remember the innocent lives that have been lost defending the diversity of our nation.

This is a watershed moment in our nation’s history, and our actions now have the power to change its course for the better. The vast majority of Americans denounce bigotry and white supremacy and we must all work every day to resist such hatred.

We have to remember that it is our obligation as Americans to change this, that we can change this, and that we must act.

Helping our neighbors

Early yesterday morning, fire broke out at an east Arlington apartment complex, displacing 37 residents and injuring four. According to news reports, the fire was a result of a domestic dispute involving gasoline, and impacted eight apartment units.

Please keep the residents and those injured in your thoughts and prayers.

Upon hearing the news, my district staff went to the complex to offer help to residents and the apartment staff, and to connect with local Red Cross representatives. During their visit, they learned that those who have been displaced were given housing by the apartment’s management. They also learned that other community partners, including Mission Arlington, are working with the Red Cross to help replace what has been lost.

At this point, it’s our understanding that there is no immediate need for specific items to help these House District 101 constituents, but if that changes, we will post information on my Facebook page. Of course, there are other ways you can help our neighbors in need, both those impacted by yesterday’s fire and others who may be facing other challenges.

To help ensure that others remain safe, the Red Cross will be hosting a smoke detector installation event in Arlington on September 30th. If you’re interested in volunteering or learning more, click here. If you would rather help our neighbors in other ways, visit the North Texas Red Crossand/or Mission Arlington websites today.

As always, if you need help from our office, please call 817-459-2800.

Bathrooms vs. Real Solutions

Earlier this week, law enforcement officials from across our state gathered on the Capitol steps to speak out against the “bathroom bill.” Last week, several business leaders, including CEOs from Fortune 500 companies with major footprints in Texas, also publicly opposed the bill. Late last week, hundreds of people — men, women and children — traveled to Austin to testify at a senate committee hearing in opposition to this dangerous measure.

Yesterday, a majority in the Senate chose to disregard these voices and passed the “bathroom bill.”

In doing so, the senators who voted in favor also ignored the negative economic impact this type of law will have on our economy — an estimated $3.3 billion lost every year. These senators voted in favor of a divisive and dangerous measure that could cost our state and our communities 35,600 jobs. These senators turned their backs on the most vulnerable in our state — including transgender children and their parents who have bravely shared their stories and who fear they will no longer be welcome in their state.

By spending so much time and effort on this measure that is nothing more than a solution in search of a problem, Governor Greg Abbott and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick are ignoring the real challenges facing Texans. Here’s just a snapshot of what the Legislature should be addressing:

  • The Texas economy has dropped from #3 to #21
  • California – yes California, is beating us on unemployment and economic growth
  • Texans haven’t seen a minimum wage increase in 8 years
  • Texas women get paid 79 cents for every $1 a man makes for the same job
  • Texas is cutting funding to public education, causing property taxes to go up
  • The maternal mortality rate has doubled and Texas mothers are dying at a higher rate than anywhere else in the developed world
  • Texas has more uninsured people than any state in the country, which makes health care more expensive for all of us; and if Trumpcare becomes law, an estimated 1.1 million Texans could lose private health insurance coverage and another 225,000 will lose Medicaid
  • Tuition at Texas colleges and universities has risen 147% over the last 14 years

But Abbott and Patrick just want to talk about bathrooms. 
If you, like me, agree that a “bathroom bill” isn’t a solution to the challenges facing Texans, and that you support the real solutions that will help our state’s kids, our economy, our health, and our communities, let us know.Today, the House Democratic Caucus, which I chair, is rolling out our “Real Solutions for All Texans” petition. I want my friends to be the first to add their names to the list.

Click here to add your name.When the 30-day special session comes to a close, I am hopeful that it will do so without a harmful and hateful “bathroom bill” becoming law. I am not as confident however, that the governor and lieutenant governor will make real solutions for all Texans a priority moving forward.

2018

During my four terms serving in the Texas House of Representatives, and as the current chair of the Texas House Democratic Caucus, I have been on the frontline fighting to create more opportunity for Texas families: better funding for our public schools, improved access to healthcare, protecting the rights of all Texans and expanding consumer protection.

Back at home, my number one priority has and always will be to engage members of our community and for our office to be a resource for constituents. Through informational events, our Texas 101 Task Force, and effective constituent services, we have been able to accomplish a great deal on behalf of the people of House District 101.

There’s still more I would like to do both here at home and at the Capitol.That is why I am seeking re-election to the Texas House of Representatives.

With your help, I will continue to serve the people of Arlington and Grand Prairie as a strong voice supporting real solutions for ALL Texans – and I will continue to help lead the charge in the House against the divisive, partisan agenda of Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick.

To be successful, I need your help.

I hope you will sign on as an early supporter of my 2018 re-election effort and contribute before today’s critical midnight deadline.

Working together, we will continue to help our neighbors and to fight for what really matters to our community and our state.

Not so special

Last week, Governor Greg Abbott announced a special session of the Legislature to begin on July 18th. I talked about it on WFAA’s Inside Texas Politics on Sunday (spoiler alert: I don’t think this session will be very special).

What could be so important that Governor Abbott would call the Legislature back for its first overtime session since 2013?

Would it be to finally fix our broken school finance system, the one that increasingly shifts the cost of education to property taxpayers while state government continues to shirk its responsibility at the expense of 5.3 million public school students?  I could sure get behind a special session to improve public education – but alas, that’s not what the governor wants, unless you count a meaningless “study” of school finance.  

Perhaps, instead, Governor Abbott has finally recognized it’s his and the Legislature’s duty to do something about the shameful fact that Texas has the highest number and rate of uninsured of any state in the nation and it is past time we improve healthcare access and affordability for Texans?  Well, you’d be dreaming if that were the case.

Oh, I know – is Governor Abbott alarmed about the fact that the Texas economy has steadily worsened on his watch? After all, our economy has slipped from #3 to #21 in the last couple of years and our GDP growth has slowed to a crawl while housing prices continue to rise.  But no, if you thought that was the reason for the special session, you’re sadly mistaken.

No, Governor Abbott has decided we need a costly special session to address a Tea Party wish list of crazy ideas: new attacks on women’s reproductive rights, the discriminatory “bathroom” bill, an assault on unions, private school vouchers and myriad efforts to upend cities’ ability to…well, be cities.

There is one must-pass bill: the measure that would keep the Texas Medical Board, the agency that licenses doctors, operational.  (It didn’t pass in the regular session when Lt. Governor Dan Patrick sabotaged it so he could force Governor Abbott to call this special session). We could pass that bill in two days, go home, save the taxpayers a lot of money and the state of Texas a lot of embarrassment.

This is the new normal in the Republican Party in the age of Trump – serious problems are ignored while Republican politicians create new ones to placate their Tea Party base.

It’s a shame, because the people of Texas deserve much better.

 

#TXLEGE in Review, Part 1

It’s so good to be home. To be perfectly honest, I was happy to see Austin in my rearview mirror when I was driving up I-35 on Tuesday. There is a lot to say about what happened in this just-concluded legislative session, and I won’t try to say it all in one email. There was some good, but a lot more bad.

I have always said my most important job is to work for our district. So, I will start my recap there and let you know some of the things we worked on for the benefit of Arlington and Grand Prairie.

SH 360: The Rosa Parks Memorial Parkway

First and foremost, I am thrilled to announce that once construction is complete, the SH 360 extension from Sublett/Camp Wisdom Road to the northern Mansfield city limit will be named the Rosa Parks Memorial Parkway. Paying homage to this Civil Rights icon is an appropriate way to highlight and honor our community’s rich diversity. This effort would not have been successful without the support of so many in House District 101. The portion of the road south of District 101 will be named for former state Senator Chris Harris.

Arlington & Grand Prairie Transit Study

I successfully added language to the budget which will allow the University of Texas at Arlington to study the transit needs of the communities I serve. As you know, Arlington is the largest city in the nation without a mass transit system. Grand Prairie, and its growing population, also lacks transit. The study, which will focus on the transit needs in our community and how they may be addressed, will be completed by the end of 2018. A leading urban research university, UT Arlington is well-positioned to conduct this important study.

Mental Health

We have talked a lot over the last couple of years about the immense mental health needs in Texas.  One of the best displays of bipartisanship this session was significant mental health reforms, aimed at improving access and providing more funding for those organizations doing the important work on the front lines. I was proud to be a joint author of HB 13 by Rep. Four Price, which establishes a matching grant program for community mental health programs. I worked closely with Rep. Price to add provisions to the bill that will make the grant program more accessible for large county mental health authorities, such as MHMR of Tarrant County.

In my next email, I’ll highlight some of the work I did in the areas of ethics, education, voter rights and protecting children. I’m glad to be able to share news of these victories with you, knowing that none of them would be possible were it not for your continued support and involvement.

 

Search


Latest News

  • I filed

    Today, I filed for re-election in House District 101 and I released the following statement: “Serving th

    Read More
  • 2018 Campaign Kickoff

    To RSVP,

    Read More
  • 2017 Constitutional Amendment Election...

    This week marks the start of early voting for the 2017 Constitutional Amendment election. While these constitutional ame

    Read More
  • ACA & District Spotlight...

    There has been a lot of talk in recent days (and weeks and months) about the Affordable Care Act (ACA

    Read More

Recent Posts

Upcoming Events