Another week, another HHSC contracting scandal

Recently, the State Auditor ¹ released a new report highlighting more contracting issues at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). This is dangerous because people — especially the most vulnerable in our state — cannot afford to lose health services because of irresponsible mismanagement.
Things have gotten so bad that the State Auditor found problems with every one of the 28 different contracts it reviewed, all awarded within the past two and a half years. It’s obvious that Governor Abbott hasn’t done his job to keep the HHSC accountable and protect healthcare for all Texans. That’s why I’m asking you to help call this for what it is: completely unacceptable!
One of the worst cases in this newest round of problems is a $3 billion STAR Kids contract. In case you missed it, that same program was recently highlighted in a Dallas Morning News series titled “Pain & Profit” ² — investigating how many Texans are being left to suffer while healthcare companies refuse critical services.
It’s clear that Governor Abbott isn’t making an effort to hold the HHSC accountable, after many months and years of scandal, which is why we need to speak out!

What it means to be an American.

Today we celebrate our country’s independence and the freedoms that make our nation the greatest in the world. We hope you’re able to enjoy today’s festivities, parades and fireworks and spend quality time with friends and family!

As we celebrate today, let us remember the brave women and men in our Armed Forces who put themselves in harm’s way to protect our freedom. We owe them a debt of gratitude today and every day.

Let us also reflect on who we are as a country, and what it means to be an American. For Chris and our team, it’s about standing up for what’s right, welcoming others with open arms, treating people with respect, fighting for change, and always trying to do the right thing — it’s values like these that make our country and its people great.

As they do every year, Chris and Lisa will be riding in the Arlington 4th of July Parade — which is one of the largest in Texas. If you’re there, don’t forget to wave and say hello! They always like to see friendly faces along the route.

SCOTUS upholds racial gerrymandering in Texas.

The Supreme Court issued a 5-4 ruling yesterday that rubber stamped Texas Republicans’ discriminatory redistricting maps. I am disappointed — now we’re stuck with legislative maps that diminish the voices of our Hispanic and African American communities.

Texans are growing tired of a rigged system that is meant to benefit one party at the expense of the voters. So if the Supreme Court won’t step in to protect our sacred right to vote, then we must double down on our efforts to elect strong candidates up and down the ballot who will.

Yesterday’s ruling should mobilize and energize us like never before. We need to push harder than ever to ensure our Democratic candidates come out on top this November.

Too little, Too late

As you may have heard, the Trump Administration finally changed their policy of separating parents and children at the US-Mexico border after a massive public outcry. But this is too little too late. The damage has already been done for so many children and families!

The new executive order is still extremely limited, and it isn’t clear at all how children already separated from their parents will be reunited. It also does nothing to reverse the “no tolerance” policy that caused so many families to get separated in the first place.

I can’t imagine the pain and trauma this policy has created for these families. The images of children being taken from their parents, the audio of cries for help, and the talk of “cages” and “tender age shelters” — it’s enough to bring any parent to tears.

Since day one, the Trump administration tried to spin this story. They wanted to shift blame on Democrats and use children as a bargaining tool for their policy agenda — and Governor Abbott remained complicit and silent, except to repeat the false Trump talking points.

Now, Trump only backed down on family separation because of a public backlash that even he couldn’t ignore. It is proof that our voices do matter — so let’s use them to remain vocal, keep up the pressure, and force an end to his anti-immigrant agenda for good.

We must do better.

Woof! Happy Father’s Day

I’m Cora (left), and I’m Cassie (right). And we’re just two dogs on a mission to make sure everyone has a wonderful Father’s Day today.

We know there are lots of dads out there who deserve a big thanks for everything they do, but we want to give a special thanks to our pops — State Representative Chris Turner. Woof! Woof!

Our dad rescued us from the Fort Worth Humane Society, but that’s not the only thing that he’s done to help people (or pooches) like us.

As the Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, Chris goes to work every day to unite people behind shared values and support policies that help others get ahead. He isn’t afraid to stand up when things aren’t right, and he treats people with respect. (Wait, did someone say treats?!)

Sometimes we miss him when he’s gone doing the people’s work in Austin, but it’s all worth it: Because we know he is changing lives, just like he did by rescuing us!

Thank you for everything, dad. We can’t wait for what the future has in store!

Alone and in pain for 17 hours

The Dallas Morning News recently published a five-part investigative series highlighting the failures of our state’s Medicaid managed care system for the most vulnerable in our state. For Democrats in the Texas House, this is absolutely unacceptable.

Entitled “Pain & Profit,” the reports show some of the most egregious cases of mismanaged care in our state, all in the name of profit for private healthcare companies. In one situation, a woman paralyzed from the neck down faced cuts to how long her aides could help her through each day. This left her alone, unable to move, and in pain for more than 17 hours a day.

Unfortunately, the pain is all too real for 8,000+ Texans who, like the woman above, have medical needs that simply aren’t being met. And complaints are growing — up more than 26 percent — from patients who say private healthcare companies are refusing them services.

This is a failure of leadership, plain and simple. And my Democratic colleagues and I won’t stop fighting to make certain this never happens again.


The Ultimate Sacrifice

This Memorial Day, my family and I reflect upon and remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our nation’s freedom.

We can never repay the debt our nation owes to the great men and women who gave their lives, nor can we repay the loved ones who are forever impacted by their selfless acts of courage.

In their memory, we must commit ourselves to making a difference in the lives of others, supporting American ideals, and shaping the future of our state and nation for the better. That’s how we can show our gratitude to the servicemembers we owe for defending us and for giving what President Lincoln called “the last full measure of devotion.”

It is because of their courage and valor that our nation remains the greatest in the world.

God bless Santa Fe

I can’t stop thinking of the students, families, educators, administrators, and first responders affected by the senseless act of gun violence at Santa Fe High School a week ago today. My heart breaks for the victims, survivors, and the inconceivable pain the entire community is feeling in the aftermath of the deadliest school shooting in Texas since 1966.

Schools and churches are sacred places, and we must do more to protect our children. That’s why I welcome the round-table discussions happening around Texas; serious conversations are needed, now more than ever, to effectively address this gun violence epidemic.

But I want to be very clear: the State Legislature has a responsibility to act. We must work immediately to prevent more gun deaths, to stop the loss of life, and to protect our kids.

We can and should start by passing life-saving solutions like universal background checks, reporting requirements for stolen guns and the institution of a safe gun storage campaign.

As a Texan, I am deeply committed to helping our neighbors and communities, especially when tragedy strikes. As a legislator and state leader, I know we need to do so much more to prevent this kind of situation from ever happening again.

Turner Celebrates Opening of the 360 Tollway/Rosa Parks Memorial Parkway

Today, state Representative Chris Turner joined transportation officials and other area elected leaders to celebrate the opening of the much anticipated 360 Tollway and to unveil a plaque honoring civil rights icon Rosa Parks. This project has been a priority for Turner since his first election to the Texas House of Representatives in 2008. Slightly more than half of the ten mile project is located within House District 101.

“With so much growth in southeast Tarrant County and House District 101, this is a critical project for our community and I am honored to have played a role in making the expansion a reality,” said Turner. “I take great pride in seeing Rosa Parks’ name on a major portion of the highway. Naming the highway after such an important figure in our American history not only honors her contribution to the Civil Rights movement, but also celebrates the rich diversity of our community.”

“When I first took office in 2009, one of the first things I heard about in my earliest town hall meetings in Arlington and Mansfield was the 360 corridor.  People would ask how can we get this road built.  The traffic is only getting worse,” said Turner. “That was nearly a decade ago, and when we think about how many more people live in Southeast Tarrant County today and how many more are coming our way, thank goodness this day has finally come.”


In 2009, after hearing from constituents about the need to address SH 360, Turner organized the SH 360 Working Group. The group included city and county leaders, representatives from the North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA), Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), and the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG). The group met through 2010 and made much needed progress; so much so that the then-NTTA executive director wrote in a letter to Turner that “(the) SH 360 Working Group has been essential to the progress that has been achieved up to this point…”.

After formal agreements between NTTA and TxDOT were signed in 2013, Turner worked to ensure that project funding remained available. During the 2015 legislative session, an amendment aimed at blocking funding for these types of projects was added to a transportation bill. Upon learning that this measure could derail the project, Turner met with the Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and other stakeholders, including agency officials, to get an iron-clad assurance that funding would not be impacted and that the project would move forward as planned.

During the 2017 legislative session, Turner authored and passed the measure to name the HD 101 portion of the 360 Tollway the Rosa Parks Memorial Parkway. During today’s opening ceremony, Turner unveiled a plaque replicating the marker that has been placed alongside the highway.

The Legislature had granted NTTA primacy – the exclusive right to construct the road – more than a decade ago. Existing service roads will remain non-tolled and have been improved. The new main lanes will mean less traffic and better flow and safety on the non-tolled service roads.

Rosa Parks Memorial Parkway

Today, I joined community leaders to celebrate the opening of the much-anticipated SH 360 South expansion and to dedicate the Rosa Parks Memorial Parkway.

This road has been a long time coming and I am honored to have been a part of the effort for several years.  

When I first took office in 2009, I held several town hall meetings where I heard from constituents about the need to extend the main lanes of the highway south of Sublett/Camp Wisdom to keep up with southeast Tarrant County’s growth. Soon after, I put together a working group focused on SH 360 that included city and county leaders, representatives from the North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA), Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), and the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG).

The group met through 2010 and we were able to make much-needed progress; so much so that the-then executive director of NTTA wrote, “(the) SH360 Working Group has been essential to the progress that has been achieved up to this point…”.

By 2013, with the groundwork laid and with broad support from the community, NTTA and TxDOT signed a memorandum of understanding with a formal agreement to follow the next year.

There were some hiccups along the way, including a scare in the 2015 legislative session that the House had passed a measure that would have inadvertently prohibited TxDOT from participating in the 360 project, thereby killing the project.  But after a number of late night phone calls, I got an iron-clad assurance from the Chairman of the Transportation Commission that 360 would be built, and we’ve never looked back since.

Last year, I authored and passed the measure to name the portion of SH 360 in House District 101 the Rosa Parks Memorial Parkway.  Tomorrow, we will unveil a plaque that reads:

The Texas Legislature has designated this important Southeast Tarrant County road the Rosa Parks Memorial Parkway, in honor of an American hero whose courage helped to change our nation for the better. As a black woman in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955, Ms. Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a city bus to a white man. This act of courage inspired the Civil Rights Movement, which aimed to eliminate racial discrimination and make the American Dream possible for all people. Ms. Parks’ fight for equality and fairness spanned her entire life, as she continued to tackle issues such as affordable housing and public education until her death in 2005.

“I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free…so other people would also be free.” -Rosa Parks

After years of anticipation and a lot of hard work, 360 South will (finally) open on Friday. It’s going to be a good day for District 101.


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