State Representative Chris Turner

She’s worried. Really worried.

Politics is really strange sometimes.  Last Tuesday, I was thrilled when my friend Beverly Powell won the Democratic primary election in Senate District 10.  Lisa and I were leaving Beverly’s victory party when I saw this tweet from the Star Telegram’s Bud Kennedy:


“That’s weird,” I thought.  “What could she have said that made it sound like she was running against me?”

I pulled up the statement and sure enough.  After a number of false statements about Beverly and her supporters, Burton turns her attention to…me.

She wrote, “…Chris Turner is also enthusiastically working for my opponent. As Democrat (sic) Caucus chairman, Turner was responsible last session for organizing their party’s lock-step opposition to legislation I coauthored that is broadly supported across Senate District 10.”

If that wasn’t enough, she went on to attack my support of fixing our broken school finance system, which is the only solution to address rising property taxes. She attacked my support of a woman’s constitutional right to choose. She attacked my opposition to the unconstitutional “show me your papers” law.

After naming me SIX TIMES in a string of false attacks, (again, I am not her opponent), Burton concluded by saying, “And now he hopes you’ll ignore the issues and send him reinforcements in November.”

She’s right on one thing. I do hope voters across our state will send reinforcements. We sure could use them in Austin.

We need more members of the Legislature who will fight for our public schools, improve access to health care and make college affordability a top priority. We also need more voices and votes against extreme measures like the so-called bathroom bill (one of Burton’s top priorities).

As probably the most ineffective legislator in the Capitol, Burton puts her extremist agenda above the interests of the women, men and children she represents. She has fought against more funding for our public schools, opposed increasing access to health care and voted against bringing good jobs to Tarrant County. And, we know she doesn’t like being confronted with inconvenient facts about her record, which is why she stormed out of an Arlington luncheon a few weeks ago when GOP County Judge Glen Whitley called out the Legislature for hypocrisy on property taxes.

I guess I wasn’t surprised that Burton came out swinging so early. With a record of failure and such a strong opponent in Beverly Powell, she is on the defense.

Between now and November 6th, I will do everything in my power to spread Democrats’ message and get voters who reject Burton’s brand of right-wing Trump-style extremism to the polls.  

Last week’s record turnout in the Democratic primary was a testament to how excited and engaged people are across our state. It’s obvious that Texans want real solutions to fix the challenges they face every day.

To be successful on Election Day, it will take hard work and it will take money. 

Help me get more voters to the polls and keep the people of House District 101 and Tarrant County engaged in this critical election

Together, we can elect more common-sense leaders like Beverly Powell and send lots of reinforcements to Austin.

Vote!

It’s not too late to vote for Beto O’Rourke for US Senate, Marc Veasey for re-election to Congress, Beverly Powell to replace Konni Burton, and Devan Allen to represent HD 101 in the Tarrant County Commissioner’s Court.

You have until 7:00 pm today. 

I know you’ve probably received a few reminders to go vote. This one probably won’t be the last. As I wrote in an email to you a couple of weeks ago, and as record early voting turnout for our party’s primary indicates, this will be a historic election

If you haven’t made it to the ballot box, it’s not too late. Again, you have until 7:00 pm today. 

Tarrant County Voters, click here for your polling location.

If you’re not in Tarrant County click here.

Now go vote.

Black History Month

Today marks the start of Black History Month, an annual celebration of African Americans’ incredible achievements and contributions to our nation’s history. During the month of February, I will highlight various African American leaders on social media and on my website. I hope you will join me in honoring these men and women and share the posts among your networks.

This Sunday, February 4th, marks what would have been Rosa Parks’ 105th birthday.  As you may recall, last year I passed a measure to name the Arlington and Grand Prairie portion of the SH 360 South extension the Rosa Parks Memorial Parkway.  This will both honor her legacy and pay tribute to the rich diversity of our community.

Over the last few months, my staff and I have worked with the North Texas Tollway Authority and Dr. Jason Shelton, the Director of the Center for American Studies at the University of Texas at Arlington, to finalize the language for the commemorative plaque that will be installed when the road is complete.  It will read:

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 befree…so other people would also be free.” – Rosa Parks 

This spring, there will be an event to open the highway and unveil the plaque.  As we get closer and confirm the details, I will send additional information so that you may mark your calendar.

In the meantime, I hope we can all reflect on the rich contributions of African Americans in Texas and across our nation this Black History Month.

Progress in District 101

There are major developments on two local projects my staff and I have been working on over the past few years.

As you know, curbing the reach of predatory lenders has been a top priority of mine.  My staff and the Texas 101 Task Force have worked on this issue since 2014. Last night, in a unanimous vote, the Grand Prairie City Council joined Arlington and 42 other Texas cities in adopting a Credit Access Business (CAB) ordinance. As a result of this action, those who take out payday and auto-title loans in Grand Prairie will have greater protections and will be less likely to become trapped in a cycle of predatory loan debt.

The Grand Prairie City Council deserves our appreciation and thanks for stepping up and doing what is right for its citizens and for having the political will to do something the Legislature refuses to do — stand up to predatory lenders.

What cities are doing is making a real difference, but they really should not have to be dealing with this issue in the first place.  It is the Legislature’s responsibility to regulate predatory lenders.  I hope that as more cities join Grand Prairie and Arlington by passing CAB ordinances, state leaders will take notice and recognize it is time to act.

In the meantime, I am proud to say that 100 percent of District 101 is now covered by a predatory lending ordinance! I’m equally proud that so many citizens, through the Texas 101 Task Force and other means, became involved in this issue at the local level.

Another district project that we have worked on for a while is improving pedestrian safety along Spur 303/Pioneer Parkway in Arlington.

This busy thoroughfare, located in an area with significant residential housing and several schools, needs major pedestrian improvements. These will include additional sidewalks and safer crosswalks.

In response to these concerns, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has developed an improvement plan for Spur 303, which they will unveil at a public meeting Thursday evening, January 25, from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at the Senior Recreation Center located at 1815 New York Avenue, Arlington, TX 76010.

Click Here to See the Proposed Plan 

I hope that East Arlington residents will come out and share their thoughts on the proposed plan. My staff and I will be there and we hope to see you.

If you have any questions about Thursday’s meeting, email me at chris.turner@house.texas.gov.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In my Capitol office, on the wall beside my desk, hang two pictures of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  The photograph on top is of Dr. King waving to an audience of 250,000 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. That day, he gave what many consider his most notable speech and where, in a boomingMLK National Mallvoice, he delivered the words that moved a nation.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

The picture below it is of Dr. King in the Oval Office, sitting in the foreground, listening, or perhaps deep in thought. President Lyndon B. Johnson can be seen behind him.  I hung thisMLK and LBJphoto as a reminder of the progress these two made addressing civil rights and voting rights. It also serves as a reminder of the constant battle to fight for and to protect these rights.

Today, we remember Dr. King’s words, we celebrate his life and we honor his legacy. Let’s not just focus on thoughts and celebrations. Let’s act.  Let us work collectively to serve our communities and make our cities, state and country a better place for all.

The night before he tragically died, Dr. King delivered his final speech. In it, he challenged those listening to come together to work for the greater good.

He said, “Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge, to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation.”

These words ring as true today as they did in 1968.

I ask you to please join me in making a commitment to stand with greater determination and to help the people in our communities, our state and our nation. Not just today, but every day.

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.

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