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.

#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.

 

The last full measure of devotion

Today, we reflect on the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our nation and the freedoms we enjoy. We will never be able to repay the incredible debt we all owe to those who gave their lives, or to the loves ones they left behind.

Each year, on Memorial Day, I am reminded of President Lincoln’s words,“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion…”

Today is the final day of the 85th Legislative Session. It has been a long and often trying 140 days, but today, I am reminded how fortunate we are to live in a state and a nation where we can freely debate ideas.  We can’t ever take that for granted, for it is only because of the blood shed by those who have defended our nation that we are able to enjoy the liberties of the United States of America.

Discrimination

Last week, SB 4, the “show me your papers” bill was signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott. It’s surreal. It’s disgusting. 

The result of this misguided law: local law enforcement and college campus police will now serve as de facto immigration officers, driving many members of our community deeper into the shadows. This law, which was billed as a pro-public safety measure, will make our neighborhoods less safe. Don’t just take my word for it, here is what Arlington Chief of Police Will Johnson wrote about the measure in a recent editorial:

“This will lead to distrust of police, less cooperation from members of the community and the belief that they cannot seek assistance from police for fear of being subjected to an immigration status investigation.

“Distrust and fear of contacting or assisting police has already become evident among immigrants here legally as well.”

This was the concern shared by many in law enforcement before the addition of a Tea Party Republican amendment, which turned an already-bad bill into something much, much worse. As a result, Texas has now become a “show me your papers” state, the consequences of which will be felt in our neighborhoods, in our schools and colleges and reflected in our state’s economy.

Since day one, this bill has had one goal — to discriminate against a specific group of people for purely political gains.

We shouldn’t be surprised by this, as our state’s Republican leaders have a long history of passing measures found to have discriminatory intent. In just the past two months, three federal court rulings have highlighted how the Texas Legislature has systematically discriminated against minorities: 

  • March 10th ruling: Texas Congressional districts drawn in 2011 were drawn with discriminatory intent
  • April 10th ruling: Photo voter ID law was passed with a discriminatory purpose
  • April 20th ruling: 2011 Texas House district map — “map drawers were motivated in part by an intent to dilute minority voting strength”

So what’s the Republican response to these rulings?  It’s to pass measures like SB 4, further harming minorities and dividing our communities.

Chris

Photo credit: Texas AFL-CIO

Halt Investments in Russia

Today, I filed HCR 128, urging Congress to halt investments in Russia until federal investigations into election tampering and related interference have been completed.

Regardless of political party, we should all be outraged that the Russian government meddled in our presidential election. It’s time for Congress to send a strong message to Vladimir Putin and his allies that playing games with our elections comes with a price.

Since last summer, evidence has been mounting regarding Russia’s involvement in the 2016 United States presidential election.  Instances of interference include hacking the Democratic National Committee’s computer network, attacks on state voter registration systems in Arizona and Illinois, and sharing data with the controversial website, WikiLeaks.

In his March 20, 2017 testimony in front of the House Intelligence Committee, FBI Director James Comey confirmed that his agency is investigating Russia’s actions. At the hearing, Comey stated that the Russians were successful in injecting “chaos and discord” into the 2016 presidential election and that our country should expect future attempts by the Kremlin to meddle in our elections. During his testimony, Comey also indicated that his agency is investigating coordination between the Russians and the Trump Campaign.

Click here to read the full text of HCR 128. 

Voter ID Ruling

Rep. Chris Turner Statement on Voter ID Ruling
Today, for the fifth time since 2011, a federal court has ruled that the Republican leadership in Texas intentionally discriminated against minority voters.  It’s shameful that GOP leaders have been found to have intentionally discriminated at all – let alone more than in any other state in the country this decade.
It is past time that Republicans drop their defense of discriminatory photo ID laws and redistricting maps, both in the courts and in the Legislature.

Budget Recap: Democrats Succeed

Budget Recap: House Democrats Successfully Fought to Put Texas Kids and Families First

House Democrats succeeded in making the House version of the budget better.  Led by Rep. Sergio Muñoz and Rep. Ina Minjarez, House Democrats successfully added more money to Child Protective Services and foster care and Rep. Muñoz added an additional $21.5 million towards reversing the cuts made to acute therapy services for kids. Rep. Garnet Coleman secured vital funding for mental health crisis services.

Additionally, Rep. Abel Herrero led the successful passage of an anti-voucher amendment, sending a clear message to Governor Abbott and the Texas Senate that we want more funding for our local public schools, and that voucher schemes are going nowhere in the Texas House. This was on top of the already important efforts of Democrats on the Appropriations Committee who worked tirelessly to increase funding for student financial aid.

As with every state budget, with the good also comes the bad. At the end of the debate, after Democrats successfully killed an attempt to gut the Texas Dream Act, House Republicans succeeded in passing one of several anti-women’s health measures they had proposed. Sadly, this was no surprise, as Republicans have conducted an all-out assault on women’s health for years.

Democrats brought forth several amendments to increase funding for family planning services and to stop wasting money on ineffective, so-called crisis pregnancy centers. It’s low-income, rural and minority women who are paying the ultimate price for these tactics. House Democrats will continue to fight for access to needed health care for all Texans.

Lake Arlington Injection Well Hearing Request

This week, I requested the Texas Railroad Commission hold a hearing in Arlington regarding an application for a proposed fluid injection well adjacent to Lake Arlington. In response to the request, I released the following statement:

“I have heard from many members of the community who oppose the proposed injection well – for fear that its proximity to Lake Arlington could harm Arlington’s municipal and industrial water supply. Injection wells have been linked to seismic activity, which is also a concern. The people I represent deserve a chance to air their concerns at a public hearing – and not have to travel to Austin to do so. If the Railroad Commission wants to make decisions about what happens in our backyard, they should travel to our backyard and listen to the people who will be most impacted.”

If permitted, the well would inject oil and gas waste into a porous formation less than 100 feet from the edge of Lake Arlington and near the Arlington dam. Concern has been expressed that if seismic activity were to occur, and the dam breaches, flooding could have devastating effects on parts of North Texas.

To read the letter, click here: http://votechristurner.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/CTurner_RRC_HearingRequest_3.13.17.pdf

House Files School Finance Bill

This week, I stood with members of both parties to support HB 21, which would address our broken public school finance system and increase funding for our schools by $1.6 billion. I am honored that Chairman Huberty, who heads the Public Education Committee in the House, asked me to be a joint author on this important piece of legislation.

Turner urges Paxton to stop fighting foster care suit

Citing sex-trafficking series, Texas Dem urges Paxton to stop fighting foster care suit

BY EDGAR WALTERS AND NEENA SATIJA
FEB. 22, 2017 1:37 PM

After a Texas Tribune series exposed the connections between the state’s embattled child welfare system and child sex trafficking, the chair of the Texas House Democratic Caucus has asked state Attorney General Ken Paxton to stop fighting a federal judge’s mandate to overhaul the agency charged with protecting vulnerable kids.

“If there was ever a call to action for state officials to get serious about reforming foster care, this was it,” state Rep. Chris Turner, D-Arlington, wrote in the letter to Paxton on Wednesday.

The lead plaintiff in the class-action lawsuit filed against Texas’ child welfare system was a victim of sex trafficking. Turner’s letter cited The Texas Tribune’s reporting in the “Sold Out” series, which found there could be tens of thousands of child sex-trafficking victims in Texas today — and that many of them have had some contact with the child welfare system.

“Those stunning facts should outrage every single one of us,” Turner wrote.

Since a federal judge ruled in late 2015 that the long-term foster care system had violated children’s constitutional rights by placing them at undue risk of harm, Paxton has objected to or worked to delay various court-ordered reforms.

The judge’s scathing opinion held that Texas had violated the constitutional rights of some 12,000 children in permanent managing conservatorship, the state’s designation for children who cannot find lasting homes with relatives or adoptive parents and are unable to be reunited with their biological families. U.S. District Judge Janis Jack ruled that children “often age out of care more damaged than when they entered.”

“Since the ruling, you and your office have inexplicably spent an inordinate amount of time, energy and money on pointless and unsuccessful appeals and objections,” the letter said. Paxton’s most recent objection, which the court rejected last week, is the latest example of “legal foot-dragging,” Turner wrote.

Paxton and other top Republican leaders, including Gov. Greg Abbott, have argued the class-action lawsuit against the state a waste of money, that the federal judge overstated foster care’s deficiencies and that the state can make its own decisions about reforms. Paxton’s office has called the ruling a “misguided federal takeover of the Texas foster-care system.”

Paxton’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter. In previous comments about the lawsuit, Paxton has said he is obligated to defend the state, not make policy.


Link to letter to Attorney General Paxton: 2.22.17_CTurner_LettertoAGPaxton_CPS.FosterCare

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