This fight is far from over

houseI can’t begin to describe what it’s been like to witness the outpouring of support and activism generated by the anti-women legislation proposed by Governor Perry and Republican leadership over the past month. It would be tough to forget the courageous filibuster by Senator Wendy Davis on the Senate floor, or the thousands who have come to the state capitol over the past several weeks to protest a major injustice.

As a quick catch up, we are still in the middle of the second special session called by Governor Perry to revisit the anti-women’s health legislation that House and Senate Democrats successfully defeated in the first special session. Earlier this week, House Democrats got a second crack at exposing the sham measure being fast-tracked through the process, HB 2. Only after 11 hours of debate and amendments did Republicans (who hold a 95-54 majority in the House) pass the bill and send it on to the Senate.

I call it a sham measure because of what I said in my closing speech on the House floor:

“Let’s not say that this bill is about women’s health. Let’s not say it is about women’s safety. And let’s not say it is about anything other than what it is, which is shutting down access to safe and legal abortions, which as of today are still protected under the United States Constitution.”

During the day-long debate, House Democrats repeatedly offered common sense solutions to reduce unintended pregnancies and therefore reduce the rate of abortions. Time and time again, we reminded our Republican colleagues of the dangers HB 2 will pose for women and families. We reminded our colleagues that HB 2 was solely about closing clinics, restricting access to health care and limiting a woman’s constitutional right to make her own decisions about her own body.

When that didn’t seem to work, we offered modifications that would put some semblance of rationality into this bill, such as Rep. Senfronia Thompson’s amendment to exempt victims of rape and incest from some of HB 2’s provisions. This common-sense proposal was rejected on a virtual party-line vote.

A number of my House Democratic colleagues stood up for implementing effective, age-appropriate, evidence-based sex education in our public schools, an issue I have filed legislation on. This proposal would actually give young people a chance to make informed decisions about their health, while still emphasizing the value of abstinence – but this type of logic only fell on deaf ears.

The refusal to have an honest conversation about reducing unintended pregnancies would continue.

Rep. Dawnna Dukes raised another viable solution. She proposed that we fully fund the Women’s Health Program, which the Legislature cut two years ago. This is a tried and true program that has been successful at preventing unintended pregnancies in the state and reducing the rate of abortions. This program has empowered countless Texas women by arming them with resources such as birth control and access to health care so they can make smart health care decisions. But again, House Republicans refused to see logic and voted this amendment down.

Although HB 2 ultimately passed the House, please understand that this fight is far from over. Your voice and your support has helped raise this issue to the national level, drawing attention to a state government run amok, a perversion of constitutional rights, and a complete failure to protect Texas women and their families.

Right alongside you, House and Senate Democrats continue to demonstrate that this fight is far from over. We will keep standing with Texans who oppose the massive government intrusion into very personal decisions that HB 2 represents.

I am very proud of the brave voices of citizens across the state who have spoken out against this bill and I’m proud of my Democratic colleagues for the long and tough fight we’ve put up to defeat it. But I need your help to keep this fight going.

Please contribute $250, $100, $50 or $25 to my campaign today so that I can continue to be a strong voice for you in the Texas House.

This fight is far from over and we must stand together if we are going to win it.

Chis Turner Passes Tenant Protection Bill

Measure creates notification process between utilities, landlords, tenants, and municipalities in the event of an electric or gas utility disconnect

AUSTIN − Representative Chris Turner (HD 101, Arlington/Grand Prairie) announced today that the Texas House of Representatives has given final approval to HB 1772, which would establish an important process of notification between utility service providers, municipalities, landlords, and tenants in the event of an electric or gas utility disconnection. HB 1772 deals specifically with nonsubmetered master metered multifamily properties. These are “all bills paid” properties which do not have individual meters assigned to each unit. Bills for utilities such as gas and electricity are generally paid directly by the landlord, using funds built into the tenants’ rent.

“This consumer protection measure empowers tenants by ensuring they have advanced notice if gas or electric service is about to be disconnected through no fault of their own,” said Turner. “This type of situation has occurred all too often in Arlington and elsewhere: the landlord doesn’t pay the utility bill, tenants are left high and dry, and cities are faced with a potential public health crisis because they have citizens who are displaced or suffering from heat or cold exposure,” Turner continued.

“HB 1772 addresses this problem by giving both tenants and cities advanced warning so that both can plan accordingly,” Turner said. “I appreciate the City of Arlington’s leadership in crafting this measure, along with the other stakeholders who have helped in this process.”

HB 1772 received strong support from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, which sent out e-mails and encouraged members to contact legislators in support of the bill.

“This advanced notice of disconnection is critical,” said Mireya Zapata, Association Vice President of Activism with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. “Without prior notice, many people, including those living with MS and other chronic illnesses, may not be able to make alternate living arrangements before utilities are disconnected.”

HB 1772 was joint-authored by Reps. Rafael Anchia of Dallas and Sylvester Turner of Houston. Now that it has passed the House unanimously, it heads to the Senate where Senator Wendy Davis of Fort Worth has filed companion legislation.

 

The district office is open!

office1

It is located on the southwest corner of E. Pioneer Parkway and Browning Drive in the Chase Bank building. Office hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.

It is a top priority of our office to provide prompt and thorough assistance to constituents when they have problems or issues with state government. Although our office can’t guarantee the outcome in any constituent matter, we will work hard to cut through red tape, get answers and reach a favorable resolution, if possible.

Visit our constituent services page for a full list of state government matters that our office can try to assist you with.

District Office:
1600 E. Pioneer Parkway, Suite 515
Arlington, TX 76010

(817) 459-2800
(817) 459-7900 (fax)

State Representative Chris Turner

Just Now

now

I just got out of a press conference with Congressman Joaquin Castro, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins and other Democratic leaders who urged Governor Perry and Republican leadership to accept Medicaid expansion.

Earlier this morning, Governor Perry, U.S Senator John Cornyn, and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz took a stubborn stand against the expansion. Governor Perry was quoted by the Dallas Morning News as saying “Texas will not be participating in Medicaid expansion.”

Political stunts like the one held today by Governor Perry make it clear that he is not getting the message. We need to stop playing politics with the health of our constituents. There is too much is at stake.

We’ve tried Governor Perry’s plan for 12 years, and after 12 years of Governor Perry’s failed health care policies, we have the highest rate of uninsured in the nation with 6 million Texans without insurance. It’s time for a new plan. It’s time to expand Medicaid. 

If Republican Governors in Arizona, New Jersey, and Florida can put partisan politics aside and do what is best for their citizens, Texans have every right to expect their leaders to do the same.

It is the right thing to do for the 1.8 million Texans who will receive coverage. It’s the smart thing to do because of the $68 billion economic impact that would take place in just three years.

Congressman Castro challenged Governor Perry to “give up the swagger and get serious about Medicaid expansion.” I hope he heeds that call.

State Representative Chris Turner

Chris Turner Seeks Funds to Boost School Security, Improve Technical Training

BY DAVE MONTGOMERY | Star-Telegram

AUSTIN — Rep. Chris Turner of Grand Prairie is proposing a half-billion-dollar drawdown from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to help school districts beef up security and bolster technical training.

The Tarrant County Democrat introduced HB 1770 that would authorize spending $250 million from the Rainy Day Fund to establish a grant program that school districts would use to improve security. HB1771 proposes an identical amount from the fund to help schools buy equipment for career and technology education courses.

School security has emerged as a high priority in the 2013 Legislature after the slaying of 20 children and six adult staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newton, Conn., in mid-December.

While some lawmakers have advocated placing armed guards in schools, Turner said his measure would be aimed at “equipment and infrastructure,” such as installing security cameras or strengthening door locks. In school districts that have campus police departments, it could also be used for purchases such as additional vehicles or two-way radios, Turner said.

Turner said both of his measures fully comply with Gov. Rick Perry’s admonition that drawdowns from the Rainy Day Fund should be used only for one-time expenditures, rather than recurring expenses.

“What better one-time expenses would there be than to help our school districts upgrade their security and make our schools safer,” said Turner, who represents House District 101 in eastern Tarrant County.

Turner said his second bill is designed to expand technical training at a time when businesses are calling for more emphasis on educational programs to help fill what they say is a critical shortage of skilled workers.

The intent of HB 1771, Turner said, would be to nurture programs such as those at Mansfield’s Ben Barber Career Tech Academy, which offers training in diverse fields such as auto mechanics, culinary arts, drafting, electronics, health and agriculture.

“We’ll be working this hard over the next couple of months,” Turner said after introducing the measures.

RAINY DAY FUNDING

Perry has traditionally been resistant to drawing money from the Rainy Day Fund, also known as the Economic Stabilization Fund, saying that the pool of money should be used only for one-time investments and emergency expenditures, and not for helping offset budget shortages.

In what seemed like a softening of his stance, Perry this year has proposed spending a total of $4.7 billion from the fund, including $3.7 billion for transportation and water. Part of his proposed withdrawal would also help pay for $1.8 billion in tax relief.

State Comptroller Susan Combs has projected that fund will have nearly $12 billion at the end of the next two-year budget cycle as a result of the state’s rebound from the national recession. The fund is supported by oil and gas revenue.

Turner said his bill on school security is “very broadly written” and would give districts plenty of flexibility in proposing how to use the money. The Dallas Independent School District, for example, has recently proposed spending $4.6 million to install cameras, buzzers and electronic readers at elementary schools.

Under the bills, districts would apply for the grants with the Texas Education Agency. The agency would then make the awards based on a district’s need, financial condition and likely effectiveness of the proposed plan.

District 101 Day

Nearly 50 residents from Arlington and Grand Prairie made the trip down to Austin on Tuesday, January 29th for House District 101 Day at the state Capitol.

Attendees were recognized from the House floor as honored guests by Representative Turner.  The group later listened to Governor Perry’s State of the State address, which outlined his focus for the upcoming year.

At the conclusion of Governor Perry’s speech, the group attended a luncheon where they heard from State Senator Wendy Davis, as well as State Representatives Lon Burnam, Jessica Farrar, and Nicole Collier .

Attendees were then given a tour of the state Capitol building and the opportunity to visit the offices of other legislators.  The day finished where it started, in the House gallery, for a group picture before heading back to Arlington.

State Representative Chris Turner: Major Progress On SH 360

thumbsh360AUSTIN – In response to today’s decision by the North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA) board to enter into discussion with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to construct the main lanes of State Highway 360 in south Arlington and Grand Prairie, State Representative Chris Turner released the following statement:

“Traffic congestion on SH 360 is a serious quality of life, economic, and safety issue for families and businesses in southeast Tarrant County. Today’s decision by the NTTA is a significant step forward in solving this problem. While this process is not yet over, I want to recognize and salute the hard work and good faith efforts by NTTA, TxDOT and NCTCOG.

“Specifically, I would like to personally thank NTTA Chairman Kenneth Barr, NTTA Board Member Victor Vandergriff, Transportation Commissioner Bill Meadows, TxDOT Executive Director Phil Wilson, and NCTCOG’s Director of Transportation, Michael Morris. These individuals and organizations have maintained a clear picture of what’s important in this project – improving mobility and easing gridlock in this high-growth corridor. I look forward to continuing to work with all of the stakeholders to advance this project.”

Since his first election to the Texas House of Representatives in 2008, Turner has made SH 360 a top priority. In 2009 and 2010, Turner organized a stakeholders group that brought community leaders, officials from the NTTA, TxDOT, NCTCOG, as well as officials from Arlington, Grand Prairie, Mansfield, and Tarrant County together in an effort to improve SH 360. The agreement reached today calls for construction of a four lane toll road extending south from the current freeway section to Broad Street. In addition, a two lane toll road will be constructed from Broad Street to US 287. The existing frontage roads will remain non-tolled.

Star Telegram: “Double dipping” bill worthy of consideration

Last week, I filed my first bill of the session, HB 413, which will ban the “double-dipping” of a state pension and salary at the same time by elected officials. You may remember this issue from Governor Perry’s run for President when it was revealed that the governor has “retired” from state service in order to begin collecting a state pension – even though he was still on the job and collecting his regular salary.

It’s important to note that Governor Perry is almost certainly not the only elected official who is taking advantage of this loophole; he just happens to be the one we know about due to financial disclosures associated with his presidential campaign.

During the past few days, our legislation has received a good amount of media attention across the state, including this Fort Worth Star-Telegram editorial on Saturday:

fwst_r

Editorial

January 11, 2013

‘Double-dipping’ bill worthy of lawmakers’ careful consideration

Had Gov. Rick Perry not run for president, Texans might never have known that he had “retired” and was already collecting his pension, a practice permitted by a 1991 law that apparently few people — including present and past lawmakers — fully understood.

The pension records of Texas politicians are private, so unless someone discloses that he or she is receiving the monthly benefits, there is no way the public will know which officials are “double-dipping,” drawing a pension while also drawing a state salary.

As a presidential candidate, Perry had to file income statements with the Federal Election Commission, revealing that he is receiving more than $90,000 a year in pension payments in addition to his $150,000 annual pay as governor.

That revelation shocked many people around the state, as did news reported by the Texas Tribune earlier this year that the governor was “in an elite group of 189 employees who make at least $100,000 annually while drawing a state pension, according to figures provided by the state comptroller.”

 That practice will be stopped if State Rep. Chris Turner gets his way. On Wednesday Turner, D-Grand Prairie, filed House Bill 413, which would prevent “elected officials from collecting a salary and state pension at the same time, if their retirement payments are a result of their service as an elected official,” his office said in a new release.

Turner said his legislation, which would not be retroactive, is designed to ensure that if politicians “retire” to collect a pension they should truly retire and not collect a salary.

Otherwise, it is unfair for taxpayers to pay them twice.

The sponsor of the bill to revise the pension plan more than 20 years ago, former Democratic Sen. Bob Glasgow of Stephenville, did not realize the special double-dipping perk was in it, the Tribune reported, noting that the late Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock used the provision to supplement his income through the pension plan.

 It is a bad practice that legislators this session should correct, and Turner’s bill provides a vehicle for doing that.

This bill has also been covered in recent days by the Texas Tribune, the Dallas Morning News, KEYE-TV and KLIF-AM.

To keep the momentum going on this legislation, I need your help. Please forward this email to your contacts, share these stories on your Facebook page and tweet them out to your friends and family.

With your help, we can put an end to the double-dipping loophole this session.

State Representative Chris Turner

Turner Sworn in to Represent Tarrant County’s New District

Will focus on the priorities of District 101: Good jobs, quality schools & affordable health care

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
January 8, 2013

 swearinginAUSTIN – Today, as the 83rd Texas Legislature convened, Chris Turner took the oath of office to represent the new District 101 in the House of Representatives. Turner was elected in November 2012 to serve the fast-growing areas of southeast Arlington and western Grand Prairie.

“It’s a great honor and privilege to serve our community in the Texas House,” said Turner. “This is a critical time for our state and I’m committed to working hard for the families of our district in the Legislature.”

During the 140-day legislative session, Turner’s focus will be on the issues important to Arlington and Grand Prairie families: good jobs, fair funding for public schools, reforms to the testing-focused school accountability system, health care affordability and access, and improving basic infrastructure.

“Texas families courageously continue to meet major challenges in every aspect of their lives,” Turner said. “They deserve better than what they have been getting from their state government. This session, we must focus on the basic priorities that all Texans have a right to expect: quality public schools, affordable health care and good paying jobs.”

Turner previously served in the House from 2009-2011, representing District 96. During his first legislative session, Turner authored and passed the landmark bill establishing a dedicated lottery scratch-off ticket to benefit the Permanent Fund for Veterans Assistance. The $2 “Veterans Cash” ticket has generated over $20 million to pay for much-needed aid to Texas veterans and their families.

A lifelong Texan, Turner graduated from the University of Texas at Austin and today works in the public relations industry. Turner and his wife of thirteen years, Lisa, live in Grand Prairie. Chris’s two stepchildren, Melissa and Scott, both graduated from Summit High School in Mansfield ISD.

Turner was joined on the House floor during the swearing in ceremony by Lisa and his father, Gary Turner of Dallas

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