State Representative Chris Turner

Veterans’ Day

“This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.” -Elmer Davis

In an ultimate display of unwavering patriotism, our nation’s veterans have made unbelievable sacrifices in order to protect the rights and liberties we cherish as Americans. It is because of their courage, their strength, their commitment, and their dedication to freedom and democracy that we have become the great country we are today.

In recognition of their service, today we thank the many brave men and women who have worn our country’s uniform. We remember our sacred obligation to all veterans and their families, and celebrate our nation’s true heroes. Their admirable contributions at home and abroad merit far more honor than we can ever bestow, nor we can ever fully repay them for their sacrifice and selflessness.

Please join me today in paying tribute those who have served our nation and fought to protect our freedom. They have truly earned our lasting respect and gratitude.

Pay Day Lenders and New Coverage Stats

There’s less than two weeks until Texas 101 Day. To get ready, this week and next, I’m sending emails that will hit on the topics we’re going to discuss in detail that day. In advance of the event, I’d really like to hear your thoughts.

The first topic: pay day and auto title lending.

In the past few months, there’s been a lot of talk about these businesses, and for good reason. They are everywhere. In parts of Arlington and Grand Prairie, I’ve seen two on the same street corner.

How prevalent are they? According to the Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner, the Texas agency with oversight over these businesses, there are close to 300 payday and auto title lenders in Tarrant County, 57 of them located in and around the district I represent.

These businesses hit the financially vulnerable harder in Texas than in any other state. In a report released last month, The Pew Charitable Trusts found that because Texas has no limit on how much a person can be charged for a loan, our state’s citizens pay a higher price than they would in any other state in the nation. They found that in Texas, to borrow $300 for a five-month period, on average, a person will be charged a 454 percent annual interest rate and it will ultimately cost the borrower $701.

Pretty shocking.

Unfortunately, despite some meaningful efforts, not much has been done by the Legislature to fully address this issue. As a result, cities are finding ways to regulate these industries by passing local ordinances limiting the amount one can borrow and where the businesses can be located.

It’s a big issue and I need your help to address it.

Now on to topic number two. I’ll keep this one brief, since it’s something I’ve emailed about often during the past few months: healthcare. On Friday, you may have seen a graphic on my Facebook page or in my Twitter feed. It just said “733,757 #Covered”. This number represents how many Texans found insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

It’s a pretty big number, but it needs to be even bigger.

As I have mentioned in previous emails, over 1 million Texans fall into what is called the “coverage gap”. These are working, uninsured adults who make too little money to receive a subsidy for buying coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Our Governor has turned away billions of our taxpayer dollars that would have provided coverage for this group. This short-sighted decision will mean lost revenue for our state and continued costs that will be spread out and paid by all Texans.

Of course, it’s not too late to close this gap and to help our neighbors get covered. It’s a team effort. Even with the tens of thousands of calls I made, and the events I hosted, I can do more and we can all do more. With the next enrollment period just six months away, I need your help. On May 17th, we’ll discuss how you can.

To wrap up, I want to hear your thoughts on these and the other acute issues impacting our community. If you live in Arlington or Grand Prairie, please join us and feel free to bring your neighbors and your friends.

Don’t forget, we are providing lunch.

So, spread the word. Let’s improve our community and help our neighbors. Join me on May 17th.


P.S. To ensure that we have enough materials and lunches, please RSVP by clicking here or by calling 817-459-2800. You may also email to RSVP or to share your thoughts on these or any other important issue.

Turner’s Statement on Texas Transportation Commission’s Approval of SH360 Agreement

AUSTIN — In reaction to the Texas Transportation Commission’s (TTC) approval of the SH360 project agreement, state Representative Chris Turner released the following statement:

“Today’s decision by the Texas Transportation Commission to approve the agreement is a significant milestone toward extending SH360 south. There are still a few steps left in the process, but once the project is complete, it will have an incredible impact on those who live and work in southeast Tarrant County’s fast growing communities.

“I commend the TTC and NTTA’s leadership for understanding the critical need for this project and for working together to ensure it is funded and constructed in a timely manner. Extending SH360 has been one of my top priorities since first taking office in 2009 and I look forward to seeing the continued progress and eventual completion of the project.”

In 2009 and 2010, Turner organized a stakeholders group that brought community leaders, officials from the NTTA, Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG), as well as officials from Arlington, Grand Prairie, Mansfield, and Tarrant County together in an effort to improve SH360.

The agreement requires TxDOT to loan $294 million and the NTTA to be responsible for road operations and maintenance. TxDOT will now move forward with procuring design-build contracts for the project. It is anticipated that the extension of SH360 will be completed in 2018.


Surviving spouses will receive property tax exemption as a result of passage

ARLINGTON, TX — Yesterday, voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 1, which will provide a property tax exemption to the spouses of service members who have given their lives in service to our country. State Representative Chris Turner and Senator Leticia Van de Putte authored and passed the measure, HJR 62, which placed the proposition on the ballot.

“Over the last several years, Texas has been a national leader in honoring the service and sacrifice of our veterans and their families, not just with our words, but also with our deeds,” said Turner. “With the passage of Proposition 1, we are now able to provide this benefit to the very special group of Texans whose spouses have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation.”

Turner was inspired to author the measure after hearing Malia Fry’s story. Her husband, Marine Gunnery Sergeant John D. Fry of Lorena, lost his life in Iraq on March 8, 2006 while disarming improvised explosive devices. In addition to Malia, Sgt. Fry left behind three children, all under the age of 10 at the time of his death.

“I want to thank Representative Chris Turner and Senator Leticia Van de Putte for their leadership on this and so many issues impacting service members and their families,” said Malia Fry. “Now, widows like me will be able to better provide for our children. Words cannot describe how grateful I am to the people of our state, who through voting for this proposition not only honored the sacrifice made by the thousands who lost their lives protecting our freedom, but for the sacrifices made by those they have left behind.”

Beginning January 1, 2014, spouses of service members who gave their lives in service to our country will receive an ad valorem tax exemption on their residence or future residence. According to the Office of the Comptroller of Public Accounts, the average Texas homeowner pays about $3,170 a year in property taxes.



83rd Legislative Session Accomplishments

Honoring Those Who Paid the Ultimate Sacrifice

  • On November 5, Texas voters will have the opportunity to approve Proposition 1, which will extend the 100 percent property tax exemption to surviving spouses of service members killed in service to country.There are thousands of Texas families whose lives have been changed forever due to the loss of a husband, a wife, a mother or a father killed defending our nation. The money saved as a result of this exemption won’t take away their sorrow, but will help support a family who now must be faced with a future without the support of their loved one.

This is a small but meaningful way we can help and thank the Texas families who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our nation and our freedoms.

Chris authored and passed HJR 62, placing Proposition 1 on the ballot.

Tenant Protections

  • In Arlington and elsewhere, there have been instances of landlords of “all bills paid” apartment complexes failing to pay a utility bill, leaving tenants high and dry and cities faced with a potential public health crisis because renters may be displaced or suffer from heat or cold exposure as a result of no electricity or gas.

As the author of HB 1772, Chris worked closely with tenant rights groups and the City of Arlington to ensure that residents living in these types of multi-family units receive advance notification of a utility cutoff so that they may make other living arrangements.  In addition, the bill requires the landlord to notify the city the property is located in, so that first responders can be prepared and better handle a potential public health and safety problem.

Improving Public Safety 

  • This law was a priority for the City of Grand Prairie, and since its passage, Chris’s office has heard from law enforcement officials around the state, thanking him for authoring and passing this measure.The passage of HB 1222 will improve the ability of municipal law enforcement agencies that patrol Texas lakes to make them safer by allowing citations issued on waterways to be heard in municipal court. Previously, these citations could only be heard in a Justice of the Peace court, which resulted in unnecessary delays and red tape for police departments.  With a great deal of activity on both Joe Pool Lake and Lake Arlington, this law will provide local law enforcement with another tool to improve public safety on our waterways.

Protecting our Children

  • HB 2539 updates Texas’ “duty to report” laws by requiring computer technicians to report instances of child pornography that they discover in the scope and practice of their work.This bill, which Chris authored and filed for a second time, represents an important step that the state can take to protect its most vulnerable citizens − our children.  This measure was strongly supported by law enforcement, who believes that it will provide a new, valuable tool in their fight against child predators.

A recent incident illustrates why this measure is so important. In July, an Arlington principal was arrested on child sex charges. After the arrest, it was revealed that a campus technology manager found child pornography on the principal’s AISD issued iPad a year earlier. If Chris’s law had been in effect then, the technology manager would have been required to report the findings to law enforcement, alerting them much sooner.

Working for Veterans and Their Families

When leaving active duty, military veterans deserve the opportunity to be able to use the skills they learned in the military to help get a job as a civilian.  With unemployment among veterans at an unacceptably high 9.9 percent, Chris authored the following measures to help veterans and service members obtain new jobs more quickly, using the skills and knowledge they gained while serving our county in uniform.

  • HB 2028 will help service members find employment by directing the Texas Board of Plumbing to credit experience, training, or education in plumbing that a member of the armed forces, Texas National Guard or Texas State Guard obtained while in service towards requirements for a plumber’s license in the state.
  • HB 2029 will help service members become licensed electricians by directing the Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation to credit experience, training, or education in electrical work obtained by a member of the armed forces, Texas National Guard or Texas State Guard.
  • HB 860 helps active duty service members or reservists obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) by waiving the state residency requirement. The goal of this law is to help veterans and service members find jobs in the fast growing trucking industry, a sector that has more than 200,000 positions to be filled nationwide.  Chris sponsored the Senate version of this bill.

Strengthening Small Businesses

  • HB 2645  will help strengthen and modernize the regulations under which Texas independent review organizations, otherwise known as IROs, operate. IROs play an important role in giving patients one last appeal following denial from their insurance company for covering a medical procedure or treatment.

Improving Public Schools

  • With public schools still suffering from the 2011 Legislature’s $5.4 billion in funding cuts, Chris joined his Democratic colleagues to fight for additional school funding. As a result of their efforts, per pupil formula funding was increased by $3.4 billion over the biennium and spending for our public schools was increased nearly $4 billion overall.
  • Chris co-authored HB 5, which reduces the number of end-of-course exams required of high school students from five to 15.  In addition to fewer tests, the new law creates a standard diploma that allows every student the opportunity to apply to a four-year university in Texas and encourages students to pursue diploma endorsements in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), business or arts and humanities.

In addition, Chris successfully added three amendments to the bill, all of which are now law.

    • Chris proposed and passed an amendment to ensure that the bill would address the needs of our special education teachers and their students.

In years past, these teachers have had the burden of creating their own preparation materials for their students who take the STAAR Alternate Assessments. As a result of Chris’s amendment, the Texas Education Agency is now required to develop resources for these assessments and special education teachers can focus on their lesson plans and spend more one-on-one time with their students, rather than prepping for tests.

    • Chris proposed and passed an amendment to prohibit the involvement of any person who is employed with a state assessment contractor from being on a state assessment and accountability advisory committee.For over sixty years, the Texas state textbook program has operated free from influence of contractors over elected officials or with the TEA. The addition of this important ethics measure ensures that state assessment and accountability practices are completely above reproach.
    • Texas high school students who are enrolled in career and technology programs learn new and valuable skills, and upon completion, they should have something to show for their efforts.

An amendment authored and passed by Chris addresses this issue by requiring school districts to provide dual-credit college courses in their career and tech curriculum whenever possible.

This measure was modeled after the relationship between the Arlington and Mansfield ISDs and Tarrant County College, and the schools’ ability to work together to prepare career and tech students to either join the workforce or move closer to earning an associate’s degree.   This amendment encourages high schools around the state to provide the opportunity for their vocational students, to apply that hard work toward earning their professional license, certification or two-year degree.

Evening the Playing Field for Charter Schools

  • The Legislature passed a comprehensive charter school reform bill, SB 2,  which increases the number of charters the state may grant and, provides new guidelines for revoking charters if certain requirements have not been met.

While public school teachers and administrators are required to have a college degree to teach or work in a Texas school, there was no such requirement for charter school teachers and administrators – they were simply required to have a high school diploma.

Chris believes this is unfair to both public schools and to charter school students, which is why he wrote and passed an amendment to require all charter school teachers and administrators to have a bachelor’s degree, at minimum, the same as in public schools.

Protecting Private Property

  • Chris successfully added an amendment to a measure that will ensure oil and gas companies can be held liable if a person is injured, dies or if there is property damage stemming from exposure to fluid oil and gas waste. The amendment also includes a provision outlining who will be liable if the waste is transferred to another party for treatment.

Led the Fight in the House Against Anti-Women’s Health Legislation

In addition, Turner led the effort to file amendments and stand-alone legislation aimed at reducing the number of unintended pregnancies and improving women’s access to lifesaving health care.

Fighting Double-Dipping

  • The first bill Chris filed during the 83rd Legislative Session sought to end the practice of “double dipping” by state officials. This issue received a great deal of national attention during the 2012 presidential campaign when it was revealed that then candidate, Rick Perry, received both a $150,000 salary and a $92,000 pension from the State of Texas. Perry took advantage of a little-known loophole in Texas law that allows officials to transfer service credit in order to be eligible for pension benefits − even while still serving in office and being paid by the state.

Although this measure did not make it to the House floor, it received a great deal of attention and cast a spotlight on this questionable practice.

Defeated Divisive Drug-Testing Measure

  • Chris successfully led the fight to kill a bill which would have unfairly targeted the least fortunate in our state by requiring those applying for public assistance to go through the demeaning process of being screened for drug use prior to receiving benefits. Even though there is no data or other evidence to suggest that those receiving public benefits are more likely to abuse drugs than the general population, Republican leaders insisted on passing this unnecessary and mean-spirited bill.  Chris and other Democrats successfully ran out the clock on the measure and it failed to pass the House.

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!


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


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


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.


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.


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