|Dear Mary, |
As the bill filing deadline approaches, Governor Abbott delivered his State of the State address this week. Among the emergency measures he called for was the parental right to choose in the form of educational saving accounts that could be used to send children to private schools. The League of Women Voters has long opposed school vouchers in any form, including educational savings accounts. This week, Diann Andy, our Issue Chair for Public Education has contributed an excellent article discussing public school financing in Texas and identifying a number of bills we will be watching that impact that financing.
As we all know, elections in Harris County have been challenged in the wake of the 2022 election. There is growing concern in the voting rights community that these challenges will set the stage to advance legislation permitting the Secretary of State to remove local election administrators and appoint an interim administrator. We will be watching this closely. In this week's report is a joint statement from LWV Texas President Joyce LeBombard and LWV Houston President Dr. Annie Benifield in response to the Harris County election challenges and filed legislation. In the statement, she notes the multiple bills that passed in the last session eliminating innovative efforts by the Harris County elections administrator to make voting more accessible during the 2020 election.
Some good news: the League has found sponsors in both the House and the Senate for bills calling for better language access for voters in our elections and election materials. Also, read Cathy Maxwell’s update on Women’s Healthcare. There is good news, so far, on the budget, which includes all the funding recommended by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. This means that providers will be paid for providing state mandated services.
Thank you for your continued support empowering voters and defending democracy!
Diann Andy, LWV San Antonio
Your Texas Legislature is Meeting Now! Education funding, school safety concerns, school choice and parental rights are high on most legislators’ priority lists. Here are the education issues most often discussed: funding for public education, school safety, school choice bills, and parental rights.
Some of the school funding bills to watch include: HB 1892 by Representative Cain, HB 135 by Representative Bernal, HB 31 by Representative Hinojosa, HJR 87 by Representative Allison, and HB 1413 by Representative Vasut.
To read the full update, click here.
Women Healthcare and Reproductive Rights
Catherine Maxwell, LWV Hays County
The legislative committees have been formed! Also, the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Report was delivered to the Governor on December 14, 2022, and the Legislature’s budget they are sending to the Governor funds everything the Texas Health and Human Commission requested. This means that all claims from providers will be paid in full.
A ruling by a federal Texas judge on the abortion drug mifepristone is expected by the end of February. Several bills to either support the drug or ban it have been filed with the state legislature, but since the committees have just been formed, no action has been taken.
To read the full update, click here.
We need your help with redistricting!
It is crucial that you provide testimony once again, in case we have to recreate the legislative record. You have a few options to do so:
- Resubmit your written testimony from the last session, and also add in comments about the sham hearings/process. Again, why hold regional hearings if you've already stated that you are not changing the maps?
- Sign up to provide virtual testimony. Remember, you can provide input at any of the hearings, not just the hearing that covers your region of the state. Please be sure to notify the committee clerk if someone in your group needs language assistance, and please reach out to us if they deny your request, like they did last session.
- Prepare new testimony that talks about how you have been impacted by the current maps:
- Did you lose your candidate of choice?
- How has your community been impacted by the new map?
- What new policy issues have impacted/continue to impact your community?
- Are you now mixed in with communities located in far off places, ones that have very different needs?
- Has your new senator been responsive to your needs so far?
- Are there any new problems pertaining to discrimination that you have faced, whether it be in elections or some other policy area like housing, healthcare, the environment?
Protecting County Elections
Joyce LeBombard, President, League of Women Voters of Texas
Dr. Annie Johnson Benifield, President, League of Women Voters of Houston
The League of Women Voters of Texas issued the following joint statement with the League of Women Voters of Houston in response to calls to redo the 2022 Harris County elections and the legislative bills filed to allow the State to remove and replace local County Election Administrators:
“We believe that encouraging all eligible voters to participate in our elections and respecting the results should be the intention of all politicians. But unfortunately, that is not the case in Texas."
To read the full press release, click here.
Texas Public Information Act’s 50th Anniversary:
An Excellent Time to Strengthen the Landmark Law
Executive Director, Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas
Fifty years ago, responding to public demand in an era of reform, Texas enacted a sweeping law ensuring the people’s right to know about their government.
The Texas Public Information Act – originally known as the Open Records Act when it passed in 1973 – was one of the strongest transparency laws in the nation. It allowed Texans to hold their state and local governments accountable by obtaining all sorts of public records.
To read the full article, click here.
League of Women Voters of Texas
1212 Guadalupe St. #107
Austin Texas, 78701