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Date: 5/16/2023
Subject: LWVTX Capitol Action Report - 5/16/23
From: Elisabeth MacNamara

May 16, 2023

Dear Annie,

We are down to the last two weeks of the session. Any House bills not passed out that chamber are no longer viable, but there is still time for the House to take up bills that have passed the Senate which includes most of the bad elections bills this session.

On that note, SB 8, the Governor’s voucher bill has yet to pass in the House. It has been considerably changed in committee. A two-page summary of those changes can be found here. The House version would cost more and would not compensate small school districts for the loss of students. Please respond to the Action Alert below. Monday, the bill was heard in committee. For a summary of the hearing, click here. At the time of this writing, it had not been voted on.

Thank you to everyone who responded to the Action Alert on HB 2744 which would ban the sale of assault rifles to anyone under the age of 21. While the bill advanced out of committee, it did not receive a vote in the House. In related news, a Federal Court in Virginia struck down a similar law as a violation of the Second Amendment.

Please see the Action Alert on HB 12 which would extend postpartum Medicaid coverage from two to 12 months. The bill has passed the House and has been referred to committee in the Senate. We need to show our support, especially now when abortion is unavailable in Texas.

Please see the report on Voting Rights and Election Law below. There are still several bad Senate bills that could come up this session. Two bills would allow some form of state takeover of local elections. These bills apply statewide and are not bracketed to Harris County only. Please keep the pressure on your House members to oppose these bills. Local elections are best handled by local officials.

SB 1195 seeks to give the Attorney General authority to file charges at the local level for violations of the Election Code, certain sections of the Penal Code and the Health and Safety Code (which includes the abortion ban) if a local prosecutor fails to file charges in those areas within 6 months. The danger here is that it allows a partisan statewide actor to intervene in local criminal matters and allows him to do so in an adjacent county. The Action Alert opposing this is below.

In League,

The League of Women Voters of Texas is working tirelessly to advocate for all Texans this legislative session. Donate today to support our mission of empowering voters and defending democracy!

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Priority Issues

Voting Rights and Election Law
Stephanie Swanson

We are entering the home stretch of the legislative session with just two weeks to go until sine die (adjournment). Here are the election bills that we will be following over the next two weeks that we need your help with. Please send your legislators an email using our Take Action! Center.

Secretary of State Takeover Bills:

Both SB 1933 and SB 1039 would allow the Secretary of State (SOS), which is an appointed position, to assume administrative control over a local county's election system without creating any sort of appeal or challenge process for the county. These bills would give the Secretary of State an enormous amount of unchecked power and could ultimately result in the partisan takeover of elections.

To read the full update, including information about SB 1933, SB 1039, SB 1070, and SB 990, click here.

Women's Healthcare Update
Catherine Maxwell

The last day of this session of the Legislature is May 29th. The Governor has until June 18th to veto or sign legislation. Consequently, action on bills is heating up.

SB 490, setting an administrative penalty if patients don’t receive itemized bills, has been handed to the Governor. Also, on his desk is HB 1575, which outlines actions to be taken by “alternatives to abortion” organizations in their support of children and pregnant women. The bill also delineates some requirements for the professionalism of personnel providing that support.

To read the full update, including updates on HB 12, SB 1195, and HB 300, click here.

Take Action!

HB 12 - Support 12 Months of Care for New Mothers

Support HB 12, which allows moms to keep Medicaid health insurance for 12 months postpartum. Use our Action Center to write a letter to your legislators and ask them to support HB 12.

SB 8 - Texas Public Schools Need More Money, Not Less!

Educational Savings Accounts (ESAs) are vouchers by another name. Vouchers divert taxpayer dollars from public schools to pay for private school tuition and other vendors. The House version of SB 8, the voucher bill, would provide a yearly payment to students to attend some alternative to public schools, but would not compensate small school systems for the funding lost through lower attendance. Use our Action Center to write a letter to your legislators and ask them to oppose SB 8.

SB 1070 - Don't Withdraw From ERIC!

SB 1070 would withdraw Texas from a 34-state information sharing programs that allow states to obtain accurate information on voters who have died or moved out of state. Oppose SB 1070! Use our Action Center to write a letter to your legislators to oppose SB 1070.

SB 1039 - Say No to State Takeover of Local Elections

SB 1039 allows partisan actors to demand explanations of real or perceived irregularities in an election and requires county officials to respond with documentation. If the partisan actor is not satisfied with the explanation, they may require the SOS to review the request, which may result in the appointment of a conservator. Use our Action Center to write a letter to your legislators and ask them to oppose SB 1039.

SB 1933 - Stop State Takeover of Local Elections

SB 1933 would empower the Secretary of State to directly administer local elections in any county on a good cause belief alone. The bill would apply not just to counties with election administrators but also counties which rely on election tax assessors and county clerks. Use our Action Center to write a letter to your legislators to oppose SB 1933.

SB 1195 - Don't Give the Attorney General the Power to Prosecute Local Abortion or Election Violations

SB 1195 requires notice to the Attorney General when local law enforcement open a case under the Election Code or Health and Safety Code which includes abortion. If charges are not brought within 6 months, the Attorney General is required to intervene and prosecute the case. Use our Action Center to write a letter to your legislators to oppose SB 1195.

League of Women Voters of Texas

1212 Guadalupe St. #107
Austin Texas, 78701
(512) 472-1100