| September 2021 Action News! |
For this Labor Day, I am lifting up the words of labor and civil rights leader, Dolores Huerta, "Every minute is a chance to change the world." League volunteers all around Texas have spent their minutes, hours, and days taking every chance to change the world by empowering voters and defending democracy in Texas. Join me in celebrating Labor Day and the end of the second Special Session by giving a shout out to all the dedicated League volunteers and advocates in Texas!
Here is a big Texas THANK YOU to:
- You, one of the thousands of members and supporters around Texas who responded to our Action Alerts!
- Our Issue Chairs who tracked hundreds of bill, wrote testimony for committees, and wrote succinct Action Alerts to educate and direct our actions!
- Our Capitol Corps volunteers who braved COVID and the ever changing rules at the Texas Capitol to provide testimony on key issues at the Capitol!
- Our local Leagues leaders around the state who work tirelessly registering & educating & organizing voters in their communities!
- Our donors who give so generously to empower voters and defend democracy in Texas!
- Our Board of Directors and staff who plug away behind the scenes raising funds, coordinating communications, developing training, and maintaining the structure to support our Leagues and mission in Texas!
Thank you all! I am so honored to stand with you as we continue to empower voters and defend democracy in Texas!
| |PS: Do you have ideas to extend the Texas League's impact in Texas? Consider applying to be Texas League Board Member. Find an application here.
PPS: Texas is the focal point of regressive legislation that will impact the nation. It's time to give generously to support League action in Texas! Think about being a monthly donor. Click here to support your Texas League! Thank you!!
Redistricting Virtual Public Hearings Start This Week. Sign Up Today!
Stephanie Swanson, LWVTX Redistricting Issue Chair and Board Member
The Texas Legislature is about to embark on the 2021 Redistricting Cycle, and both the House and Senate Redistricting Committees have scheduled virtual public input hearings that will take place over the next two weeks.
Public comments at the Committee hearings will be used to assist the Legislature when it draws district boundaries. Speaking up about your community is critical to ensuring district lines are drawn to keep your community whole and grouped with nearby communities with similar interests. This ensures that your voice is heard by your elected leaders across all kinds of government decisions.
With the release of the 2020 Census data, communities now have the ability to see where population and demographic changes have occurred over the past decade. If you live in a community that has become more diverse, please consider describing this growth in your testimony. Legislators will be required to take these demographic changes into consideration in order to draw districts that comply with the Voting Rights Act.
There are several resources available to help you visualize the 2020 Census data:
The Texas Demographic Center created interactive tools to help data users analyze the newly-released 2020 P.L. 94-171 Redistricting Data.
You can also visualize the 2020 Census data using DistrictR, a districting software from the Metric Geometry and Gerrymandering Group. You can also draw district maps, draw community of interest maps, and submit testimony directly to the Legislature through this website.
House Redistricting Committee Hearings:
Senate Redistricting Committee Hearings
Check out the LWVTX Redistricting Issue webpage and Stephanie Swanson's blog here!
Constitutional Amendment Voters Guides
The Texas League is preparing for the November 2 Constitutional Amendment Election. In addition to the Voter Guides with unbiased pro & con analysis, the League has short videos available on the Texas League's YouTube page. We hope you will share these widely on social media.
If you would like to order print copies of the Voters Guide, please fill out the Order Form and submit it no later than September 10th.
|Your Texas League in Action! |
LWV Texas Files Lawsuit Against State of Texas Over Anti-Voter Bill, SB1
“For democracy to work, it must include all voices. SB 1 is an extremist anti-voter bill that raises even more barriers to voting and specifically targets vulnerable communities, especially voters with disabilities, voters of color, and elderly voters,” said Grace Chimene, president of the League of Women Voters of Texas. “SB 1 is a violation of our freedom to vote, and we will continue to fight every attempt to silence Texas voters.”
League of Women Voters Response to SCOTUS Failure to Block Texas Abortion Law 9/1/2021
WASHINGTON & AUSTIN, TX — Last night, the US Supreme Court declined to rule on a Texas law that bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy and allows private citizens to sue abortion providers and those who aid a person in obtaining an abortion. League of Women Voters of the United States Board President Dr. Deborah Ann Turner and League of Women Voters of Texas President Grace Chimene issued the following joint statement in response:
“By refusing to rule on Texas’s near-ban on abortions, the Supreme Court allows a horrific, anti-woman law to take effect in the state. Not only does this law essentially ban abortion services, but it opens up service providers to unjust lawsuits by private citizens simply for doing their job.
“The League of Women Voters of Texas advocated strongly against this law and other attempts by the Texas legislature to roll back reproductive rights.”
“Reproductive choice is not only a dire issue concerning the rights of women and all people who may become pregnant, but one of racial and economic justice. Limits on reproductive health services disproportionately impact Black, brown, and low-income communities, therefore upholding and perpetuating income inequality and white supremacy.
“Bodily autonomy is a personal right. The League of Women Voters believes every person deserves the access and the privacy to make their own reproductive choices, and we will continue the fight for reproductive justice in Texas and across the nation.”
North, South, East, West -
Texas League Advocates Are Everywhere!
Wow! Check out this map! LWVTX put out 42 Action Alerts that generated 241,449 actions! See the details here.
LWV New York City Presents: Leagues Fighting Voters Suppression in Battleground States
Tuesday September 21 at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time
Voting times, restricted registration and purged voter rolls have kept large numbers of eligible voters from the polls, affecting all Americans and putting extra burdens on racial minorities, poor people and younger and older voters. Fast-growing Black and Latino populations and more aggressive get-out-the-vote efforts by Democrats have made traditionally red states like Arizona, Georgia, and Texas more competitive. League members in those states are fighting back! Join us and representatives of the Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, and Texas (our own president Grace Chimene!) Leagues for a discussion of their efforts. Let's join LWVNYC to cheer Grace on and learn from League members in other states.
Capitol Action Report - Worst Legislative Session Ever!
Janet Imhoff, Vice President Advocacy
It’s hard to find something good that came out of the 87th Legislative Session and it’s two Special Sessions. With a third session imminent, and mainly for redistricting, I will do a quick wrap-up of what has happened so far.
We are a multi-issue organization, and we have positions on many issues. We are voters who care enough to study about and lobby for our positions. We are nonpartisan, and we know we will have leaders from a variety of political viewpoints, but we expect them to work together and be able to compromise. But we did not get that from this session. Almost all votes were on straight party lines. Amendments by the minority party were voted down. In addition many bills were written by conservative think tanks, and funneled to our legislature and to many others in the country, seeking to pass new laws that were not popular with the majority of the voters.
Voting Rights, our signature issue, has taken a beating with SB 1. It will make voting harder for many voters, and possibly keep our percentage of voters among the lowest in the country. SB1 is waiting signature by the governor.
Innovative ideas which improved turnout in Harris County were targeted and outlawed: 24-hour and drive-through early polling places.
Mail-in Ballots: Voter ID numbers are required on applications and ballot envelopes (driver’s license or last four digits of SS). Now a felony for elections officials to send unsolicited ballots, even to those over 65.
People trying to help voters who need assistance were targeted with more complicated forms to fill out.
Poll-watchers, who are appointed by parties and candidates, were given “free movement” in the polls.
Election judges are now threatened with criminal penalties if they interfere with poll watchers in order to keep order.
However these positive procedures were passed in Voting Rights -
Mail ballot tracking - a secure online system allowing voters to track status of the request for a ballot and the mail ballot’s return
Mail ballot cure - a procedure election officials can use to notify voters of errors on mail ballots and an opportunity to cure the problem using the electronic ballot tracking system
Protection for disability voting accommodations - protecting procedures already entitled to under state and federal law
Poll Watcher training - requiring watchers to complete a Secretary of State online training course and present proof of course completion to polling place officials
Increased ballot access for pregnant voters - expanding mail ballot eligibility for pregnant voters if delivery is forecast 3 weeks before or after election day
Increased interpretation access for voters - expanding the type of assistance allowed and expanding eligibility for providing assistance
Auditable paper trails for election equipment - phasing out equipment by August 2026 that does not provide voters with verifiable records of their vote
Learn more on Cinde Weatherby’s blog: “Celebrate Your Advocacy!”
Other issues we care about:
Public Education by Diann Andy
The teaching of racial issues and slavery was restricted in favor of white-washing it so students wouldn’t feel bad; the few amendments to add the writings of other historical figures and teaching of current events were targeted in the special session. See Diann Andy's blog "Regarding the 'Anti-Critical Race Theory' Bills" here.
Health Care by Andrea Roa & Child Health by Celia I. Kaye
- Medicare expansion failed, keeping Teas with the lowest rate of uninsured in the country; abortions are now restricted to the first six-weeks of pregnancy.
- One small victory: postpartum Medicaid coverage was extended from 2 months to 6 months.
- Another: medical marijuana is now available for cancer or PTSD.
- SNAP access is easier for seniors and the disabled.
Against the wishes of the majority of Texans and law enforcement, there is no requirement for licensing or training to carry handguns for those 21 and older.
Efforts to target their parents and medical caregivers of transgender children and to limit transgender a child's ability to play on a sports team that aligns with their gender identity failed.
Good news! A bill to create a statewide Court of Appeals failed in the regular session.
Local Control: Reducing police budgets in cities over 250,000 may be punished by the state by having their sales tax revenue reduced and being prevented from raising property taxes.
Climate Change: Several bills were filed but none received a hearing; however a Climate Change Caucus was formed by Rep. Zweiner to discuss the issues. Unfortunately no members of the majority party joined the caucus.
LWV Austin Area Webinar: "Democracy in the Spotlight: the 87th Texas Legislative Session"
Save the Date: 2:30-4 pm Sunday, September 26, 2021 (2:00 for LWV Austin members)
Welcome & Moderator - Cinde Weatherby, LWVTX Voting Rights & Election Law Issue Chair
- Historical Perspectives - Harvey Kronberg, Quorum Report publisher
- Legislator Perspective - Rep. John Bucy, Texas House District 136
- Election Official Perspective - Isabel Longoria, Harris County Election Administrator
- Legal Perspective - Thomas Buser-Clancey, ACLU
LWV Corpus Christi in PEW Charitable Trust News!
The Pew Charitable Trusts is a global nongovernmental organization that seeks to improve public policy, inform the public, and invigorate civic life. LWV Corpus Christi League leaders were quoted in the article "Public Access to Redistricting" dated August 31, 2021.
"Members of the League of Women Voters in Corpus Christi created a map of Nueces County that identified communities at risk of elevated lead levels in their drinking water following a 2020 study.
"'We believe that redistricting can have a significant impact on this issue because the communities most impacted by the highest levels of lead must be kept intact to focus resources and remedies in neighborhoods that most need help, neighborhoods that often have people of color and/or people with low income,' League officials wrote in an email to Stateline."
Click here for more information on the LWV Corpus Christi's 2020 Lead Water Study.