Action Alert: HB 40 Vote on the House Floor Tomorrow, April 14, 2015

On Tuesday, April 14, the Texas House of Representatives will debate House Bill 40, authored by Rep. Drew Darby. Texas Impact opposes HB 40 because, although it includes compromise language intended to allay some fears of local officials, the bill ultimately represents a real threat, not only to the independence of local governments, but to the future of the state’s public health and safety.

The brevity of HB 40 belies the far-reaching effects it would have on local control, essentially stripping cities and county governments of their ability to regulate oil and gas, even in the interests of public health and safety. The bill’s language makes this explicit: “The legislature intends that this Act expressly preempts regulation of oil and gas operations by municipalities and other political subdivisions that is already impliedly preempted by state law.”

Click here to read more.

Action Alert: Contact Texas Senators to Oppose SB 4 and SB 1819

Update #2: Contact information for all Senators now available.

Update: In-State Tuition Fact Sheet available from the Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP): English | Spanish


Texas Impact encourages you to consider making and organizing telephone calls this week to help protect public education funding from senators trying to siphon off funding for private schools and to protect in-state tuition for all Texas high school graduates.

Below you will find talking points and toll free numbers to key senators. Please distribute widely so legislators understand that people of faith view these issues as priorities.

People of faith can make a difference in Texas. We hope that you will join friends throughout the state in making your voice heard on these two important issues, and let us know how the calls go!

Downloadable Talking Points available here.

Click here to view the talking points.


This Week in the Legislature: April 4-April 10, 2015

Legislative Update #12 | View Archive


This Week in the Legislature
April 4 – April 10, 2015

Days 82-88; 53 days to go

We are more than 60% of the way through the legislative session, and the avalanche of bills being posted for hearing in committees has begun with committee hearings on legislation lasting late into the night.

Better Neighbors | April 2015: Water

Download the Printable Newsletter. (Right-click and choose "Save Link As...")

Action Alert: Support Good Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Bills

Ready to support some good legislation?

The following bills would increase police accountability, improve conditions for incarcerated individuals, and ensure those leaving incarceration get needed social services. 

SB1777 by Menendez and HB2523 by Collier would ensure that individuals who enter incarceration in a county jail on Medicaid would have Medicaid reinstated immediately upon release. 

Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chair Sen. Charles Schwertner: (512) 463-0105

House Public Health Committee Chair Rep. Myra Crownover: (512) 463-0582

This Week in the Legislature: March 14-27, 2015

Legislative Update #10 | View Archive


This Week in the Legislature
March 14 - 27, 2015
Days 61-74; 67 days to go

On Monday, March 16, the first bills passed both chambers for the 84th Session.  The House passed HB 10, an anti-human trafficking bill.  The Senate passed SB 17, a bill allowing open carry of handguns in Texas.  While floor action has slowly begun, committees are off, and the season of marathon committee hearings is in full swing. 

Top Story: Several religion bills in committee

Misc.:  The House passes a texting-while-driving ban.  While not part of the Texas Impact Legislative Agenda, it does offer some informative record votes before we get into the bulk of floor action for the session. 

Tuesday, March 31, is Election Day for the last remaining unfilled House seat in HD 124 vacated by now Senator Menendez.  Click here for an official list of candidates

The NT-NL Public Witness Team presents a Texas Impact Legislative Briefing | Arlington, April 11

Sat, 04/11/2015 - 10:00am - 3:00pm

The NT-NL Public Witness Team presents a Texas Impact Legislative Briefing
April 11, 10:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M.
Shepherd of Life Lutheran Church
715 East Lamar Boulevard, Arlington
Contact: Pastor Franz Schemmel (
franzschemmel@gmail.com or 817-613-7906) or Pastor Chuck Hubbard (214-395-6978)

Do you wonder if our Texas legislators are aware of the issues import to Lutherans? Would you like to help them out? Here is your opportunity learn how to have an impact on the legislative process!

Take Action! Bills In Committee March 23-24 Would Undermine Religious Freedom

Printable Talking Points Now Available (Right-Click and Select "Save Link As...")

The Big Pink Building: Getting Around the State Capitol Available (Right-Click and Select "Save Link As...")


Better Neighbors | March 2015: Adoption and Foster Care

Download the Printable Newsletter. (Right-click and choose "Save Link As...")

Texas Faith Leaders Issue a Statement Calling for “Compassion and Prudence” in State Immigration Debate

On Monday, the Texas Catholic Conference, Texas Impact and the Baptist General Convention of Texas issued a statement calling for compassion and prudence in the state immigration debate. You can read the Interfaith Leaders' Statement here.

The full text of the press release is available below.

Read and sign on to Texas Impact's Texas Interfaith Sign-On Letter on Immigration Legislation in the 84th Texas Legislature at http://texasimpact.org/Immigration-Letter-2015.


Texas Faith Leaders Call for “Compassion and Prudence” in State Immigration Debate

AUSTIN—Leaders of Texas’ Christian denominations joined with Jewish and Muslim clergy in calling for compassion and mutual respect as lawmakers opened public testimony on a series of bills that would impose new state sanctions on undocumented persons, require proof of citizenship for an array of activities, and coerce municipalities to prioritize identification of possible undocumented immigrants over public safety.

The call comes as the Texas Senate Committee on Border Security launched public hearings on Senate Bill 185, which would coerce local police and sheriffs departments to enforce federal immigration laws at the expense of their regular policing operations.

United Methodist Bishop James Dorff of San Antonio said his denomination and other faith traditions oppose the legislation because it would undermine racial reconciliation and damage local communities. “We urge Texas legislators to reject policies that could encourage discrimination, co- opt local law enforcement, or scapegoat immigrants,” Dorff said.

Jeffery R. Patterson, PhD, executive director of the Texas Catholic Conference, said that while immigration reform is a federal issue, the rest of the country looks to Texas and Texas legislators for guidance given the integration of communities and issues along the 1,200-mile border between Texas and Mexico.

“There is no question our nation needs to reform our immigration system, given the families that are divided, the poor and vulnerable who are victimized, and the needless suffering that results.  How Texas policymakers act to find a compassionate and balanced approach to reform will hopefully inform how Congress and the White House choose to do so,” Patterson said.

Gus Reyes, Director of the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission, said the legislation under consideration could have unintended consequences for American citizens.

“Texas Legislators should be cautious when considering policies that could detract from safety and risk the inadvertent deprivation of the civil and constitutional rights of citizens and lawful permanent residents,” Reyes said.

Reverend Dr. Whitney Bodman, President of the Board of Texas Impact, said anti-immigrant sentiment reflects fear, and that lawmakers should lead Texas out of a paradigm of fear to one of respect.

“By affirming the dignity of every person, including those who migrate, lawmakers can help the people of Texas move from fear to respect. And only with respect can we work with all Americans to build a truly just national immigration system,” Bodman said.

Representatives of the Catholic bishops, the United Methodist bishops, the bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Christian Life Commission will continue to provide oral and written testimony before legislative committees on immigrations proposals.


Texas Catholic Conference is the public policy voice of the Catholic Bishops of Texas.
For more information visit www.TXcatholic.org

Texas Impact was established by Texas religious leaders in 1973 to be a voice in the Texas legislative process for the shared religious social concerns of Texas’ faith communities. Texas Impact is supported by more than two-dozen Christian, Jewish and Muslim denominational bodies, as well as hundreds of local congregations, ministerial alliances and interfaith networks, and thousands of people of faith throughout Texas.
For more information visit texasimpact.org

Since 1950, the Christian Life Commission (CLC) has served as the ethics agency of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. The CLC has the assignment of speaking to, but not for, churches and individuals about important ethical issues.
For more information visit texasbaptists.org

Action Alert: Upcoming Hearing for Sanctuary Cities Bill - March 16, 2015

On Monday, March 16, the Senate Veteran Affairs & Military Installations Subcommittee on Border Security will take public testimony on SB 185 relating to so-called "sanctuary cities."

SB 185 is similar to the sanctuary cities legislation that the Texas Legislature heard in 2011 but did not pass. Immigrant-rights groups and others refer to the Texas bill and similar legislation in other states as "Show Me Your Papers."

The bill would prohibit cities from adopting policies designed to reassure immigrant communities that their cooperation with local law enforcement will not trigger enforcement of federal immigration laws. Read the Senate's official bill analysis.

In 2011, more than 40 Texas judicatory leaders signed on to a joint statement opposing sanctuary cities legislation, and numerous religious leaders testified against the bill in committee.

Watch video of faith leaders' testimony in 2011.

We anticipate many faith leaders will want to provide testimony at Monday's hearing. If you are planning to attend Monday's hearing, please let us know. We are happy to help with logistics or coordinate a meeting if you'd like an opportunity to connect  with other faith community representatives while you are at the Capitol.

Details
COMMITTEE: Veteran Affairs & Military Installations, Subcommittee on Border Security 
TIME & DATE: 8:00 AM, Monday, March 16, 2015
PLACE: E1.016 (Hearing Room)

CHAIR: Senator Brian Birdwell

Can't Get to Austin on Monday?
Watch the hearing online on the Texas Senate Video Stream starting at 8AM Monday.

Call the committee at 877-274-3841 to register your position on the bill.

Request Cover Texas Now Postcards!

If you'd like Texas Impact to send you Cover Texas Now postcards, please fill out the following form:

TCADP Release: More than 550 Texas Faith Leaders Call for Abolition of the Death Penalty

More than 550 Texas Faith Leaders Call for Abolition of the Death Penalty

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, March 9, 2015

CONTACT: Kristin Houlé, Executive Director, Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (TCADP)
512-441-1808 (office); 512-552-5948 (cell); khoule@tcadp.org

RELEASE: Senate proposal would burden disadvantaged Texans and property taxpayers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 2, 2015
For more information contact Bee Moorhead @ 512-636-3135

Texas Impact

Senate proposal would burden disadvantaged Texans and property taxpayers

AUSTIN—In response to Lt. Governor Patrick and Sen. Schwertner's letter asking federal officials for flexibility to increase burdens on current Texas Medicaid recipients, Texas Impact issued the following statement:

"Texas faith communities have a deep, historic commitment to our state’s healthcare system. Many of our hospitals retain their denominational names to this day.

We are dismayed that the Senate leadership would propose to ratchet down its already minimal support for the least of our brothers and sisters, thereby exacerbating the already onerous unfunded mandates the Legislature places on local jurisdictions.

Texans today pay twice for our uninsured. We send income tax dollars to Washington D.C.—dollars that the federal government intends to send back to cover uninsured Texans, but which state leaders have steadfastly refused. 

Because lawmakers refuse to accept the repatriation of our income taxes, Texans must pay for charity care at local hospitals through property taxes. In fact, a 2013 report by former Deputy Comptroller Billy Hamilton estimated that hospital district taxpayers absorb more than $2 billion in local health care costs. Senate leaders have indicated that property tax relief is a priority—but the fastest way to reduce local property taxes would be to draw down available federal funds to provide health insurance for low-income Texans.

Instead, Senate leaders seem to be headed in the opposite direction. If legislators are successful in tightening restrictions for existing Medicaid recipients—who are almost exclusively children, the aged, and those with disabilities—they will only increase demands on local systems while making life harder for millions of our most challenged neighbors."

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New WCI and CPRI VISTA Positions Now Available

New VISTA Positions available with CPRI and the Welcoming Communities Initiative


Welcoming Communities Initiative (WCI) Community Engagement Specialist

Texas Impact is currently recruiting AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers interested in spearheading projects to help meet the needs of a growing population of unaccompanied minor immigrants in Texas, including providing support to the caregivers of this vulnerable population.

As part of this effort, the Welcoming Communities Initiative (WCI) hopes to establish and support a network of community and faith-based organizations already engaged in addressing humanitarian crises, and the current crisis of unaccompanied minors in Texas in particular.  The AmeriCorps VISTA WCI Community Engagement Specialist will identify unmet needs of vulnerable populations, bring leaders of differing religious traditions together, and establish protocols, materials, and processes for assistance.

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