Skip to main content

Demand a Town Hall!

ISSUE

We’ve asked so little of our state reps when it comes to organized constituent engagement. A disaster of this magnitude calls for engagement that goes beyond taking an occasional phone call. These state reps were elected to look out for us, and we deserve answers and accountability for the human suffering caused by Texas officials.

MAKE A CALL

Texans! Call your state senator and representative and demand a town hall in your district to address the failures of the Texas state government, as well as to share future plans to protect us from these predictable, repeated failures.

Find your representatives here or here.

You can say:

“Hi, I’m a constituent of {Senator/Representative} {name}. My zip code is _____. When is the next town hall {Senator/Representative} {name} is planning in our district to address the failures of the Texas state government during last week’s winter storm crisis?”

BACKGROUND

Texans are currently faced with multiple and overlapping crises. A global pandemic has caused unemployment and homelessness.

Communities of color continue to suffer from racial injustice. And the “big freeze” of February 14-18, 2021 made it clear that our crumbling public services and infrastructure are especially vulnerable to extreme weather events fueled by the worsening climate crisis.

It is no coincidence that some leaders in Texas are attacking the Green New Deal, which so far exists only on paper, and have tried to falsely blame wind turbines for the results of their failed policies of “small government” and “free market” radicalism. Their unwavering support for fossil fuels will only exacerbate the climate crisis and lead to more disasters in the future.

It is time that Texas and our state leaders take climate change seriously. We need to prepare and mitigate its effects that are already happening here in Texas and affecting Texans. Public infrastructure needs to be winterized, for example, to prevent a future collapse. We need to transition away from oil and gas which failed us last week in order to prevent the climate crisis from worsening and Texas from falling behind economically.

It is time for the Texas Legislature to step up for Texans.

Share Your Story and Push for Public Testimony

ISSUE

Speaker Phelan called for a joint committee hearing this Thursday, 2/25 at 9 am with the State Affairs and Energy Resources Committees. Your input is vital to helping the committees understand the widespread impact of the power outages.

Right now, the hearing is only allowing invited testimony. If you have expertise in the energy sector, you can contact the committees and request to be invited.

We can also push the committees to open up the hearings to public testimony. You have a few ways to provide comments before the hearing begins. We encourage you to use them all!

WRITE AND CALL

Write: Provide a public comment to the Texas House here. And to the Texas Senate here.

Call the State Affairs (512-463-0814) and Energy Resources (512-463-0774) committees and your State Representative and Senator to share your freeze experience, provide written testimony, and push for public testimony at their hearing on Thursday.

When calling committees to push for public testimony:
“Hi, I’m a resident of Texas and I’m calling today to request the committee open its hearing to public testimony. The people of Texas were impacted severely by the power outage event last week, and our legislators need to hear from us so they can reach a better solution for our state. [tell your story here] Thank you for your time. My zip code is _____.”

When calling your State Representative or Senator:
“Hi, I’m a constituent and am calling today to help you understand my experience last week so you can better inform your work in the coming weeks and months. [tell your story here] So much of last week’s blackout was avoidable. Please push for common sense measures to be put in place so Texans never again have to go through what we went through. Thank you for putting your constituents first. My zip code is _____.”

MORE INFO

Tell your freeze story to the Texas Legislature

ISSUE

While last week’s disaster in Texas is still fresh on our legislators’ minds, we must give testimony, loudly and collectively, to the human cost of Texas officials’ neglect.

WHO SHOULD ACT

Every Texan affected by last week’s freeze / disaster!

SUBMIT TESTIMONY

Submit written testimony for the joint hearing of the House Energy Resources and State Affairs Committees on the causes of last week’s blackouts: https://comments.house.texas.gov/home?c=c450

HERE’S THE BACKGROUND

Texans are currently faced with multiple and overlapping crises. A global pandemic has caused unemployment and homelessness. Communities of color continue to suffer from racial injustice. And last week it became clear that our crumbling public services and infrastructure are especially vulnerable to extreme weather events fueled by the worsening climate crisis.

It is no coincidence that some leaders in Texas are attacking the Green New Deal, which so far exists only on paper, and have tried to falsely blame wind turbines for the results of their failed policies of “small government” and “free market” radicalism. Their unwavering support for fossil fuels will only exacerbate the climate crisis and lead to more disasters in the future.

It is time that Texas and our state leaders take climate change seriously. We need to prepare and mitigate its effects that are already happening here in Texas and affecting Texans. Public infrastructure needs to be winterized, for example, to prevent a future collapse. We need to transition away from oil and gas, which failed us last week in order to prevent the climate crisis from worsening and Texas from falling behind economically.

It is time for the Texas Legislature to step up for Texans!

Again, Keep Schools Funded!

ISSUE

Schools must remain adequately funded, especially in response to last week’s freeze. This call to action is an update of a previous action to extend the “hold harmless” period past February to keep schools funded regardless of drops in attendance due to COVID. Now that the freeze made in-person attendance impossible last week and for weeks to come at some school buildings that have damage, serious funding problems will happen if “hold harmless” is not extended.

MAKE A CALL

Call Governor Abbott (512-463-2000), TEA Commissioner Morath (512-463-8985), the Senate Finance Committee (512-463-0370) and House Appropriation III Subcommittee members. Also call your State Rep and Senator. Say:

“”Hi, I’m a {constituent/concerned” resident of Texas. I’m calling today regarding school funding. Along with many advocacy groups, I urge you to ensure that school districts’ funding is not cut due to lower student attendance caused by the COVID pandemic or by the widespread power outages of February 2021. As soon as possible, the TEA should extend the enrollment-based “hold harmless” through this school year so schools aren’t penalized for events outside of their control. School districts need continued state aid to provide our students with an adequate education, especially those facing challenges brought about by the pandemic and freeze-related problems. Thank you. My zip code is _____.”

Save Planned Parenthood Medicaid Reimbursements

ISSUE

Governor Greg Abbott and Ken Paxton have removed Planned Parenthood from the approved providers’ list for Medicaid reimbursement. The reimbursements are for non-abortion related services such as STI testing and treatment, “well-woman” exams, and breast cancer screenings.

Medicaid is the federal-state health insurance program for the poor. Texas already has a shortage of Medicaid providers because of low reimbursement rates and can’t afford to lose Planned Parenthood as a provider. The organization sees about 8,000 low-income clients in the state each year.

The cut-off was set to go into effect on February 3rd. On that date, a state district judge temporarily stopped Texas from kicking out Planned Parenthood. A hearing is set for March 10th.

Texas Tribune: Texas temporarily blocked from kicking Planned Parenthood out of Medicaid

CONTACT THE TEXAS AG AND GOVERNOR

Everyone in Texas who supports comprehensive reproductive healthcare for all Texans should contact Attorney General Ken Paxton and Governor Greg Abbott.

Attorney General Ken Paxton
https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/contact-us-online-form
800-252-8011
P.O. Box 12548, Austin 78711

Governor Greg Abbott
https://gov.texas.gov/apps/contact/opinion.aspx
800-843-5789
P.O. Box 12428, Austin 78711

WHAT YOU CAN SAY

If you’re pro-choice:

I support Planned Parenthood. Please drop the legal proceedings to get them thrown out of Medicaid. Texans need access for to the non-abortion Medicaid services provided by Planned Parenthood.

If you’re pro-life:

Medicaid does not fund abortions at Planned Parenthood. The Medicaid reimbursements are for reproductive healthcare such as STI testing and treatment, and well-woman exams. Texans need access to healthcare, and Planned Parenthood is accessible and supplements an already stretched-thin Medicaid provider system. I’m asking you to allow Planned Parenthood to stay on the Medicaid provider list.

Provide Testimony on Redistricting

ISSUE

Here’s a reminder to testify in front of the Redistricting Committee and/or learn more about redistricting. The last hearing is February 27, but don’t wait until the last minute to get your voice heard by our state government! Written testimony is also an option if you can’t make one of the scheduled hearings.

SIGN UP

Find sign up times for each hearing here.

SUBMIT

Form to submit written testimony is here.

HOW TO TESTIFY

Check out the League of Women Voters Redistricting Testimony Guide

FOR MORE ON REDISTRICTING

Respond to Abbott’s Emergency Priorities

ISSUE

During session, only emergency priorities designated by the Governor can be voted on within the first 60 days of session. Those priorities, announced last Monday, had no mention of COVID-19 relief, the recession, racial justice reform, or access to healthcare, making me wonder, “What world is he living in?”

BACKGROUND

TAKE ACTION

Make a list of what you think the priorities should be.

Call or write your representative, senator, and Governor Abbot’s office to tell them your priorities.

Share your priorities with your friends and your Rapid Response 5.

Cancel 2021 STAAR Testing!

ISSUE

STAAR is a set of high-stakes, multiple-choice tests that Texas schools are required to administer to students in grades 3-12. The pandemic prevented administration of the tests in spring 2020, but Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath has declared opposition to waiving the STAAR testing scheduled for spring 2021.

Commissioner Morath has already agreed that the 2021 STAAR will not count for controlling student grade progression or for assigning A-F school and district ratings, as in normal years. But he still wants to require schools to tell students they must attend the hours-long tests in person this spring.

Educators want these tests cancelled, saying that the shift in focus to testing will undermine their work on mitigating the damage that a year of pandemic disruption has caused.

Any benefit from state-mandated testing comes from comparisons between normal years, schools, and districts–a purpose for which STAAR tests this spring will be useless. Group tests now will also act as virus spreaders.

WHO SHOULD ACT

Everyone in Texas is affected by education. Parents and educators will be especially impacted, but there is also a case to be made from a taxpayer point of view.

The decision about this spring’s test will be made by Commissioner Morath, who was appointed by Governor Abbott. While there will not be time for formal legislative action, messages to your legislators might have indirect influence.

WHO TO CONTACT

  • Commissioner Mike Morath
    commissioner@tea.texas.gov
    512-463-8985
    1701 N. Congress, Austin TX 78701

WHAT TO SAY

Pick or adapt the one closest to your situation.

If you’re a parent or relative of a student:

“Please cancel this spring’s STAAR tests. My child’s teacher has been doing heroic work online to keep her class interested, but this will be lost if they have to switch back to practicing multiple-choice tests. I am also concerned that sitting for hours with other students for the tests may lead to her bringing the virus home.”

If you’re a teacher:

“Please cancel this year’s STAAR tests. The disruption they will cause will undermine my already-challenging work in keeping my students interested in learning under current circumstances. This year, their STAAR results would be more a measure of their home situation than their learning.”

If you’re a taxpayer:

“Doing STAAR tests in the middle of a pandemic is a waste of money that will aggravate an already-difficult situation and damage the cause of school accountability because the results will not be comparable between districts or years.”

FOR MORE

While the requests to cancel the 2021 tests is based on the pandemic, there are also continuing efforts to substantially revise Texas school-accountability laws to make them more flexible and oriented to their specific communities. Texas Public Accountability Consortium (TPAC).

Also see: Texas Tribune, Texas will require students to take the STAAR test in person

Watch State of the State Address on Feb 1

WATCH

February 1, 2021 at 7 PM CST

Get a sense for how our Governor views the state of our state, and where he sees our priorities for the year ahead. Take notes and make sure you call your Rep and Senator the next day to let them know how their constituents feel about the Governor’s statements.

Find a station broadcasting the speech here.

Attend a Redistricting Hearing

ISSUE

Back before the pandemic, a full slate of redistricting hearings were scheduled across the state. The vast majority were cancelled, of course. However, just a few days ago the Senate Redistricting Committee released new dates. They started Monday, January 25 and run through February 27. Check their proposed schedule of hearings to find a hearing you’re able to attend. To provide spoken testimony, you must register 24 hours in advance of the hearing. All spoken testimony will be done via two-way video conference, and your audio and video must work to participate.

WATCH

Livestream of the Committee Hearings will be available here.

SIGN UP

Find registration links by opening the Hearing file on the day you plan to attend, found in the Committee Hearing posting. You’ll find a bit.ly link under “Witness Registration Instructions” that will take you to a zoom meeting registration page.

SUBMIT

Submit written input to the Committee here.

HOW TO TESTIFY

The League of Women Voters Redistricting Testimony Guide

FOR MORE ON REDISTRICTING

The League of Women Voters Redistricting Tool Box

The Redistricting Process (Texas.gov)