When I was a 22-year old undergraduate student, a single parent averaging 20 hours a semester, I got very sick. By the time my sickness reached the crisis stage, my mother stepped in with a trip to her doctor. I will never forget waking up in the hospital after exploratory surgery with my mother by my bedside. She held my hand, looked me in the eye and said, "You know you had a hysterectomy, don't you?" I had not realized that that was a possibility.
I was fortunate. Millions of Texas women are uninsured, unless pregnant, and would have left that hospital with a mountain of medical debt and zero aftercare.
Texan women are a rare breed of “awesome.” We can care about and for the most vulnerable of our women!
We need laws that value our life, our health and our ability to provide for our loved ones. Texans pride ourselves on being able to provide for our own. We no longer have to choose to be ranked at the bottom -below Mississippi- in health care coverage and maternal mortality.
Let’s fix this! Expand the Medicaid income eligibility ceiling for adult Texans from $2,000 per year to ~$16,000 a year for 10 cents on the dollar! Expand pregnancy coverage from 2 to 12 months after childbirth to improve the chances that Texan women will live to see their child grow up!
Let's eliminate barriers to health care and implement health education reform in the schools and in the communities! Texans deserve no less!
Covering adult Texans under Medicaid will help save our rural hospitals, too. It costs us 10 cents on the dollar. Why would anyone turn down that offer?
We need laws that provide for a healthy planet. As a Katrina survivor who’s been married to a scientist for almost 30 years, Climate Change is very real and personal to me. We need to green the grid, electrify transportation and clean up existing industries. Together, we can still turn this around - and create good-paying jobs.
Wind turbine service jobs and solar installer jobs are two of the fastest growing jobs in the country. Both only require a high school diploma and pay a living wage of over $40,000 per year. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/fastest-growing.htm
"Justice" incorporates so many important issues. For now, let's look at Criminal Justice, with a true story.
“Imagine you are A.B.C.*, a 30 year old, single, African American mother of two who was arrested as part of a drug sweep in Hearne, Texas. All but one of the people arrested were African American. You are innocent. After a week in jail, you have no one to care for your two small children and are eager to get home. Your court-appointed attorney urges you to plead guilty … saying the prosecutor has offered probation. You refuse, steadfastly proclaiming your innocence. Finally, after a month in jail, you decide to plead guilty so you can return to your children. Unwilling to risk a trial and years of imprisonment, you are sentenced to 10 years probation and ordered to pay $1,000 in fines as well as court and probation costs. You are now branded a drug felon. You are no longer eligible for food stamps; you may be discriminated against in employment; you cannot vote for at least 12 years; and you are about to be evicted from public housing. Once homeless, your children will be taken from you and put in foster care.
A judge eventually dismisses all cases against the defendants who did not plead guilty. … You, however, are still a drug felon, homeless, and desperate to regain custody of your children.
Now place yourself in the shoes of D.E.*, another African American victim of the Hearne drug bust. You returned home to Bryan, Texas, to attend the funeral of your 18 month old daughter. Before the funeral services begin, the police show up and handcuff you. You beg the officers to let you take one last look at your daughter before she is buried. The police refuse. You are told by prosecutors that you are needed to testify against one of the defendants in a recent drug bust. You deny witnessing any drug transaction; you don’t know what they are talking about. Because of your refusal to cooperate, you are indicted on felony charges. After a month of being held in jail, the charges are dropped. You are technically free, but as a result of your arrest and period of incarceration, you lose your job, your apartment, your furniture and your car. Not to mention the chance to say good-bye to your baby girl.
This is the War on Drugs.”
(True story excerpted from The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander, pp 97 & 98. *Names changed to unassociated initials.)
When we legalize marijuana, we need to expunge the records of those who have been convicted for marijuana-related offenses that have disproportionately affected our communities of color.
We need to incorporate law enforcement and district attorney best practices sentencing guidelines into statute to allow flexibility in sentencing to fit the offense.
We need Bail Reform so that our taxes are not being spent to incarcerate non-violent offenders who have not been convicted of a crime.
We also need to address the monetary costs of probation and parole to the probationer and parolee. The burden can be disproportional.
Public schools provide every child equal opportunity.
High quality teachers are the backbone of an excellent education and we need to recruit and retain the best and the brightest. With COVID-19, our teachers taught virtually over the internet. Our children need access to virtual learning through broadband internet infrastructure. Our schools must continue to prioritize safety for our teachers and our children.
We all saw first-hand the impact of our public schools systems during the first weeks and months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools stepped up to continue feeding our children and providing for our communities in ways that many of us were unaware of. The state must make good on promises made. We must protect our schools from state funding cuts.
Our teachers deserve an equitable compensation package, including retirement options. Not many realize that only a handful of Texas public schools participate in social security, leaving our teachers to retire on TRS (Teacher’s Retirement System) with out social security benefits. That TRS retirement is a flat amount that has not seen a COLA (cost of living adjustment) in decades. We consolidate our teachers’ insurance, yet price out a retiree-only package instead of spreading the risk and the price for all teachers. We can do better.
Minimum wage has not changed in Texas in a decade. It remains $7.25 an hour - or $15,080 for a year of full time work. For tipped employees, the rate remains $2.13 per hour. While wages remain stagnant, the cost of living and the cost of goods and services has continually risen over the past decade. Texans are having to work more than one full time job to put a roof over their head.
More women than men work minimum wage jobs. More 24-64 year old people work minimum wage jobs. Only 3% of minimum wage jobs are filled by 16-18 year old people, while 14.7% are filled by single mothers and 20% are filled by veterans.
The statewide living wage estimate is $11.03 for 2019. Increasing the minimum wage to a living wage provides a path to break the poverty cycle while stimulating the economy.
As Texans, we believe in treating each other as we would want to be treated. That’s the “Golden Rule” we all grew up with, isn’t it?
Yet hate crimes are on the rise. Each year, the Texas Lege tries to pass a new law to grant a license to discriminate against our LBGTQ+ community. In Texas, you can still get married as a same-sex couple on Friday and be fired on Monday because of legalized discrimination in our state.
Texans should not be afraid they’ll be fired from their job, evicted from an apartment, be denied health care or turned away from a business establishment for who they are or who they love.
All Texans should feel safe from hate crimes. I support non-discrimination laws for everybody. All Texans should have full legal and lived equality. Period.
Texas needs a new tax revenue stream to reduce property tax, fund education, health (& mental health) care, and public safety. A growing number of states are seeing tax benefits of legalizing marijuana for medicinal and recreational use. If we move now on marijuana legalization, we can enact enabling legislation to fund these and/or other social programs. The key is stipulating what % of tax revenues fund which social program in the enabling legislation. If we wait too long, we may miss our window. The industry is mature enough to have established best practices, which should be incorporated.
Ensuring that public safety receives a portion of the tax revenue stream is important. With the new industry, public safety’s focus shifts in regards to marijuana.
We will need a banking mechanism so that the business can operate within a banking system and not rely solely on cash.
Distributing licenses for the new businesses should formally consider which communities have been most harmed by the decades-long marijuana incarceration protocol and the resulting impact of felony marijuana convictions on housing, jobs and families.