The Legislature is in session, so bookmark this page and check back often, as new info might get to us and as we try to stay on top of the ‘lege as items are moving through the legislative process at the Capitol.
Monday, March 20
You can find your Representative easily here:
Here’s a script and some more info:
Hello, I’m calling to ask my Senator/Representative to vote NO on SB6. This legislation is not actually about public safety; it discriminates against transgendered people and would inhibit their participation in public life. We trust our teachers and principals who know our kids to make the appropriate accommodations for their students and keep them safe. A blanket law that prohibits student accommodations wrongly takes those decisions out of our teachers’ hands.
And I know Senator Kolkhorst and Dan Patrick are trying to sell this to the public as a “public safety” measure, but outlawing transgender people from using the bathroom of the gender with which they identify doesn’t make anyone safer. Transgender Texans have been using bathrooms for years with no reports of them doing anything inappropriate in those spaces. This bill is a “solution” in search of a problem. Thank you for your time.
Dan Patrick and the GOP keep trying to use a widely debunked “bathroom predator myth” to nominally support this bill. There is 0 evidence for this claim. This reckless lie endangers the transgender community.
If you need some more reading on SB4, see below:
If you need a few talking points about how immigrants contribute to Texas’ economy, the CPPP has got you covered.
2. All day: Call your State Representative to oppose the call for a “Convention of States”.
If its companion, HJR 39, passes the State House, Texas would become one of the 34 states needed to have a US Constitutional Convention. 28 States have approved such measures so far. Given the current political climate, there’s no telling what changes would be made to our Constitution, and how it would impact the separation of powers. If this doesn’t alarm you, it should.
- Read more: Dallas News: Senate Approves Bills that Call for Convention States to Amend US Constitution
- Say: “Hi, I’m a constituent of Representative ______ and I’m calling to request (s)he vote NO on HJR 39. This resolution is a distraction from the pressing needs and priorities of Texans and as a tax payer, I’m appalled that our state legislators are wasting limited resources on this initiative.”
You can read about Empower Texans, a huge, single-donor lobby that is the money behind this push for a Convention of the States here, and while you’re at it read about how the Koch brothers own Greg Abbott here and here.
Tuesday, March 21
1. 9 a.m. at the capitol. Sign up to testify or register your opposition to SB3. SB 3, the school voucher bill, is scheduled for public hearing at 9 am in room E1.028. School vouchers are one of Dan Patrick’s pet issues, because it’s one of the issues that wealthy lobbyists want to see pushed through. Simply put, school vouchers in Texas are a terrible idea.
If passed, this bill would undermine both public education and the separation of church and state. It would take taxpayers’ dollars away from public schools and allow them to be transferred to charter or private schools, including church-sponsored schools, without any oversight of the effectiveness of those schools.
The Texas Association of School Boards has created a very useful outline of concerns here.
Here’s the text of the bill and a plain-language commentary.
Not sure how to testify at the capitol, or does it seem intimidating? Not to worry! There’s nothing to it. We’ve put together a friendly guide on how to provide committee testimony at the capitol for you.
Need talking points on why school vouchers are such a bad idea? Here you go.
2. All day. Continue to call House Reps to vote No on SB4, Greg Abbott’s anti-immigrant sanctuary cities bill, and House Rep Charlie Geren’s companion bill HB 889, which criminalizes anyone who refuses to participate in mass deportations. (You should also tell your Rep to oppose all of the companion bills to these bills: HB 611, HB 754, HB 889, and HB 1308). The kind of mass deportations that Donald Trump wants to force us to participate in are ruining the lives of our friends and neighbors. This runs counter to everything we have been taught and believe that we stand for as Americans. Tell your House Representative that we cannot be bullied out of our humanity, and they should refuse to let Greg Abbott bully them out of theirs.
Sample Script A:
“Hi, my name is _________ and I’m calling to urge _________ to go on the record and reject Senate Bill 4. This bill will only increase mistrust in law enforcement, and will do nothing to actually keep us safe. The research shows that legislation like State Bill 4 only drives undocumented crime victims and witnesses into the shadows, and we’ve already seen in the ICE raids in Texas that these deportation raids are not targeting criminals, as over half of the arrests made were of immigrants who didn’t have criminal records, including a woman with a brain tumor being treated for cancer whom agents removed from the hospital, a woman in court who was arrested on a tip by the man who abused her, and hard-working families, now torn apart.
Governor Abbott’s position on sanctuary cities is a cowardly, overt attempt at capitalizing on the wave of anti-immigrant sentiment that Donald Trump exploited during his campaign. But that doesn’t have any place in Texas. We, Rep____’s constituents will not forget ______ position on this matter, and urge him/her to get on the right side of history, or we will be voting him out of office when he/she seeks re-election.”
Sample Script B:
Hi, My name is __________. As a concerned constituent of the state of Texas, I urge Representative _______ to oppose SB 4 and all companion bills – HB 611, HB 754, HB 889, and HB 1308. I care about keeping Texans safe and together, this includes my immigrant neighbors. During the SB4 hearing in the House, there were a total of 638 testimonies out of which 619 were against SB4. I urge Representative _________ to listen to the concerns of those 619 testimonies, which represent the concerns of our communities. I urge him/her to also consider the testimony of representatives from law enforcement agencies from around the state, such as Austin Police Chief Brian Manley, that said that this bill will erode public trust in police. In addition, SB4 will lead to racial profiling, which is un-American and un-Texan. Senate Bill 4 goes against our values as Texans and many Texans oppose this bill, including faith, business, and law enforcement leaders, and I would like to ask Representative ____________ to also oppose SB4.
Wednesday, March 22
1. 10:30 a.m. at the capitol Testimony against HB200 at the Capitol. Room JH4 140. Sign up to testify or register your opposition to HB200.
Testify at the public hearing on HB 200 at 10:30 am in Room JHR 140. House Bill 200 is the companion to SB 8, which has already passed the Senate. The bill bans donation of fetal tissue and is a reaction to the widely discredited undercover Planned Parenthood videos. Reducing fetal tissue donations will reduce beneficial medical research. The bill also bans so-called “partial-birth abortions.” Partial-Birth abortion is not a medical term; it is a term made up by abortion opponents to demonize a rare procedure designed to be a safe alternative for abortions after the start of the second trimester. This type of abortion is already against federal law. In other words, there is no reason for this bill other than to pander to the extreme anti-abortion voter.
The text of the bill can be found here. http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/tlodocs/85R/billtext/pdf/HB00200I.pdf#navpanes=0
During the Senate hearing for SB 8 Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) slammed his gavel down so hard that he broke a glass table while trying to silence a UT student and intern with NARAL Pro-Choice Texas.
2. All day. Keep calling State House Representatives. Oppose SB4, SB6, all fetal burial bills, and all Convention of States bills.
3. All day. There are a whole sheaf of extremist women’s reproductive health laws under consideration. Call State Senators and tell them you oppose radical anti-abortion bills SB8, SB415, HB35, and HB201. (See Action items for Thursday).
2. All day. Call to support key voting rights bills in the Texas Legislature–HJR 32, HJR 118, HJR 74, and HB 369. Call your House Representative, Senator, and members of the House Committee on Redistricting and the Senate State Affairs Committee. (Thanks to Degerrymander Texas. More info here.)
- Vice Chair/Representative: Rep Eric Johnson (TX-100) (512) 463-0586 or email
- Representative: Rep Drew Darby (TX-72) (512) 463-0331 or email
- Representative : Rep Ana Hernandez (TX-143) (512) 463-0614 or email **Note that Rep Hernandez has said she supports bills
- Representative : Rep Armando Martinez (TX-39) (512) 463-0530 or email
- Representative : Rep Will Metcalf (TX-16) (512) 463-0726 or email
- Representative : Rep Tan Parker (TX-63) (512) 463-0688 or email
- Representative : Rep Eddie Rodriguez (TX-51) (512) 463-0674 or email
- Representative : Rep Drew Springer (TX-68) (512) 463-0526 or email
Here’s a sample script with a Representative’s office:
Hi, I’m [NAME] and I’m a constituent of [HOME REPRESENTATIVE] from [ZIPCODE]. I’m calling because on March 10, 2017, a federal appellate court ruled that some of our state’s 36 congressional districts violate either the U.S. Constitution or the federal Voting Rights Act.Will [COMMITTEE REPRESENTATIVE] support current legislation on redistricting reform? (these are bills HJR 32, HJR 118, HJR 74, and HB 369) [wait for answer – you will likely get a fluff answer, don’t press] This is the time to fix this problem once and for all AND let Texas keep control of the redistricting process. I’ve called my representative and senator to ask for their support of of these bills to put control of redistricting into the hands of a bi-partisan commission. [don’t forget to thank the staffer for their time]
- Last step: follow-up with an email!
- Senator: Brian Birdwell 512-463-0122 or email
- Senator : Brandon Creighton 512-463-0104 or email
- Senator : Craig Estes 512-463-0130 or email
- Senator : Eddie Lucio, Jr 512-463-0127 or email
- Senator : Jane Nelson 512-463-0112 or email
- Senator : Charles Schwertner 512-463-0105 or email
- Senator : Judith Zaffirini 512-463-0121 or email
Here’s a sample script with a Senator’s office:
Hi, I’m [NAME] and I’m a constituent of [HOME SENATOR] from [ZIPCODE]. I’m calling because of current events. On March 10, 2017, a federal appellate court ruled that some of our state’s 36 congressional districts violate either the U.S. Constitution or the federal Voting Rights Act. Will [COMMITTEE SENATOR] support current legislation on redistricting reform? (these are bills HJR 32, HJR 118, HJR 74, and SB 209) [wait for answer – you will likely get a fluff answer, don’t press]
This is the time to fix this problem once and for all AND let Texas keep control of the redistricting process. I’ve called my representative and senator to ask for their support of of these bills to put control of redistricting into the hands of a bi-partisan commission. [don’t forget to thank the staffer for their time]
- Last step: follow-up with an email!
Thursday, March 23
Keep the pressure on.
Reminder: you can find your State House Representative and Senators here:
1. All day. Call your Texas State House Representative and demand that they oppose Senate Bill 6, the bathroom bill. (Script above.)
3. All day. Call your Texas State House Representative and demand that they oppose Senate Bill 4, Greg Abbott’s racist anti-immigrant, anti-sanctuary cities bill.
4. All day. Several reproductive health calls to make. House Bill 35 and House Bill 201, both fetal tissue burial bills, were left pending in Committee last week. HB 35 would require women who has a miscarriage to pay for a funeral. HB 201 is similar, but would not create a registry of organizations to pay for the burials.
During testimony for the Committee, far-right extremist activists argued that none of these bills go far enough, and that abortion should be outlawed completely. We sat through most of the testimony and live-tweeted it, and that thread is here. Read the Texas Tribune’s recap of Wednesday’s testimony here.
In addition to HB35 and HB201, there’s:
• Senate Bill 8 – Charles Schwertner‘s ban on the donation of fetal tissue for scientific research (Schwertner argues this bill is necessary to stop for-profit sale of fetal tissue, basing his claims on a widely debunked “sting” video by a far-right “investigative journalist”, but this practice is in fact already illegal. It’s against federal law.)
• Senate Bill 415 – Charles Perry‘s ban on safe, second-term abortion procedures. Anti-abortion conservatives exploit graphic, intentionally inflammatory language to try to steer the debate, and this is one of those bills, which Perry says bans “dismemberment” (which doctors and women refer to as a Dilation & Evacuation procedure). Perry’s law doesn’t outlaw D & E (as that would be unconstitutional), it just requires that the fetus be deceased. D&E is the only remaining legal option for second trimester abortions — comprising roughly 10 percent of abortions — that doctors consider safe. In other words, a safe, legal alternative to D & E does not exist, if it is outlawed. There’s no reason for this law to exist.
• Senate Bill 258 – Don Huffine‘s law requiring the cremation or burial of fetal remains. Essentially the same as HB35. During initial testimony, Kirk Watson (D-Austin) pressed both Charles Schwertner and Don Huffines on it, asking “Can you point me to anything in this bill that enhances the pregnant women’s health and safety?” Medical leaders and opponents of bills like this correctly point out that it provides no exceptions for miscarriages and nonviable fetuses.
SB 258, which, under the pretext of enhancing human dignity, does nothing but burden doctors and women with additional “informed consent” requirements. The bill requires doctors to provide a notice that “describes the options for the disposition of the unborn child’s remains” requires the woman to sign it before receiving an abortion, and requires the doctor to keep the record for seven years. The language of the bill suggests that a fetus is legally equivalent to an “unborn child” but does nothing to improve medical care for women or children. The notice focuses on burial or cremation and the costs, only briefly mentioning the ordinary methods of disposing of medical waste, which are still legal.
This bill should not be confused with the regulations on disposing of fetal remains passed by the Texas Department of State Health Services in 2016. An order issuing a temporary injunction to stop those regulations was issued January 27, 2017.
The text of the bill can be found here: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/tlodocs/85R/billtext/pdf/SB00258I.pdf#navpanes=0
A plain-language explanation of the bill can be found here: https://rewire.news/legislative-tracker/law/texas-bill-regarding-disposition-fetal-remains-sb-258/
“Hi, my name is _________ and I’m calling to urge _________ to vote against Senate Bill 258. This bill increases the burdens on doctors and women of complying with bureaucratic paperwork without doing anything to protect the health of women and children.
5. All day. Call your Texas State House Representative and demand that they vote No on a Convention of States. (see above).
Friday, March 24
1. All day: Call your House Representative about House Bill 4260 Friday, which would fine men $100 for masturbating and require that they read a booklet about “men’s health” procedures like vasectomies and colonoscopies.
On Friday, before the deadline for filing when lawmakers were all rushing to get their last minute filings in, we noticed that Jessica Farrar had filed a law called the “Man’s Right to Know Act.” Farrar’s HB4260 is a work of Swift-ian genius that points out the hypocrisy in the way Texas (male) lawmakers try to legislate women’s bodies and health choices in very real, very restrictive ways, every time the Legislature meets. (See fetal burial bills above.)
From the Texas Tribune:
That’s why the the Houston Democrat on Friday filed House Bill 4260, which would fine men $100 for masturbating and create a required booklet for men with medical information related to the benefits and concerns of a man seeking a vasectomy, a Viagra prescription or a colonoscopy. The bill would also let doctors invoke their “personal, moralistic, or religious beliefs” in refusing to perform an elective vasectomy or prescribe Viagra, among other proposed requirements in the bill.
While Farrar knows her “proposed satirical regulations” will not become law, she hoped the bill’s filing would at least foster a deeper discussion about what should be a priority during session years.
“What I would like to see is this make people stop and think,” Farrar told The Texas Tribune. “Maybe my colleagues aren’t capable of that, but the people who voted for them, or the people that didn’t vote at all, I hope that it changes their mind and helps them to decide what the priorities are.”
We’re going to whole-heartedly and loudly voice our full support for this bill. Check back here often for updates on this. We are dead serious. There needs to be a discussion about the fact that men in the Texas legislature regularly try to impose their religious beliefs on American women in oppressive and humiliating ways.
Finally, it’s important that you keep the pressure on your lawmakers. Keep making those calls to your State Reps and Senators.
But equally important: Remind your friends and coworkers to call. Who do you know in some of the other cities and counties in Texas? Call them up or shoot them an email and let them know about what the Texas Legislature is trying to do.
Saturday, March 25
Save Texas Schools, a statewide organization of parents, students, teachers and community, will be rallying at the State Capitol this Saturday from 10 am to noon in support of public education. Y’all come on out and rally for good schools in Texas!
Since 2011, STS has brought over 30,000 Texans to the Capitol to stand up against underfunding and over-testing Texas children. A strong attendance is expected this year, as well, with barebones education and higher ed budgets being proposed.
Speakers will include state and local leaders, as well as parents, teachers and students. Confirmed local and state leaders include Austin Mayor Steve Adler, Sen. Kirk Watson, Rep. Lance Gooden, Rep. Gina Hinojosa, and Rep. Celia Israel. Student performers will also be present.
Also, check our calendar for community events happening this weekend.
Sunday, March 26
Intro to the Texas Legislature
Location: FiberCove, 1700 S Lamar Blvd, Suite 338, Austin, TX 78704
In this nonpartisan workshop led by Texas legislative veteran Stephanie Chiarello Noppenberg, learn how the Texas legislature works and how best to make your voice heard by your representatives. Learn the basics of how legislation moves through the Texas legislature; pro tips for writing, calling, and visiting your legislators; and how to improve your testimony in a committee hearing. Just announced bonus topic: watching from the Senate or House gallery—to throw, or not to throw (hint: do not throw!). Learn how to advocate for issues you believe in.
Please bring a computer/tablet if you would like to set up a personalized tracking system for the legislative bills you care about during the workshop.
Finally, don’t forget to take care of business with your US reps, namely calling about saving the ACA, calling for Jeff Sessions’ resignation for lying under oath, and calling for a full, 9/11-style, bi-partisan investigation into Russian intel’s interference in the 2016 Presidential election.