Statement on Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Public Charge Rule

The board of Indivisible Austin joins with those fighting for the rights of immigrants in condemning the administration’s decision to make it harder for immigrants to become citizens. The final version of the public charge rule, which will go into effect in 60 days, was announced on the heels of the horrific act of domestic terrorism in El Paso perpetrated on the Latino community. The rule is part of the administration’s calculated plans to make America less diverse and less welcoming to those seeking to build a better life. In Texas, where more than one in four of our children live with immigrant parents, the impact can’t be overstated. President Trump doesn’t stand alone in attempting to push this racist vision on our country. Our Republican elected officials who are silent in the face of his anti-immigrant policies — or who directly support him — aid him in doing so. They bear responsibility for the ongoing affliction of these harms on the immigrants we call our neighbors and friends. It is up to all Texans who support the promise of the United States to ensure those elected officials feel the impact of these decisions at the ballot box.

Let the People Vote! Texans Want to Vote to Expand Medicaid

Texas Rally for Medicaid Expansion on March 4 at the Texas State Capitol

Please join us at Let The People Vote! Texas Rally for Medicaid Expansion on Monday, March 4 at 10 a.m. at the Texas Capitol!


Need a free ride from Houston, Katy, Dallas or San Antonio? Sign up here!

Sign up to volunteer at the rally here.


On Monday we’ll deliver a message that Texans are DONE waiting on state leaders who have refused for SIX YEARS to expand Medicaid.

It’s time for state leaders to get out of the way and give Texans the chance to vote on expanding Medicaid.

Why is this important?

  • Texas has the highest number and rate of uninsured people of any state in the country
  • Nearly 11% of Texas children are uninsured
  • We’re one of only 14 states that hasn’t accepted Medicaid expansion
  • Medicaid expansion could help 1 million uninsured Texans get health coverage
  • Two-thirds of Texans want the state to expand Medicaid

We face crises in maternal and infant health, access to mental health treatment, the opioid epidemic, rural hospital closures, and families’ skyrocketing medical bills. We want our vote!

We hope to see you on Monday at the Capitol:

LET THE PEOPLE VOTE!

TEXAS RALLY FOR MEDICAID EXPANSION

MONDAY, MARCH 4TH, 2019 AT 10 AM

SOUTH STEPS OF THE TEXAS CAPITOL

AUSTIN, TEXAS

Take Action at #txlege: Week of Feb. 25

Bills are being referred to committees, and hearings are getting underway, especially in the House. Here are some bills and hearings of interest this week. Be sure to jump down for our weekly feature on Public Education bills, too.

There are also many lobby days and rallies over the next several weeks. You can view our full list of rallies and lobby days (updated as we learn about new ones) here.

HOUSE

COMMITTEE: International Relations & Economic Development

TIME & DATE: 10:00 AM, Monday, February 25, 2019

PLACE: E2.014

Several bills on protecting workers from wage theft and wage discrimination, as well as a bill on raising the minimum wage in Texas to $15 from $7.25.

 

COMMITTEE: Criminal Jurisprudence

TIME & DATE: 2:00 PM, Monday, February 25, 2019

PLACE: E2.012

Includes HB 595, which increases the penalty on individuals who make false reports to law enforcement because of bias or prejudice.

 

COMMITTEE: Human Services

TIME & DATE: 8:00 AM, Tuesday, February 26, 2019

PLACE: E2.030

HB 285 is an attempt to add even more stringent “work requirements” on SNAP benefits for working adults without children in the home. Texas already has stronger work requirements than required by federal law, and the proposed bill would prevent the state from being able to waive time limits, even in emergencies like hurricanes, or for former foster children.

 

COMMITTEE: Homeland Security & Public Safety

TIME & DATE 8:00 AM, Wednesday, February 27, 2019

PLACE: E2.016

Includes HB 238, which would prevent law enforcement from enforcing any federal gun law that is stricter than state gun laws.

 

COMMITTEE: Redistricting

TIME & DATE: 10:30 AM or upon final adjourn./recess, Thursday, February 28, 2019

PLACE: JHR 140

The committee will hold an organizational hearing on the topic “2021 Redistricting: Data and Tools” with invited testimony* from the following entities:

Texas Legislative Council

U.S. Census Bureau

*invited testimony only

 

SENATE

COMMITTEE: Finance

TIME & DATE: 10:00 AM, Monday, February 25, 2019

PLACE: E1.036 (Finance Room)

SB 3, Relating to additional funding to school districts for classroom teacher salaries.

See the hearing notice for details on giving testimony

________________________

Contributed by Felicia Miyakawa, Special Education Advocate

Tuesday, Feb. 26, will be another long day for the Texas House Public Education Committee. 21 bills are on the schedule! (See the full list here.) They are set to begin at 10:30 AM or whenever the House adjourns.

From my perspective as a Special Education Advocate, two bills bear mention this week:

HB 239 will allow social workers to serve students in schools, which is a step forward towards wrap-around services, making sure that there’s a network of care for all students who need help in and out of school.

HB 455 mandates that every school district

  1. develop a policy about the a minimum number of unstructured playtime (recess) minutes per week AND whether or not removal from recess can be used as a punishment; and
  2. review these policies at least every five years to be consistent with local school health advisory councils.

Why this matters: Despite consistent data showing that kids learn more and retain more when they have sufficient unstructured play time during their day, schools have moved towards restricting free play time into order to focus more on academics.

Similarly, we have years of data and research showing that kids with certain neurotypes–such as ADHD–need more movement in order to focus. Yet schools still resort to punishing kids for excess movement, talking, fidgeting, lack of focus, not finishing work, etc., by taking away recess. Even though both federal and state law make clear that positive behavior supports should be in place, taking away recess as punishment is still happening at many schools.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

  1. If any of these issues are important to you personally, consider going to the capitol to give testimony. If you can get to the Capitol but don’t want to give testimony, please know that you can still weigh in. There are computer kiosks located close to the hearing rooms where you can register and indicate whether or not you support a bill and whether or not you want to testify. You can hang out and watch the hearing or leave. This is a great option for folks who don’t enjoy public speaking.
  2. For everyone else, please call or email YOUR representative to discuss your stance on these bills. This is especially helpful if your representative is on the Public Education committee (Dan Huberty, Diego Bernal, Alma Allen, Steve Allison, Trent Ashby, Keith Bell, Harold Dutton, Mary González, Ken King, Morgan Meyer, Scott Sanford, James Talarico, and Gary VanDeaver).

*****Please tell your representatives: Schools should never take away recess, especially from struggling learners!

Remember: you can watch a live stream of committee hearings. Bookmark these links:
House committee hearings

Senate committee hearings

Indivisible Austin Joins Call to Block David Whitley’s Nomination

Say NO to David Whitley, say NO to voter suppression

Today Indivisible Austin joined more than 30 groups in calling for the Texas Senate Democrats to block Secretary of State nominee David Whitley’s confirmation.

“We, the undersigned Texas organizations, call on you to affirmatively block the confirmation of David Whitley for Texas Secretary of State. In the two months since Governor Greg Abbott appointed Mr. Whitley to serve on December 17, 2018, it has become exceedingly clear that Mr. Whitley is unfit to serve in that office.”

Read the full letter with signatories

Ask your State Senator to block Whitley’s nomination

Take Action at #txlege: Week of Feb. 18

Contributed by Felicia Miyakawa, Special Education Advocate

On Tuesday, Feb. 19, The House Public Education Committee will hear meet for the first time to discuss proposed bills hear public testimony about those bills. The hearing will start around 11:30 (or whenever the house adjourns) and it’s going to be LONG: there are 12 bills on the schedule! These bills cover a variety of topics: bonds, trustee elections, teacher training, sex trafficking prevention, class size limits, notification about physical fitness assessments, etc. You can find the livestream here.

As a Special Education advocate parent of two young people who receive Special Education services, I will be watching a few of these bills closely. (If you are also watching these bills and have different takes on the meaning of the bills, I’d love to hear your thoughts!)

1. HB 65 is about mandatory reporting of out-of-school suspensions. This bill would require schools to report certain demographic information about students who are suspended, as well as reasons for which the student was suspended.

Why this matters: Students of color and students with disabilities are suspended and otherwise punished with disciplinary actions at rates that are hugely disproportionate, and for issues that have little or nothing to do with the student code of conduct.

2. HB 116 is about teacher training and preparation. This bill would mandate that all K-12 educators-in-training receive instruction in how to help students of ALL abilities access the curriculum.

Why this matters: a vast majority of students who receive Special Education services do so in the General Education environment for at least part of their day. (It’s very important to understand that Special Education is a service, not a place.) Currently, there is no mandated training for general education teachers to learn the specialized approaches that Special Education teachers are supposed to learn. Yet in many cases, those teachers serve the same students. Federal law requires that we educate kids in Special Education with their non-disabled peers to the greatest extent possible, but when General Education teachers don’t have this training, they are unprepared to include our students.

3. HB 165 is about amending the Education Code to allow students who receive Special Education services to receive endorsements in high school, and provides ways for these endorsements to be determined.

Why this matters: an increasing number of kids in special education are college-bound. (More and more colleges and universities are offering tailored programs for students with disabilities to meet the growing demand.) Currently, however, students who need modifications to their curriculum or who struggle to pass standardized tests like STAAR cannot earn endorsements on their transcripts. Allowing these students to earn endorsements helps them with entrance into college.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

  1. If any of these issues are important to you personally, consider going to the capitol to give testimony. If you can get to the Capitol but don’t want to give testimony, please know that you can still weigh in. There are computer kiosks located close to the hearing rooms where you can register and indicate whether or not you support a bill and whether or not you want to testify. You can hang out and watch the hearing or leave. This is a great option for folks who don’t enjoy public speaking.
  2. If you would like to submit written testimony and can’t get to the capitol, let me know and I can try to connect you with someone who can help you.
  3. For everyone else, please call or email YOUR representative to discuss your stance on these bills. As a reminder, James Talarico is on the Public Education committee. If you live in HD 52, he will really want to hear from you!

Remember: you can watch a live stream of committee hearings. Bookmark these links:
House committee hearings

Senate committee hearings

Take Action at #txlege: Week of Feb. 11

Contributed by Felicia Miyakawa, Special Education Advocate

For those of you trying to keep up with #txlege, here are some action items regarding special education and medically fragile kids/adults.

This week there will be several hearings about funding and appropriations. For those of you who have less familiarity with these issues, please know that we need you to amplify our voices.

1. The Senate Finance Committee will be meeting about education matters in SB 1 on Monday morning at 10. SB 1 is the Senate’s budget bill. You can watch the hearing here once it’s live.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: the current bill does not provide for the $50 million identified as necessary to fix the Special Education plan TEA has already laid out (aka, the Corrective Action Plan), an action that is required because of a Federal Department of Education investigation. Public testimony is allowed at this hearing for a maximum of 3 minutes. Written testimony will be accepted. Please see the hearing notice for details.

2. House Appropriations Article II subcommittee will meet Monday morning at 8 to discuss Health and Human Services. You should be able to watch the hearing here once it’s live.

KEY ISSUES HERE: currently there is a 10+ year waitlist for kids with disabilities who need state resources. We need HHS to fund the “waivers” so we can get these kids off waitlists and get them the support they need. Public testimony will be allowed at this hearing for a maximum of 3 minutes. The hearing notice does not specify anything regarding written testimony.

3. House Appropriations will meet again on Thursday at 8, and one of the topics that day is Early Childhood Intervention. Over the past few sessions we’ve had HUGE cuts to these programs, and many rural providers have stopped providing services. We have huge gaps in service now, to say the least. Public testimony will be heard at this hearing, too. Please see the hearing notice for details. Watch here.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:
1. If any of these issues are important to you personally, consider going to the capitol to give testimony.
2. If you would like to submit written testimony and can’t get to the Capitol, let me know and I can try to connect you with someone who can help you.
3. For everyone else, please call members of the above committees to support these funding needs.

House Appropriations Article II Subcommittee members

Senate Finance Committee members (includes Watson and Campbell from Central Texas districts)

 

Rally at Cornyn’s to end the #TrumpShutdown, Jan. 23 at 11:30 a.m.

Trumps siad he woud be the one to shut down government over wall and he did. Source: indivisible.org

Update: If you can’t make it to the rally, sign up to phone bank instead!

Hosted by TX10 Indivisible

WHEN: Wed. Jan. 23 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

WHERE: This is the Chase Tower on the corner of 6th and Congress. The tower has paid parking, and the 801 and 803 CapMetro buses stop nearby.

WHAT: Federal workers are working for free and struggling to pay their bills. National parks are being desecrated. Court trials are being postponed. Tax refunds may be delayed. Where is Sen. Cornyn in this? Pinning the blame on Democrats and holding out for a pointless and destructive $5 billion wall.

Asked by the Washington Post whether he was receiving a lot of calls to end the shutdown, Cornyn replied “not many, not many.” Let’s send a message he can’t ignore! Visit Cornyn’s office in downtown Austin and tell his staff the government needs to re-open, and we don’t want Trump’s ridiculous wall. Bring letters or postcards to the Senator as well.

RSVP with MoveOn or on Facebook (or just show up)

Write a Letter to the Editor About the #TrumpShutdown

Update 1/23/19: New Talking Points from the #DefundHate campaign

The federal government is shut down for very dumb reasons: Namely, so that Trump can avoid looking foolish over his obviously foolish wall, and because Sen. Mitch McConnell won’t allow a vote on something the Senate approved 100-0 just last month.

What can we do? We can support Rep. Lloyd Doggett and other House Dems. They must not cave. They must not offer any funding for the foolish wall, for which Trump is trying to extort $5 billion from American taxpayers even though he said Mexico would pay for it. So far, House Dems are holding strong! Call Rep. Doggett and say thanks, or “@” him on social media.

We can also call Senators Cornyn and Cruz. Cornyn is up for reelection in 2020 and might be more movable on this. Then again, he is a giant crybaby, so who knows. At least is staff is usually nice, so give them a call and a piece of your ear.

The other thing we can do is write letters to the editor. This is especially needed if you are a government worker or contractor affected by the shutdown. 

How to write a letter to the editor

Most papers limit the length of LTEs to 150-250 words. You can usually find the guidelines and a submission portal or email address on the Opinion page of your local paper’s website. If you are feeling very motivated and have a lot to say, consider extending your letter into an op-ed, which has a more generous 600-700 word limit.

Common elements of successful LTEs:

  • Facts to build an argument
  • An emotional hook to pull the reader in
  • A call to action to those in power & our fellow citizens

Read more tips on writing an LTE

Talking points to include

  • Trump says he could keep shutdown going for “months or years.”
  • Responsibility for reopening the government falls squarely on the United States Senate.
  • In December, The Senate voted 100-0 to fund the government through February. Why won’t McConnell allow another vote to the floor? His stated reason is that Trump won’t sign it, but Trump breaks promises all the time.
  • Senators Cruz and Cornyn need to realize:
    • Many federal workers live paycheck-to-paycheck and are struggling to pay bills
    • The shutdown negatively impacts the stock market
    • Contractors generally don’t get back pay after a shutdown
    • Why wasn’t this funding secured during the two years that GOP had complete control of government?

Once, again make your letter personal—how does the shutdown affect you or someone you know? Making it personal will drastically increase the likelihood that your letter is published.

Major Texas publications

Austin American-Statesman

http://www.statesman.com/opinion/letters/form/

Edited letters typically address a single idea and do not exceed 150 words.

San Antonio Express-News

letters@express-news.net

No hard word limit, but “shorter is better.” More details here:

http://www.mysanantonio.com/opinion/article/Sharing-your-views-with-the-San-Antonio-6744466.php

Houston Chronicle

viewpoints@chron.com

Max. 250 words. More details here (scroll to the bottom):

http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/

Dallas Morning News

https://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/2017/02/09/submit-letter-editor

Max. 200 words

Fort Worth Star-Telegram

http://www.star-telegram.com/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/submit-letter/

Max. 200 words

El Paso Times

http://static.elpasotimes.com/lettertoeditor/

Max. 225 words

McAllen Monitor

https://www.themonitor.com/site/forms/online_services/letter/

Max. 300 words (very generous!)

Corpus Christi Caller-Times

http://static.caller.com/submit-letter/

No word limit stated

Waco Tribune-Herald

https://www.wacotrib.com/opinion/letters_to_editor/submit/

Max. 300 words

Lubbock Avalanche Journal

http://www.lubbockonline.com/opinion/20180731/write-stuff-how-to-submit-letter-to-editor

Max. 250-300 words

What’s next

What’s next

Last night we flipped the U.S. House of Representatives, including at least two seats in Texas. This represents a seismic shift in the direction of our country. The incredible wins in the Texas House show that many Texans are ready for change at the #txlege, even if we weren’t able to change statewide leadership. Yet.

Of course we are disappointed, as you are, about Beto O’Rourke’s loss, and about losses in other statewide and US House seats around which we’ve been organizing for the past two years. A major silver lining is in the Texas legislature, where 12 House seats flipped, including four seats in Central Texas races where we endorsed. (Congrats to newly minted reps Zwiener, Goodwin, Talarico, and Bucy!)

Our next steps remain the same. We will continue to defend our most vulnerable community members against the rising tide of global authoritarianism. We will continue to hold our elected officials accountable. And we will begin to focus on the next round of elections.

At the state level, the 2019 Texas Legislative session begins in January. This will be a critical time to stay engaged. There are likely to be bills on gun violence prevention, immigration, health care, public education and other important issues that affect our lives directly.

Click here if you're interested in TXLEGE

At the federal level, in addition to all of the same House seats we’ve grown to love and hate, Senator John Cornyn is up for reelection in 2020. Beto O’Rourke showed us what was possible statewide. We have two years to fire John Cornyn. We invite you to take the pledge to do just that.

(And psst! Check out senatorjohncornyn.com!)

Commit to firing John Cornyn. Pledge Now.

It’s also important to remember that our objectives go beyond electoral politics. Our friends at TX10 Indivisible identified four reasons to celebrate:

  1. We have created a broad network of progressive activists like nothing that ever existed before in Texas.
  2. We have succeeded in changing the conversation in policy areas such as healthcare and immigration.
  3. We have developed tools to make our elected officials more accountable to progressives and we have learned new ways to engage them more effectively.
  4. We have become a more knowledgeable and engaged electorate.

An engaged citizenry is good for democracy. We’re all due for a rest after this wild midterm election cycle. But we’ll soon be back at it, and glad to have you by our side.

 

Help Lead Indivisible Austin’s GOTV Work

GOTV volunteer announcement

We are ramping up our voter engagement and mobilization push for the 2018 election and we’re looking for a number of volunteers who can help lead this exciting phase of our work! Everyone knows how important the 2018 elections are, with so many key challenges at stake. Indivisible Austin is developing our midterm field program in conjunction with Indivisible national’s statewide plan, and will use their voter outreach tools to organize canvassing, phone banking, texting, and more.

Our first event is on July 29th with special guests Leah Greenberg and Ezra Levin, founders and co-executive directors of Indivisible.

We’re looking for folks who have the following interests, skills and abilities:

  • Commitment to Indivisible values: we defend democracy, resist authoritarianism, hold our elected officials accountable, and fight back against the administration’s horror-show policies especially in the areas of healthcare, immigration, and gun violence prevention
  • Enthusiasm to change the face of power in Texas and in Congress
  • Flexibility, both in terms of time and attitude
  • Past experience leading canvassing, phone banking, and other activities is an awesome bonus!
  • GOTV work is most likely to take place in the evenings and on the weekends. Occasional weekday/daytime availability is helpful but not required.

Interested? Let us know by emailing our Treasurer Tony Weber at tony@indivisibleaustin.com