Originally posted on Facebook by Cari Marshall. Reposted with permission.
This past Thursday, the U.S. House voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. The updated law would enable law enforcement to take away the guns of dating partners or stalkers convicted of abuse – closing the “boyfriend loophole.” (Under current federal law, only those convicted of abusing a spouse, a co-parent, or live-in partner can have his guns taken away.)
The National Rifle Association sought to block the act’s renewal because of this provision.
My ultimate point here, the one that makes me REALLY ANGRY, is that not only did my Rep Chip Roy vote NAY, he didn’t even bother to make a public statement about it (someone please correct me if I’m wrong!). But he’s quite proud of his NRA endorsement.
Chip was VERY active on Twitter that day on the following subjects:
- Repealing the ACA: 14 TIMES!!!
- Music: 2x
- The benefits of C02:
- Winston Churchill in Tunisia in 1943:
- How to more quickly deport someone (sourced from Breitbart)
- Golf: 3x
- Retweeting a Texas Tribune piece about the strain on shelters at the border, totally misconstruing the headline
- Closing immigration processing at the border: 2x
- Something about how little he sleeps
- Baseball: 5x
- Some guy Trump hired
- Retweet of Cornyn’s “puppet masters” statement
- Meth seizure at the border
- Yemeni civil war
- A re-tweet thanking fossil fuels for keeping your fridge & pantry full (for real!)
- UT swimming and diving
- Basketball: 2x
- MS 13 gangs in Maryland
- Wendy Davis running in #TX21: 2x
- Chastising the idiot who retweeted the McConnell tripping video: 3x
- Something random that I didn’t understand
- John Wayne
If my count is right, that’s 48 tweets/retweets in one day, and not one mention of the #VAWA. I hate gerrymandering with such a burning passion for putting me in the district of this guy.
Update: This was oblique but there you have it:
Hey Eric, I would have voted no even if the attack on the 2nd Amendment were not in the bill because it was littered with flaws – purposefully put in place by Democrats to play politics… so much so you couldn’t even vote to support Israel. Nice Work.
— Chip Roy (@chiproytx) April 4, 2019
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.
TIME & DATE: 10:00 AM, Monday, February 25, 2019
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
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
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
Includes HB 238, which would prevent law enforcement from enforcing any federal gun law that is stricter than state gun laws.
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
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.
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
- 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
- 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:
- 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.
- 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
Photos: TX25 Indivisible, Driftwood/Dripping Springs
Last week, with 24 hours’ notice, Rep. Roger Williams scheduled four Town Halls, one of them in Bee Cave, just outside Austin. Organizers from Indivisible Texas 25 East Austin and Driftwood/Dripping Springs groups scrambled to attend.
Bee Cave mayor Monte Parker moderated the event, and we got this dispatch from one of the attendees.
Congressman Roger Williams held a Faux Town Hall in Bee Caves Tuesday, February 19. With no more than 24 hour notice, his staff sent out a Facebook invitation to the 10:00 am event. The moderator was Bee Caves Mayor, Monte Parker, who started with a stern warning to the constituents in attendance, we were to follow the rules, which he never explained.
Roger Williams made a speech, then Parker asked questions that had been submitted from the audience during registration. (You had to pick from a skewed list of topics.) Questions asked, Williams responds, no audience participation allowed.
Finally, a few audience members were able to ask questions, which Williams answered, but Parker made sure there were no follow-up questions, which is not how Town Hall—where concerned citizens have a dialogue with their Representatives—are supposed to work.
Mayor Parker was unprofessional and completely disregarded the first amendment in his handling of the situation, going so far as have a police officer come warn a citizen he would be removed because he asked a follow-up question.
The lack of respect for the citizens in attendance frustrated nearly everyone; one man was told if he didn’t like the way things were, he could leave—and so he did.
From the beginning, Mayor Parker set the adversarial tone, and he continued his heavy-handed approach throughout the one-hour meeting. This is not how Democracy works. We must hold our leaders to a higher standard. Mayor Parker needs to take a look at his bias before he moderates another town hall.
Watch Rep. Roger Williams tell a student constituent why he does not support H.R.8.:
Yesterday, I asked @RepRWilliams to support H.R. 8, a bipartisan bill that would save lives by ensuring guns don’t fall in the hands of those unfit to carry. He looked me in the eye, told me he would not support the bill, & invalidated my generation’s fears and concerns. pic.twitter.com/y87PTsqOoA
— Parisa Mahmud (@ParisaaaM) February 20, 2019
Congress is voting the week of February 25, 2019 on H.R.8, which would close the loophole in the current law to require background checks for firearm purchases online and at gun shows. It’s a small, but important step toward ending the epidemic of gun violence. Rep. Lloyd Doggett is a cosponsor (thanks, Lloyd!) and the bill has five Republican cosponsors as well (none, sadly, from Texas).
Bright and early last Thursday morning I headed to the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center for the weekly coffee with Sen. John Cornyn, which I RSVP-ed for in advance (and I don’t know if they spend any time researching attendees, but I suspect they do).
It was gorgeous DC day, and this sort of picture-perfect postcard view of the Capitol is enough to give even the most jaded Texas gal a little hope.
I joined about 50 other fellow Texans at the coffee, which was held in a large meeting room in the visitors center. I had a few minimum expectations about this event, and I had prepared for any opportunity to speak to or ask questions of the senior senator from Texas. I was ready to talk to him about the family separation policy, gun safety reform, and health care. I was also aware that I was in a room full of people who likely had diverse views on all these issues.
I got my coffee and filled out my photo information form. And then waited for something to happen.
At about 9:50 a staffer (not intern–though they were mostly young white male interns) came in and made a beeline to an older gentleman wearing a Make America Great Again hat. She spent a fair bit of time talking to him and his (I assume) wife.
A few other staffers came in and each spoke with a few folks. In the meantime, they started to line us up to take our photos with the senator. Finally Sen. Cornyn came in and went straight to the flags for photos. We were hustled through very quickly, maybe 15 seconds each, and since no one else was chatting him up I didn’t either. That was a crucial mistake.
More than 50 constituents came to the coffee, and our senator didn’t take any time to speak with us, except for banalities while shaking hands and taking a picture. He whizzed in, took photos for 10 minutes, and then disappeared. There was no welcome from him or from his staff. There was no acknowledgement that most people in the room had traveled from Texas to be there. And there was absolutely no opportunity to engage with our senator about any of the critical policy issues.
I have been to D.C. for enough meetings with members of Congress over the years to have had a certain set of expectations about what happens when 50 constituents are in the room. I learned my lesson and I’m passing it on to you: go to the coffee, get the photo, but also make the appointment and go to the office.
As interns started coming into the room to give people information about their tours, I took my last opportunity to connect with staff. I hand-delivered 300 postcards constituents had signed over the last couple of months, asking Sen. Cornyn to pass basic gun safety reforms that the vast majority of Texans and Americans support. If you wrote a postcard to Sen. Cornyn at the March for Our Lives or the Town Hall for Our Lives, they were delivered, and I hope you get a response. Please share it if you do!
My next meeting on the hill couldn’t have been more different. I had reached out to Rep. Lloyd Doggett’s D.C. office the week before my trip and asked if I could stop by and meet some of the staffers so I could put names to faces. I expected to spend about 15-30 minutes at the office at most, but was treated to the opportunity to spend some time with each member of the congressman’s policy team. All my preparation paid off!
In the time I spent with the congressman’s staff, we discussed family separation and what’s happening here in Austin, as well as upcoming Congressional trips to the border; gun violence prevention actions and the hearing on red flag laws and safe gun storage at the Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence committee on June 25; work being done to address out-of-control drug prices; the immigration bills that will hit the House floor this week (they are both bad, so call your reps!); the new poll on support for Medicaid expansion in Texas. We probably touched on a few other things I’ve forgotten.
As I was about to leave, Rep. Doggett appeared, and he generously gave me a few minutes. We talked about several of the items on the list above, but most specifically about the actions Democratic members of Congress are taking to address family separation. Something is happening out there, and people are deeply moved by the horror we’re seeing play out at the border. I’m thankful for the members who are putting this issue front and center, and I hope it will drive some change in Congress. But when we see Texas members of Congress hailing the policy as a positive development while also lying that it’s happening because of a law passed by Democrats it’s hard to imagine any sort of solution. Also, do they not hear themselves contradicting themselves in that lie?
With just about an hour left in my schedule, I quickly headed to the offices of Rep. Flores, Rep. Smith, and Rep. McCaul to drop off more postcards asking for stronger gun safety measures, as well as some letters from voters. I have a plan to visit Sen. Cruz’s office next time I’m in D.C.
I caught a member of Rep. McCaul’s staff in the middle of lunch, but I made him listen to me for several minutes as I shared my concerns on the policy of family separation, the criminalization of asylum-seekers, and the need to change this inhumane response to people fleeing violence. He listened, was reasonably friendly, and promised to put my concerns in the database. I’ll let you know if I get a response.
Here’s my key takeaway from this trip: really bad shit is happening in our government every single day and the executive branch agencies are being gutted and destroyed by political appointees. We can campaign our butts off trying to get new people elected in November, but right now most of our representatives are co-signing everything the president wants. Our representatives have traded away a lot of their decency for tax cuts. Each day that we don’t call or take action and engage the people who represent us right now, we are tacitly telling them that we’re OK with what they’re doing and how they are representing us.
We. Are. Not. Don’t let them forget it.
I gave these remarks at the Texas Gun Sense press conference outside the NRA convention on May 4. Today, once again, children were slaughtered at school because our lawmakers refuse to take any meaningful action to protect them. With each mass shooting, families and communities are devastated, and the community of survivors grows ever larger. After a murderer cut our children down today in their classrooms, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick declared a war on doors, as though they were the real culprits in today’s deaths. There is evidence to support reasonable gun reform, and it doesn’t include trapping our children inside their schools in violation of fire codes, common sense, and common decency. We need serious people in office who will pursue policies that protect our children and communities, not guns.
My name is Lisa Goodgame, and I’m the President of Indivisible Austin. We are a chapter of the national grassroots movement focused on defending democracy and holding our member of Congress accountable. We believe that gun violence prevention is one of the biggest issues we’ll face in the coming year and in the next legislative session. I speak to you today not only as an activist and advocate, but as a gun violence survivor.
In the middle of the night of October 2, 1993, my 18-year-old sister Rani Goodgame was murdered in Houston. Two young guys shot her and another young woman at a party and she died at the scene. She had just started college at the University of Houston and she planned to pursue a degree in sports psychology. But instead of graduating and having a long life ahead of her, she was cut down in a hail of bullets.
I stand here as a member of the ever-growing community of gun violence survivors. Twenty-four years to the day of my sister’s murder we woke up to news of the massacre in Las Vegas. That day the survivor community grew by thousands. Twenty-four years to the day of the shooting at Parkland my family got the notification of the latest victim impact hearing as one of her murderers comes up for parole. That day the survivor community grew by thousands.
I’m here today to represent survivors who can’t be here to speak, but I’m also here to issue a challenge to our lawmakers.
Today our senators Cornyn and Cruz will the address the NRA convention. They are both A+ rated by the NRA, but they are failing our children, communities and schools because they are beholden to the gun lobby’s special interest and letting our children die.
Our children are a special interest.
Our communities are a special interest.
Our schools are a special interest.
In his pro-NRA op-ed in the Dallas Morning News, Sen. Cruz called those of us who are calling for commonsense gun reform “dunces” and “extremists.” No one speaking here today is either of those things. We aren’t dunces. We’re seeking policy change that the vast majority of Americans and Texans support. A Quinnipiac poll released on April 19 found that 94 percent of voters support universal background checks. 55 percent overall support stricter gun laws, and 53 percent want an assault weapon ban.
The majority of Texans are not dunces and they are not extremists. We are ready for political and policy change, and we’re ready to end the NRA’s stranglehold on our lawmakers.
Note: This article, by Indivisible Austin Board President Lisa Goodgame, was originally posted on xojane.com in April 2013.
On the night of October 1, 1993 the phone rang just as we were all climbing into bed.
Well, not quite all. My youngest sister was asleep at a friend’s house, and my parents and I were home, having returned late from a Friday night dinner.
My other sister, Rani Goodgame, wasn’t with us. Three young criminals had shot and killed her using an illegally acquired automatic weapon, among other guns. The phone was ringing to tell my parents that they needed to come identify her body.
Two of the shooters were under eighteen, and one was out on bond for another murder he’d allegedly committed a few weeks earlier. They shot another young woman that night, too. Fortunately, she survived.
My sister was 18 and had just started college. That night, all she was doing was sitting in her car outside a party. Three boys murdered her in a spray of more than 100 rounds shot from a weapon that would be banned less than a year later.
Like so many victims of gun violence, she was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Early Saturday morning, the calls started coming as people heard the morning news report on the radio. Incredulous, they asked if they had just heard that a Goodgame had been shot and killed. I sat in the vestibule outside the rabbi’s office at the synagogue, waiting for him to arrive before Saturday morning services so I could tell him that one of the Goodgame girls, whom he’d known since birth, had been murdered. We didn’t think that he’d answer the phone since it was Shabbat.
I returned home to find media camped out on our street, hoping to interview us. Two days later, hundreds of people attended her funeral, which was filmed in its entirety by the local television stations.
In the following months and years, I watched my family struggle in the aftermath of losing a child, grandchild, and sister to violence. My parents seemed lost in a way I can never expect to understand, in a way I hope never to know.
My youngest sister seemed to barely make it through school that year. She and Rani were close in age and had almost always been at the same school at the same time. Her best friend had been ripped away without a moment’s notice, without a goodbye.
My relationship with my sister was in a difficult place when she was killed. We had argued the week before when she decided to move out of our parents’ home. The last conversation we had still rings in my skull. When somebody dies unexpectedly, there’s a lot of unfinished business and tangled emotions. I was angry with my sister at the time of her death. It was an anger that, had she survived, we probably would have worked through and been able to move on. Now and forever, that chance of reconciliation is gone.
At the time, I couldn’t release the anger I felt toward her. I was in shock for several months, and once I got past the denial, I found myself stuck in anger. My anger manifested itself in several ways, but the most disturbing were the nightmares I’d have in which the gun was turned on me. Maybe that was my brain’s way of moving me from anger to bargaining — if only I had been the one to die…
It took years for the anger to finally dissipate, and for me to be able to remember my sister as she was for most of her life: a goofy, smiling dancer and gymnast who loved our dogs and made a silly, pouty bottom lip when she didn’t get her way.
Her death created a rift in our family. We will always be the Goodgames before and the Goodgames after. Because she was so young, after is proving to be a very long time. After has included campaigns to keep her killers from getting paroled. This last year, since the 19th anniversary of her death in October 2012, has been an especially rough one, and not just because the 20-year mark is fast approaching. It’s been a difficult year filled with hideous acts of gun violence and the ensuing political polarization capped off by the Senate’s deeply disappointing actions yesterday.
At a time when a majority of Americans, as measured by every major poll, support stronger background checks, a ban on high capacity ammunition clips, and a ban on assault weapons, our legislators have let us down by failing to listen to the majority. They have failed to do their duty as our representatives. For me, it’s personal because the weaknesses of our laws in all three areas contributed to the climate that made it possible for three criminals, two of whom were minors, to acquire the assault weapon that killed my sister.
Sometimes it feels as though people forget about the victims and those left behind. As they clamor for their right to own any and all varieties of gun, they also sow fears and distrust that the government wants to track gun owners for the express purpose of confiscating their legally acquired and owned weapons.
Members of my own family do this. I see their posts online, the ones that garner comments calling people like me, who want smarter laws but who aren’t inherently anti-gun, “violent political extremists” because we voted for Democrats. The comments that question whether people like me are patriotic, whether we are true Americans.
I love my family, but sometimes I hate their ideals. They love me, and I’m sure they hate mine. When the issue is taxes or health care reform, I can write off our differences. But when the issue is something that touches me and the friends and families of the 3,514+ people who have been killed by gun violence just since Sandy Hook, I can’t set it aside so easily.
I can’t simply hide the wall posts and pretend they never happened. I want to make them understand, but I don’t know how to and I feel helpless. At this juncture our positions are firmly held and we, like so many Americans, are confounded by the other’s beliefs.
Yesterday afternoon, I heard President Obama’s speech while I was driving home. I was amazed at how angry he sounded, and it was an anger that I know reverberated through the Senate chamber as Vice-President Biden announced that the hard-fought compromise had failed. Had I been there, standing shoulder to shoulder with the other victims (and yes, we who live in the after are victims, too), I would likely have shouted “Shame on you!” too.
It’s taken me almost 20 years to be able to write this story. I have told it many times to friends and co-workers. I haven’t so much chosen to remain silent as felt that the story wasn’t ready to be told. Today on that car ride home, the story came to life.
You may not agree with me. You may think I’m using pathos to appeal on this issue. You may think the minority of Senators who blocked the bill and its amendments from moving forward yesterday were right.
We’ll have to agree to disagree, and hopefully, one day soon, America’s lawmakers will listen to the majority of their constituents. Democracy is rough go sometimes. Let’s hope it goes the people’s way sometime soon.
Pictured: NRA Tools
Arguably the three most powerful politicians in Texas (was Dan Patrick not available?) are joining Vice President Mike Pence at the annual convention of the NRA in Dallas May 3-6.
It’s time to call BS on our elected representatives, for not representing our interests. The NRA represents gun manufacturers, not gun owners, not citizens, and definitely not Texans. We stand with the majority of Americans, including gun owners, in demanding commonsense gun legislation.
Why are our two senators and our governor to beholden to the NRA that they would speak at their convention—despite (or perhaps because of?) the massive nationwide backlash against what is essentially a domestic terrorist organization. Their presence at the convention is insulting to victims of gun violence and to all Texans. Remind Cruz and Abbott that this is an election year for them, and for Cornyn in 2020, and that you’re paying attention to their sleazy alliance with gun lobbyists.
Sample, perhaps overly polite script:
It’s disappointing that you continue to align yourself with the gun lobby by speaking at the NRA convention in Dallas. Most gun owners want common sense gun control; the NRA’s only mission is to sell more guns.
In the wake of preventable shootings in Texas, Florida, and every other state, I hope you will reconsider your attendance at the convention.
Voters are paying attention to who your friends are.
And if you’re in the Dallas area, protests begin at noon at City Hall Plaza on May 5th. And Indivisible Women Tarrant County is holding a die-in the night before.
This post will be updated as details emerge.
SAVE THE DATE: Town Hall for Our Lives.
Sunday, April 8th 2-5 p.m.
William B. Travis High School
1211 E. Oltorf St, Austin, Texas 78704
Save the date! All area Members of Congress and candidates are invited to participate in a town hall to discuss gun violence and gun violence prevention in America/Texas. Participants to be added as they RSVP. More details will be updated shortly.
Confirmed participants to date:
Rep. Lloyd Doggett (TX-35)
State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (HD-51)
Mary Wilson (D candidate, TX-21)
Christine Mann (D candidate, TX-31)
Julie Oliver (D candidate, TX-25)
Chris Perri (D candidate, TX-25)
Joseph Kopser (D candidate, TX-21)
Mike Siegel (D candidate, TX10)
Co-hosted by March for Our Lives Austin, Moms Demand Action, Texas Gun Sense, Indivisible Austin, Voto Latino, Children’s Defense Fund-Texas, National Association of Social Workers Texas chapter, Texas Capitol Walkout for Gun Safety, Literary Women in Action, ADAPT of Texas, Personal Attendant Coalition of Texas, Counter Balance ATX, Austin Justice Coalition, and others to be announced.
Please take note of the parking directions below. The entrance to the school’s parking is on Oltorf, and parking will be in the main lot behind the school. There is a short walk to the auditorium’s entrance.
This is an accessible event, and ASL interpretation will be provided thanks to ADAPT of Texas. Accessible parking is available in the main parking lot and a few spots in front of the school.
Please share this event RSVP with all the students in your life. We look forward to seeing you at tomorrow’s town hall.