Sign Up Now to Take Action on ACA Repeal!

Is health care repeal one of your top concerns? Then we hope to see you at the Capitol on March 6, along with 1000+ other health care activists and advocates!

While ACA repeal or replace or who-knows-what will happen in Congress, much of the implementation will be left to the states, especially with respect to Medicaid. That means we need to get in front of our #txlege members and tell them what Texans need!

If you want to #ProtectOurCare, join Indivisible Austin and the Cover Texas Now coalition on March 6 for the Rally to Protect Health Care + Lobby Day. In addition to the morning rally and press conference, you’ll be able to meet with lawmakers and staff in the afternoon. Austin locals may visit their own lawmakers, or they may join up with groups of concerned citizens from across the state–we’ve got people joining in from Dallas/Fort Worth, San Antonio, Houston, the Rio Grande Valley, and El Paso! RSVP is required to prepare materials and lobby groups.

RSVP NOW

Tuesday is Texas Muslim Capitol Day

***Please see this post to for details on how to be a peaceful supporter for this event on Tuesday***

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Y’all, I missed a lot of the news yesterday and this morning I was struggling to believe what I was reading.

I don’t know why I was surprised. When an autocrat tells you something, believe him.

Rule #1: Believe the autocrat. He means what he says. Whenever you find yourself thinking, or hear others claiming, that he is exaggerating, that is our innate tendency to reach for a rationalization. This will happen often: humans seem to have evolved to practice denial when confronted publicly with the unacceptable. – Masha Gessen, Autocracy: Rules for Survival

About 10 days ago Texas state Rep. Kyle Biedermann (R- New Braunfels) sent a letter to Muslim organizations across Texas demanding they fill out a poll about their beliefs. He followed it up with a forum on Thursday at the State Capitol called “Defending Against Radical Islamic Terrorism in Texas,” which featured controversial speakers, some of whom claim that Texas Muslims want to overthrow our government and institute sharia law, and that they have, “a different methodology for the destruction of Western civilization…”

All of this was leading up to Texas Muslim Capitol Day on Tuesday, January 31. It’s a citizen lobby and advocacy day that happens every legislative session, and many religious groups have similar lobby days throughout the session. In recent years the event has drawn nasty and angry protests and reactions from lawmakers.

In 2015, then-Representative Molly White (R- Belton), who was not re-elected, demanded that any Muslims who came to her office recite an oath of loyalty before her staff would speak to them. She also, weirdly, left an Israeli flag on her desk. Participants in the lobby day, including school kids,  were verbally harassed and spat at.

This year’s lobby day is happening in what is probably the most hostile climate for Texas Muslims since 2001. A couple weeks ago the Islamic Center of Lake Travis’ under-construction mosque burned. Last night the Victoria Islamic Center’s mosque burned.

On Tuesday at 9 a.m. there is an opportunity to show up and stand with Texas Muslims who are engaging in participatory democracy. “Peaceful protectors” will gather to create a buffer zone between the event’s participants during their morning program on the Capitol steps, and the counter protesters. Texas Muslim Capitol Day organizers hope to get at least 200 people as Peace Observers. Representatives organized by Rep. Celia Israel and other faith leaders are expected to join in the protective action.

This is a chance to stand, indivisible, with Texans whose rights are under attack.

CALL TO ACTION: Peaceful Protectors at Texas Muslim Capitol Day

On Tuesday January 31 at 9 a.m. there is an opportunity to show up and stand with Texas Muslims who are engaging in participatory democracy. This call to action is unique–this is not an “Indivisible” action or protest or rally. It’s a call to stand with marginalized members of our community as they engage in our democratic process.

BACKGROUND:

Texas Muslim Capitol Day is a biennial citizen lobby day taking place at the Capitol. This year’s lobby day is happening in what is probably the most hostile climate for Texas Muslims since 2001.

“Peaceful protectors” will gather to create a buffer zone between the event’s participants and the expected counter protesters during their morning program on the Capitol steps. Representatives organized by Rep. Celia Israel and other faith leaders are expected to join in the protective action.

This is a chance to stand, indivisible, with Texans whose rights are under attack.

From the organizers:

Code Of Conduct –

#1 DO NOT ENGAGE PROTESTERS – This is literally and figuratively the #1 rule. We are not there to engage, debate, one-up etc. We are there to form a human chain and act as a barrier. Any communication that might possibly need to happen between Peace Observers and Protesters will be handled by designated liasons.

#2 Remember that you are indirectly representative of the event and the community taking part – We are standing in solidarity with a marginalized community and thus we are not acting as individuals and we must consider the way our behavior could reflect on the people with whom we want to show solidarity.

#3 DO NOT ENGAGE PROTESTERS

#4 Keeping #2 in mind, even amongst each other, please keep language, gestures, etc G-rated.

#5 DO NOT ENGAGE PROTESTERS

#6 Keeping #2 in mind, please wear clothing with only G-rated messages (or no messages, obviously.)

#7 DO NOT ENGAGE PROTESTERS

#8 Do not bring signs, banners, flags, etc. – This is NOT a counter protest.

#9 DO NOT ENGAGE PROTESTERS

FAQ:

Q: What time do we meet up?

A: 9 a.m. in front of the Capitol (south steps). The morning program will end before lunch.

Q: Is there anything else I can do?

A: Nope! Just invite people to help and show up. Keep it simple.

Texas Muslim Capitol Day on Facebook

VIDEO: TX Lege Town Hall Turns Heated Over Bathroom Bill

Well, last night was a first for me.

Coppell Town Hall Turns Heated
Coppell Town Hall Turns Heated

After being allowed to leave work a little early, I decided to meet some fellow Indivisible Group members at a town hall meeting in the city of Coppell, a suburb of Dallas, to hear and talk with some local representatives. The scheduled guests were State Representatives Matt Rinaldi and Ron Simmons, and State Senator Don Huffines. As it turned out, Huffines had a previous commitment and was unable to show.

The reason I wanted to attend was to voice my concern for SB6 (nicknamed the Texas Bathroom Bill). I did this as a citizen of Dallas, Texas who loves his state and not as a paid protester, as some might falsely claim. Before I had a chance to ask my question and give the representatives my views of the bill, several other people had already gone and made solid arguments. My opinion is based on what we have seen happen in North Carolina, that it could easily cost the state hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars annually.

When I had my chance to speak, it became clear that Rinaldi did not share my concerns.

In his introduction speech, Rinaldi said he was there to listen to the questions AND concerns of the citizens but instead, brushed them off as nonsense from the get-go if he disagreed with his constituents. One lady whom I had never met was almost brought to tears at one point when talking passionately about how the School Choice bill would affect her children and family.

The representatives seemed to forget that the meeting (which was held in a public space at Coppell City Hall) was open to the public and that there were no time limits or guidelines given for how the open-mic, question-and-answer portion of the evening would be handled. I watched as one-by-one citizens were cut off early or asked to hurry up or to please sit down when it was clear that the representatives there had no good answer for the people who wanted to voice their concerns for their state.

When I got up, I made sure to mention facts. I pulled stats from a 25-page study by the Texas Association of Business (PDF), including that it could easily cost the state 185,000 jobs and cost the state $8.5 billion annually. Rinaldi responded by starting off, “Well, if you actually read the bill…” As far as I am aware, we were both adults trying to have a productive back-and-forth, but his dismissive response made it clear that he didn’t regard me as an adult at all. Which is concerning to say the least.

During my short time at the mic, I also relayed how this will affect a very close friend of mine, something that was met with very mixed reactions from the crowd and most likely gave me the label of “snowflake.” I guess when life hands you snowflakes, make some snowballs.

Before I was able to finish my full statement and respond to Rinaldi’s mischaracterization of the study and the facts supporting it, the mic was aggressively removed from my hand by one of the event organizers.

I find it highly unfortunate that elected officials are so quick to disregard the concerns of the citizens once they find out that those citizens don’t agree with them.

A friend of mine often says:
“Be kind. Be brave.”

I would add:
Be steadfast.

URGENT #txlege Opportunity for Action on Jan. 31

URGENT! TEXAS SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE HEARING ON HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES, JANUARY 31, 2017!

UPDATE: We just received word that this hearing will recess sometime around 10:30 am, and will likely reconvene some time after NOON. Please plan your day accordingly if you plan to attend to give testimony.

PLEASE RSVP and plan to join us at the Capitol on Tuesday starting at 9 a.m. in room E1.036!

Texans targeted by drastic cuts to the state’s health and human services (HHS) budget (Article 2) need your support on January 31st!

If you think Texas should have a robust Medicaid program, strong supports for children with special needs, provide services to adults with disabilities so they can work and live full lives, and don’t want the Texas legislature to slash funding, SHOW UP.

Come to the Capitol and show your support for resisting the Senate’s proposed budget. We need folks who can:

  • Attend the hearing and keep the room full to show our support for halting cuts to Medicaid
  • Sign up to give oral testimony (more details to come in comments below)
  • Write and turn in written testimony (more details to come in comments below)
  • Speak with the media about how cuts to the state’s Medicaid budget harm them and/or their families.

BACKGROUND:
The committee is taking public testimony on the HHS section of the Senate Budget put forth by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Sen. Jane Nelson. The Senate budget includes nearly half a billion dollars in cuts to health and human services, which would devastate medical care and services that Texas children and families rely on. The Senate bill also fails to provide funding to cover Medicaid for the full two years of the next budget.

People who will be harmed by these cuts include:

  • Children who get their health insurance through Medicaid
  • People with disabilities
  • Low-income seniors, and
  • Pregnant women

Your presence and your testimony can make a difference for millions of Texans.

Oy, here we go with the “bathroom bill!”

We’ve got our own Peegate in Texas, but it has nothing to do with Russians or the CIA.

It likely hasn’t escaped your notice that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is VERY CONCERNED about where the good people of Texas are allowed to pee. To that end, SB 6 is one of his top 25 legislative priorities and part of his radical Tea Party agenda. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst of Brenham, is commonly known as the “bathroom bill.”

As is often typical of lawmaking in Texas, SB 6 is a solution in search of a problem, and one that very cruelly targets transgender people. It also has a very intense focus on school districts, and would fine them up to $10,500 (!) for every day they allow a transgender student to use the restroom consistent with his or her gender identity.

“The only people…who oppose this bill are Anglo liberals, and many of them work in the media.”  – Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick

If you’re mad as hell about this bill, today might be a good day to call the Lt. Gov.’s office and make your voice heard.

Here’s a sample script you can use:

“Hi, I’m calling to voice my concerns about SB 6. I do not support this bill, which very intentionally discriminates against transgender people, and undermines local control of cities, school districts, and other public entities. The economic repercussions also make this bill an extremely unfavorable one. Thank you.”

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s office: 512-463-0001

Sen. Lois Kolkhorst’s office: 512-463-0118

UPDATE: Last week Patrick’s office said they were tallying calls for/against, and apparently they still are.

More background

Today in his conversation with the Texas Tribune‘s Evan Smith, Patrick suggested that there isn’t an epidemic of “men in ladies’ bathrooms,” but that liberals picked this fight with Republicans by enacting policies or ordinances that explicitly protect the rights of transgender people. I’ll note that he misspoke more than once, saying “support” instead of “oppose” in several exchanges. I’m not sure what exactly that means, but it happened.

Furthermore, he said, “The only people…who oppose this bill are Anglo liberals, and many of them work in the media.” Today let’s show the Lt. Gov. that’s not true.

You can watch the conversation at the Texas Tribune’s site here. The “bathroom bill” conversation starts at approximately 33:31.

More resources:

Following North Carolina’s lead, Texas GOP unveils so-called “bathroom bill” (Texas Tribune)

Texas Moves to Limit Transgender Bathroom Access (New York Times)

Shortall: Texas will pay for ‘bathroom bill’ (Houston Chronicle, op-ed)

The Economic Impact of Discriminatory Legislation on the State of Texas (Texas Association of Business, PDF)

Texas Legislature convenes today!

Today the 85th Texas Legislature convenes and our state lawmakers will be sworn in at 12:00 noon at the state capitol.

Your state representatives and senators are inviting their constituents to a meet and greet today as they prepare for this legislative session.  You can take this opportunity to meet your representatives and senators in person.

Legislators will have a tight budget to work with over the next two years and will be faced with controversial bills, like SB 6, the “bathroom” bill, and a slew of reproductive rights bills target reproductive rights and women’s health.

Texas Legislature Online is an excellent website to use to follow the Texas Legislative session. It allows you to track bills from Texas Legislative sessions – either by setting up alerts or by manually looking up bills. If you want to set up alerts, use the link for Receive Bill and Meeting Alerts. Keep in mind that you will likely get a great deal of e-mail traffic as your bill moves through the legislative process. To track a bill manually, you’ll need to find the bill number. You can find the bill number by searching for it by a keyword that describes what the bill is about or by browsing through a list of bills that have been filed.

We need to be prepared to fight what is sure to be an onslaught of anti-progressive legislation. Find out who your state representative and senator is and save their office numbers in your phone.  We’ll also keep you posted on committee hearings and when bills are up for a vote in both houses.

Millions March Action and Rally at the State Capitol

Indivisible Austin is organized to fight the dangerous Donald Trump agenda, and while much of our action is focused at the federal level, big things are happening right in our backyard.

On January 10 the 85th Texas Legislature comes into session, and the Lege already promises to continue undermining the health, equality, education, and economic security of Texans.

There will be activism opportunities throughout the next 140 days to resist the radical Tea Party agenda put forth by our right-wing lawmakers led by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and we’ll share them as we know about them, both here and in the Facebook group.

Millions March Texas 3rd Annual Call to Action

January 10, 2017

8 a.m. registration, program begins at 10 a.m.

Huston-Tillotson University

900 Chicon StreetAustin, TX

Facebook Event

From the Austin Justice Coalition (organizers):

We’re calling ALL Concerned Texans to join us in Austin, Texas on January 10th, 2017, as we march on the Texas State Capitol to demand that SWIFT and IMMEDIATE actions take place through police and law in order to protect the lives of Black, Brown and other Texans of color from police brutality and systematic/institutionalized racism.

This will be the third installment of the Millions March Texas (#MMTX) campaign and we are asking at least 10,000 Black and Brown Texans (along with allies) make this a priority to attend. We want to disrupt business as usual on THE OPENING DAY of this year’s legislative session as a statewide collective to let OUR elected officials know that it’s time for #LessTalkMoreAction. We want OUR elected officials to know they work for us and we’re sick and tired of being sick and tired. We want OUR local and state reps to know we mean business.

If you can’t join for the whole day, the march to the Capitol is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m., with a rally immediately following. Organizers ask that participants then take the time to visit their representative and senator and present the 10-point plan (scroll to the middle of the page).

Find your state representative and senator.

Visit the event website and Facebook page for more information.

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Recent articles related to the 85th Texas Legislature:

Texas Moves to Limit Transgender Bathroom Access (New York Times)

Once again, the Texas Legislature is mostly white, male and middle-aged (Texas Tribune)

Texas lawmakers set to debate bathrooms, education, CPS as 2017 session launches (Dallas Morning News)

Comptroller: Energy downturn means Lege will have less to spend (Houston Chronicle)