Access to health services. Foster care. Child protective services. Public education. Immigration. Mental health.
These are just a handful of the many important policy areas being discussed by state lawmakers right now in Austin. The current legislative session began in January and runs through May. Now is the time for you to have your voice heard before important decisions are made at the Capitol!
Legislative experts report that it’s expected to be a tight budget year and that could have a deep effect on the health and human services safety net in Texas. The initial Texas Senate budget included targeted cuts along with an “across the board” 1.5% cut for all state agencies. The House also proposes a budget, but the Texas Tribune reports that so far the House version budget does not include as many cuts. For example, the House proposal for state spending on health and human services is about $2 billion larger than the Senate’s version.
“House leaders have called the Senate’s budget projections unrealistic, noting they do not cover many of the state’s health care costs and will probably require hefty cuts to programs,” writes Edgar Walters, a reporter for the Texas Tribune.
How can you and your congregation get involved?
1) Get Informed!
Learn about proposed budgets, bills and committee meetings. Educate yourself and your congregation about the effects these decisions could have on your community and the health of vulnerable Texans. Here are just a few resources that may help:
- Texas Legislature Online: The website allows your to search bills, learn about committee hearings, watch live hearings and sessions, contact your representative and senator, plus much more.
- Texas Tribune: The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, digital-first, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues. They have daily stories about hearings and votes, and provide a great way to keep updated on what’s going on in the legislature.
- Cover Texas Now!: Cover Texas Now! is a coalition of consumer and faith-based organizations that want to see Texas implement a sustainable health care system and provide quality affordable health coverage to its citizens. The website includes important updates on health-related bills and hearings.
- Texas Impact: Texas Impact is a statewide religious grassroots network whose members include individuals, congregations, and governing bodies of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths. Its website has extensive information about proposed bills, upcoming hearings, action days in Austin and much more.
2. Get Involved!
Let your voice be heard! Attend a committee hearing. Contact your representative or senator. Organize members of your congregation to speak out.
You can also join others to attend an “advocacy day” in Austin. These advocacy days support specific issues and share a common voice with legislators and senators at the Capitol. Below are just a sample of upcoming advocacy days:
|20-Feb-17||TORCH Advocacy||Rural Health Advocacy Days||http://www.torchnet.org/|
|21-Feb-17||TORCH Advocacy||Rural Health Advocacy Days||http://www.torchnet.org/|
|23-Feb-17||Texas Freedom Network||LGBTQ Equality Issues||http://tfn.org/|
|28-Feb-17||HIV Advocacy Day||Texas HIV/AIDS Coalition and Legacy Community Health||http://www.legacytakesaction.org/2017_advocacy_day|
|1-Mar-17||Texas Pediatric Society||Engage pediatricians in the legislative process||https://txpeds.org/tps-residentfellowmedical-student-advocacy-day|
|1-Mar-17||United Ways of Texas||Overall Health & Wellness, Healthy Food Access||http://www.uwtexas.org/public-policy|
|6-Mar-17||Transgender Education Network of Texas||Transgender Legislation||http://www.transtexas.org/lobby-day-2017/|
|6-Mar-17||Cover Texas Now||Health Coverage||http://covertexasnow.org/|
|7-Mar-17||Dallas Regional Chamber||Telemedicine, Health Insurance, and Early Childhood||https://www.dallaschamber.org/the-chamber/public-policy-advocacy/|
|8-Mar-17||Lilith Fund Lobby Day||Reproductive Date||https://www.lilithfund.org/|
|20-Mar-17||All in for Equality Lobby Day||EQTX, TFN, TENT, HRC ACLU||https://app.etapestry.com/onlineforms/EqualityTexas/ AllInForEquality2017.html|
|22-Mar-17||Immunization Advocacy||The Immunization Partnership||http://salsa4.salsalabs.com/o/50931/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=8204|
|23-Mar-17||American Heart Association||Healthy Food Financing & Coverage||http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/|
|27-Mar-17||Texas Campaign for the Environment Lobby Day||Environmental Policy||https://www.texasenvironment.org|
|27-Mar-17||Bike Texas||Cyclist in Suits Day||http://www.biketexas.org/es/cyclists-in-suits|
|5-Apr-17||Planned Parenthood Lobby Day||Reproductive health care issues||https://www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/|
|19-Apr-17||American Heart Association – AHA 85th Agenda||Healthy Food Financing & Coverage||http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/|
Have questions? Contact EHF’s congregational engagement team to learn about others ways your and your congregation can get involved!