Chairman’s Memo: A Big Week in the Texas House (April 23, 2021)


The past week has been a busy one in the Texas House. 

Yesterday, Representatives debated the state budget on the House Floor. The most important vote of the night was on Chair Garnet Coleman’s amendment that instructed the state to seek a federal waiver to draw down the billions of dollars available to reduce the skyrocketing uninsured population in Texas. Although the life-saving measure would have been cost neutral — or, by some accounts, saved the state money — it was voted down almost entirely along party lines

We all owe a debt of gratitude to Chair Coleman’s leadership. Although the result wasn’t what we hoped for, I’m proud to see the 67 Members of our Caucus voting together for the people of Texas. This is not over, and I know our Caucus is united in the fight to get all Texans access to the quality, affordable health care they deserve.

House Democrats also had some great wins on budget night. Rep. Eddie Rodriguez passed a critical amendment that would ensure federal relief funding for our schools is distributed quickly. This measure was monumentally important to the education community, and to all students and families across the state who have suffered learning loss over the past year. Rep. Donna Howard also passed her amendment to put guardrails on federal stimulus funds to ensure the Legislature is given a voice in the appropriations process. Rep. Yvonne Davis worked several amendments onto the budget yesterday, encouraging the state to contract with historically underutilized businesses and expanding funds available for cultural diversity scholarships. 

We had many more victories, too. Reps. Michelle Beckley and Jessica González adopted key accountability provisions for the Office of the Attorney General. Rep. Rhetta Bowers adopted an amendment pushing for equal pay for all our state employees. Rep. Liz Campos passed her amendment to study the equity of COVID-19 immunization and testing distribution in the state. Rep. Penny Morales Shaw got her amendment instructing the Public Utility Commission to study how its load shedding protocols impact the people of Texas. And many of our colleagues were vigilant all day long, killing several unacceptable Republican amendments with masterful points of order.

Even before the budget hit the Floor, it was an eventful week. Speaker Pro Tem Joe Moody passed landmark criminal justice reform bills to allow the reconsideration of punishment if new evidence is found after conviction, and to reduce the use of the death penalty in our state. Rep. Christina Morales gave an impactful speech on the Floor presenting her House Concurrent Resolution to urge Congress to pass the Vanessa Guillen Act. Democrats passed a measure to lock in teacher pay raises — despite the majority of Republicans voting in opposition. And I know our Members in the Public Education Committee had a late night on Wednesday standing up against a hateful bill that discriminates against transgender kids.

This week was big for House Democrats, but Session is far from over. We know in the final five weeks, the days will get longer and the Floor fights will get tougher. But I have faith in our Caucus, and we’re at our best when we fight together. So let’s finish the home stretch united and stronger than ever.

Rep. Chris Turner
Texas House Democratic Caucus


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