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Public Policy Updates – February 2011

February 28th, 2011 at 7:21 pm

Public Policy Updates

This month, we want to share our public policy issue areas. You will find a synopsis of each of our issue-areas. At the end of each synopsis, you will find a link to the CLC’s website to read more about each area, including what bills have been filed this session.

PayDay Lending

Currently, almost all payday and auto title lenders operate in a loophole in state law that sets no limits on the rates and fees they can charge Texans on small dollar, short term loans. These high cost loans are hurting Texas families. They are immoral, unethical and in direct contradiction of the religious values that most Texans hold.

Read more about this issue and how we can close the loophole…(.pdf)

Gambling Expansion

Our state faces a daunting budget shortfall that has many Texans looking for new sources of revenue this session. In considering our options, policy makers should look for revenue that enhances our healthy business climate, supports families, prepares our state for the future, grows along with demand for services, and does not undermine citizen’s efforts to save for the future like gambling does.

Read more about why we oppose the expansion of gambling in the state of Texas…(.pdf)

Food Policy

Severe malnutrition rarely occurs in this state thanks to programs designed to prevent low-income families from going hungry. However, food insecurity, or the struggle to afford adequately nutritious food on a regular basis, plagues 17.4% of Texas households.

Read about how we can help make Texas food secure…(.pdf)

Environmental Stewardship

Scripture affirms the beauty of creation and God’s love for all creation—both human and non-human. Being stewards of God’s resources means careful consideration of how our actions impact the planet and all its inhabitants, including not only how much energy we consume but also how our energy in produced.

Read about ways Texas seeks to become energy efficient…(.pdf)

Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is the second largest criminal industry in the world after drug dealing, and it is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world. Between 14,500 and 17,500 individuals are trafficked into the U.S. every year, and nearly 20 percent of human trafficking victims in the U.S. have been identified in Texas.

Read about ways the Texas legislature is addressing human trafficking in our state…(.pdf)
Read about the Texas Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force…(.pdf)

Prison Chaplaincy

There are many essential services required by TDCJ in the protection of the public and security- secure buildings, guards and personnel, basic needs. In addition to these essential services, prison chaplaincy is also an essential service as it is the most judicious and proven application to guarantee the First Amendment exercise of religious liberty.

Read more details about the importance of retaining professional chaplaincy in our prison system…(.pdf)

Alcohol Excise Taxes

It has been 27 years since alcohol excise taxes were increased in the state of Texas. Bringing Texas beer and wine taxes in line with the current liquor or cigarette taxes could raise $768 million to $1.4 billion in revenue for our state during this budget crisis.

Read more details on the revenue impact of raising alcohol excise taxes…(.pdf)

Smoke-Free Texas

In Texas, 34 cities are currently covered by comprehensive smoke-free indoor workplace ordinances. As the nation’s second largest state, a statewide smoke-free workplace ban in Texas would provide clean indoor air to 5.6 percent of the U.S. population.

Read more about making Texas workplaces smoke-free on page 2 of this informational sheet…(.pdf)

New Texas Census and Re-Districting by Jason Embry, Austin American-Statesman

Congress
Texas will gain four additional seats — the most of any state — in the U.S. House, bringing its total to 36. It is not yet clear where those seats will be, but the suburbs around Dallas and Houston, the Interstate 35 corridor from Austin to San Antonio and some South Texas counties experienced the most population growth, so they could be in line for the new seats.

Texas House
The total number of House seats, 150, will remain the same. Census figures appear to indicate that there will continue to be six Travis County seats in the Texas House. Williamson County now has two House seats, but rapid growth in the county could push that number to three. Growth could also give Hays County its own state House seat. It now shares the District 45 seat with Caldwell and Blanco counties.

Texas Senate
Travis County is likely to continue to have two state senators because the county is too large to fit into one district. The number of Senate seats also remains the same at 31.

What if the Legislature can’t agree on new boundaries?
If lawmakers fail to agree on plans, the redrawing of state legislative districts will go to a the Legislative Redistricting Board, an all-Republican panel made up of four statewide elected officials and the state House speaker. The plans will inevitably face court challenges.

The drawing of new congressional districts would go straight to the courts if lawmakers don’t come up with a plan.

We value your input and suggestions.
Your comments and recommended resources are welcome in the comments box below.

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