Although the Legislature has been out of session for the last year, we have worked together to advocate for loans to small businesses entrepreneurs, shine a light on the need for fair child support policies for working families, helped our constituents access the state services they need and much more. Here are a few examples of our major 2008 policy victories:
New Renewable Energy Infrastructure
This summer we launched an online petition drive and organized over 5,000 Texans to urge the state's Public Utility Commission (PUC) to commit to a bold investment in renewable energy. Following our effort, the PUC announced an investment in building new transmission lines to bring wind - and eventually solar - energy from west Texas to our state's major cities. The long-term benefits will include cleaner air to breathe, a better chance at reversing global warming, new green jobs, and lower energy bills.
Upholding the State's Commitment to Care for the Elderly
Many local adult foster care providers stopped receiving their payments on time when the state brought in HMOs to manage their reimbursement system. We invited state officials down from Austin to meet with us and listen to the elder care providers. We found solutions that addressed local and statewide problems. Due to our efforts providers were able to focus on caring for seniors instead of battling HMOs.
Fair Funding for Women's Health Services
Doctors at community health clinics that serve low-income women informed us of the state's failure for over 20 years to increase their reimbursement rates for providing birth control. We also learned that the state provided reimbursement rates 14 times higher to retail pharmacies for the same service. In response, we launched a media campaign and online petition drive to draw public attention to this inequity. After collecting thousands of signatures, the Health and Human Services Commission increased the reimbursement rates for these clinics. As a result, community clinics are continuing to provide birth control, reducing unplanned pregnancies and saving the state money.
Enrolling More Children in Early Childhood Education
We organized 15 fellow legislators to urge the Texas Education Agency to direct school districts to publicize their free pre-kindergarten classes and maximize enrollment. As a result, TEA is requiring each school district that receives state pre-k grants to adopt a pre-k public outreach plan. More children in our community will now start school prepared to succeed.