Texas State House
Texas State House
Protect dogs left in hot cars
Every year, hundreds of dogs suffer and die from heat exhaustion because they are left in parked vehicles. Parked cars are deathtraps for animals: the interior temperature can rise almost 20 degrees in just 10 minutes. In 20 minutes, it can rise 30 degrees. Given this, you would figure it’s illegal to leave a defenseless pet in a parked car, right? Unfortunately, that depends on which state you live in. According to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, only 20 states have some type of law that prohibits leaving an animal in a confined vehicle. That leaves 32 states that don’t even address the issue legally, and, sadly, Texas is one of these. This means that if your pet dies in your car because of your negligence, you can walk away scot-free. This simply isn’t right. Our pets give so much to us, and they depend on us for protection. If a pet owner is negligent to this degree, they must face legal repercussions. Please join me in calling on Texas lawmakers to pass a law prohibiting leaving animals in confined vehicles.
Healthcare for Retired and Active Teachers
Recent changes, voted on by our elected officials, have escalated the price of health insurance for educators in Texas. Retired teachers presently average $24,000 a year, and as of January 2018, in-network fees will increase 130% and the out-of-network will increase by 361%. With these rising costs, the average retired teacher will have the bulk of his/her pension sucked away by heightened insurance premiums. Retired teacher deductibles will also increase to $3,000 which is TEN times what it is now. As it stands for current educators, in the upcoming 2017-2018 school year, ActiveCare 2 will increase to $2,004 for employees and their families. Couple that with dental and vision insurance, and it totals a whopping $2,201.46. Each district tries to help by contributing around $300; however, that still ends up being $1,816 a month for health, vision, and dental insurance. On average, a teacher who has taught for 10 years makes about $50,000 a year ($4,166 a month). Deduct withholding tax and medicare tax ($408), deduct TRS contribution ($329), deduct ins ($1,816), and the amount to be lived off of is $1,613 a month if they choose ActiveCare 2. Let me put this into perspective for you...TRS insurance will cost MORE than what you are left with. Even if deciding to go with another plan, the premiums and/or deductibles are still high. There is no other profession in Texas that employs more than that of public education, yet we are not taken care of by the state of Texas. Currently 700,000 active public educators and 270,000 retired teachers are looking to our elected officials to make moral and ethical decisions on the welfare of educators. Why more teachers don't protest: Teachers are some of the most loyal employees you will ever find. For many, professional development is back in full force beginning next week. Their loyalty to their district and students supersede that of fixing their own dire situation, hence how they managed to stay quiet this long. Educators care for others and put themselves on the back burner. Last year alone, Texas teachers spent around $200,000,000 of their OWN money to put back into their classrooms. I have never seen any other profession give of themselves as teachers do. It is time that the state of Texas bands together with and for them to show your support. In signing this petition, you are pleading to Governor Greg Abbott and our elected officials to revisit the TRS healthcare for retired and current educators and make it affordable in comparison to average monthly incomes and cost of living in Texas. This is not the responsibility of the school districts. It is the duty of the state to manage teachers' healthcare premiums and deductibles, and as it stands, Governor Abbott, our senators, and our representatives have failed in doing so. School Administrators, teachers, and other school employees, please copy and paste the link and send this out to your campuses/districts!! We MUST finally come together and be heard!! #dontmesswithtexasteachers #changetrs
Outlaw hog vs. dog hunting/fighting in the wild
Goal: To outlaw the cruel and inhumane practice of using dogs to hunt wild boar in Florida, as well as in the 31 others states it's currently legal. Florida (as well as other states) has a wild boar problem. Hogs are numerous, omnivorous and have no natural predators, making them one of the largest nuisance pests in the state. There are many humane options for dealing with the pigs, which do not need to involve brutally killing the pigs or putting domesticated dogs in harm’s way. However, despite the existence of alternatives, Florida and other states have exempted the use of "bait-dogs" in boar hunting. This practice is incredibly dangerous and very inhumane for the dogs and boars involved. Each of the 32 states that allow this practice laws differ, but Florida animal cruelty statutes states: FLORIDA ANIMALS: CRUELTY; SALES; ANIMAL ENTERPRISE PROTECTION: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0800-0899/0828/Sections/0828.122.html 828.122 Fighting or baiting animals; offenses; penalties.—(1) This act may be cited as “The Animal Fighting Act.”(2) As used in this section, the term:(a) “Animal fighting” means fighting between roosters or other birds or between dogs, bears, or other animals.(b) “Baiting” means to attack with violence, to provoke, or to harass an animal with one or more animals for the purpose of training an animal for, or to cause an animal to engage in, fights with or among other animals. In addition, “baiting” means the use of live animals in the training of racing greyhounds.(c) “Person” means every natural person, firm, copartnership, association, or corporation.(3) Any person who knowingly commits any of the following acts commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084:Baiting, breeding, training, transporting, selling, owning, possessing, or using any wild or domestic animal for the purpose of animal fighting or baiting; (9) This section shall not apply to:.....(e) Any person using dogs to hunt wild hogs or to retrieve domestic hogs pursuant to customary hunting or agricultural practices." The exception (e) makes NO logical sense, because dogs are trained to "hunt" by chasing, cornering, attacking and fighting. So, why is it illegal to cause a dog to fight another dog, or a pig in an enclosure, but it is legal to use dogs to chase and viciously attack pigs while being trained and in the wild? Boar hunting with dogs is exactly what it sounds like: dogs trained to track and attack. They are taken out into the country, or wherever wild hogs are plentiful, and set loose to sniff out hogs. Once a hog is found the dogs will chase it down, corner, bay and attack it, usually leaving it badly injured, but normally still alive. Hunters (when they catch up) will kill the pig, usually by "sticking," which is a prolonged death vs. the use of a proper gun. Wild hogs are incredibly difficult to kill and will put up a fight until the end. Many dogs involved are wounded by tusks, bitten, trampled and sometimes killed. This is basically animal fighting, in the wild. Putting dogs in such a dangerous situation is inhumane and should not be legal. PETITION LETTER: Wild boars are a major problem in Florida and in other states. The species has no natural predators, is omnivorous and repopulates very quickly: it is because of these traits that wild boars are a force hard to reckon with. There are many control methods used, some of them very inhumane. Currently it is legal for dogs to be used in wild hog hunting: this is extremely dangerous for the dogs involved and leads to inappropriate practices elsewhere. Dogs involved in hunting are likely to be seriously injured by the hogs. Dogs get trampled, bitten, pierced by tusks and may be infected with diseases that pigs carry. The hogs are frightened, outnumbered and suffer a painful death. I urge you to propose a ban on hunting wild pigs with dogs in order to put a stop to these inappropriate behaviors. Please consider other methods of wild pig population control, such as designating land for hogs to be displaced to, and controlling breeding of the species. Allowing dogs to hunt them is inhumane and unnecessary. Sincerely, [Your Name Here]
Give All Disabled Children Medicaid
ALL DISABLED CHILDREN NEED MEDICAID At 4 months old, my daughter was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy consisting of Spastic Quadraplegia with Dystonia. Now, age 6, my daughter needs Physical Therapy (PT), Occupational Therapy (OT) and Speech Therapy. She is responding very well to therapy. Like many families that support disabled children, finances are always a struggle. No matter how hard you work, it's never enough to cover as much therapy as you want to give your child. These therapies are the only way our child will be able to be a fully functioning member of society in the future. The Problem: Medicaid takes the family's income into account when determining eligibility. For those who are neither poor, nor rich, every dollar goes to paying for therapy and equipment. It is a huge, constant struggle on the family and there is NEVER enough money. Every dollar goes to another therapy appt or piece of necessary equipment. The Resolution: For those in the middle, we do not ask for Disability payments, nor SSI payments. We simply need Medicaid to offset what insurance companies won't pay for — the therapy needed beyond the limits of private insurance, the equipment that insurance companies refuse to cover that is necessary for our children. We beg you to join us in fighting for these minimal benefits for our children to give them a fighting chance, and so they don't have to be on Federal Disability and SSI assistance when they turn 18. Help our disabled children become independent. We ask for ALL disabled children, regardless of family income to be eligible for Medicaid at no cost.
Change the laws that discriminate against the autistic and mentally disabled.
Caregivers left my autistic sister, Rebekah, in a hot van for over five hours. When they finally found her, she was unconscious and clinging to life. A month later, she was dead. My family wants justice for wrongful deaths like Rebekah’s. In Texas, only the victim’s spouse, children, or parents can file a wrongful death suit. The mentally disabled often outlive their parents and seldom do they have spouses or children, so in cases like ours, they are left without justice. This limitation discriminates against people with disabilities and their loved ones by blocking their ability to seek civil, legal recourse. The caregivers at Sean Ashley House left my sister in a hot van to die, yet under Texas law, my family had no standing to file a wrongful death suit. This is wrong. Texas laws allow institutions, organizations, and people who neglect or harm the mentally disabled to stay in operation eliminating the threat of wrongful death suits. This means that disabled people are neglected, hurt and killed in Texas, and there is often little legal recourse, criminally or civilly. We want Texas to give legal guardians of severely mentally disabled people the right to file wrongful death suits on behalf of the individuals they cared for. Disabled people are often put in danger by their caregivers. In fact just three days after Rebekah was found in hot van, caregivers left another person to die in a van in Dallas. The disabled victims of neglect deserve to have their voices heard even after they are gone. Why should their disability and their circumstance prohibit their families from seeking justice? For my family, it is too late, but this issue is larger than us. Ordinary people often have the opportunity to find a spouse and have a family. Sadly, for many severely disabled people, this is not the case. In a sense, disabled people are treated as second-class citizens. And in the case of their wrongful death, there is little legal recourse. Texas needs to change this discriminatory statute and allow guardians of the severely disabled to fight for justice for the ones they loved and cared for. Join me and tell Gov. Abbot and the Texas House and Senate to allow guardians to file wrongful death lawsuits for the people they loved, therefore holding those that killed them accountable. https://www.facebook.com/justiceforrebekah #JusticeForRebekah #BeTheirVoice #DisabledLivesMatter
To vote NO to HB 2543
Teachers are worth more than $27,540 a year. The STAAR test is not a measure of a good Teacher. The growth, and indexes of testing accountability are also not comparing apples to apples in every classroom. Unfortunately, even after many letters, phone calls, and Social media campaigns the Senate Education Committee passed SB 893. This Bill will allow School Districts to use standardized test scores as a major evaluation tool. Teachers are some of the hardest working, caring individuals in the world. They pay for their jobs! They buy the supplies for the classroom and their students. They work before 8 a.m. and hours after 4 p.m. The Texas State Senate has embarrassingly DISRESPECTED EVERY TEACHER in the STATE of TEXAS by voting to reduce salaries without steps! They have also disregarded the lack of Teacher retention in the State. It is now up to the House of Representatives that WE THE PEOPLE have voted and put into office to hear our voices and vote in favor of TEACHERS!!! Please sign the petition!
Create and pass a Texas law banning the use of hand held electronics while driving.
In the evening of April 9th, 2016, an accident occurred in Denton that took the lives of two mothers and two daughters. It happened so quickly that neither mother had a chance to brake. The accident took the lives of 41 year old Emma Lourdes Shaffer, 12 year old Emma "Tita" Shaffer, 26 year old Ashley Morgan, and 4 year old Lorelei Cotter. Two sons were left without their mother. Two men lost the loves of their lives. Young friends of the daughters had to learn hard lessons about life and death. An entire community was plunged into the depths of grief, and countless lives were changed forever. What was the cause of such a horrific accident? Phone usage while driving. You can read the details of the accident in this Denton Record-Chronicle article. The families and communities surrounding the Shaffers and the Morgan/Cotters are not alone in their grief. According to a report last year by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an average of eight people are killed and 1,161 are injured in crashes involving a distracted driver EVERY SINGLE DAY. And the number of traffic fatalities is sharply rising according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's recent announcement. You can read the details of those statistics in this Wall Street Journal article. We are grateful that the Texas Legislature passed laws prohibiting phone use by novice drivers, by bus drivers, and for all drivers while in school zones. But that is not enough. According to distraction.gov, 46 states have a law that at least prohibits texting and driving. Texas is one of the four that does not. It's time for Texas to protect its citizens. It's time for Texas to prevent more lives from being lost. It's time for Texas to take a stand. It's time to create and pass a Texas law banning the use of hand held electronics while driving This petition was created by the Champion Cheer Leadership Team in support of the Text Free for Tita campaign. The petition is being supported by the Cheer Athletics Icon program along with many other Texas cheerleading gyms who all felt the loss of Tita Shaffer from the All Star Cheerleading community.
Recreational & Medicinal Marijuana Legalization In Texas
We are in a new day and age where marijuana has been proven to cure and prevent cancer, seizures, parkinson's disease, glaucoma and more. We need to come together and make the legalization of marijuana available to our great fellow Texans who are in need of this plant. So please join me and other great Texans make it happen. Cause remember we the people can make anything happen if we come together and make our voices heard.
Congress: Let all children of U.S. military service members reunite with their families
I’m Jenifer Bass, a U.S. Navy Veteran, who served for 10 years mostly in the Asia-Pacific region. It was due to my travel between ports in countries like Japan and Thailand, that I first encountered Amerasian children (and descendants) of U.S. sailors and military contractors previously stationed overseas. In the Philippines alone, more than 52,000-plus children were left behind after the U.S. Navy withdrew the last of its military personnel in 1992. Right now, the U.S. government won’t recognize them as U.S. citizens, despite having been born to an American parent. Many Amerasians are caught in a no-man’s land of discrimination and poverty -- most left behind by U.S. sailors who are unaware that they’ve fathered children overseas. My friend John Haines is one of these sailors. In 2011, John discovered he was the father of a half-Filipino daughter, Jannette. He attempted to reunite with her through the American Homecoming Act -- but was frustrated to learn that the Act did not apply to Filipino children of U.S. Service members. Today, all John wants is to be reunited with his daughter and grandchildren. He, like so many other veterans are living with a “hole in their hearts” as they search for ways to reunite with their children. There is hope. The Uniting Families Act of 2016 creates a specialized visa allowing military veterans and eligible civilian contractors to sponsor their children and grandchildren for U.S. citizenship. Blood relationship must be proven by DNA test and the total number of visas granted will be capped at 5,000 each year. The issue takes on more urgency as so many of our veterans from our wars in Southeast Asia are getting older and dying each day -- without the chance to reconnect with their own children. John’s daughter Jannette has already undertaken the DNA testing process, conclusively proving her relationship to her American father. All she’s waiting for is the opportunity to permanently reunite with her dad. You can find them in the Amerasian group pages on Facebook. Search angel services are available to both sides.There is a PBS documentary called "Left by the Ship" (2010), the video above, documenting everyday life and their personal struggles as a Filipino Amerasian on the never ending search for identity and their struggle to connect to their American military fathers, to bridge the gap between the past and the present. Please sign this petition to tell Congress that these families cannot wait another day. Pass the Uniting Families Act of 2016 now!
Ban the use of hand held electronic devices and texting while driving in Texas.
It's time for Texas to join the majority by passing a law to ban all drivers from texting while driving. As of February 2016, 46 states and the District of Columbia have laws banning text messaging for all drivers. Of the four remaining states two have no ban and two have a partial ban. One of those states is Texas; therefore, the state lawmakers understand there is a need to manage texting and driving. One in five accidents are caused by distracted drivers. This is not infringing on civil liberties. It is regulating the actions of persons unwilling to police themselves in order to protect the health and safety of other drivers and their passengers. In spite of Governor Perry's 2011 veto of a bill that would ban texting and driving and the Texas Senate failing to pass a ban on texting for all Texas drivers in 2015, 40 cities in Texas have passed ordinances to ban texting while driving. Some cities, like Houston, claim that the laws are difficult to enforce. However, they could use El Paso as a success model to implement in cities with difficulties. El Paso officers wrote 15,000 citations in less than two years following the city’s ban on texting and driving. The partial ban in Texas is a start. It consists of four parts. 1. Drivers under 18 are prohibited from using wireless communication devices. 2. Those with learner’s permits cannot use handheld cell phones for the first 6 months of driving. 3. School bus operators cannot use cell phones while driving if children are present. 4. All drivers are prohibited from using handheld devices in areas marked as school crossing zones. I urge Rep. Tom Craddick to continue on with his efforts to sponsor a bill to ban driving and typing on a hand-held device for the purpose of sending an electronic message, because this would cover social media site as well as traditional texts.