Notes & Noticias: It’s Not About Safety

Dear Friends,

One of the most significant issues we faced in the 2011 and 2013 legislative sessions was the effort by Republicans to curtail women’s access to reproductive health. We’re already seeing the dire effects of this effort across our state.

Read on for more.

Cuts to Women’s Health Not About Safety

As the debate about women’s access to reproductive health raged during the first and special sessions, my Democratic colleagues and I made clear that these bills weren’t about “safety.”

These bills were about denying women access to reproductive health care. 

News stories and investigations into clinics’ safety records have reaffirmed that Democrats were correct. An investigation by the Texas Tribune into state inspection records for abortion clinics found essentially no serious safety violations, proving the Republicans’ motivations false. Their real goal was to deny women access to not simply their reproductive rights, but also basic health care.

Now, as Planned Parenthood clinics are closing across the state — in Bryan, Lufkin, Midland, Huntsville, and San Angelo, for starters — Texas women are left with insufficient alternatives for basic health care and access to contraceptives.

The legislature’s cuts to the Women’s Health Program in 2011 caused many basic health care clinics to shut down. As a result of these cuts, payment claims to a state program that provides preventative care to low-income women have dropped by 23%.

Millions of the scant funding that was appropriated for women’s health in 2011 went unspent, and even though the Legislature reversed these cuts in 2013, clinics have yet to see the dollars they need to keep their doors open.

Spotlight On: MexNet Alliance

As a member of the Economic & Small Business Development committee in the Legislature, I’m committed to helping grow our Texas economy from the ground up.

That’s why I’m so excited by the work of MexNet Alliance, an organization of entrepreneurs and business leaders of Mexican origin that work to develop Hispanic-owned enterprises here in Austin.

One of the programs sponsored by MexNet Alliance is The Entrepreneurial School, which provides a five-week seminar for first generation Hispanics looking to start or grow their businesses. By helping small and medium-sized businesses in Austin, Texas, MexNet not only benefits entrepreneurs, but also assists in the creation of solid economic units that can create jobs, pay taxes and spark growth.

Half of all Hispanic-owned businesses fail to survive their first year, and only one fifth last for five years.

The work of MexNet Alliance President Monica Peraza and Secretary Andrés Durá (pictured with me above right) is crucial to making sure that Hispanic entrepreneurs can access the tools and knowledge necessary to help their businesses thrive.

Currently, MexNet Alliance is helping over two dozen local businesses. Some day, these local start-ups might become the next iconic Austin establishment. I appreciate the work of everyone involved with MexNet Alliance for their work to support economic development in our community.

Feliz Diez y Seis!

Thanks to everyone who joined me for the annual Diez y Seis event in the Capitol Rotunda this week organized by Senator Kirk Watson and myself. This celebration of Mexico’s independence gives us an opportunity to give tribute to the history and culture of Mexico and Texas in our community each year.

Thanks also to the many talented Texans who participated in the celebration, including Conjunto Los Pinkys, Danza Azteca Guadalupana,  Mariachi El Romance and the Austin High Ballet Folklorico.

It was a great event and I’m already looking forward to next year’s.

Asking For Your Support

As I announced earlier this month, I will be seeking re-election to House District 51, and plan to put substantial support behind electing Democrats up and down the ballot in November 2014.

It’s an exciting time for Texas Democrats, and I’m eager to do all I can to support my fellow Democratic candidates and continue advancing our shared values in the Legislature next session.

If you support the work I have done in the last 10 years in the Texas House and in the Austin community in general, please reply to this email and let me know that I can count on your public support for my re-election.

Thanks for reading another issue of Notes and Noticias, and I look forward to seeing you soon.