There are 25 days left in the Legislative Session, and legislation is moving fast. Today, House Bill 3405, a bipartisan effort by Representative Jason Isaac (R-Hays County) and me that addresses an important central Texas water problem, passed the House. House Bill 1485, my Grocery Access Initiative that would help combat food deserts, is being considered on the floor on Monday. Stay tuned for updates in the next Notes & Noticias to see if it passes!
Austin’s Young Leadership
Our community has a knack for producing great young leaders. From the UT campus to the Capitol down to City Hall, we have more and more fresh voices in defense of working families and the progressive causes that matter most to Austin. In this week’s Notes & Noticias, I would like to highlight four young leaders who have made political headlines for standing up for what is right.
Keeping Guns Off College Campuses
Guns don’t belong on our university campuses. Law enforcement officials agree. University officials agree. Students agree. Extremist Republicans in the Texas Legislature should heed their opinions.
Last week, UT Student Government President Xavier Rotnofsky and Vice President Rohit Mandalapu wrote a hilarious, yet thoughtful, column breaking down why campus carry is a bad idea. I agree with their words 100%:
“We, as fellow student representatives, have been elected to voice the needs of our students,and do not appreciate attempts in the Legislature to take local governance away from our communities… The only guns that should be allowed on campus are our biceps.”
Defending Neighbors Against Nasty Landlords
This week Councilman Casar, my friend and one of the rising stars in local politics, worked closely with residents of Stonegate Mobile Home Park in North Central Austin to organize a new neighborhood association on behalf of tenants in the local mobile home community.
For months, Stonegate residents have lived in constant fear of retaliation from their property managers. Often with no explanation from management, residents have had their power or running water shut off for weeks. They have also been slapped with excessive fees, like $500 for throwing trash in the dumpster after 6 p.m., with no notice of new rules or regulations before they take effect.
Stonegate residents are not alone. Others in similar communities throughout Texas suffer abuse at the hands of the community owners or managers because these managers know their residents have nowhere else to turn.
Well this week, Councilman Casar and the Stonegate neighborhood association have sent a very clear message. They are fed up. They are organized. And they are no longer willing to tolerate such oppressive living conditions. We applaud their efforts, and encourage the owners and managers of Stonegate to come to the table in good faith to be fair and transparent with their residents. No one — regardless of language, immigration status, or socioeconomic status — deserves to be treated without basic human dignity. Read more about the Stonegate Association’s efforts here.
Protecting Students’ Votes
Texas is notorious for its abysmally low voter turnout. Our Legislature should be making access to the ballot easier for voters, not harder. One way to accomplish this is to allow student IDs to be used at the polls. This would aid the thousands of Texas students who may not all have a driver’s license, but who certainly carry a school-sanctioned identification. I am proud of my intern, Ashley Alcantara, a Plan II sophomore at The University of Texas, for writing up an excellent piece explaining why this bill is so critical for students, and I intend to vote for this legislation if it reaches the House floor.