Austin, TX — The Texas Senate Democratic Caucus sent the following letter to Governor Abbott:
Dear Governor Abbott:
The members of the Texas Senate Democratic Caucus urge you to immediately call an emergency special session to address gun violence in Texas in the wake of this latest gut-wrenching tragedy. We demand that this special session include passage of legislation that would:
• Raise the minimum age to purchase a firearm to 21;
• Require universal background checks for all firearm sales;
• Implement “red flag” laws to allow the temporary removal of firearms from those who are an imminent danger to themselves or others;
• Require a “cooling off” period for the purchase of a firearm; and
• Regulate civilian ownership of high capacity magazines.
HARRIS COUNTY – Election season for 2022 kicks off with early voting for the primary races in crucial positions in Harris County starting Monday, Feb. 14. Early voting ends on Friday, Feb. 25 and Primary Election Day is Tuesday, March 1.
Among the primary races catching much of the attention are the Harris County judge race and the Pct. 2 commissioner race. Lina Hidalgo is the incumbent Harris County Judge but faces five opponents in the primary race. One of the Democratic challengers is Georgia D. Provost, a former Houston City Council candidate, and Erica Davis Constable Alan Rosen’s chief of staff. Other Democrats are Maria Garcia, Ahmad R. “Robbeto” Hassan, and Kevin Howard, according to the Texas Secretary of State Election Information page at https://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/candidates/index.shtml.
Texas Senate outlasts 15-hour filibuster by Senator Carol Alvarado to pass GOP voting restrictions bill
AUSTIN, Texas — Since before sunset Wednesday, state Sen. Carol Alvarado had been on her feet speaking, not allowed to sit or lean against her desk, on the Senate floor.
Unable to take bathroom breaks or drink water, she had worn a back brace, eyeglasses and running shoes and talked slowly behind a desk stacked with papers and with a microphone in her hand as she mounted a 15-hour filibuster. The target of her efforts was Senate Bill 1, the GOP’s priority bill that would place new restrictions on voting that many opponents say would disproportionately suppress ballots from voters of color and disabled voters.
But ultimately, her speaking marathon could only delay the passage of the bill in the Republican-controlled Senate. Shortly after she finally stepped away from her desk around 9 a.m., the Senate voted to advance the measure on a 18-11 party-line vote.
With her Democratic colleagues surrounding her desk on the Senate floor after her marathon, Alvarado invoked her Houston constituents – the voters who took advantage of the voting options SB 1 would ban – and asked why they should not be allowed as many opportunities to vote as the county was willing to offer.
A growing number of school districts, counties and cities have defied Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order banning mask mandates, as COVID-19 cases continue to spike due to the delta variant and a low rate of vaccination among Texans.
As KUT.org reported, officials in Dallas and Bexar counties won a first round in court in requiring masks in public schools and most government buildings. School districts in Austin, Houston, Dallas and San Antonio, among others, are requiring students, teachers and staff to wear masks.
Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton are appealing the initial district court decisions and have vowed to sue any government official who defies the governor’s order.
HOSPITALIZATIONS, COVID-19 CASES CONTINUE TO RISE
Meanwhile, the number of new cases of COVID-19, overwhelmingly among unvaccinated Texans, continues to rise with 98,383 reported in the past week along with 628 deaths, according to the Coronavirus Resource Center at Johns Hopkins University. Hospitalizations are approaching the peak levels of mid-January, with 11,381 lab-confirmed COVID-19 patients, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services, up 27% from the week before.
As students return to classrooms across the state, the number of children in Texas hospitalized with COVID-19 is at one of its highest levels since the pandemic began. In the 19- county region around Dallas and Fort Worth, there were no staffed pediatric beds available late last week, according to KUT.org.
WASHINGTON, DC – Last week a group of Democratic state legislators met with Vice President Kamala Harris to discuss the ongoing fight to protect voting rights in Texas and to urge the US Senate to pass H.R. 1 and H.R. 4 to combat coordinated voter suppression efforts taking place across the country.
Sen. Carol Alvarado (D-Houston), the chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus, released the following statement after the meeting:
“Today the members of the Texas delegation had a productive conversation with Vice President Harris about the fight against voter suppression in the Texas Legislature and the importance of H.R. 1 and H.R. 4.
“We are grateful for Vice President Harris’ partnership and support in our nation’s capitol as Democrats aim to preempt Jim Crow style laws from every level of government. As we look toward the next special session in Austin, the Texas Senate Democrats will continue to do our part in the fight to ensure that our sacred right to vote is not taken away by blatant Republican voter suppression tactics.”
AUSTIN – New, bipartisan legislation was introduced in the House, HJR 133 by Rep. John Kuempel, R-Seguin. In the Senate, SJR 49 was introduced by Sen. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston. Both bills seek to legalize casino gambling and sports betting in the Lone Star State through a constitutional amendment.
The bills by state Rep. John Kuempel, R-Seguin, and Sen. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, would allow four casino resorts to be built in Austin, the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Houston and San Antonio and would also legalize sports wagering. The state’s three federally-recognized Indian tribes would also be able to expand full-fledged gambling, including slot machines, on their land, a right the state has long denied them.
“Now is the time to let voters decide on legalizing casino gaming across Texas,” Alvarado said in a statement. “Texas loses billions of dollars a year to our neighboring states that allow gaming and this measure would bring that revenue back to Texas, create tens of thousands of jobs and cut down on illegal gambling.”
After the Deep Freeze and subsequent Power and Water outages of early February, many individuals and organizations contributed to help those needing water, food and heat. In East Aldine, on February 20, New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) joined with State Representative Armando Walle, Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia, State Senator Carol Alvarado, BakerRipley CEO Claudia Aguirre, and many others to distribute water to local residents that were unable to get water in their homes or stores. In addition, AOC raised $5 million to help in the Relief effort.
NORTHEAST HARRIS COUNTY – The U.S. Census indicates that this area of Harris County from Kingwood to Lynchburg went from 14% without health insurance to about 21% following Hurricane Harvey. This is generally thought to be a product of locals having to make the difficult choice of spend the money to have health or spend the money to restore living.
Recently leaders in the health field and Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia, along with other public officials, addressed the state of health in Harris County on November 13 talking about the economic impact and healthcare needs.
A survey provided a picture of Hurricane Harvey depriving locals of access to quality healthcare. In addition to the data and research on health care in Harris County the research suggests ways to improve it.
CROSBY – August 17, the Big Event for the Cody Stephens GBOGH Memorial Fund was a rousing success held at Southern Lace Estates for a night of big band, big auction and big celebration.
A catfish dinner started off a packed program beginning with recognizing this year’s youngsters saved from sudden death by the efforts of the foundation. Awards for those that contributed effort generally in the form of belt buckles.
It was especially a celebration of the passage of House Bill 76, the Cody Bill — also excitement at the passage of House Bill #3 for education — with special recognition of Representative Dan Huberty, R. 127, Rep. Briscoe Cain, R. 128, and State Senator Carol Alvarado, all instrumental in passing the bill that gives parents the right to choose a heart screening for their students.
Cody Stephens, Scott Stephens son, died in 2012 from sudden death. In the last legislative session, the Cody Bill was signed into law by the governor.
The band Modulation, brought back memories, playing larger band sounds, including those from the 70’s band Chicago. Before the event, the goal was to raise about $275,000, but the event went all the way to “a smidgen under $300,000,” according to Scott Stephens.
“The event set wonderful records. The live auction brought in near $85,000 for 43 items. The silent auction brought in over $12,000. These resources will help us screen young hearts all over Texas and place ECG modules throughout Texas where they are needed.”
Sudden death is the #1 killer of student athletes, about 1 in 300 youths have an undetected heart condition that puts them at risk. The standard physical exam/history misses 96% of the youth at risk. Thanks to the generous donors supporting the mission, Cody Stephens Foundation can offer funding for first year screening. Thus far the foundation has screened more than 130,000 people and at least 100 young lives are referred to more extensive care to avoid sudden death. The ECGs are read by board certified Cardiologists.
C.E. KING – Last Saturday, the Go Big Or Go Home Cody Stephens Foundation scanned the hearts of over 250 kids with the help of C.E. King staff and faculty, North Shore Rotary, San Jacinto Pilot Club, and the North Shore Anchor Club volunteers.
ReACT in a Heartbeat, a Baytown Non-Profit that teaches life saving C.P.R. instructed some 200 students how to perform Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation at the same venue. These were not certification classes but exposure classes and man of the students went from having their hearts tested to learning to save someone else’s life.
“We always try to teach C.P.R. training at our screenings we don’t usually do it at school screenings because kids are supposed to get C.P.R. certification from their school but anytime we have a community screening we try to team up with someone group and teach the basics.
Now Stephens says, “We are going to try to help put EKG machines in schools so that athletic teams can check out their own members.”
The Stephens fight to save young lives for the last seven years as Scott’s family has attempted to impress upon the Texas Legislature that young athletes dying of sudden death can hopefully be avoided with early detection by the new E.K.G machines that have not only gone from being the size of an ambulance to the size of a paperback book and ranged in ability from being only able to tell if someone was having a heart attack to being able to read rhythms and irregularities. It began with a personal note for Scott, his son Cody died in May of 2012 from sudden death. His last words to his father were “Go big or go home.”