Texas Democrats push bills to raise state minimum wage
- HB 937 proposes to increase the hourly minimum wage in Texas from $7.25 to $10.10 over five years.
- Several other bills have been filed to devolve minimum wage management to local governments or increase the minimum wage to $15, in line with some of the more ambitious proposals across the nation.
- The minimum wage was last changed statewide in 2009, though recent polls indicate that more than half of Texans support raising it.
House Bill 937
Minimum Wage Workers in Texas — 2015 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Lack of diversity on state finance board prompts outcry from leaders of color
- For the first time in some three decades, the Legislative Budget Board will have no person of color serving on the board.
- Latino and black advocates—including lawmakers, organizers, and community leaders—spoke out against the all-white make-up of the committee given the stakes of financing in a state as large and demographically diverse as Texas.
- A permanent committee of the Texas Legislature, the board sets financial priorities for the state, offering budget requests and recommendations for appropriations and evaluating the performance of state and local operations.
“Black, Latino groups calling for diversity in Texas Legislature” (KXAN | January 2017)
Legislative Budget Board (Texas Legislature)
Tribpedia: Legislative Budget Board (The Texas Tribune)
New digital TV channel focused on black-centered programming set to launch in Houston
- HTX Digital Channel 43.3 will build a schedule focused on black culture and entertainment.
- Slated programming includes a show called “Soul of the South” and one featuring former Texas Tech basketball coach Chris Walker.
- The new station is set to launch on February 20 and will broadcast to more than 500,000 Houston-area households.
“New Houston TV channel to feature African-American entertainment” (The Houston Chronicle | January 2017)
(Image Credit: Charlie Riedel/Associated Press, via The Houston Chronicle)
New House report calls for increase in mental health resources across state
- The report by the Texas House Select Committee on Mental Health warned that current resource levels are inadequate to support mental health initiatives across areas like education, healthcare, and criminal justice.
- The cost of the effects of insufficient mental health resources—both financial and human—is expected to climb as the state continues to grow, and the state has begun to focus on behavioral healthcare reform to confront those costs.
- Recommendations include increasing the use of telemedicine, increasing resources to jail diversion programs, rural healthcare reform, increasing the rate of hospital construction, healthcare-practitioner education incentivization, and increasing access to substance abuse counseling and other resources.
Interim Report 2016: A Report to the House of Representatives 85th Texas Legislature
(Image Credit: Marjorie Kamys Cotera/The Texas Tribune)
Federal judge rules against Pasadena in Latino voting rights case
- Chief U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal ruled that an electoral change from eight to six voting districts for the Pasadena City Council with the addition of two seats voted on city-wide constituted an unconstitutional weakening of Latino Pasadenans’ voting power.
- The dilution reflects the ethnic segregation of the city, where resources have historically been concentrated in the predominantly white south versus the predominantly Latino north.
- Expected to be appealed to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the case is seen as a test to the 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding contemporary enforcement of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 widely viewed as weakening the voting rights of minorities nationwide.
MALDEF v. City of Pasadena
(Image Credit: The Houston Chronicle)