Tuesday, February 4, 2014


The following document reports on the Event for 2014. With some changes for the writer's viewpoint, the entire document can be formatted into two columns, manipulated a bit for spacing, and printed as a back-to-back hand-out.

The 2014 LEGISLATIVE EVENT, while not quite as exciting as in a legislative year, was still very good. This was my first year to work on the planning team, and I can tell you: Texas has some energetic, creative, generous, intelligent women. In other words, Texas has some powerful Christian women!

Our theme was A Thousand Voices: Telling the Story of Texas. Total attendance was around 180; the conference hall was full on Monday! We did sing “The Women Must Be Gathering” to start the busy first full day. Our speakers included a director of the Texas Interfaith Center for Public Policy; director of the Texas Water Foundation, and other leaders in . Keynote for Sunday was Froswa Booker-Drew, national director of WorldVision, who focused on the importance of everybody’s story in building a loving society..

The agenda that came from our studies and through consensus deal with the same topics that we see year after year. The players have been pretty much the same for the past 12 years, with some new faces coming in after last election. However, these elements form the fabric of our society and will always need our steadfast attention: Health Care; Education; Criminal Justice and Mental Health; Water; Predatory Lending.
Trivia: Do you know Texas’s largest school district? It’s the Windham School District, which is comprised of people incarcerated in our jails and penitentiaries. It was established by the Texas Legislature as an entity separate and distinct from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), with the Texas Board of Criminal Justice (TBCJ) serving as the Board of Trustees for the WSD. It is the policy of the Board that the WSD shall provide academic, as well as career and technology education, to eligible offenders incarcerated within the TDCJ. Certainly this education is a step toward rehabilitation, but how sad that the prisons contain  our largest school population.
The following document spells out the 2014 agenda developed by the UMW at the Legislative Event.

The Legislature should extend Medicaid to adults under 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. We encourage legislators to recognize the financial benefits that would accrue to local governments, medical providers, the Texas economy and Texas taxpayers.

The Legislature should affirm its constitutional obligation to provide high quality public education for the benefit of all of its residents. Critical legislative actions include restoring cuts, funding enrollment growth, and increasing teacher compensation to competitive levels. We strongly reaffirm our historic opposition to any movement toward allowing the flow of public money to private schools.

Criminal Justice and Mental Health
We call on legislators to guarantee humane treatment for all Texans subject to the state’s criminal justice system, especially the most vulnerable, including women, children and youth. We strongly urge the Legislature to increase access to mental health services, substance abuse treatment, rehabilitation, educational opportunities and re-entry programs. We believe sentences should be fair for all regardless of race, gender or ability to pay. We believe legislators have a special duty to prevent wrongful convictions and to protect those in the criminal justice system with mental health concerns and individuals facing execution.

We support lawmakers as they continue to address Texas’ long-term water needs. We urge lawmakers to create structures that ensure all stakeholders are included in discussions around the primary principle of fair access to clean water for all Texans. We acknowledge the interaction between water and energy resources and encourage lawmakers to plan comprehensively for our water and energy future.

Predatory Lending
The Legislature should build on the foundation of sensible regulation of payday and auto-title lending established in 2011, and eliminate the cycle of debt through strategies such as limiting rollovers, regulating fees and allowing partial payments.


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