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TEXAS DEMOCRATS

Platform

Texas Democratic Party
2020 – 2022 Platform

STATE REPRESENTATIVES CELIA ISRAEL & JOHN BUCY, PLATFORM COMMITTEE CO-CHAIRS,
ADOPTED BY THE TEXAS DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION
JUNE 6, 2020
Note: Grammatical and technical corrections will be made to this document in a timely manner.

Texas Democrats believe the need for a well-functioning government that acts based on facts and evidence to preserve the life, health, and well-being of every person has never been more clear than now. The interdependence of every Texan on the actions of every other Texan challenges us to give of ourselves so that none of us fall. Together, we will overhaul the social contract and establish a new economic engine that allows all residents to thrive.

PREAMBLE, TEXAS DEMOCRATIC PARTY PLATFORM

PREAMBLE

Texas Democrats believe the need for a well-functioning government that acts based on facts and evidence to preserve the life, health, and well-being of every person has never been more clear than now. The interdependence of every Texan on the actions of every other Texan challenges us to give of ourselves so that none of us fall. Together, we will overhaul the social contract and establish a new economic engine that allows all residents to thrive.

REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY

Texas Democrats believe government exists to achieve together what we cannot achieve as individuals and that government must serve all people. A representative democracy is only truly representative if every single citizen is guaranteed the inalienable right to vote in fair and open elections.

EQUALITY & FREEDOM

Texas Democrats believe in equal opportunity and freedom for all human beings – no matter a person’s race, disability, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic situation, or immigration status.

SMART GOVERNMENT

Texas Democrats believe our economy must benefit all Texans; that robust public and higher education opportunities are critical for our future; and that the criminal justice system should treat all people fairly.

A HEALTHY TEXAS

Texas Democrats believe healthcare is a right; that women’s rights are human rights; that we owe future generations a clean and healthy planet; and that a strong social safety net creates opportunity for all Americans.


Principles of the Texas Democratic Party

Texas Democrats believe democratic government exists to achieve as a community, state, and nation what we cannot achieve as individuals; and that it must serve all its people.

We believe every Texan has inalienable rights that even a majority may not take away:

  • The right to vote and fair representation in the democratic process;
  • The right to quality public education;
  • The right to affordable healthcare and best safety practices in the face of contagion;
  • The right to due process, unbiased and fair justice;
  • The right to a clean and healthy planet; and
  • The right to privacy.

We believe in freedom:

  • From government interference in our private lives and personal decisions where they do not harm another;
  • From discrimination based on race, ethnicity, national origin, disability, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, or any other improper grounds;
  • To exercise civil and human rights; and
  • Of religion and individual conscience.

We believe in responsibility and that:

  • Religion and individual conscience can never serve to excuse hatred and discrimination;
  • People are responsible for their actions;
  • We, who have benefited so greatly from our state and country, have a responsibility to support and give back to all our communities and public institutions; and
  • Corporations are not people and should not be used to shield individuals from accountability for their actions.

We believe in equal rights:

  • Which are guaranteed in Sections 3 and 3a of the Texas Bill of Rights; and
  • That no state may deny any person equal protection of the laws or due process under the law as guaranteed in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

We believe in equal opportunity:

  • To receive a quality public education, from childhood through college;
  • To find a good job that pays a living wage;
  • To buy or rent a good home in a safe community;
  • To breathe clean air and drink clean water;
  • For people with disabilities to access governmental proceedings, agencies, and other services; and
  • To have our voices heard and not be drowned out by the power of unlimited money to influence or buy elections and legislation.

We believe a growing economy should benefit all Texans and that:

  • The people who work in a business are as important as those who invest in it;
  • Every worker should be paid a living wage of at least $15 an hour;
  • Good business offers a fair deal for customers;
  • Regulation of unfair practices and rates is necessary;
  • The burden of taxes should be fairly distributed; and
  • Government policy should not favor corporations that seek offshore tax shelters, exploit workers, or pollute our environment.

We believe that our lives, homes, communities and country are made secure:

  • By working together to secure one another’s health and safety, recognizing our interdependence and interconnectedness, and leaving no one behind;
  • By appropriately staffed, trained, and equipped military, law enforcement, and emergency services;
  • By retirement and pension security;
  • By responsible gun ownership;
  • By encouraging job security when possible and providing appropriate assistance and re-training when it is not;
  • By the preservation of our precious natural resources and quality of life;
  • By ensuring that families have easy access to nourishing food that they can afford;
  • By compassionate policy that offers a safety net for those most vulnerable and in need; and
  • By family values that are promoted through policies that value all our families.

We believe in a harassment-free environment, and that we must strive to:

  • Dismantle sexism in our own behaviors and the behavior of those around us;
  • Not tolerate, condone, or ignore sexual harassment of any kind from anyone;
  • Take action to prevent and create reporting mechanisms for sexual harassment and create an inclusive and welcoming environment for all, including Democratic candidates, elected officials, staff, consultants, volunteers, and interns;
  • Take all reports of sexual harassment seriously;
  • Educate ourselves and others about sexual harassment; and
  • To be free from disability discrimination and retaliation.

We believe America is:

  • Made stronger by the people who put their lives on the line when it is necessary to engage our military to secure our nation; and
  • Made more secure by competent diplomatic leadership that uses the moral, ethical, and economic assets of a powerful, free nation to avoid unnecessary military conflict.

We believe Texas is:

  • Made stronger by the individual strengths of our diverse population;
  • Ripe with opportunities provided by agriculture, “old” and “new” energy sources, renowned medical or research institutions and high-tech industries;
  • Inspired to create from our strengths and diversity a new economic foundation that takes care of everyone; and
  • Entitled to an honest, ethical state government that serves the public interest, not the special financial interests of those who “pay to play.”

CANNABIS REFORM

Texas Democrats believe cannabis legalization reform can improve public safety, increase public health, boost the economy, reduce mass imprisonment and stigmas imposed on our citizens, and generate revenue for the state budget. Cannabis prosecutions have disproportionately affected our youth, people of color, and the poor. America’s prison population is now the largest in the world and Texas wastes millions of dollars prosecuting its citizens for cannabis possession.

The Texas Democratic Party supports policies and programs that:

  • Legalize the possession and use of cannabis, medicinal and recreational, and its derivatives in Texas, and regulate its use, production, and sale for public health and safety as is successfully done in, and currently benefiting, other states;
  • Regulate warning labels and advertisements to educate about the harms and side effects, particularly for minors, as done for tobacco, vaping, and alcohol, and utilize cannabis research to keep consumers informed;
  • Establish a taxation structure for the recreational use of cannabis that creates a dedicated revenue stream for public health, education, and medical research organizations, while maintaining reasonable levels so that the legal market will cut off the cartels’ hold;
  • Facilitate grants and prioritization of licenses to support the economic empowerment of cannabis-related businesses, their patients, and the communities most affected by the failed war on drugs;
  • Immediately legalize medical cannabis use and ensure healthcare coverage protections for medical cannabis;
  • Provide appropriate employment and benefit protections for users of medical cannabis and protections for parents who use medical cannabis for their children;
  • Eliminate cannabis-related workplace drug testing requirements for applicable state or local employees to reduce the costs to taxpayers;
  • Remove cannabis as a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance at the federal level, decriminalize all penalties related to use and possession of cannabis, and prohibit the federal government from interfering with or attempting to enforce federal cannabis laws against those who comply with state-level legal cannabis programs;
  • Upon the legalization of cannabis in Texas, immediately release individuals incarcerated solely for possession of cannabis, and expunge the criminal records of persons convicted or receiving deferred adjudication for any possession of cannabis offense; and
  • Promote the use of pretrial diversion programs and civil fines for cannabis possession offenses in Texas.

CONSUMER PROTECTION

Texas Democrats believe its government has a duty to protect Texans from predatory lending, dangerous products, and fraudulent, unfair or discriminatory business practices. We aim to make consumer financial markets work for consumers, responsible product/service providers, and the economy as a whole. In a market economy that works optimally, the prices, risks, and terms of the deal are clear upfront so that consumers can understand their options and comparison shop. Companies should all play by the same consumer protection rules, compete fairly on providing quality and service, and be able to rely on the consistent fairness of a level playing field and structure their business practices accordingly to maximize benefit.

The Texas Democratic Party supports policies and programs that:

  • Increase funding, personnel, and bandwidth in the Texas Office of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division;
  • Reaffirm the enforcement function and authority of the Texas Office of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division;
  • Arm Texans with the information, steps, and tools they need to make smart financial decisions;
  • Ensure protection of consumers’ private data and accountability within companies that manage it, and impose penalties for broken promises to do so;
  • Strengthen laws targeting unscrupulous telemarketing, internet marketing, and price fixing;
  • Revise or rollback laws and regulations restricting redress for buyers of new homes that discover shoddy work after the purchase is completed;
  • Repeal the cap on mass tort liability to allow for appropriate damages tempered by the current legal process;
  • Allow class certification related to credible fraud, product liability, and personal injury claims;
  • Eliminate, discourage, or disincentivize predatory lending practices, particularly payday loans and sell-leaseback transactions;
  • Create tools to help consumers navigate their financial choices and make better deals that work for them;
  • Foster financial education and capability from childhood through retirement;
  • Foster innovative and interactive school programs that teach young Texans how to be successful financial stewards of their own finances;
  • Educate Texans about their financial rights, protections, and opportunities;
  • Educate companies about financial rights, protections, and opportunities; and
  • Allow consumers to have legal standing to protect their rights against third-party debt collectors, including but not limited to finance companies in automobile transactions.

Empower, Enforce, Educate

  • Support the mission of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to empower consumers;
  • Enforce penalties against companies who have taken advantage of Texans in violation of state or federal law; and
  • Support the enforcement function and authority of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM

Texas Democrats believe our justice system should be transformed to focus on barriers to justice, root causes of crime, and alternatives to imprisonment. Justice should not be measured by wealth and privilege. Fairness, due process, and equal protection should be the ultimate goals of the criminal justice system. We must address the institutional and implicit biases that lead people of color, people with disabilities, and low-income people to be prosecuted more harshly than whites and people without disabilities arrested for the same crimes, as well as the structural unfairness that exists for other vulnerable groups in our society – immigrants, members of religious minorities, veterans, and the LGBTQIA+ community. These problems are compounded for those who are vulnerable across multiple groups.

The Texas Democratic Party supports policies and programs that:

  • Legalize marijuana;
  • End unnecessary arrests;
  • End cash bail;
  • Institute reentry and rehabilitation programs with no cost to the participant and reduce collateral consequences;
  • Eliminate private prisons and detention facilities;
  • Transform policing;
  • Improve prison and jail conditions;
  • Reform court procedures;
  • Reform juvenile justice; and
  • End “tough on crime” sentencing.
Legalizing Marijuana
  • Legalize marijuana and release all prisoners charged solely with marijuana possession.
Ending Unnecessary Arrests
  • Limit the ability of officers to arrest and jail a person for a violation where jail is not a statutory consequence, such as a minor traffic infraction or a Class C local ordinance violation;
  • Require police departments to adopt local policies that maximize the use of citations instead of arrests for all citation-eligible offenses; and
  • Expand the offenses for which citations can be issued instead of immediate arrest and jail.
Ending Cash Bail
  • Abandon the unfair practice of cash bail and replace it with a pretrial release process that presumes immediate release of non-violent, low-risk defendants;
  • Institute a fair and efficient pretrial release system that would save Texas taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in pretrial detention costs and would remove the unconstitutional practice of discrimination against the poor, people with disabilities, and people of color caused by the current cash bail system;
  • Develop a pretrial release system that is fair, equitable, and non-discriminatory;
  • Amend the Texas Constitution and Texas Code of Criminal Procedure to create a pretrial release system that presumes release on personal recognizance for people charged with non-violent offenses who have little or no criminal history;
  • Release low-risk defendants immediately under the least restrictive conditions necessary to protect victims and the community while assuring the defendants appearance at court proceedings;
  • Use a pretrial process designed to release low-risk, non-violent detainees on personal recognizance bond as soon as possible; and
  • Require detention decisions be made within 48 hours after arrest and be based upon written orders supported by “clear and convincing evidence.”
Instituting Reentry and Rehabilitation Programs and Reducing Collateral Consequences
  • Provide formerly incarcerated individuals with a pathway back to productive participation in society and ensure that recidivism is reduced;
  • Place stronger emphasis on providing compensation to victims who are released due to having been falsely convicted and incarcerated, commensurate with the level of injury these victims suffered as a result of this travesty of justice;
  • Allow prisoners the right to vote;
  • Restore funding for postsecondary education in prisons;
  • Support expunging the criminal records of defendants who have completed deferred adjudication supervision for non-violent misdemeanors and felonies;
  • Expand access to nondisclosure of criminal records for people with non-violent convictions who have completed required rehabilitation;
  • Ensure formerly incarcerated individuals receive a fair chance at employment and other essential services by enforcing and expanding “ban the box” laws that remove the conviction history question from employment applications;
  • Provide necessary resources for additional job and career development training;
  • Significantly reduce the number of people reincarcerated for technical violations of parole or probation;
  • Reform probation processes to allow probationers to be more closely supervised in their communities and to provide alternate means of punishing them, such as local jail time, house arrest, additional counseling, and self-help programs, without sending them to a state prison or imposing excessive registration requirements which prevent reentry;
  • Increase access to rehabilitation and reentry programs, with a special emphasis on reducing drug use among people released from prison;
  • Reverse existing policies that deny student loans and grants to those who have completed sentences for drug-related felonies; and
  • Ensure there are enough parole officers to reasonably supervise individuals and accommodate a person’s work, family, and other potentially conflicting requirements.
Eliminating Private Prisons and Detention Facilities
  • Accept that a business model that generates profit from incarcerating individuals for long periods of time is unacceptable and immoral;
  • Amend the Texas Constitution to require state and local governments to directly operate and perform all core services at prisons, jails, or detention facilities within the State of Texas, as well as expressly prohibit the use of private prisons, jails, or detention facilities within the state;
  • Bar state and local governments from contracting with private prisons, jails, or detention facilities; and
  • Deny corporate status, licenses, permits, and tax incentives to companies that operate private prisons, jails, or detention facilities.
Transforming Policing
  • Ensure that police reflect the diversity within the communities that they serve and are recruited from their communities;
  • Create statewide, comprehensive education and training for peace officers on civil rights, communication, and interaction with people with disabilities, racial sensitivity, implicit bias, and cultural diversity to ensure that the mantra “to serve and protect” is applied equitably to all communities;
  • Ensure that implicit bias training is conducted by a source external to the police department, repeated annually, and carries material consequences for noncompliance;
  • Move police departments from a “warrior” to a “guardian” ethos by establishing de-escalation as the norm in both policy and training for all departments, limiting the use of firearms and Tasers, and rejecting further militarization of our state and local police forces;
  • End federal programs that provide military equipment to police forces;
  • Eliminate the use of SWAT teams to serve routine drug investigation warrants as well ensure that police department management collect and report data on SWAT deployments, require body cameras, and approve all SWAT raids in advance to ensure they are necessary while severely limiting the use of “no knock” warrants;
  • Institute appropriate disciplinary actions for officers who violate departmental policies and prevent officers who have been terminated for violating civil rights or using unwarranted and excessive force from moving to another police department within the state;
  • Ensure that case processing of an officer’s use of force matters be carried out expeditiously and in the same manner that any case is evaluated for probable cause determination, while giving consideration to the nature of policing and requiring the immediate arrest of officers who violate the law using force;
  • Revitalize the use of Department of Justice investigations, consent decrees, and federal lawsuits to address systemic constitutional violations by police departments;
  • Implement alternative responses to crisis calls, including mental health, drug overdose, or homelessness, that replace police and jail with health services and follow-up care;
  • Expand statewide use of force reporting to include all incidents resulting in injury to either an officer or a civilian;
  • Strengthen independent oversight of criminal investigation by supporting independent crime labs, requiring independent or special prosecutors to investigate certain police officer-involved actions, and supporting independent police oversight at every level of government;
  • End racial profiling in searches and traffic stops, require written or recorded consent, and require racial profiling data and any of the officers’ records to be allowed to be used as evidence in lawsuits alleging racial profiling;
  • Ensure civil asset forfeiture only upon a criminal conviction;
  • Understand that having a disability is not a crime; and
  • Support reallocating funds from police budgets to emergency medical services, mental health services, homeless solutions offices, and housing and neighborhood revitalization.
Improving Prison and Jail Conditions
  • Transition the organizing principle of prisons and jails to one of human dignity;
  • Ensure that the conditions inside carceral facilities are safe, sanitary, and not of any detriment to the well-being of the people in their walls;
  • Ensure that the primary purposes of incarceration are rehabilitation and public safety, and that prisons are funded at the level necessary to deliver on those goals;
  • Institute a civilized system of justice that places equality and respect for people on an equal footing with security in its work and reflect this in the conditions of jails and prisons;
  • Practice compassionate release of incarcerated people due to terminal illness, advanced age, sickness, debilitation, or extreme family circumstances as a standard, not just in times of crisis, knowing that these populations are most at risk for illness and death, and, as a condition of dignity, should be released from prison or jail as they enter end of life events or dire health situations;
  • Ensure living conditions are humane by providing necessities including, but not limited to, adequate heating and cooling within facilities, good quality food and water at regular intervals, healthcare access, and ease of access to commissaries;
  • Prepare for healthcare emergencies to ensure the safety of those who are incarcerated, including policies and procedures that adhere to CDC and other health authority recommendations to reduce transmission of disease;
  • Release people from prison who do not pose a public safety threat, thus decreasing population density and viral transmission risk;
  • Ensure visitation through video teleconferencing and via telephone are free of charge;
  • Require reporting from individual facilities about their ability to suitably prevent the spread of disease throughout their incarcerated populations in concert with constitutional and statutory requirements;
  • Protect LGBTQIA+, disabled, pregnant, victims of domestic violence, and other vulnerable communities from sexual violence and assault while incarcerated;
  • Ensure protocols are developed for members of the LGBTQIA+ community who seek to be accommodated on the basis of gender identity or expression, including hormone therapy, showers, toilets, searches, urinalysis, and monitoring under camera surveillance, and be treated humanely in line with gender identity; and
  • Ensure members of the LGBTQIA+ community have access to the appropriate gender conforming medical care as recognized in standards from the National Commission on Correctional Health Care and the National Institute of Corrections.
Reforming Court Procedures
  • Ensure that the primary duty of the criminal justice system is not merely to convict but to see that justice is done;
  • Regain trust and respect among those communities that the courts serve;
  • End practices that damage the fundamental notions of fairness, transparency, and due process demanded of the civil and criminal justice systems;
  • Ensure that the system and officers of the court all place emphasis on the presumption of innocence at each stage of the process regardless of the race or economic status of the defendant;
  • Improve both the quality and integrity of the Texas civil and criminal justice systems by criminalizing intentional prosecutorial misconduct;
  • Assign attorneys to represent indigent defendants and defendants with disabilities;
  • Support disability accommodations to facilitate communication with defendants and their counsel;
  • Support accommodations for people with cognitive disabilities;
  • Ensure that people with disabilities have free access to civil attorneys if a judge determines that access to a civil attorney is needed to reasonably accommodate the needs of that person and ensure justice; and
  • Mandate continuing legal education for judges on issues related to people with disabilities.
Reforming Juvenile Justice
  • Prioritize prevention using the transformative justice model as a foundational framework;
  • Ensure the primary goal of juvenile justice is to rehabilitate youth, and not create a feeder system for adult prison facilities;
  • Require mandatory training for all staff and volunteers on educating students with disabilities;
  • Ensure school staff and volunteers are trained to provide healthy nurturance and support for students balanced with high expectations and consistent discipline;
  • Prioritize teaching coping strategies, impulse control, and other pro-social behaviors beginning in pre-K through the end of primary education to avoid the development of anti-social behaviors that lead to higher risk of incarceration and measure student growth in this area annually;
  • Provide on-campus behavior learning supports, up to and including in-school detention while eradicating 85 percent of all off-campus suspensions and expulsions by handling behavioral issues on the home campus;
  • Eliminate all student referrals to police for routine school discipline;
  • Utilize Disciplinary Alternative Education Programs (DAEPs) as therapeutic, rehabilitative learning campuses for extreme instances only;
  • Ensure schools adhere to the fidelity of a wider range of empirical research regarding the prevention of anti-social behaviors that are prevalent among prison populations;
  • Expand the use of proactive, trauma-informed, equity-driven approaches that lead to productive and positive outcomes for students;
  • Raise the age of criminal responsibility from 17 to 18 years of age, and end the prosecution of juveniles in adult courts; and
  • End the housing of youth in large state prison facilities and ensure they are housed in smaller, better-staffed, child-focused, family-centered facilities that are closer to the youths’ homes.
Ending “Tough on Crime” Sentencing
  • End the practice of sending poor people to jail or prison for inability to pay fines and court costs;
  • Repeal laws that make it a criminal offense for immigrants to enter the United States without papers, so that being an unauthorized immigrant in the U.S. would still be a civil offense but not a crime;
  • Reduce the number of people entering jails and prisons by eliminating incarceration as a penalty for low-level, non-violent offenses, especially when these offenses are the result of disability or substance use disorder, or are first-time offenses;
  • Eliminate mandatory minimums, “three-strikes” laws, and other sentencing restrictions and policies that drive extraordinarily long prison terms, allowing judges to use discretion to adjust sentences where the specifics of the situation justify it;
  • End “truth in sentencing” laws that lengthen sentences and limit eligibility for parole, while streamlining the parole and probation systems for individuals that pose little or no threat to society;
  • Criminalize prosecutorial misconduct as a felony, and encourage justice rather than conviction rates;
  • Treat drug use and mental health as public health challenges rather than as crimes;
  • Fund accessible, affordable, community-based outpatient care and insurance for mental health treatment, drug treatment programs, and rehabilitation programs;
  • Incentivize the expansion of psychiatric residency programs and increase the availability of trauma-informed mental health services for the poor and veterans;
  • Require courts to facilitate the application by persons with disabilities for all disability accommodation needed to ensure justice on their websites and also in person;
  • Move away from a system that forces individuals to be jailed who would be better served with substance use or mental health services and supports, including peer-support programs; and
  • Abolish the death penalty.

 

DEMOCRACY

Texas Democrats believe the rights to vote, to participate in civic affairs, and to self-determination are inalienable and fundamental to a healthy and functioning representative democracy, especially in times of pandemic or other crises that threaten these foundations. Elections must be made secure and free of any and all encumbrances. Openness, accountability, and high ethical standards for elected officials and government agencies are paramount to ensure a level playing field and a government that is responsive to the needs of its citizens.

The Texas Democratic Party supports policies and programs that:

  • Eliminate barriers to voting and encourage full participation in elections and governance;
  • Limit the pervading influence of money in politics and ensure a level playing field; and
  • Promote transparency, accountability, and ethics in public life and all levels of government.
Voting Rights and Fair Elections
  • Recognize November’s Election Day as a state and federal holiday;
  • Combine local, state, and federal elections to minimize how often voters have to go to the polls each year;
  • Develop robust and continuous voter education and outreach programs, especially for youth, communities of color, voters with disabilities, and other underserved populations;
  • Increase access to the ballot through same-day registration, online registration, adherence to federal “Motor Voter” laws, the repeal of voter registrar deputization requirements, automatic registration for eligible Texans aged 17 years and 10 months or older, and sending vote by mail applications to Texans on their 65th birthdays;
  • Implement countywide vote centers, extended and accessible early voting periods, curbside voting, and universal, no-excuse vote by mail, especially to protect the most vulnerable in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Provide funding, supplies, and a clear plan to county election officials to ensure voter safety is prioritized;
  • Reinstate mobile voting so counties can better ensure rural voters, students, and seniors have access to the ballot;
  • Remove the undue burdens on students by placing polling locations at all institutions of postsecondary education;
  • Allow Texans who will turn 18 by Election Day to participate in the preceding Primary Elections;
  • Ensure voters with disabilities have equal access to the ballot via accessible polling places and accommodations, curbside voting, and accessible vote by mail, with poll workers trained in the law, procedures, and equipment use;
  • Repeal the highly restrictive and discriminatory Texas Photo Voter ID law;
  • Protect voting rights by enforcing the Texas Voting Rights Act and the federal Voting Rights Act with restored preclearance provisions;
  • Incorporate paper back-ups and an auditable paper trail into voting systems;
  • Provide education on, and work towards implementation of, ranked choice voting in order to further promote strong democratic ideals and provide more choice to Texans across the state;
  • End racial and political gerrymandering by creating a nonpartisan redistricting commission; and
  • Support the elimination of the Electoral College and join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, and until the compact is effective, proportionally award Texas’s presidential electoral votes based on the U.S Presidential results within the state.
Campaign Finance Reform
  • Overturn the decisions in Buckley v. Valeo and Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission;
  • Move towards transparent public financing of campaigns and elections;
  • Disclose the funding sources for all political advertisements in a readily accessible manner, including for candidate campaigns, ballot measures, independent expenditures, and issue advocacy;
  • Require candidates and elected officials throughout the state, including local or county officials, to file an annual Personal Financial Statement and disclose their donors’ employment;
  • Reinstate the federal Public Service and Equal Time requirements; and
  • Mandate every federal candidate disclose their complete federal tax return and, upon election, place any private holdings in a blind trust for divestment.
Ethics and Transparency in Government
  • Empower state employees and government agencies to do their job free of partisan influences;
  • Ensure political considerations have no bearing on contract procurement or the use of public funds;
  • Guarantee that Texas officials do not exploit public funds to pay for personal or political activities;
  • Eliminate the abuse of personal leave policies and bonuses by state officials and agencies;
  • Force elected officials to recuse themselves from discussion and voting on legislation that would directly financially benefit themselves or their families;
  • Establish an office of an independent prosecutor to investigate and prosecute any state-wide elected or appointed official who is accused of unlawful conduct; and
  • Protect civil service from partisan abuses and safeguard whistleblowers in government agencies.

DISABILITY JUSTICE

Texas Democrats believe in the right of every Texan to lead a productive life, enjoy liberty, and to pursue happiness. Texas Democrats want to ensure all Texans with disabilities are able to exercise their right to live independently in the community in the most integrated setting of their choice. Disability rights are civil rights and no person should face discrimination based on disability status. We support necessary changes to preserve and enforce all state and federal disability rights laws, particularly the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Olmstead v. United States decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling based on the ADA that affirms that people with disabilities have a qualified right to receive state-funded support and services in the community. Due to lack of enforcement, most of the time, the rights of people with disabilities are being violated, restricted, or denied. In addition, Texans with disabilities are not always included in the decisions that affect them. We believe that Texans with disabilities should be integral in crafting policy pertaining to disability issues.

The Texas Democratic Party supports policies and programs that:

  • Guarantee the rights of people with disabilities, and ensure that people with disabilities can live productive, safe, and happy lives in the community;
  • Protect persons with disabilities, as persons under the law, from discrimination, abuse, neglect, exploitation, abandonment, endangerment, loss of liberty, and loss of life by local and state government entities;
  • End the idea that the State of Texas has sovereign immunity from the ADA and other federal provisions;
  • Enforce the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements for public and private organizations;
  • Reverse the priority of directing Medicaid funding to state-supported living centers (SSLCs) or institutions for the developmentally disabled and instead prioritize home and community-based services;
  • Reduce the decades-long waitlists for home and community-based services by increasing the number of subsidized housing vouchers and ensuring sufficient available, accessible, and affordable housing for 1.8 million Texans with disabilities;
  • Pay caregivers at least a $15 per hour minimum base wage, in recognition that access to caregivers is essential for Texans with disabilities to maintain independence;
  • Remove the roadblock to voting by eliminating Texas’ photo ID requirement;
  • Ensure students with disabilities receive an appropriate early childhood, secondary, and postsecondary education in the least restrictive environments, including access to the full range of services and supports called for in their individual education plans at all learning institutions; and
  • Resist burdensome work requirements to receive SNAP benefits as it relates to people living with disabilities.
Impacts of COVID-19 on People with Disabilities
  • Provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to clients with disabilities as well as the attendants, medical professionals, and frontline workers who interact with them;
  • Provide support for the transition of persons with disabilities from institutional care to community-based care providers;
  • Provide on-site oversight of places where people with disabilities are living in institutionalized conditions, particularly in situations where family and community members cannot visit to monitor;
  • Ensure merchants allow people with disabilities to use their specially designed equipment to transport groceries;
  • Expand home delivery to make it accessible and available to everyone;
  • Ensure medical system and non-emergency needs are not overloaded and that adequate disability services are provided;
  • End hoarding and price-gouging on delivery services and shopping services, which disproportionately impacts people with disabilities; and
  • Ensure people with disabilities who contract COVID-19 are entitled the same level of care as other patients.

 

ECONOMIC SECURITY IN CHALLENGING TIMES

Texas Democrats believe working Texans need income and employment that support their families during times of both prosperity and episodes of economic distress in our state’s history.

The Texas Democratic Party supports policies and programs that:

  • Promote jobs with good wages, benefits and safe working conditions;
  • Protect employees’ rights and dignity at work; and
  • Provide a safety net for the most vulnerable workers, while establishing the infrastructure for businesses to prosper.
Good Jobs
  • Ensure that the minimum wage in Texas is a living wage that is at least $15 per hour, indexed to inflation;
  • Strengthen existing protections and create meaningful consequences for employers who commit wage theft;
  • Require that all employment positions, guarantee at a minimum, retirement and health benefits, equal pay for equal work, safe working conditions, paid sick leave, paid vacation leave, paid family leave, workplace time for child nursing, and payment of prevailing wages for public projects;
  • Protect and expand Social Security, ensure a decent retirement and retirement pensions, and protect savings for all working Texans;
  • Provide women, minorities, and persons with disabilities access to training, jobs, and promotions;
  • Offer Apprenticeship Readiness Programs and Registered Apprenticeship Programs for high-skill building trades to workers, high school students, and college students; and
  • Oppose “free trade” proposals that send American jobs out of the country and harm the environment and support fair trade deals that protect and bring back American jobs.
Workers’ Rights
  • Eliminate all forms of forced or coerced labor, including human trafficking, sex and labor trafficking, or the exploitation of migrant labor;
  • Protect Texans with disabilities from substandard and subminimum wages and exploitation and ensure they have the right to work from home, if desired, whenever possible;
  • Mandate the right for employees to form or join a union in order to negotiate collectively with their employer without fear of union-busting attack or laws such as prohibitions on payroll deduction of union dues;
  • Ensure our judicial system protects the civil rights of labor organizers, campaign workers, and those working to improve workers’ rights;
  • Strike so-called “right-to-work” laws designed to weaken labor unions; and
  • Eradicate workplace discrimination in all its forms, including prejudice against workers of a protected class.
Employee Safety Net and Business Prosperity
  • Ensure our unemployment insurance system and income safety net are modern, accessible, and efficient so that they are reliable for Texas workers, especially in times of economic distress;
  • Address the negative effects of worker displacement when new technologies, such as automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence are adopted;
  • Modernize our infrastructure through capital and government investment;
  • Ensure trade policies protect worker health and safety while combatting child and slave labor, environmental degradation, and other practices that turn global trade into a race to the bottom;
  • Ensure trade supports and encourages the export of American farm products, goods, and services; and
  • Prioritize support for small businesses at the local, state, and federal level, including during economic emergencies.

 

EDUCATION

Texas Democrats believe a world-class education system is a moral imperative and an economic necessity. We must provide every Texas child the opportunity to receive the best education in the country from pre-K through postsecondary, including career and technical programs. The changing demographics of the Texas student population pose new challenges that must be met to keep the Texas economy strong and our communities prosperous. We must reverse the inadequate investment in public education that has created a persistent achievement gap for students of color, students with disabilities, and economically disadvantaged students. Every child should have access to an educational program that values highly-skilled teachers and encourages critical thinking and creativity, without the harmful impact of high-stakes standardized testing. We must instill in our students a sense of ethics and the importance of truth, the ability to work cooperatively, and the tools to analyze and assess the validity and importance of the information they receive, whether on paper, in the media, or on the Internet. Texas Democrats support the full, meaningful inclusion of Texas students with disabilities as a fundamental right.

Early Childhood, Primary, and Secondary Education

The Texas Constitution guarantees the right to a suitable, free public education for all Texas children and places a duty on the Legislature to fund it equitably. Following the gain by Democrats of twelve House seats and two Senate seats in 2018, the Legislature finally reversed its long trend of reducing state support for public, non-charter schools, but even with a massive infusion of new money, aid to school districts from state revenues has still not returned to the share it was in the 2015-2016 school year. Aid per student is less than $300 more compared to what it was four years ago, which is not even enough to cover the costs of inflation. Despite the current recession, Texas must not repeat the mistakes of 2011, when over $5 billion was unnecessarily slashed from public education funding despite sufficient funds available in the Rainy Day Fund to prevent such cuts.

The Texas Democratic Party supports policies and programs that:

  • Protect Texas non-charter public education and make it the best in the United States;
  • Guarantee a quality classroom learning environment; and
  • Expand opportunity for every child.
Protect and Improve Texas Public Education
  • Establish a 100 percent equitable school finance system with sufficient state revenue to provide every child the opportunity to learn in an exemplary program and equitably reduce reliance on “Robin Hood” recapture;
  • Fund public schools based on enrollment, not attendance starting with the 2019-2020 school year;
  • Fully reflect all student and district-level cost differences and the impact of inflation and state mandates;
  • Guarantee local control, by locally elected school boards reflective of the district’s diverse demographics, of schools funded by local property tax dollars;
  • Oppose state takeovers of school districts run by locally elected school boards because they are undemocratic, ineffective, and disproportionately used in majority-minority districts;
  • Fully fund all federal education mandates and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA);
  • Prohibit misnamed “school choice” schemes, such as the use of vouchers, including special education vouchers, virtual schools used as virtual vouchers, or voucher equivalent tax credit schemes that seek to support private and sectarian schools;
  • Strengthen state oversight of homeschooling;
  • Support a moratorium on new charter schools and on the expansion of existing charter school networks through charter expansion amendments, and conduct a comprehensive study of charter school impact on public education, including the fiscal impact on school districts, the state budget, students, school employees, and taxpayers;
  • Insist on due diligence in the screening of charter applicants and veto applicants and expansion amendments from existing charter operators which fail to meet the needs of students;
  • Strengthen state oversight as well as academic and financial standards for charter schools to provide the same level of transparency and accountability required of neighborhood schools and school districts;
  • Prohibit publicly funded charter schools from contracting with for-profit management companies;
  • Prohibit contracts between charter schools and related parties or affiliated organizations that result in conflicts of interest or the misuse of public funds;
  • Require property purchased or leased by charter schools with public funds be declared to be public property;
  • Require charter schools that receive public funds to have elected boards that meet in public;
  • Oppose the creation of a statewide “achievement” or “recovery” school district controlled by the Texas Education Agency that could contract with private operators to run neighborhood schools without local accountability;
  • Support parental and community involvement in our neighborhood schools and encourage their expansion in partnership with community stakeholders, including parents and teachers, using the community school model in an effort to coordinate and integrate educational, developmental, family, health, and other comprehensive services through community-based organizations and public and private partnerships that provide access to such services to students, especially students at risk, in schools and in the community;
  • Use Community Schools as a primary option under the state “turnaround” statute for at least two years before additional sanctions are implemented by law;
  • Develop culturally relevant curriculum standards and textbook requirements based on peer-reviewed research and written by subject matter experts, as opposed to being based on the opinions of partisan extremists;
  • Ensure the adoption of instructional materials that preserve and teach the methods and content of professional arts, trades, science, and social studies experts without censorship or illegitimate editing;
  • Focus on setting curriculum standards and textbook requirements that teach ethical behavior and lead the charge in fighting for racial, social, and economic justice in our public schools;
  • Emphasize inclusion of the history and contributions of all demographics, especially communities of color and other historically marginalized groups, when deciding on curriculum and textbook content, including leveled reading materials to allow students to connect to the text;
  • Require the State Board of Education to exercise absolute fiduciary responsibility for the Permanent School Fund and expose and prohibit conflicts of interest.
Establish a Quality Classroom Learning Environment
  • Extend appropriate class size limits to all grades, enforce those limits, and strive for smaller class sizes;
  • Return comprehensive testing to the beginning of the school year and its role as a diagnostic tool, replace high-stakes tests with multiple measures designed to diagnose student needs, improve instruction, and provide prescriptive plans and solutions for each student’s needs, disability, and educational path;
  • Eliminate all pass/fail standardized tests as a measurement of student success and advancement or as a measure of teacher evaluation;
  • End inappropriate testing of students with disabilities whose individual education plans call for alternative assessments of their educational progress;
  • Provide free, accurate, and updated instructional materials aligned with educationally appropriate, non-ideological state curriculum standards and tests, including ethnic studies and environmental education programs;
  • Ensure that schools, classrooms, programs, and appropriate transportation are physically and programmatically accessible to all students;
  • Provide all students with disabilities inclusive and integrated academic and vocational instruction, evidence-informed supports, and full access to the general curriculum, extracurricular activities, and related services in classrooms with their non-disabled peers;
  • Support teachers when they exercise their statutory right to remove a disruptive student from class, subject to state guidelines and in line with their campus Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports system;
  • Make school campuses and events drug and weapon free, unless weapons are carried by trained peace officers;
  • Prohibit active shooter drills that utilize traumatic, realistic simulation;
  • Teach non-violent conflict resolutions to students;
  • Equip classrooms with free computers, high-speed internet access, and digital instructional materials; and
  • Adequately fund Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) and Trade programs.
Expand Opportunity for Every Child
  • Allow individualized subject assessments to place students in the appropriate level of instruction for each content area;
  • Devalue grouping by age as the normative class assignments and instead value the levels of which each individual child is capable;
  • Fully fund access to high-quality, full-day public pre-K for every child, count these students for full-day attendance and for all special allotments, and establish appropriate standards for the highest quality instruction;
  • Equip schools and teachers with resources, including teachers’ aides, and effective techniques to ensure that every child performs at grade level in reading, social studies, math, science, and a second language by third grade;
  • Fund family education programs and family literacy programs that equip parents to educate their children in the critical years prior to pre-K and to assist in their children’s education at all grade levels;
  • Promote and appropriately fund multi-language instruction, beginning in elementary school, to make all students fluent in English and at least one other language;
  • Support Title IX protections for gender equity in public education institutions;
  • Serve the individualized needs of each student with appropriate identification based exclusively on the objective assessment of their strengths and needs by qualified professionals for all students who require special education services or services provided under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act;
  • Prohibit arbitrary limits on the numbers of students requiring special education services;
  • Restrict out-of-school suspension to only those cases necessary for the safety of students and personnel;
  • Ensure all children are provided free school breakfasts, lunches, and after school snacks, as well as summer breakfast and lunch programs for all public school children;
  • Ensure that every student has access to appropriate academic counseling services, as well as psychological and social services provided by competent and licensed professionals;
  • Provide and appropriately fund high-quality instruction for careers in trades and technical education programs;
  • Provide fully funded arts and music education in all schools;
  • Ensure that every school has a fully funded and staffed library, fully equipped with both print and electronic media, that is regularly open and accessible to students and faculty;
  • Provide and fund universally accessible after-school programs for grades pre-K through 12;
  • Develop, implement, and facilitate peer-reviewed curriculum for mandatory, fact-based ethnic studies classes, such as Indigenous, Mexican American, and African American studies;
  • Mandate instruction for all students in studies of diverse cultures and the benefits of diversity to the U.S economy and society;
  • Prioritize eradication of the school-to-prison pipeline by using transformative approaches to discipline that are research-based and balanced, and adhere to the fidelity of the original research-based interventions;
  • Offer statewide equitable dual credit and early college programs that draw at-risk students into college and career paths while still in high school;
  • Provide equitable distribution of highly qualified teachers, in an effort to match the most at-risk students with the most qualified teachers to close the academic achievement gap;
  • Provide culturally relevant learning and wraparound services for students’ social, emotional, and health needs;
  • Provide comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education programs that are LGBTQIA+ inclusive, with a contraception component to reduce dropout rates due to unintended pregnancy, and end failed abstinence-only education policies;
  • Provide access to affordable programs for adults who have dropped out of the education process;
  • Identify instances of bullying, including cyber-bullying, and implement school-wide positive behavior interventions and supports to prevent violence, disruption, bullying, and harassment; and
  • Eliminate disparities in discipline based on race, ethnicity, national origin, disability, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression or any other improper grounds.
Every Student Deserves a Highly Qualified Teacher

Teachers are the single most critical component to a student’s success in education. Teachers not only provide classroom instruction, they also provide emotional support, a sense of belonging, and sometimes even provide students with financial support through classroom supplies and other essentials.

The Texas Democratic Party supports policies and programs that:

  • Recognize the critical role teachers play in students’ lives by setting a starting salary for teachers at no less than $60,000, expanding collective bargaining rights and expanding one year contracts to three years, and funding out-of-pocket expenses for classroom materials no more than $1,000;
  • Ensure that public school employees have attractive compensation packages that incentivize career-long public service of education professionals;
  • Protect the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) defined benefit pension system and fund TRS at least at the level enacted by the 86th Texas Legislature plus a regular cost of living adjustment (COLA) for every retiree;
  • Repeal the Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination Provision;
  • Provide TRS-Care funding that is based on an increasing, permanent funding mechanism;
  • Prohibit awarding taxpayer dollars to corporations to develop high-stakes tests and “Value Added Modeling” linked to teacher evaluations, and oppose test-based performance pay;
  • Support basing teacher evaluations on multiple measures designed by practicing educators;
  • Guarantee early acceptance to college and a teaching job to high school students in the top 20 percent of their graduating class who commit to a teaching career upon certification;
  • Create an endorsement pathway for teaching readiness;
  • Enhance the Teach for Texas Loan Repayment Program by tying loan forgiveness to years of teaching service, opening the program to all fields of study, and allowing current teachers to go back to school to get additional certification in critical needs fields;
  • Restore funding for the Educational Aide Exemption to help teachers’ aides go back to school to become certified as full-time teachers to teach in a critical shortage area such as STEM, Bilingual Education, Special Education, or Career and Technical Education;
  • Restore, respect, and safeguard the rights and benefits of education employees;
  • Guarantee that every class has a teacher certified to teach that subject;
  • Recruit and train teachers who reflect the state’s diversity;
  • Provide a mentor or master teacher for every novice teacher;
  • Respect support personnel by providing them due process employment rights and a salary schedule; and
  • Repeal existing legislation and reject further efforts to arm teachers.
Postsecondary Education

Texas Democrats believe all Texans should have the opportunity and be encouraged to pursue affordable postsecondary education. We further recognize and support the essential role of Texas community colleges, which provide an affordable, high-quality education responsive to community needs for those who would be otherwise excluded. We believe the opportunity of debt-free, safe higher education to be a right of all those who may seek it.

The Texas Democratic Party supports policies and programs that:

  • Increase access to higher education by easing financial burdens and leveling the playing field for all;
  • Provide equal and expanded opportunity for community college and trade program students; and
  • Ensure students attend school in safe, fair, and diverse environments that reflect the true face of Texas.
Higher Education
  • Cancel all student loan debt for Texas residents and provide interest-free student loans
  • Provide free tuition for all low-income students at public universities in Texas as well as a rollback of tuition and fees to previous, affordable levels with appropriate regulation reinstated moving forward;
  • Keep the Texas DREAM Act and pass the federal DREAM Act to ensure in-state tuition at state universities;
  • Protect and increase financial aid set asides while expanding grant funding at the state and federal level;
  • Restore formula contact hour funding to historical levels, adjusted for inflation and student growth;
  • Institute federal income tax credits for college tuition, fees, and books, and reduce instructional material costs;
  • Offer equitable paid internships and debt-free, registered, skilled apprenticeship programs leading to certification;
  • Increase research funding and locate a Tier 1 public research and teaching university in all state regions;
  • Fund public HBCUs and all historically-minority public institutions equitably;
  • Strictly regulate proprietary schools, end their public financial aid eligibility, & fully restitute defrauded students;
  • Place a voting student regent, as elected by the student body, on the appointed governing board of each public 4-year college or university;
  • Establish pay and working conditions sufficient to attract faculty, including adequate and equitable pay, healthcare, security, professional dignity, and reasonable workloads for all university employees;
  • Encourage and protect a full liberal arts education, including the arts and humanities;
  • Safeguard the fundamental principles of academic freedom, equality of opportunity, and human dignity; and
  • Eliminate SAT/ACT testing as an admissions requirement for freshman students at all state universities and develop comprehensive assessments for incoming students.
Community Colleges
  • Guarantee tuition-free community college and public trade schools for all Texas high school graduates;
  • Ensure sufficient financial aid for costs beyond tuition for community college students;
  • Provide full formula funding to account for the cost of instruction and the growth in student enrollments, as well as stipulate any “incentive” funding be on top of formula funding and distributed in a non-discriminatory manner;
  • Appropriate funds for new campuses and program expansions;
  • Allocate funds for community colleges to assist school districts in developing career & technology endorsements;
  • Fund Adult Basic Education at a level that fully covers the demand for services;
  • Provide full state funding for employee group health insurance and retirement;
  • Institute equitable pay, healthcare, security, professional dignity, and reasonable workloads for all employees, including retirement and health insurance for full-time employees and proportional health benefits for part-time;
  • Establish universal standards to ensure full transferability of community college credit hours; and
  • Eliminate financial aid rules that penalize students who transfer to universities from community colleges.
Diversity and Safety
  • Maintain the “Top 10% Rule” to guarantee access to universities for the best students from all regions of Texas;
  • Ensure universities offer culturally competent and diverse curricula, student activities, and student recruitment policies that promote understanding, respect, and acceptance;
  • Strictly prohibit discrimination or harassment in any Texas postsecondary institution against any person for any identity or expression;
  • Set stringent standards from the campus level to the national level to combat the crisis of sexual violence and harassment against students at postsecondary institutions;
  • Repeal “campus carry” policies for public university and community college campuses; and
  • Reverse policies that removed the ability of universities to regulate unsafe events.

 

ENDING SEXUAL & FAMILY VIOLENCE

Texas Democrats believe interpersonal violence is about power and control. We believe we can end this violence in Texas, including sexual assault and harassment, family violence, human trafficking, child and elder abuse, and other forms of gender-based violence, through comprehensive programs that address the needs of every person regardless of race, ethnicity, geographic location, income, disability status, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, or immigration status. We must break the cycle of violence by working with a broad coalition to create safer and healthier communities for all.

The Texas Democratic Party supports policies and programs that:

  • Work to break the cycle of violence through comprehensive, evidence-based prevention education;
  • Meet the wide-ranging needs of those impacted by interpersonal violence; and
  • Create a system in which those who abuse their power are held accountable.
Education and Prevention
  • Fund, develop, and provide early prevention and education efforts to decrease the incidence of adverse childhood experiences (ACES) or interpersonal violence prior to victimization or perpetration;
  • Include evidence-based programs that promote social-emotional learning, safe and healthy relationships, consent, and age-appropriate sex education as a part of the curriculum in Texas schools from pre-K to postsecondary institutions; and
  • Require trauma-informed education for law enforcement, justice system, healthcare, mental health, education, disability services, and social services personnel to promote sensitive and effective interactions with survivors.
Services and Funding
  • Increase funding for family violence programs, including shelters, transitional housing, non-residential programs, counseling, and legal services for those impacted by abuse, violence, or trafficking;
  • Ensure survivors are not billed for medical exams or treatment, including sexual assault nurse examination, medication, strangulation exams, and family violence medical forensic exams, regardless of whether they choose to report to law enforcement, and reimburse all costs incurred by medical and law enforcement institutions by using the Crime Victims Compensation Fund;
  • Provide access to a comprehensive sexual assault examination and treatment provided by either a certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) or a trained, licensed healthcare provider to every survivor of sexual assault;
  • Expand provider training for all law enforcement, justice system, healthcare, mental health, education, disability services, and social services personnel, including training on treating marginalized populations, using trauma informed treatments, and practicing evidence-based therapies, and mandate periodic completion of updated trainings to meet continuing education licensure requirements; and
  • Require targeted intervention programs for perpetrators to be established in every county in Texas, including remote options for rural counties.
Accountability
  • Ensure comprehensive, equitable, trauma-informed responses to incidents of interpersonal violence, as well as enforce current Texas laws to hold offenders accountable and increase the likelihood that victims and loved ones will come forward to report these crimes;
  • Adopt comprehensive sexual harassment policies at all levels of government, which apply to all public officials and ensure these officials are held accountable and face meaningful and clearly delineated consequences when these policies are violated;
  • Require that every county and district attorney’s office in Texas, upon the victim’s qualification and request, file a protective order on behalf of victims and represent the victims before the court;
  • Establish regional response teams and task forces to assess community needs, build a coalition of agencies, prosecute perpetrators, and improve responses for survivors of human trafficking, interpersonal violence, and sexual assault;
  • Place every defendant charged with a family violence crime on either a probation-deferred adjudication or deferred prosecution program and order them to complete a targeted intervention program for perpetrators; and
  • Ensure that sex workers, survivors, and victims of sexual assault are not criminally prosecuted for seeking help by repealing FOSTA-SESTA.

ENERGY & THE ENVIRONMENT

Texas Democrats believe we should cherish our environment, and we are committed to preserving, protecting, and defending it. Climate change is real; and it threatens all that we value, from the health of our loved ones to the strength of our economy to the safety and security of Texans and all humankind. As the world’s leader in energy technology and innovation for the past century, Texas must now become the world leader in clean energy and environmental consciousness. Future generations demand this of us, and we must deliver.

The Texas Democratic Party supports policies and programs that:

  • Ensure Texas leads the global clean-energy revolution;
  • Uphold stringent regulations on oil and gas operations;
  • Maintain clean and available water for all Texans;
  • Promote environmental protection, regulation, and enforcement;
  • Reform the Texas Railroad Commission;
  • Preserve Texas’ wildlife, parks, and open spaces; and
  • Improve recycling and waste reduction.
Leading the Global Clean-Energy Revolution
  • Support the Green New Deal, both nationally and in Texas;
  • Focus our talents and experience to lead the world in the development, implementation, and commercialization of clean energy technology and encourage our state and federal governments to take bold action;
  • Reinvigorate a muscular Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that sets and achieves a net zero carbon emissions goal in the U.S. by 2050, with complete transition to renewable energy for transportation and electricity generation by the end of the decade;
  • Reinitiate EPA regulations rolled back by the Trump Administration including the Clean Power Plan, the Regional Haze Rule, the Methane Rule, the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard, and the Chemical Safety Rule;
  • Rejoin the Paris Climate Accord and providing decisive leadership to combat Climate Change worldwide;
  • Develop a statewide climate action plan that will achieve emission reductions in Texas consistent with the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change “Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 degrees C”;
  • Institute a carbon tax and re-invest the proceeds in Texas to offset any unlikely increase in energy costs as well as in clean energy technologies that will protect American jobs;
  • Promote strong energy efficiency standards and green building policies;
  • End state and federal subsidies and tax incentives for oil and gas production;
  • Fund the “Texas Emissions Reduction Plan Fund” administered by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to offer incentives for clean vehicles and infrastructure, including electric vehicles and storage;
  • Implement technical and academic programs that place Texas at the forefront of renewable energy, battery, smart grid, building conservation, and electric transportation technology;
  • Fund public education programs that promote the benefits of energy conservation and create knowledge and enthusiasm for Texas’ role in saving our planet; and
  • Offer financial incentives for the manufacturing of American-made equipment for alternative energy, storage, grid, transportation, and conservation to achieve the goal of measurably reducing coal and oil consumption for electricity and transportation in Texas.
Stringent Regulations on Oil and Gas Operations
  • Phase out the ecologically destructive extraction method known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and gas emissions because large quantities of methane released in fracking and producing operations are much more powerful in heating our climate than carbon emissions;
  • Impose a moratorium on new fracking wells with a goal of shutting down existing wells by 2026 and a goal of ending the practice of injecting wastewater by 2023;
  • Incentivize the use of recycled water on site in oil and gas operations;
  • Preserve the rights of local governments to regulate oil and gas operations within their communities; and
  • Implement strict no-flaring, gas capture, and methane regulations for old wells, new wells, refineries, and processing equipment through a combination of state policy and federal rules.
Clean Air and Clean and Available Water
  • Enact a state law that prohibits all indoor smoking and vaping in workplaces, restaurants, and bars;
  • Modernize our water management policies in an aggressive manner because in certain parts of the state we are running out of water, and in other parts of the state, we are forced to deal with floods;
  • Recognize that access to clean water and dependable water supplies is a basic human right;
  • Implement aggressive water conservation and reuse practices;
  • Initiate a well-funded state water education campaign to inform Texans about their water sources and how to best conserve and protect them;
  • Require water suppliers to develop and implement effective drought response plans;
  • Protect Texas bays, estuaries, in-stream flows, and wetlands;
  • Reform protections, district boundaries, conservation rules, and water re-use mandates for groundwater conservation districts in the interests of better supporting water self-sufficiency;
  • Reform the “rule of capture” to protect scarce water resources from over-exploitation by for-profit developers;
  • Expand testing of fish and shellfish for mercury, radionuclides, and other contaminants, and notify the public of health risks from water pollution; and
  • Ensure state water plan statutes and regulations address ways to reduce and manage flood risk as well as prevent the destruction of finite water resources.
Environmental Protection, Regulation and Enforcement
  • Ensure that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) protects the health and safety of all Texans because environmental protection, regulation, and enforcement is essential to preserve the health of our people and our quality of life;
  • Reform the way TCEQ commissioners are selected to ensure that the commission is non-partisan and works to protect all Texans and our environment, not just to protect the profits of the industries they are meant to regulate;
  • Require the TCEQ and the EPA to make human health and quality of life paramount when deciding whether or not to grant either an air or wastewater permit;
  • Enact stronger laws and regulations to protect low-income communities and communities of color from environmental racism and environmental injustice;
  • Protect communities of color from environmental racism by establishing an environmental justice office at TCEQ and requiring a cumulative impacts analysis;
  • Inform Texans of hazardous chemicals and materials being stored in their communities;
  • Establish an “Amber-alert style” notification system for chemical releases or accidents;
  • Implement required performance standards and inspections for above-ground petrochemical storage tanks, due to the recurring massive failures of storage tanks;
  • Retire all coal electricity generation as quickly as possible;
  • End the destruction of our forests, water, and other natural resources by coal strip mining and leasing of public lands for fracking;
  • Enforce the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act for all industries;
  • Strengthen the maximum administrative penalties that the TCEQ and the Texas Railroad Commission (TRRC) can assess so that it does not pay to pollute;
  • Require TCEQ to analyze cumulative pollution impacts on downwind communities before making permitting decisions;
  • Re-enforce the rights of all citizens to participate in the permitting process and contested hearings to protect their property, health, and the environment, ensuring recent legislative efforts do not make citizen participation more difficult in contested case hearings; and
  • Halt the plan to import high-level radioactive waste for consolidated storage or disposal in Texas due to risks of water contamination, security concerns, and transportation accidents, and prohibit the transport of high-level radioactive waste on our highways or railways.
Reformation of the Texas Railroad Commission (TRRC)
  • Implement the previous Sunset Commission’s recommendations to improve the functionality of the TRRC, which oversees Texas’ oil & gas operations should not be a rubber stamp for businesses, and change the name of the agency to better reflect its role and jurisdiction;
  • Use TRRC regulatory power as a means of protecting the health, welfare, and property of Texans via regulation of oil and gas operations;
  • Adopt newer, stricter rules on injection wells to prevent earthquakes;
  • Ban political contributions to TRRC Commissioners from the oil industry;
  • Ensure penalties levied by the TRRC are significant enough to deter polluting practices;
  • Require the TRRC to implement a transparent process to confirm that entities declaring common carrier status for pipelines are actually operating as common carriers and not as private entities; and
  • Direct the TRRC to ask for expanded authority over intrastate pipelines to inspect, monitor, and review pipeline safety.
Preservation of Wildlife, Parks, and Open Spaces
  • Preserve recreational and open spaces as essential to a healthy Texas;
  • Increase funding for upkeep, maintenance, and acquisition of state parkland as well as for ensuring sustainability of state parks in light of natural disasters such as the recent drought-caused wildfires;
  • Reward those who voluntarily protect threatened and endangered species on their lands through Safe Harbor Agreements and similar measures;
  • Encourage the large-scale planting of native trees and drought-hardy species to absorb greenhouse gases, improve wildlife habitat, and promote beautification;
  • Affirm the Texas Open Beaches Act and the Texas Constitution’s guarantee of public access to beaches while opposing any actions that endanger this right;
  • Expand the Texas Wildlife Tax Exemption as an effective program to provide support for Texas wildlife; and
  • Support the enforcement of the Endangered Species Act and support the preservation and reintroduction of Endangered Species.
Recycling and Waste Reduction
  • Reduce the use of natural resources, while supporting reuse and recycling;
  • Encourage the reduction of use of unnecessary single-use plastics;
  • Keep e-waste out of the waste stream, including retailer take-back programs for electronics;
  • Offer financial and other incentives for communities to provide residential recycling; and
  • Ensure local control of waste reduction through state regulation that allows municipalities to address the issues with ordinances that may be more restrictive than state laws when necessary.

 

EQUITY & SOCIAL JUSTICE

Texas Democrats believe all people are equally deserving of dignity, respect, and equitable treatment. The Texas we deserve is free from violence and harm and yet a Black Texan was shot for simply being in his own apartment, Hispanic and Latinx Texans shopping in a Walmart were targeted by a gunman in El Paso leaving 23 people dead, Asian American and Pacific Islander Texans have been verbally and physically attacked while going about their daily lives, and trans women of color have been murdered at alarming rates. The same Texans that are often the targets of ignorance and hate are also disproportionately working on the front lines as low-paid essential workers most exposed by the current pandemic. Texas Democrats will not ignore the unconscionable systemic disparities that ultimately leave us all behind. We stand together and amplify each other’s voices for a more equitable, just, and free Texas.

The Texas Democratic Party supports policies and programs that:

  • Promote racial equity and ensure that Asian American Texans, African American Texans, Hispanic/Latinx Texans, and Indigenous Texans are treated with dignity and respect;
  • Value and assure women’s full, equal, and essential role in Texas’ future success;
  • Ensure equal protections and rights for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, and other non-cis non-heterosexual or LGBTQIA+ people; and
  • Require fact-based, fair perspectives from all marginalized groups in history and social studies classes in Texas public education.
Racial Equity
  • Treat Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) Texans, including 1.8 million Asian American Texans, 3.8 million African American Texans, 11.4 million Hispanic/Latinx Texans, and 350,000 Indigenous Texans as respected and welcomed as members of a diverse American family;
  • Condemn all hateful speech, violence, racism, and misinformation directed at BIPOC both past and present;
  • Call on local law enforcement agencies to fully and vigorously enforce hate crimes statutes;
  • Call on local law enforcement agencies to fully and vigorously enforce hate crimes statutes;
  • Provide BIPOC the right to heal on their own terms and in culture-specific ways they determine to be most beneficial for their overall health and well-being; and
  • Recognize the unique contributions that people of all racial identities make to our party and our society, applaud the ongoing contributions of BIPOC, and encourage further civic engagement from these communities.
Asian American Texans
  • Recognize historic and ongoing discrimination against Asian Americans, such as the Chinese Exclusion Act and the “bamboo ceiling”;
  • Rectify proactively the contemporary effects of discrimination against Asian Americans, especially those effects stemming from COVID-19-related xenophobia;
  • Appreciate and teach Asian American contributions to American society such as knitting the country together with the transcontinental railroad and pioneering Universal Basic Income; and
  • Acknowledge the ethnic and cultural diversity of the Asian American community.
African American Texans
  • Acknowledge African Americans as the descendants of the survivors of the middle passage, chattel slavery, convict leasing, and mass incarceration, an ongoing condition that remains unresolved;
  • Provide reparations for the descendants of slaves who were brought to America through the Atlantic slave trade;
  • Treat today’s thriving Black families as the experts, those who mastered the Black experience of survival and resiliency under the weight of prolonged systemic oppression;
  • Uphold that African Americans are not a monolith and own the right to address their issues individually or collectively, as a distinct cultural group, without suspicion or fear of unjustified retribution for doing so as exemplified by the Red Summer of 1919 or the FBI’s COINTELPRO and IRON FIST programs;
  • Affirm African Americans’ right to explore new solutions, while recommitting to those practical approaches that made the triumphs of their 400-year survival possible; and
  • Make better health outcomes possible in the African American community by effectively addressing the Five Social Determinants of Health: economic stability, education, social and community context, health and healthcare access, and the built environment in and around communities where they live, work, and play.
Hispanic/Latinx Texans
  • Affirm the dignity and the civil and human rights of all documented and undocumented persons and stand against racism, religious discrimination, and persecution; and
  • Hold the government accountable to all individuals and communities it serves, documented and undocumented, and ensure it is not used as a tool for oppression or intimidation.
Indigenous Texans
  • Acknowledge that our institutions were built on land stolen from a variety of Aztlan Nation and American Indian groups, including the Caddo, Apache, Karankawa, Comanche, Wichita, Coahuiltecan, Tonkawa, and many more;
  • Condemn past and present wrongs against Aztlan Nation and American Indians including the genocide, erasure, and exclusion of Indigenous Texans; and
  • Commit to building relationships with American Indians and tribal communities as well as to decolonizing ourselves and our institutions.
Texas Women
  • Uphold affirmative action and the rights accorded to women in Title IX and the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW);
  • Work to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the U.S. Constitution;
  • Preserve confidential, unrestricted access to affordable, high-quality, culturally sensitive healthcare services, including the full range of reproductive services, contraception, and abortion, without requiring guardian, judicial, parental, or spousal consent, while continuing to defend the rights enshrined in Roe v. Wade;
  • Increase parenting and job skills for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women through accessible, comprehensive education and training;
  • Guarantee a safe and inclusive workplace by providing access to affordable childcare and support the right of a woman to report hostile and abusive work environments without retribution; and
  • Develop a pipeline for women in leadership with diverse experiences within the Texas Democratic Party.
LGBTQIA+ Texans
  • Call for the immediate passage and enactment of the Equality Act by Congress;
  • Ensure the right of all people to participate in all aspects of life in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity or expression, irrespective of the gender they were assigned at birth, including the use of facilities; streamlined access to accurate legal documents regardless of surgical status; fully inclusive, employer-based healthcare; and gender confirmation surgery;
  • Classify discrimination against transgender, intersex, and nonbinary individuals as being on the basis of gender;
  • Ensure that LGBTQIA+ youth have the right to learn in a bullying and harassment-free setting, are safe from conversion therapy, including recognizing its practice as abuse, and have access to safe housing and healthcare;
  • Provide inclusive and comprehensive housing and healthcare for LGBTQIA+ seniors; and
  • Protect the U.S Supreme Court decisions which guaranteed marriage equality and the full benefits of marriage to all couples.
Hate Crimes
  • Enforce the federal Hate Crimes Prevention Act and include “actual or perceived gender-related characteristics” in the Texas James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act;
  • Adopt enforceable requirements for law enforcement agencies to collect and report hate crimes data;
  • Enhance training for law enforcement personnel on hate crime identification, response and reporting, including training on cyberstalking, cyberbullying and other forms of online expressions or actions of hate;
  • Adopt criminal penalties for cyberstalking, cyber harassment and online activities that encourage, solicit or facilitate the commission of hate crimes;
  • Include false alarm “swatting” in crimes eligible for enhancement when motivated by hate; and
  • Establish liability and civil remedies for “doxing” harm caused by maliciously sharing personal information of individuals to incite harassment or other abuse.

 

FAMILY SECURITY

Texas Democrats believe all people have a right to live in safe, secure, and healthy environments, and that no one in Texas should live without a home, electricity, or running water. Texas Democrats believe it is a moral imperative to ensure all people are afforded these basic needs, regardless of their race, ethnicity, geographic location, income, disability status, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, or immigration status. Texas Democrats imagine a world in which compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act is a given, not a fight, and all people can comfortably retire with dignity and financial security.

The Texas Democratic Party supports policies and programs that:

  • Ensure the safety of children, youth, people with disabilities, and older adults, prioritizing people over profits;
  • Ensure people with disabilities and older adults can live safely and independently in the community supported by appropriate personal care support;
  • Preserve and protect retirement benefits, including Social Security, private, and public pensions; and
  • Provide housing, utilities, and insurance options to all at affordable prices supplemented by public and private assistance as needed.
Care for Children and Vulnerable Adults
  • Provide greater oversight of private and state facilities and institutions that serve children and vulnerable adults;
  • End the privatization of the Department of Family Protective Services;
  • Fund Child Protective Services (CPS) and Adult Protective Services (APS) to reduce caseloads, provide essential training, ensure compliance with federal guidelines for caseworker/client meetings, and adequately compensate experienced caseworkers to reduce turnover;
  • Require education to address disproportionality and prevent discrimination in the foster care and guardianship systems while providing safe, secure environments for vulnerable populations;
  • Allow fostering and adoption of children by qualified adults without encountering discriminatory barriers; and
  • Ensure medically fragile Texans have access to the complete care they need through an effective system that includes Medicaid coupled with the appointment of a state inspector general to review quality of care complaints to improve patient outcomes.
Long-term Services and Support
  • Provide people with disabilities and older adults with choices about where they want to live and receive support services;
  • Revise the long-term care system to include Assisted Living, personal care homes, and in-home care options, as well as include increased Medicaid reimbursement rates for long-term care and in-home care providers;
  • Ensure coordination of accessible, affordable, and integrated housing and other non-medical services to contain costs and allow greater individual control; and
  • Encourage higher wages for personal care providers who typically are employed by for-profit agencies, develop personal care provider virtual training programs, and establish a state registry of those who have completed training and passed background checks.
Social Security and Retirement
  • Mandate Social Security remain an essential federal government program and preserve the state retirement systems as defined benefit systems;
  • Guarantee those who have paid into Social Security receive the benefits they have earned regardless of other systems for which they may qualify as well as ensure that income caps are raised or removed;
  • Calculate cost-of-living adjustments for older adults using the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E);
  • Provide legal protections for participants in any retirement system to safeguard the full benefits they have earned;
  • Freeze funds of companies filing for bankruptcy or encountering legal problems to secure their pension plan funding; and
  • Support, in addition to the existing Social Security system, a system for Universal Basic Income which would cover all adults within the jurisdiction of the United States, in light of the historic job displacement resulting from COVID-19 and continued advances in technological automation, and in recognition of unsustainable levels of income inequality.
Housing, Utilities, and Property Insurance
  • Ensure housing policies prioritize providing permanent housing to people experiencing homelessness, thus ending their homelessness and serving as a platform from which they can pursue personal goals and improve their quality of life;
  • Promote homeownership for all persons living in Texas and prevent people from being taxed out of their homes;
  • Provide people experiencing homelessness access to housing combined with individualized case management to guide and support their needs;
  • Eliminate unfair underwriting and other discriminatory practices as well as strictly enforce insurance policies that require companies to justify rates;
  • Permit the Insurance Commissioner to approve or deny rates in combination with oversight by expanded consumer representation in insurance regulatory matters;
  • Encourage all homeowners and renters to purchase appropriate insurance to protect them from disasters, including flood insurance, windstorm and hail insurance, and otherwise as may be appropriate; and
  • Require the Public Utility Commission to mandate all utility providers describe their products and policies transparently regarding bill calculations and rate history, and eliminate fine print, tiered rates, and confusing rate structures.

 

FOREIGN POLICY

Texas Democrats believe peace, prosperity, and national security are best achieved by maintaining a strong national defense, promoting democracy, advancing development abroad, and supporting and engaging with the United Nations and its institutions. Our policies should prioritize prevention and diplomacy through our State Department, with military action used only as a last resort and authorized only as allowed by our Constitution. Texas Democrats support consistent diplomacy and development efforts abroad in coordination with our allies who promote freedom and justice, and strongly oppose the Trump administration’s actions that have driven out skilled diplomats and replaced them with partisan, ideologically-driven political appointees.

The Texas Democratic Party supports policies and programs that:

  • Restore the United States to a leadership role in world affairs;
  • Nurture proven alliances and honor our treaty obligations;
  • Restore our moral status in the world by promoting human rights and democracy; and
  • Promote trade that is both free and fair to benefit the people and workers in America and abroad.
Restore U.S. Leadership
  • Lead international efforts to prevent the further spread of nuclear arms and to eliminate weapons of mass destruction, including reinstating the Iran nuclear deal with appropriate conditions and supporting verified efforts to denuclearize North Korea as a prerequisite for lifting sanctions;
  • Utilize our diplomatic, military, and economic resources to assist with worldwide disasters;
  • Support U.S. leadership in and improvement of international agencies such as the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) International Organization for Migration (IOM), Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR), World Health Organization (WHO), World Food Programme (WFP), International Labour Organization (ILO), World Trade Organization (WTO), International Court of Justice (ICJ), International Criminal Court (ICC), and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC);
  • Restore U.S. leadership in international institutions such as the United Nations and other alliances; and
  • Restore U.S. leadership in mitigating the effects of climate change.
Work with Our Allies
  • Recognize the interconnectivity between Texas and Mexico and restore dignity to U.S. – Mexico relations as well as establish a “Marshall Plan” for Central America to foster economic stability and end gang violence;
  • Work with our allies to facilitate a safe haven for the millions of refugees fleeing violence or persecution and welcome these vulnerable people in the United States when properly vetted;
  • Support our Kurdish allies who led the fight against ISIS within Syria, oppose the regime-sponsored violence occurring, and lead efforts to negotiate a political solution that will counter Russian dominance and prevent the establishment of Iranian bases in Syria;
  • Work with the African Union and the United Nations to bring stability to the continent by defeating African terrorist organizations;
  • Support the mission and efforts of the United States Peace Corps; and
  • Nurture proven alliances such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and honor treaty obligations.
Defend Our Country
  • Recognize that the most important commitment to our military is to the individual service member and that it is absolutely critical that we are faithful to those who serve and defend us;
  • Improve the capacity of our diplomatic organizations and military to address the threats from non-state groups and those nations that provide them support and protection;
  • Implement nationally standardized information security protocols to protect our communications networks and critical national infrastructure from all enemies foreign or domestic;
  • Prevent all sources of foreign meddling in our elections and those of our allies, regard this as an act of enemy aggression, and continue to strongly sanction Russia until it ceases its attacks on our democracy;
  • Advance our national security by restoring domestic manufacturing of essential goods to free us from dependence on the resources and products of any nation or region and to avoid future shortages;
  • Strengthen port security by inspecting unchecked containers; and
  • Prohibit privatized military security contractors from operating without legal oversight and putting America at risk.
Promote Human Rights and Democracy
  • Work to ensure that governments and societies become true democracies that promote responsive and transparent governance, minority rights, individual freedoms, and economic opportunity;
  • Encourage Iraq to renounce sectarian violence and promote a responsive and inclusive democracy that ensures minority rights and equitable access to resources;
  • Withdraw U.S. service members in a manner that does not destabilize Afghanistan or place more lives in danger, and supports development of its civil and economic infrastructure;
  • Maintain our long-standing policy that a true, mutually respectful peace with safe and secure borders for two states dedicated to peace and democracy, namely, a Jewish homeland in Israel and a Palestinian homeland, can only result from direct negotiations between willing and responsible partners;
  • Condemn mass detentions and restrictions on communications, civil rights, and human rights in Kashmir;
  • Support ending the war in Yemen;
  • Condemn the acts of violence and ethnic cleansing against Myanmar’s Rohingya and other minority populations and position the U.S. to play an active role in ending this humanitarian tragedy;
  • Support efforts to end arbitrary detention in “re-education camps” of millions of Uyghur and other ethnic minorities and to combat discrimination and human rights violations;
  • Support democracy and autonomy in Hong Kong and Tibet;
  • Promote understanding between the people of the U.S. and China through non-government-sponsored cultural, university, and religious exchanges;
  • Withdraw support for foreign or domestic agencies and programs that promote hatred and intolerance; and
  • Support the continued ban on using all methods of torture.
Promote Fair Trade Policy
  • Encourage the sale of domestic products and services in foreign markets, oppose foreign practices that restrict access to markets for American businesses and farmers, and protect American companies from intellectual property theft;
  • Require all trade agreements to establish a “level playing field” by prohibiting child and other exploitative labor practices, mandating environmental standards comparable to those required of domestic American businesses to prevent U.S. job losses, and requiring wage practices that lift foreign workers out of poverty to increase markets for American products and services;
  • Oppose arbitrary tariffs that harm our farmers and other exporters as well as our allies; and
  • Oppose the export of American jobs.

 

HEALTHCARE FOR ALL

Texas Democrats believe healthcare is a human right and we support affordable, high-quality, universal healthcare, including moving towards publicly-funded healthcare. While 5 million Texans were already uninsured and lacked access to healthcare, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated this crisis, with millions of Texans losing their employer-provided health coverage as a result of the economic downturn. Texas must fix this. We believe in a preventive-based healthcare system and public policy rooted in science. The government should not come between patients and their healthcare providers; but should instead focus on ending disparities for marginalized and underserved communities, and addressing critical issues including maternal mortality, mental health and substance use disorder services, rural hospital closures, and increasing funding for medical research. We must expand Medicaid, protect Medicare benefits, and make prescription drugs affordable for all.

The Texas Democratic Party supports policies and programs that:

  • Expand Medicaid coverage to improve healthcare access coverage in Texas;
  • Implement an affordable and universal “single-payer” healthcare system that would provide high-quality, privately delivered, publicly funded healthcare for all residents of Texas within 3 years, including prescription drugs, vision, hearing, dental, and mental healthcare;
  • Protect and improve the Affordable Care Act to further reduce disparities in health coverage and outcomes, as we move toward universal healthcare;
  • Expand access to contraception and protect the constitutional right to an abortion;
  • Prevent illness through vaccines, education, research, primary care, and public health initiatives;
  • Eliminate health disparities for all in Texas; and
  • Expand access to essential mental healthcare and substance use disorder services and achieve mental health parity.
Medicaid Expansion and Protection
  • Immediately expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act to improve access to healthcare coverage for millions in Texas and bring $10 billion in tax dollars back to Texas annually; and
  • Increase Medicaid reimbursement rates, extend postpartum Medicaid eligibility to at least 12 months, and reverse bureaucratic state policies that remove children from the Medicaid program.
Universal Affordable, Quality Healthcare
  • Protect, expand, and fully fund the Affordable Care Act, its required coverage of pre-existing conditions, and its requirements that all policies must provide comprehensive coverage;
  • Support the passage of legislation, including The Healthy Texas Act of 2019 and Medicare For All Act of 2019 (H.R. 1384, S.1129), that provides universal, comprehensive healthcare through a “single-payer” system in order to guarantee all Texas residents access to quality healthcare;
  • Include a “Public Option” in addition to the plans currently offered under all exchanges, as we move toward publicly-funded healthcare for all;
  • Offer patient choice of providers;
  • Prohibit surprise “balance billing”;
  • Eliminate co-pays for Medicare Part B and eliminate the “doughnut hole” in Plan D Medicare coverage;
  • Restore the right to negotiate Medicare and Medicaid drug prices;
  • Prohibit price extortion for essential drugs with limited source availability;
  • Prohibit denying coverage for medications prescribed by patients’ doctors or forcing patients into step therapy because the medication initially prescribed is not on their insurance providers’ approved formulary; and
  • Provide long-term care benefits for people with disabilities and older adults that cover multiple living arrangements including community and home-based caregiving.
Choice and Family Planning
  • Trust Texans to make personal and responsible decisions about whether and when to bear children, in consultation with their families, physicians, personal consciences, and/or their faith;
  • Enable families to raise their children in safe and sustainable communities free from individual and state violence with access to affordable, quality childcare;
  • Fund qualified healthcare providers, including Planned Parenthood, who provide preventive healthcare, pregnancy prevention, affordable prenatal care, and postpartum contraception;
  • Use evidence-based medical science and data to guide reproductive healthcare policies, recognize the rights of the pregnant person are paramount, and oppose Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) legislation, which creates dangerous restrictions on Texans’ access to abortion care;
  • Expand access to contraception and protect the constitutional right to an abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment, which disproportionately impacts people of color and other marginalized communities;
  • Ensure individual rights to obtain all forms of contraception, including long-acting reversible contraception, abortion care, and other reproductive services through their health insurance provider without additional premiums;
  • Offer comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education, including information about communication strategies, consent, and healthy relationships, as well as support the rights of adolescents to access and consent to their own contraception and other reproductive healthcare, and end failed abstinence-only sex education policies;
  • Provide resources for pregnant and parenting teens while encouraging them to continue their education and career development;
  • Increase access to accurate information about reproductive health, adoption, and related resources, as well as defund crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) which discourage abortion using unscientific, inaccurate information;
  • Hold medical providers accountable for withholding information about a pregnancy from the pregnant person based on their presumption that a pregnancy would be terminated if they were aware of the condition; and
  • Fund research and counseling for postpartum depression.
Preventive Health
  • Promote vaccinations and immunizations, increase K-12 education about nutrition and healthy living, and expand opportunities for physical activity in schools;
  • Fund high-quality research on effective disease prevention, preparedness, and response, as well as invest in evidence-based practices;
  • Invest in trauma-informed care and trauma prevention programs aimed at preventing adverse childhood experiences (ACES), which have been shown to cause increased chronic disease in adulthood;
  • Expand community healthcare centers and increase the number of primary healthcare providers, including incentive programs such as tuition forgiveness to practice in underserved areas;
  • Increase education initiatives and services that address prevention and effective treatment of communicable diseases to improve quality of life and enable a return to the workforce;
  • Review existing public health recommendations and infrastructure to identify opportunities to better prepare for future disease outbreaks, including quarantining and assisting those affected and their families; and
  • Denounce the promotion of unsubstantiated information about vaccinations and immunizations not supported by peer-reviewed, scientific research.
Eliminating Health Disparities
  • Encourage research, policy, and legislation to eliminate health disparities across racial, ethnic, geographic, socioeconomic, and other populations to enable all Texans to live long, healthy, and more productive lives;
  • Acknowledge and act on systemic inequities embedded into healthcare systems at all levels which disproportionately affect Black, Indigenous, People of Color, people identifying as LGBTQIA+, people with disabilities, people with low incomes, people living in rural areas, and people who are undocumented; and
  • Ensure Texans living in rural areas have necessary access to healthcare and hospitals, including expansion of telehealth options and grants to incentivize healthcare professionals to locate in rural areas.
Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Services
  • Expand access to providers by increasing insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid reimbursement rates for licensed mental health providers, allowing longer session times, expanding telehealth reimbursement options, and expanding licensed mental health provider eligibility for Medicare reimbursement;
  • Increase access to mental health and substance use disorder services through expanded community-based services and inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities for adults and youth, including harm reduction programs such as needle exchanges and methadone-assisted treatment;
  • Expand mental health provider training programs, including treating marginalized populations, using trauma-informed treatments, and evidence-based therapies, and mandate periodic completion of updated trainings to meet continuing education licensure requirements;
  • Increase funding for treatment modality evaluation research; and
  • Fund, develop, and provide education programs addressing suicide prevention and fostering understanding of mental health issues and substance use disorders for the community, including age-appropriate education at all school levels and for professionals, including first responders, law enforcement and justice system personnel, educators, and all healthcare providers.

 

IMMIGRATION

Texas Democrats believe the United States has always been a vibrant nation of immigrants. We value those who come from different countries and cultures. Immigrants add to the prosperity, innovation, and resilience of this great country. Immigrants hold professional jobs, teach in our educational institutions, own businesses, build our homes, grow our food, and work across industries. We believe in fostering better bilateral relationships with all nations including our southern neighbor with whom we share an expansive border. Importantly, viewing immigrants through the lens of fear and prejudice only serves to undermine our values, prosperity, and security as a state and as a nation. Our government’s failure to enact meaningful, long-term immigration reform has left us with the broken system we have today. Our country is stronger with a more fair and equitable immigration system.

The Texas Democratic Party supports policies and programs that:

  • Enact comprehensive immigration reform, including an attainable path to citizenship;
  • Reform employment and education-based immigration, including an increase in visas, to continue to attract and retain innovative and talented individuals from across the world;
  • Reform family-based immigration, including expanding visa availability, especially for populous countries such as China, India, and Mexico, to expedite family reunification and lessen visa wait times;
  • Abolish reentry bans for non-violent legal permanent resident applicants and increasing approvals of hardship waivers;
  • Increase awareness of and access to U & T Visas to encourage the reporting and pursuit of criminal activities;
  • Remove limits placed on asylum claims or Temporary Protected Status for refugees fleeing natural disasters, forced gang recruitment, family violence, and violence perpetrated by gangs;
  • Prevent efforts to increase the fees associated with visa applications and mitigate the onerous paperwork requirements, which effectively create unnecessary barriers to immigration;
  • Combat efforts to expand public charge rules which discourage people, including U.S. Citizen children, from accessing safety net programs;
  • Protect and expand Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA);
  • Expand coverage under the Affordable Care Act to undocumented immigrants;
  • Ensure there are no bans based on religious affiliation or country of origin;
  • Uphold the 14th Amendment provision of the U.S. Constitution;
  • Provide equal housing opportunities to all immigrants;
  • Ensure asylum seekers are treated humanely;
  • Prohibit efforts to waste money on a border wall;
  • Tear down inappropriate and unnecessary walls and fencing along the border;
  • Forbid separating children from their parents and housing children in tent cities and cages;
  • Call for the shutdown to all family detention centers;
  • Mitigate efforts to limit and interfere with established federal, state, and faith-based refugee programs;
  • Reduce the current backlogs in U.S. Immigration Court by adding sufficient judges and providing individual legal assistance to all who come before the court;
  • Ensure fair and just treatment of all people in immigration proceedings regardless of race, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or other characteristics;
  • Allow undocumented students to attend in-state institutions of higher learning and qualify for in-state tuition;
  • Permit all Texas residents to obtain a driver’s license to increase safety on our roads;
  • Repeal Texas Senate Bill 4, or the “show me your papers” law, which effectively allows racial profiling by law enforcement;
  • Mandate the lawful and humane treatment of immigrants by all law enforcement and correction officers;
  • End any cooperation between Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and local law enforcement;
  • Establish a humane immigration system by terminating ICE and ensuring that any immigration enforcement processes transferred to existing agencies comply with domestic and international law;
  • Repeal Section 287g programs of the Immigration and Nationality Act;
  • Prohibit the immigration detention facility bed mandate, which encourages quotas;
  • Circumvent the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) sharing information or statistics on the legal status of any person stopped for a traffic offense; and
  • Repeal Title 8, Section 1325 of the United States Federal Code which is being used to treat unauthorized border crossings as a criminal offense instead of their long-standing, historical treatment as a civil matter.

 

REDUCING GUN VIOLENCE WHILE PRESERVING OUR SECOND AMENDMENT RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS

The Texas Democratic Party supports the right of every American to own and bear arms as preserved in the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It is part of our heritage as Texans and Americans to own firearms to protect our families, homes, and properties. We support the ownership of firearms for personal protection, hunting, target competitions, and other recreational endeavors. As responsible owners of firearms, we want to preserve these rights while implementing prudent safeguards to prevent random gun violence, needless suicides, senseless mass murders, tragic accidents, and interpersonal violence. Therefore, we support prudent safeguards including background checks, appropriate waiting periods, and the compilation of a registry of people with a history of violence or domestic abuse, which promote public safety and assist law enforcement in ensuring guns are kept out of the hands of criminals or those known to be at risk for causing harm to themselves or others.

The Texas Democratic Party supports policies and programs that:

  • Prevent discrimination or restrictions on the possession of firearms solely on the basis of race, religion, color, creed, or socio-economic status;
  • Require education to promote the responsible use and possession of firearms; and
  • Advocate for responsible actions to promote public safety and reduce acts of violence.
Preserving Equal Access to Firearms
  • Support the right of any citizen to own guns and oppose any legal restrictions preventing their possession based upon arbitrary classifications or medical conditions unrelated to their safe use; and
  • Support the right of Texans to inherit, purchase, and exchange firearms through the stream of commerce.
Encouraging Education, Training, and Research for Gun Safety
  • Support education and training programs that are affordable and accessible to Texans seeking a hunting license or permitting the concealed carry of a firearm;
  • Support research promoting gun safety, such as child safety locks and other “smart gun” technology; and
  • Lift all restrictions on research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention into gun violence and allow physicians, mental health counselors, and family counselors to freely discuss gun safety with their patients.
Promoting Public Safety and Reducing Acts of Violence
  • Support compiling a registry of people with violent histories, including family violence, to ensure these individuals cannot purchase guns until their records are cleared;
  • Enact an Extreme Risk Protection Order Law, and provide that these decisions are made equitably without consideration of information on name, race, or ethnicity;
  • Mandate the temporary surrender of all guns by a person who has had a protective order issued against them in the past 3 years or is convicted of a violent misdemeanor or felony, including animal abuse, or has been in the past 5 years in Texas, any other U.S. jurisdiction, or in military court, returning them only when that person has been deemed safe to own a gun by an approved licensed psychologist hired or contracted by the state or county and no sooner than one year after temporary surrender;
  • Require universal background checks coupled with a reasonable waiting period, with the exception of an exchange of firearms within families or by inheritance, to ensure those charged with violent crimes cannot possess or acquire firearms while their charges remain pending;
  • Remove loopholes that exempt gun shows and private sales to non-family members from background checks and other safety requirements prior to the sale of a firearm;
  • Restore the prior federal prohibition on the purchase of assault weapons, as well as prohibit the manufacture, sale, or possession of bump stocks, binary trigger systems, trigger cranks, attachable silencers, and magazine clips that hold over 10 rounds;
  • Prohibit the open carry of all firearms and repeal “campus carry” policies;
  • Repeal laws that insulate manufacturers and distributors of firearms from civil liability;
  • Promote law enforcement and first responders’ safety by banning all Teflon and armor-piercing ammunition;
  • Remove any impediments to the freedom of local governments, school districts, churches, and proprietors to control the use and possession of firearms on their premises or in their public spaces; and
  • Enact and enforce responsible gun storage laws.

 

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

Texas Democrats believe religious freedom is a fundamental right for all Americans as provided by the Texas and U.S. Constitutions. We recognize the importance of religion and prayer in the lives of many Texans and that there are those with secular beliefs. We support our Constitution’s guarantee of every individual’s right to practice their own beliefs without imposing them on others.

The Texas Democratic Party supports policies and programs that:

  • Safeguard the free exercise of religion without promoting one religion or denomination over others;
  • Guarantee individual rights, fair treatment, and protections to all minorities, including religious minorities; and
  • Ensure no religious test shall be required as a qualification for public office.
As the U.S. Constitution prohibits the establishment of a favored religion and any religious test for public office, while guaranteeing free religious exercise, we believe:
  • That, just as personal faith and values guide and inspire us to further the well-being of our community, we must never use the power of government at any level to promote one religion or denomination over others or to impose our personal religious observances;
  • Government must not inhibit the free exercise of religion, but religion can never be used as an excuse to discriminate against or harm others;
  • In the separation of church and state;
  • America is the most religiously observant country in the West because our founders wisely provided that separation of church and state, which allows religion to flourish in freedom and respects those who have no religious faith;
  • Government must not use any public funds to support religious positions or activities;
  • Entangling government with religion is dangerous to both government and religion; and
  • The religious test for public office in the Texas Constitution must be removed.
Religion should not be invoked to supersede the rights of others. These rights include:
  • Legal protection from discrimination, including for LGBTQIA+ Texans;
  • Nondiscrimination for individuals in service or public accommodations in the private sector;
  • Fair treatment and non-exploitation in employment and business;
  • The protection of children and the needy;
  • Access to healthcare for all, particularly for women and families;
  • Nondiscrimination in the provision of goods and services by government, directly or through grants and contracts;
  • The disseminating of valid voter protection information by trusted sources like faith communities;
  • Life and health, which are prioritized by all religions, and must not be jeopardized by requiring voters to only vote in-person instead of by mail during a pandemic; and
  • Free speech and freedom of expression, including the right of individual persons to address grievances through boycotts.

 

REVITALIZATION OF RURAL COMMUNITIES & AMERICAN AGRICULTURE

Texas Democrats believe our rural communities, along with the farmers, ranchers, small business owners, and others who live in them, deserve a bold political agenda to restore economic prosperity to the small towns and rural areas of our country. We support rural values of self-reliance and devotion to God and country, the preservation of private property rights and separation of church and state, and initiatives to revitalize rural America, including farm policies that restore fair prices from world markets and address the current credit crisis confronting American agriculture.

The Texas Democratic Party supports policies and programs that:

  • Provide grants and loans to lift the rural economy out of the crisis created by globalization and technology;
  • Promote strong rural schools, community colleges, and regional training programs;
  • Address the lack of available and affordable healthcare in rural America;
  • Promote safe and sustainable use of the land while preserving private property rights and encouraging good stewardship and conservation of limited natural resources;
  • Fund projects to repair or replace the aging infrastructure in rural America, including roads, bridges, and public water and sewer systems;
  • Enable electric and telephone cooperatives to provide high-speed internet and cell phone service to rural towns and school districts to remediate the disparity in service that exists in rural areas; and
  • Empower local governments to address their unique needs and priorities, including ensuring the preservation of rural independent school districts to preserve the identity and autonomy of rural communities.
Restoring Prosperity and Opportunity to Rural America and American Agriculture
  • Create a rural loan insurance corporation to guarantee up to 90 percent of loans and grants to purchase farm machinery or equipment, lease and purchase farmland, and finance crop inputs so young farmers can start their operations, new entrepreneurs can create farm-to-table operations, and small business owners can open innovative companies to use local resources in new and different ways, while creating competition in the global economy;
  • Promote responsible agriculture, including trade policies to encourage open global markets and fair competition coupled with domestic price supports to enable producers to orderly market their crops and receive fair prices that cover costs of production plus a reasonable profit;
  • Prohibit discrimination against family farmers and agribusinesses in being denied access to loans or assistance simply because they exercise the right to use federal bankruptcy laws to restructure finances; and
  • Ensure the protection of migrant farmworkers, who play a crucial role in the Texas agricultural economy, from inhumane working conditions and provide just wages and humane living conditions.
Ensuring Rural Students Equal Access to a Quality Education
  • Realize the constitutional right of all Texas students to a free, high-quality, public education and restore adjustments for small and mid-size school districts to ensure they are equitably funded in reflection of the higher costs in all programs;
  • Prohibit the forced consolidation of rural school districts and preempt any attempt to fund private schools with public funds, also known as school vouchers;
  • Ensure access to affordable, high-speed internet for all rural Texas school districts, staff, students, and families;
  • Equip all students with adequate technology at home for distance learning;
  • Ensure universal, affordable child development and care centers for pre-K education;
  • Increase funding for Communities in Schools to identify and assist students having problems in school at the earliest possible age;
  • Implement alternative learning options for teenage students having problems staying in school, such as a youth corps to instill the benefits of public service and provide resources for rural improvement programs; and
  • Allow school districts to use tax funds to create Regional Technical Training Centers by partnering with community colleges and each other to provide students the skills needed for 21st century jobs.
Accessible and Affordable Healthcare for Rural Texans
  • Accept Medicaid expansion in Texas and recognize that healthcare is a fundamental right which should be affordable and accessible to all;
  • Address the scarcity of healthcare resources by providing public grants to incentivize health workers to locate in rural towns and open facilities designed to provide the services needed in rural areas;
  • Use technological advances, such as telehealth, to provide access to consultative care in rural areas; and
  • Encourage a fundamental shift in healthcare delivery by moving from a “sick care” to a “well care” model.
Confronting Environmental Challenges While Preserving Rights of Landowners and Promoting Responsible Stewardship of Resources
  • Promote good stewardship of private land through the mitigation and control of harmful impacts as well as assistance for rural Texans in increasing water supply by encouraging rainwater capture and erosion control;
  • Address threats to water quality caused by industry, development, mining, and agriculture through regulation of aggregate and frac-sand production, fossil fuel extraction, and transportation to emphasize the importance of protecting the environment lest we spoil land used for agriculture, recreation, and raising families;
  • Reform eminent domain statutes to more fairly balance the rights of property owners with industry eliminating private entities having blanket condemnation authority and ensuring the entities seeking such authority are deserving of such power and that any proposed project is justified by serving the public good while providing landowners facing condemnation a transparent process to ensure a fair and equitable outcome; and
  • Ensure any proposed “interstate” pipelines are not allowed to be segmented to avoid the meaningful environmental review necessary to protect our natural resources.
Restoring and Replacing Our Aging Rural Infrastructure
  • Reverse the continuing decline in rural population by funding new public infrastructure that fosters economic development, including irrigation projects to replace depleted water resources for both irrigation and drinking water supplies;
  • Appropriate funds to repair or replace dams that have been rated “high hazard;”
  • Fund the Texas Highway Department at sufficient levels to rehabilitate farm to market highways; and
  • Improve rural infrastructure and help rural Texans who often have the greatest needs.
Comparable Quality High-Speed Internet and Cell Phone Service
  • Provide loans and grants to electric and telephone coops to install needed infrastructure to fill the gaps in cell phone service and provide equal access and comparable internet service to rural consumers;
Restoring and Replacing Our Aging Rural Infrastructure
  • Return local control by removing restrictions and empowering local governments to address rural priorities; and
  • Allow local governments to create regional authorities to join resources to address common problems related to the economy and culture.

 

SMART GOVERNMENT & INFRASTRUCTURE

Texas Democrats believe in a fair and transparent government serving all people. Smart government means investing for our future, ensuring the health of our residents, and facilitating an economy that benefits all Texans. We support capital and government investment in infrastructure such as roads, bridges, utilities, internet services, water supply and flood control, schools, ports, parks, and public buildings. We must properly fund education and make it available to all. We also value the diversity of our communities and believe that the State of Texas should recognize the governing authority of those communities on issues where local authority best serves the health and safety of the community.

The Texas Democratic Party supports policies and programs that:

  • Promote fiscal responsibility while ensuring transparency and accountability;
  • Protect public pensions and restore actuarial soundness;
  • Fully fund transportation projects to alleviate congestion and improve the safety of our roadways; and
  • Ensure technology serves to empower our people and communities, protects the rights and freedoms of our society, and enhances equitable access to the benefits of technological progress.
Fiscal Responsibility
  • Use the Rainy Day Fund for its intended purpose, which is to ensure the continuation of appropriate services during economic downturns, as well as to recover from natural disasters;
  • End debt, diversions, and deception in the state budget process;
  • Appropriate assistance to Texans and Texas communities still attempting to recover from Hurricane Harvey and other natural disasters, with management at the local level;
  • Establish grants for the task force that was created by Texas Department of Emergency Management relating to disaster issues that affect older adults and persons with disabilities;
  • Oppose regressive taxes as well as tax breaks to the 1% of our population at the expense of the other 99%;
  • Enact a constitutional amendment to prohibit sales tax on food and medicine, while opposing efforts to replace local property taxes with a tremendous increase in state sales taxes;
  • Enact a sales and use tax exemption for items used to assist persons with an intellectual, cognitive, or developmental disability;
  • Reform the business “margins tax” to provide fairness to all economic sectors, especially small businesses, while opposing eliminating it and shifting the burden further onto sales taxes and residential property taxes;
  • Eliminate tax loopholes and unproductive special breaks to simplify the tax system and provide revenue for essential services;
  • Prohibit “corporate welfare” incentives that pit states and communities against each other;
  • Reform the property tax appraisal system to benefit all homeowners fairly, prevent families from being taxed out of their homes, eliminate commercial property loopholes, and extend the benefits of property tax relief to renters;
  • Require proposed revenue policy to be clearly established in a transparent process and determined by open, public debate and votes cast by elected representatives;
  • Prioritize the use of local businesses and labor in local government projects to improve local economies;
  • Conduct regular audits of state contracts and impose and enforce fines and/or debarment for corporations and entities receiving contracts that fail to deliver on their contractual obligations;
  • Require government procurement contracts and taxpayer-funded incentives to businesses to target, when possible, historically underutilized small businesses and prohibit such awards to companies that export jobs or utilize tax loopholes to avoid state or federal taxes;
  • Require the Texas government to spend taxes and fees for the reason they were collected; and
  • Prevent the continued use of the Texas Enterprise Fund as a corporate slush fund that rewards businesses owned by political cronies and contributors.
Public Employees & Pensions
  • Protect the defined benefits pension systems that have been faithfully paid into by employees;
  • Fully fund our obligations and repair the pension systems without cutting benefit amounts;
  • Promote and secure the increase in pensions to reflect cost-of-living adjustments; and
  • Prevent the privatization of the U.S. Postal Service and fully fund its operations.
Transportation
  • Invest state dollars in mass transportation projects with public support and the potential for matching federal funds;
  • Enact an equitable way to adequately pay for road and highway infrastructure in Texas;
  • Support transportation projects to encourage building safe sidewalks, curb cutouts, and bicycle lanes;
  • Review creative and innovative programs like buses on shoulders of major highways, charging stations for electric vehicles, and dedicated lanes for autonomous vehicles to encourage mobility;
  • Improve paratransit services to meet the needs of Texans with disabilities;
  • Prevent infrastructure built with public funds from being used as private entities;
  • Prohibit converting any public highways, freeways, or roads into a toll road, require any tolled lanes to be an addition with no fewer traffic lights or intersections than the free lanes, and provide the funding to convert all existing toll road infrastructure built on public roads to free and non-tolled use;
  • Review future transportation planning to reflect the likely increased use of telecommuting;
  • Demand transparency in how toll roads are financed and how funds are managed; and
  • Develop a state rail plan that does not harm the environment or infringe upon property rights.
Technology
  • End the warrantless digital surveillance of Americans as authorized by the Patriot Act and the USA Freedom Act;
  • Enshrine “Net Neutrality” as the law of the land, and require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to interpret internet service providers as subject to Title II Communications Service Common Carrier regulations;
  • Establish a universal “Right to Repair,” so that people are always able to repair or modify electronic devices that they own, without violating intellectual property laws;
  • Regulate facial recognition systems, including their use in public or private spaces;
  • End government requirements for “encryption backdoors,” as they create unnecessary security risks for widely adopted software and online services;
  • Encourage our government, whenever possible, to make use of open-source software, and provide any internally developed software, under an open-source license, for use by the public;
  • Promote the responsible regulation of emergent technologies to ensure they serve the needs of the people instead of benefiting the proprietors of a technology;
  • Protect our right to consent regarding the collection and sale of our personal data by websites, software applications, and network service providers;
  • Provide high-speed internet and cell phone service, along with Wi-Fi capabilities, and end the disparities in services for low-income and rural communities;
  • Require all state agencies and public universities to develop and implement telecommuting infrastructure and employment policies;
  • Improve telecommuting infrastructure and employment policies to allow for a more flexible work/life balance, ease the stress on roads, and to ensure the continuity of business and education during national disasters such as the COVID-19 pandemic; and
  • Amend Government Code, Chapter 551, Subchapter B, by adding the requirement that all publicly available broadcasts of open governmental meetings, including Texas Legislative hearings, be captioned.

 

SUPPORTING OUR VETERANS

Texas Democrats believe Service Members and Veterans should be honored for their service and deserve the benefits they have earned and been promised, regardless of their race, ethnicity, geographic location, income, disability status, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, or immigration status. Texas Democrats believe that Veterans experiencing homelessness or who commit suicide are a national tragedy. We believe that too few Americans understand how the impact of military service, especially experiencing combat and repeated deployments, affects a Veteran’s life.

The Texas Democratic Party supports policies and programs that:

  • Determine the unmet, entitled needs of Veterans to provide those services when and where needed;
  • Address Veteran homelessness through comprehensive Veterans Administration (VA) and community programs;
  • Provide focused outreach as well as trauma-informed training and treatment to end Veteran suicide;
  • Understand that climate change is a national security issue that will impact the military and the world; and
  • Engage Veterans to become actively involved in Democratic politics.
Veterans Services
  • Expand healthcare for Veterans to include initial assessments of health, mental health, and substance use disorders, followed by periodic reassessments combined with referrals for needed care;
  • Specifically address the needs of traditionally marginalized Veterans through specialized training, targeted programs, and effectiveness evaluations;
  • Strengthen programs for Service Members and their families leaving Active Duty addressing employment, housing, financial management, healthcare, and earned benefits and entitlements; and
  • Prevent the privatization of the VA.
Veterans Homelessness
  • Prevent and end homelessness among Veterans through providing a sufficient supply of affordable and permanent supportive housing combined with intensive case management, employment services, and physical and mental healthcare in coordination with the VA’s Continuum of Care (CoC) Programs; and
  • Identify every Veteran experiencing homelessness or at risk of becoming homeless to connect them with VA programs for homeless Veterans.
Veterans Suicide
  • Recognize that every Veteran has fired a weapon, may have experienced trauma, and often was discouraged from seeking mental healthcare, increasing challenges in programs to end Veteran suicide;
  • Increase suicide awareness public service announcements for Veterans addressing behaviors of concern and resources for help;
  • Require counties and regions to compile and publish statistics about Veterans who commit suicide to determine the extent of the problem locally and within Texas; and
  • Mandate all healthcare providers screen Veterans for suicide and homelessness risk at every contact, document that screening, and make appropriate referrals to VA or community resources.
Veterans and the Environment
  • Require the VA to identify potential military toxic exposures, conduct resultant contact tracing, offer appropriate medical treatment, and grant “presumption of exposure” disability ratings; and
  • Address the impact climate change will have on military readiness, military installations, and military life, including motivating legislators and Veterans to advocate for necessary environmental modifications.
Veterans Community Engagement
  • Advocate for the Rights of Marginalized Populations, including repatriation of Deported Veterans, and protect the rights of immigrant family members; and
  • Encourage Veterans to communicate with all their elected officials about legislation and programs addressing the unique needs of Veterans and engage Veterans to apply their leadership skills to restore effective leadership to the country they swore an oath to defend.

 

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