AJC's 2019 Texas Legislative Ten-Point Plan

During the 2019 Texas Legislative Session, Austin Justice Coalition will be advocating for the following changes to Austin’s public safety systems and more:

1. Help those in need

- Treat rather than incarcerate those addicted to drugs or suffering from mental illness

  • Support good Samaritan, protection from prosecution of you call in an overdose

  • Divert the mentally ill from the criminal justice system to appropriate treatment or services

  • Reduced penalties for trace amount of drugs

- Expand access to low income housing, especially in areas hardest hit by gentrification

- Provide housing and services to the homeless instead of criminal charges and incarceration

 

2. Enact laws that are just, fair and equitable

 

- Every child in every school should get a good education

  • ​support creation of good recess policies that encourage physical activity

  • End disproportionate impact of discipline policies

 

- End racially biased outcomes in the prosecution of our criminal laws

  • fix the flawed civil asset forfeiture system that is currently used to take people’s stuff (mostly money and cars) and allows PDs to use the money (HBs 171, 182, 404, 479)

  • Require written or recorded consent for a voluntary vehicle search

  • Raise the age of criminal prosecution as an adult to 18

- Provide health care to those with chronic conditions regardless of their income, gender, family status, or location

3. Create safety without fear

 

- Require police action to be proportionate and respect the sanctity of all life

  • Protect women from unwarranted roadside body cavity searches from roadside stops to all stops including pedestrian stops

  • Prohibits tasering kids in public school

  • Require force policies that respect the sanctity of all life and require de-escalation methods when appropriate

  • Improve police interactions with people through better enforcement of policies and rules

- Focus public safety resources on the most dangerous crimes, reduce over-policing of entire communities

  • End arrest and jail for nonpayment of traffic fines and non-jailable civil ordinances

  • Encourage alternative approaches to first response so that the outcome of an emergency call is not necessarily arrest and jail

  • Reduce penalties for marijuana including harsh penalties for THC oil and pot possession on school grounds

 

- Build a strong network of independent crime labs to solve more crime while protecting the innocent

4. Unleash individual freedom tempered by responsibility ​

- Encourage personal responsibility by using citation instead of arrest for all violations where jail is not an allowable punishment so people don’t lose their jobs and can pay their fines.

- Ensure that people who want a job and are willing to work can get a job, even if they have previously been convicted of a crime

 

- Raise the minimum wage so that all working people can pay their bills (HB 290)

 

- Invest tax dollars in job training and education, public transportation, and better health care for all so that everyone can lift their job prospects, get to a job, and stay on the job.

5. Ensure all children can reach for their dreams

- Protect the rights of students graduating from Texas high schools to attend Texas universities regardless of their immigration status

- Don’t break up families due to a parent’s immigration status, force children born here to give up their education and dreams due to a parent’s immigration status

- Nurture young children in school by addressing behavior problems in school rather than through out-of-school suspensions (HB 65)

6. Respect our earth

- Reduce toxic emissions that lead to asthma and other health conditions

  • ​HB 522 (Allen) related to cumulative affects of emissions

  • HB 223 (Reynolds) energy efficiency programs

 

- Allow cities and other local governments to pass local ordinances designed to address local environmental concerns

 

- Divest from industrial use of fossil fuels and reinvest in community-based sustainable energy solutions

 

7. Enact reality-based policy

- Crime rates have precipitously dropped: enact criminal laws that make sense for a more peaceable Texas

  • Facilitate the possibility of earlier parole for people in adult prison for a crime committed when they were under the age of 18

  • Encourage people to earn their way off probation early by fulfilling the requirements and getting early release

 

- Base border security policy on crime data and economic analysis, not nativism.

- Stop pretending we can educate more children without spending more money

- End the erasure of black history – like the Slocum or Kirvin massacres -- so that we can make policy based on the shared and acknowledged experience of all Texans

8. Govern with transparency

- Strengthen the Public Information Act to eliminate exceptions that prevent the public from holding government employees accountable for their actions

- Improve data collection, reporting and access to raw data from state agencies across all policy areas, but particularly in education, tax, criminal justice and health care policy.

  • HB 147 to increase access to information about police misconduct

  • HB 65 reporting out of school school suspensions

 

9. Respect all people

- Listen and take seriously those who testify before you, especially those who have a personal experience with the problems you are trying to solve

- Give people their privacy and don’t assume they have something to hide just because they want to exercise their rights under the constitution

10. Give all people the same chance to succeed:

- Enact policies that ensure all families can afford to pay for basic needs like rent, utilities, housing and communications services

  • SB 87 (Hall), SB 191 (Miles) – repeal Driver Responsibility Program of civil surcharges added to traffic tickets that have caused 1.3 million Texans to lose their DL

- Reduce discrimination in hiring and worker management so that black and brown workers are able to work longer, develop stronger work history, and enjoy economic advancement

 

- Support and invest in minority owned businesses to help build wealth in black and brown communities

 

- Texas should take the lead granting reparations to black families who were stripped of wealth and opportunity by organized practices of discrimination

 

* P.S. - This note will be updated as we continue to find and discover bills that fall in line with our 10-Point Plan. If you aware of any bills that coincide with our legislative agenda, please email us bill numbers and author to info@austinjustice.org

"Without the people there can be no government. The government must be, therefore, an expression of the will of the people.."
 - Marcus Garvery