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 Wednesday, July 17, 2013




Anti-Choice Special Session Legislation
Despite a tremendous fight by House and Senate Democrats, the Texas Legislature passed, on its third try, the legislation (HB 2) aimed at reducing access to reproductive services across the state.  The voices of thousands of women and men were heard in committee, rallies across the state, and social media forums across the world, but on the floor of the Texas House and Senate the vote was pre-determined.  All attempts to amend the legislation, including attempts to create exceptions for rape and incest, expand prenatal care, comprehensive sex education, and other proven effective and legal methods to reduce abortions were rejected on nearly straight party line votes.  The struggle to protect women's constitutional rights will now move to the courts and ultimately the ballot box in November, 2014.  If you are also interested in joining the fight for women's rights, feel free to follow Stand With Texas Women on facebook.

Garcia Fights Back Against Gov. Perry's Poorly Drawn Redistricting Maps
In June, Governor Rick Perry ordered a special session of the Texas Legislature to adopt the court ordered boundaries for Texas' legislative districts.  Among Senator Garcia's concerns that she made known on the floor of the Senate and in committee hearings throughout Texas is the fact that over 70% of Harris County's growth during the last 10 years is the result of the Hispanic population and yet when the Houston area was provided another Congressional seat, instead of it being an additional Hispanic opportunity district, it went to a Caucasian, Tea Party, Republican.  Senator Garcia is also concerned that communities such as Jacinto City have been split into two separate Texas Senate and United States Congressional districts.  Senator Garcia does not believe splitting communities and diluting their voting strength is an appropriate way to achieve a government that is representational and responsive to its citizens. Fighting for her district, Senator Garcia presented amendments to address these concerns, however, none were accepted.  Governor Perry signed the legislation enacting the Texas House, Texas Senate, and Congressional Redistricting maps, but litigation continues in the courts.



Senator Garcia Hosts District Office Open House
On June 29, Senator Garcia hosted over 300 Senate District 6 residents, community leaders, and employees of various state agencies at her official open house for her office in the Elias Ramirez State Office Building.  This event was not just to be an open house for her office, but for the entire Ramirez Office Building, allowing the state agencies that work alongside her office every day to share the important resources they have available to the community.  The event was well received with many residents visiting this state office building for the first time.  For residents who were unable to attend the event, Senator Garcia welcomes visits anytime.  The office will be open Mon-Fri, from 8:30-5:30.




Senate 6 Celebrates 4th of July
Senator Garcia and her office were particularly busy throughout the Houston area this 4th of July holiday weekend, with parades in Lindale Park, South Belt Ellington, and Baytown.  Senator Garcia was pleased to have provided the children watching the parades with American flags to wave during each of the parades.

Save the Trees
In mid-June, a developer illegally stripped vegetation from an area in the Woodland Heights Park. Senator Garcia, who believes strongly in preservation of urban green space, wrote a letter urging the Mayor and the Houston Parks and Recreation Department to investigate the matter immediately and determine what could be done to rectify the situation. The Houston Parks and Recreation Department, along with Houston Police, have begun a formal investigation into the matter and the developer in question is cooperating. Senator Garcia's staff will continue to work closely with the Mayor's office and Council Member Ed Gonzalez to hold the developer accountable and determine what can be done moving forward.




Defense of Marriage Act
There were a multitude of U.S. Supreme Court decisions in the last few weeks.  One decision, United States v. Windsor was a monumental victory for marriage equality.  The Supreme Court ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional.  This decision means that same-sex couples who are legally married must now be treated the same under federal law as married opposite-sex couples.

Voting Rights
In a victory for Voting Rights, the Supreme Court struck down Arizona’s attempt to put additional requirements for voter registration on federal registration forms in the case, Arizona v. ITCA.  This decision will prevent states from attempting to add onerous requirements for voter registration that often negatively impact students, the elderly, minorities, and naturalized citizens.

Affirmative Action
In a decision that directly involved Texas, the Supreme Court maintained the ability of universities to use diversity considerations in the admissions policy, more commonly referred to as the use of affirmative action policies.  The Supreme Court in Fisher v. Texas asked the lower court to take another look at the policies of the University of Texas at Austin to determine if there are other alternatives to the University’s interests in having a diverse campus for the future workforce.  The case represents a continuing dialogue in the U.S. on race and ethnicity and we’ll be sure to keep an eye on the case and future developments on this issue in the Courts and the legislature.

Voter ID
Unfortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court saved one of its worst decisions for the end of its term.  In the case of Shelby County v. Holder, it gutted one of the most important provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  The Supreme Court overturned Congressional findings related to the application of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits the implementation of voting laws that are found to have a racially discriminatory purpose or effect to jurisdictions, like Texas, that have a long and recent history of voting discrimination.   Specifically, the Court found Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which specifies which jurisdictions must adhere to Section 5, to be in violation of the law and ordered Congress to make new determinations on who should be covered.  Essentially, this means that Texas and other states that previously had to get permission to enact voting changes are no longer bound by this requirement.  Texas is already attempting to implement the most restrictive voter identification law in the nation that was previously blocked by Section 5.  Litigants are attempting to judicially force Texas back into the Section 5 requirements, while at the same time Congress will begin to hold hearings to move forward on reauthorizing these key provisions of the Voting Rights Act.  We will provide new information related to the Voter Identification and other election changes as information becomes available.  Please let us know if you or anyone you know may be impacted by the restrictive voter id laws so that we can assist them.




July 27, 2013 (3pm - 6pm): Join Senator Sylvia R. Garcia and the Librotraficantes for the State-wide Proclamation of the 1st Annual Gus Garcia Day. Gus Garcia  was the first Mexican American to win a Supreme Court case. There will be a a screening of the documentary "A Class Apart," about the Hernandez vs Texas case, followed by a proclamation presentation and concluding with a Mexican American Think Thank, an action panel across disciplines and backgrounds.

August 17, 2013 (10am-1pm):  Senator Garcia will be hosting another open house for our 2nd office located in the Woodforest National Bank Building, 13301 East Freeway, Suite 304, Houston, Texas  77015. The phone number is (713) 453-5100. The open house will be Saturday, August 17, from 10am-1pm.  All are welcome. Food and drinks will be provided. More details to follow.




Last week I joined Senate Democrats in a statewide Stand with Texas Women tour to connect with Texans who have been left out of the women’s health discussion in Austin and to highlight real legislative options to reduce abortions without endangering women’s health or undermining their rights.  I filed legislation - along with members of the Senate Democratic Caucus - that would reduce unplanned pregnancies in Texas and improve access to preventative and affordable health care for women.  After the first 30-day special session wrapped up with an historic 13 hour filibuster by Senator Davis that defeated anti-women's health legislation, Governor Perry called a second special session, specifically to put the defeated legislation back on the agenda.  Texas has the nation’s highest rate of uninsured and ranks near the bottom in women receiving prenatal care.  If Governor Perry and Republicans really cared about "women's health and safety" they would proactively pass legislation to reduce unintended pregnancy and increase access to family planning services and science based sex education for our Texas youth.  The piece of legislation that passed did not include any preventative measures, nor did it do anything to reduce unplanned pregnancies.  In fact, the 20 week ban on abortions makes no exception for rape or incest and provides for a very narrow exception for the health of the mother.

I will continue to fight for women's health and constitutional rights until the will of the people is heard in the rallies, the hearings, the floor votes and, most importantly, the ballot box.

While women's reproductive health took the lime light in the second special session, work continues on funding critical transportation needs and work has been completed on a juvenile criminal justice bill.  With less than two weeks left in this second special session, unless the Governor adds to the call, I will be home soon.  That my friends, I anxiously await!

Putting People First,


Sylvia Garcia Campaign
P.O. Box 8530, Houston, TX 77249-8530

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Paid for by Sylvia Garcia Campaign; Roland Garcia, Treasurer