Legislative Lowdown - Jan. 18, 2019

 Today is Day 11 of the 140-day regular session of the 86thTexas Legislature.

  • The Texas AFL-CIO announced a broad legislative agenda conceived around a Fair Shot message that has been demanded by our membership. This is the state federation’s first multi-topic agenda in years after several mainly defensive legislative sessions. Some of the topics are cutting-edge moves into subject areas that have not been emphasized before.

  • The agenda includes long-standing topics connected to higher pay, better benefits and justice in the workplace. Among the new topics: ending disproportionate penalties that can lead to bankruptcy or unemployability when someone commits a minor offense; making college more affordable; and advocating for Fair Shot principles in the jobs of the future. “The rigged rules of yesterday cannot become the rigged rules of tomorrow,” Texas AFL-CIO President Rick Levy said.

  • See the Fair Shot agenda: http://bit.ly/2RBWGyV  Dallas Morning News coverage: http://bit.ly/2W4404D

  • The big headline at the inauguration of Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick was a Texas Senate proposal to provide teachers an across-the-board raise of $5,000 a year. The measure, which took the form of SB 3 by Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, may say more about the optimism around school finance reform and the legislative session in general, not to mention the election results. As Texas AFT pointed up, the idea moves in the right direction but raises questions, such as: What happens to public school employees who hold other jobs? What has to be done to the rest of the state budget to pay the cost of the raise? The House is on a different wavelength, proposing a substantial overall increase for public education without specifying a raise amount.

  • Three Texas House districts will soon vote on replacements to take office for the remainder of the legislative session. In HD 145 - vacated when Carol Alvarado was elected to the Senate – the Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation issued a dual endorsement for candidates Christina Morales and Melissa Noriega. In HD 79, an El Paso district vacated by Joe Pickett for health reasons, the El Paso Central Labor Council has recommended Art Fierro. Those elections will be held Jan. 29. The third election, a Feb. 12 vote, will take place in HD 125 after Rep. Justin Rodriguez, D-San Antonio, resigned to take a position on Bexar County Commissioners Court. The San Antonio Central Labor Council is taking no position.

  • Objections to a proposed Texas Workforce Commission rule that may deny employment benefits to workers who are assigned work digitally are picking up steam. Houston Chronicle business columnist Chris Tomlinson criticized the idea, declaring, “A pending Texas Workforce Commission rule that may rip away employment benefits from workers who get jobs digitally via their cell phones is an example.” The Texas AFL-CIO plans to join next week with the Workers Defense Project and other organizations on further action to oppose the rule.

  •  RIP Mike Littleton, former CWA District 6 Area Director, former ULLCO lobbyist and all his life, a ray of sunshine to go with his steadfast advocacy of working families.