LPTX Fall State Download 🍂 | Budget roundup, witnessing Operation Lone Star, & more!

Across the state, LPTX members and partners are fighting back to protect workers, undocumented community members, the formerly incarcerated, and our houseless populations. Check out the highlights below, followed by ways you can get more involved in the chapter. 

Budget season has wrapped up for many localities across Texas, and we’re seeing big wins for workers. Austin, Travis County, and Austin Community College secured a $20/hr base wage for their employees along with across-the-board increases for all employees. Dallas approved an $18/hr base wage for their employees, and worked with the DFW Airport Board to ensure airport workers will receive an $18/hr minimum wage by 2023. San Antonio also approved a starting wage of $17.50/hr for their workers. 

In more budget news, Austin and Dallas joined other Texas localities in creating an Enhanced Library Card program. Dallas had previously approved a pilot program but during their recent budget session they moved to bring the program to all libraries. They joined Harris County, San Antonio, and San Marcos in creating a program that will provide an ID for many communities that cannot access another type of government-issued ID — including our LGBTQ communities, houseless populations, and undocumented residents. This effort has been led by Texas Organizing Project, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, and other local partners. 

More Wins for Workers 

The City of Waco approved six weeks of paid family leave for their employees in their recent budget — they are joining localities including Travis County and Houston, which this year also approved a paid family leave policy. 

More efforts are moving across Texas to set strong worker standards on construction projects funded through bonds. The Austin Community College Board of Trustees unanimously approved a bond for the November 2022 ballot, along with a resolution regarding construction contracting and worker standards to ensure all subcontractors provide workers’ compensation coverage, pay living wages, ensure training and safety certifications, among other important worker protections. The Austin Independent School District Trustees approved similar protections for construction workers within their bond to be approved by voters in November. 

This month I visited the Texas-Mexico border with a delegation led by Grassroots Leadership and other partners to witness Operation Lonestar, a multi-billion dollar Texas law enforcement operation led by Governor Abbott intended to target suspected migrants for arrest, prosecution, and incarceration on low-level state misdemeanor offenses. 

OLS targets cities and counties with promises of state funding that can be used to enforce these misdemeanor offenses. Much of this money is going towards beefing up local law enforcement capacity that inevitably creates highly surveilled communities. You can find out more about this program here.

In order to receive funding through OLS, local governments must implement a disaster declaration. Recently a few City Council Representatives in El Paso called on their Mayor to do just that. Although the Mayor has refused to follow through with such an action at this time, Abbott, other state leaders, and neighboring jurisdictions are constantly pressuring more local leaders to do this. You can read more about this event in El Paso here, along with powerful quotes from LPTX Organizing Committee member and El Paso Representative Alexsandra Annello, including:

“A state declaration has great implications,” Annello said in a written statement. “It would initiate (Texas) Gov. (Greg) Abbott’s Operation Lone Star, which specifically connects the border, immigration and violence.”

Our chapter is working with Grassroots Leadership and other partners to support the many communities impacted by this harmful program. If you’re interested in getting involved, reach out to Kara.

Localities are continuing to push back against the criminalization of abortion. Officially five Texas jurisdictions have passed resolutions directing local law enforcement and city police departments to not investigate abortion seekers and those supporting abortion seekers. Our chapter will continue to support these local efforts along with other pro-abortion efforts. In fact, we worked with the Austin Community Law Center to produce this legal memo to support your efforts to fight the criminalization of abortion with a local resolution. Are you interested in bringing this policy to your locality? Email Kara to set up a time to discuss more.

ICYMI, we hosted our 2022 National Convening in Denver this past August! Shoutout to all the Texas members who attended, contributed, and brought all the energy! Check out highlights from the program here and stay tuned as we prepare for our 2023 National Convening.

Looking for ways to get more involved with LP and our Texas chapter? Check out these actions below!

Recruit New Members

Our members are our best recruiters! Do you know a local elected official in Texas who would be a good fit for our network? You can use this sample email to introduce them to the Local Progress network and invite them to join. 

Apply to join our Organizing Committee

A great way to get more involved with our work in Texas is through our LPTX Organizing Committee! Our Committee meets once a month and works with LP staff and our community partners to set our state chapters priorities and define our mission and vision for our work. It’s also a great space to build community with other LPTX members. If you’re interested in learning more about this Committee, fill out this form.

Join a LP Identity Caucus

Last year Local Progress launched its first identity-based community space: the Black Caucus! This year, we are building towards launching our Women’s Caucus! These spaces were created by and for LP members to gather and share their lived experiences in governing and leadership positions. If you’re interested in getting involved with the Black Caucus, reach out to Deandrea at dnewsome@localprogress.org, and if you’re interested in getting involved with the Women’s Caucus reach out to me at ksheehan@localprogress.org.

LP is hiring!

Local Progress is looking for a highly skilled Membership Organizer with a track record of recruitment, engagement, base and coalition building. The Membership Organizer will be part of the Organizing Team and will be responsible for organizing in non-staffed states, particularly in rural and small localities, supporting caucus formation and preemption programming, and co-leading the planning and execution of the LP annual National Convening. Follow the link here to apply or to share with your network!

That’s a wrap for our Fall newsletter!