LPTX State Download ☀️ | Legislative round-up & exciting announcements! | June 2023

It’s been a big year for our chapter, focusing on cross-state organizing! We are also expanding our LP team! As of June 1st, I will be moving over to the National Membership Organizer position and Tannya Benavides will be stepping in as the new Texas Chapter Manager. We share more about Tannya and what she’s bringing to this work below!

The 88th Regular Legislative Session wrapped up at the end of May, and we are now weeks into the Special Session. Here’s what we know:

  • The state’s attempts to preempt legislative authority of local governments through HB 2127 passed and has been signed into law by the Governor. 
  • Despite a budget surplus, we didn’t see any pay raises for public school teachers and support staff. 
  • Other critical issues went unaddressed, and Legislators furthered their harmful anti-LGBTQ agenda by banning vital healthcare for trans youth.
  • While the worst of the anti-immigrant, border security bills did not pass, we are already seeing attempts to bring back versions of these bills in the current Special Session through SB 8 and SB 2

During the Regular Session, we mobilized to fight these harmful bills and brought together members and partners from across the state to sound the alarm.

🪧  State Advocacy Days

In March, we gathered in Austin for two days of Legislative Advocacy Days to voice our concerns on the number of bills aimed at preempting local government authority, removing democratically elected local officials, and criminalizing people seeking refuge and asylum. We pushed Legislators to use this Session and the budget surplus to address critical infrastructure needs, expand access to healthcare, and protect workers (see our list of bills in our Legislative Agenda). You can see more about our time at the Capitol here.

📣 Members Speak Up!

Throughout session, LPTX members spoke out against HB 2127 and surfaced the harm it would cause for the communities they represent:

📞  Reach Out

HB 2127 is a devastating bill aimed at taking power away from local governments and their constituents. If you’re interested in taking action against this bill, please fill out this form.

🗳️ LPTX members fight for community driven public safety solutions

In May, voters in San Antonio and Austin had the opportunity to approve ballot measures that would strengthen police oversight and pass a comprehensive justice policy. While the ballot measure did not pass in San Antonio, both cities had the opportunity to voice why these ballot measures are needed. You can read more from Austin City Council Member Vanessa Fuentes and San Antonio City Council Member Jalen McKee-Rodriguez here.

UPDATE: We have rescheduled our next Texas Progressive Governance Academy (PGA) to take place in early 2024 in San Antonio. The PGA is a project with the State Innovation Exchange (SiX), re:power and Local Progress to build and develop the leadership and governance skills of progressive state and local elected officials across the country. Our Texas PGAs are a critical tool to recruit new members and deepen our cross-state strategies. Registration information for our 2024 PGA will be available later this year, but you can email Tannya to ensure you are notified when registration is open.

❤️ Thank you Sarah and Congratulations Ivan!

ICYMI – LP announced that after eight years with us, our current Executive Director Sarah Johnson will be stepping down. Sarah offered some of her reflections on her time at LP here, and announced recently that Ivan Luevanos-Elms, our current Organizing Director, will be our next ED!

🧰  New Resources and Upcoming Opportunities

  • This year we’ve had an incredible series of Policy & Strategy Primers designed especially for new members and newly elected folks. Up next is our session on Social Media Strategies – you can register for that and other upcoming sessions here
  • New policy brief: Regulating Short Term Rentals

🤝  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

In the past two years, Local Progress has launched two identity-based community spaces: the Black Caucus and the Women’s Caucus! These spaces were created by and for LP members to gather and share their lived experiences in governing and leadership positions. Our Caucuses will have several opportunities for you to engage in this year, and look out soon for information on the formation of our Latinx Caucus. Are you interested in joining or building a Caucus? Fill out this form and we’ll be in touch!

We are very excited to announce that Tannya Benavides has joined LP as the new Texas Chapter Manager! Many of you may have met her at past LP events or in your organizing efforts, and we are thrilled to have her expertise and organizing skills on our team!

Tannya is a first-generation Mexican American and the daughter of working class immigrants. A product of Laredo ISD schools, Tannya earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Texas State University with minors in English and History. Tannya also holds a Masters in Education with a concentration in Education Policy.

Tannya previously co-founded and led the grassroots coalition Organizing For Equity NY. As a classroom teacher and lead organizer in New York, Tannya helped attain policy wins at the NYC Department of Education, including an expansion of the universal 3K program. She also worked to drop the length of out-of-school suspensions from 180 school days down to 20 days, and to add community schools to high-need districts.

Over the last year, Tannya has spent her time building the organizing and advocacy infrastructure at Commission Shift, a new statewide nonprofit organization fighting for oil & gas reforms at the Railroad Commission and the Texas Legislature. She has also been a contractor with us at Local Progress building out our South Texas infrastructure over the last year. Tannya started with us on June 1st and is based in Laredo. Welcome Tannya! We’re so excited to have you on our team!

That’s a wrap for our newsletter!