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In Wake of Legislature's Failure on Gun Safety, COPS/Metro Organizes for Local Reform



[Excerpt]

"Our state legislators cannot muster the courage to act on the will of the people. Why? They fear the vocal minorities who have made gun possession an idol worthy of greater reverence than the lives of our fellow citizens. This is an abomination before God.

Frustrated by the cowardice and inaction of the state legislators, San Antonio congregations are now working to reduce gun violence. Under the banner of COPS/Metro Alliance, 175 church leaders united to ask city of San Antonio and Bexar County leadership to create a public education campaign emphasizing gun owners’ responsibility to store their firearms safely and to provide safe handgun storage boxes for vehicles.

It’s past time for lawmakers to come to their senses and listen to the residents they represent."

[Photo Credit: Pictures Left: Rev. Rob Mueller. Sam Owens, San Antonio Express News]

Texas Lawmakers Fail the Courage Test on GunsSan Antonio Express News [pdf]

 


TWM Engages Michigan Secretary of State, Grand Rapids Police & 5 State Legislators in First Public Action

A standing-room-only crowd of 350 people packed Trinity Reformed Church on a Saturday morning for Together West Michigan’s (TWM) first public action assembly since its launch last year.  In this meeting, institutional leaders secured commitments from: 

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Medicaid Coverage for New At-Risk Mothers Advances to Senate, with Support from Texas IAF

[Excerpt]

The bill would provide six months of Medicaid coverage to qualifying new moms....and could have a massive local impact.

More babies are born on Parkland’s Health’s insurance plan than in eight states. Extending coverage for those families would improve outcomes for tens of thousands of women in North Texas. Groups like Dallas Area Interfaith, a non-partisan, multi-ethnic, multi-issue group of religious congregations, schools, and other non-profits in Dallas, are working to get the bill passed.

The bill would also be a boon to the state by giving the mothers access to primary care and preventing downstream costs.  “HB 12 going to save the state money,” says Dr. Barry Lachman, a pediatrician and ...DAI [leader]. “What we spend in preventive services will pay off for these mothers.”

HB 12 remains in the State Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee.

[Photo Credit: iStock]

North Texas Rep. Toni Rose's Bill Would Add Coverage for new At-Risk Mothers, AgainD Magazine [pdf]


Texas IAF: Resurrecting Tax Giveaway Program is a Bad Idea for Texas



[Excerpt]

Chapter 313 was one of the country’s worst examples of crony capitalism, funneling billions in Texas taxpayer dollars to out-of-state interests. The program still costs Texas taxpayers over $1 billion a year in tax breaks to major oil, gas and manufacturing companies — money that could go to educating our children.

Dallas Area Interfaith, the Texas IAF, allies and a bipartisan group of legislators killed the reauthorization of Chapter 313 in the 2021 legislative session. Rather than leaving the program in the grave, industry groups are actually proposing to resurrect Chapter 313 this legislative session and make it worse in the form of House Bill 5.

Last September, in a House Ways and Means Committee hearing, industry groups painted an apocalyptic vision of Texas’ economy without Chapter 313. Their statements were based on opinion. Fortunately, we can look to Louisiana to see if their fears are merited.

In 2016, Louisiana reformed its version of Chapter 313, the Industrial Tax Exemption Program. The reforms generated $760 million in new tax revenue for schools and other public entities with no negative impacts on jobs. In fact, capital expenditures grew after the reforms.

Louisiana’s experience mirrors studies on economic development incentives. The Upjohn Institute found that “75% to 98% of the time, the same decision would have been made without the incentive.”

Similarly, a 2017 University of Texas study of Chapter 313 estimated that between 85% and 95% of Chapter 313 projects would have been located in Texas without the incentive. These incentives matter much less than other factors such as the labor force, education, infrastructure and access to markets and materials.

[Image Credit: NewsArt.com/Chris Van Es]

Paying for the 'Texas Miracle'Dallas Morning News [pdf]

Texas House Passes Plan to Bring Back Corporate Property Tax Breaks for Major ProjectsDallas Morning News [pdf]


First Ever Texas HBCU Legislative Caucus Launches with Support of CTI

State lawmakers and Huston Tillotson students announced their intent to form Texas' first Historically Black Colleges and Universities Caucus to help provide the state's HBCUs with "necessary resources and support to thrive."  This effort is an outgrowth of a three-year partnership between Huston-Tillotson University (HTU) and Central Texas Interfaith (CTI), involving leadership education and preparation of students studying political science.  Fannie Akingbala, a leader from Ebenezer Baptist Church, co-chaired the press conference.      

[Excerpts]

HBCU students helped organize the caucus, which hopes to assemble state lawmakers from both the Senate and House who represent, attended or support HBCUs and obtain funding for them "commensurate with the role they have played in developing the prosperity" of Texas...

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Silicon Valley Leaders Take Vice-Mayor and San Jose Police on Neighborhood Night Walk

Silicon Valley Sponsoring Committee leaders led a night walk on April 26th with San Jose Vice-Mayor Rosemary Kamei and local police. The leaders advocated for more lighting, a broader police presence, and a commitment from the city to invest in the neighborhood. During the walk, Vice-mayor Kamei pledged that she and her office will work toward addressing the issues.

Also in attendance were West San Jose neighborhood leader Roberta Witte and HOA Vice President Diane Martino.

[Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]

San Jose Residents Fed Up With Violence Take City Leaders on Night TourNBC Bay Area 


Working Together Jackson' Refounding Draws 500 Community Leaders

[Excerpt]

"Reverend David K. Brawley of East Brooklyn Congregations (a sister organization of WTJ) provided a keynote address that was informative as well as deeply inspiring. He shared about The Nehemiah homes built in East New York and in the Brownsville neighborhood and how “changing one block can make a difference, but one organization makes all the difference in the world.”

"Forty years ago, leaders got together and they built power – the regeneration of an entire community – where initially homes sold for about $40,000 are now worth $500,000. The power is with the people. We organized and one institution saved an entire community, and if we could do it forty years ago, you can do it today.”

The Mississippi Link asked Chevon Chatman for her impressions. “I’m pleased with the turnout and the energy and enthusiasm of WTJ members and guests here today. It speaks to the determination and resiliency of this vehicle and of this city to do what it needs to do to become a stronger Jackson. I am proud to be the lead organizer of Working Together Jackson,” she said.

Savannah Willis, an organizer at WTJ, said it like this, “I feel like there is a lot of energy in the city right now, and today was a reflection of that and seeing how it touches everybody despite our differences, despite our divisions – there is energy in this city to make a change.”

[Photo Credit: Chris Young, The Mississippi Link]

Working Together Jackson – WTJ: Refounding Convention and City-wide AssemblyThe Mississippi Link [pdf]

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Dallas Morning News Editorial Board Supports DAI in Fight for Humane Housing Conditions

[Excerpt]

Reporting bad landlords who won’t fix apartments to maintain adequate living conditions should be easier for Dallas tenants, especially for those who are the most vulnerable because of their economic or immigration status.

It has been a little over a month since this newspaper reported the hazardous conditions endured by Bachman Lake-area tenants, including moldy walls, pest infestations and leaky roofs. This is not a case of “they get what they pay for.” Residents said they are paying up to $1,400 a month, close to the rent average in the Dallas area.

For these tenants, most of them with limited English skills, navigating the city’s bureaucracy to report code violations has been frustrating. They said they rarely see results. “We are not living for free; we are paying,” Bachman Lake resident [and Dallas Area Interfaith leader] Claudia Cruz, 38, told us.

Bachman Lake Tenants Need SupportDallas Morning News [pdf]


Arizona Republic Highlights 'AZ Students for Mental Health' & VIP Effort to Address Youth Suicide

[Excerpt]

[Riana] Alexander, a soft-spoken, studious teen, has become a force for change in her community in raising awareness about students’ mental health needs, most critically the need for school officials to intervene when kids are showing signs that they are at risk for suicide. Schools in her district do a good job responding to crises, but she said where they fall down are in areas of prevention and what Alexander calls “postvention” — follow-ups with students after a peer has died....
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After Pressure from Together Louisiana, Folgers Denied Tax Break

[Excerpt]

"Gov. John Bel Edwards sided with New Orleans officials Monday by denying tax breaks sought by Folgers Coffee Co. that would have cost the city millions of dollars in property tax revenue....

ITEP has become a hot-button political issue in recent years. Business groups argue that allowing companies to avoid taxes they would owe on new equipment and machinery encourages those types of investments. Critics, led by Together Louisiana, argue that companies have been allowed to skip out on taxes from investments that they would have made anyway and that schools and sheriffs need the taxes to improve the quality of life in their communities.

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