In 2023, there were a handful of bills on Jolt’s radar tied to the very core of our mission that would significantly impact the Latino/a community in Texas. We compiled a list to focus on those that have a direct effect on our community in the areas of Democracy for all, Education, Healthcare, Immigration, and Job/Economy. As the Hispanic population continues to grow and becomes the largest minority group in the state by 2024, it is in our best interest to ensure eligible voters get registered, and fulfill their duty at the polls. The following are indicators of why increasing the civic participation of Latinos in Texas matters to ensure they don’t become second class citizens without a seat at the table.
- SB2: Makes illegal voting a second degree felony (again), and removes the language about intention from the law. This is a top priority of Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick. Those convicted would get a punishment from 2 to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000, comparable to that for manslaughter. This is voter intimidation, especially if your eligibility for voting is unclear, such as 17-year-olds or undocumented immigrants.
- SB8: Creates educational savings accounts for Texas families to send children to private schools or homeschools. This funding structure takes away money from our public schools and leaves behind families who cannot afford to pay for private school tuition. Looking at data Jolt reviewed, in the 2020-21 school year, Hispanic students accounted for the largest percentage of total enrollment in public schools in the state (52.9%). Public schools continue to be the best avenue for educating Hispanic students in Texas.
- HB20: Creates a border security force (who are not required to be peace officers) that can arrest and detain border crossers. Increasing border security does not help repair our broken immigration system nor does it protect migrants or Texans who live along the border. There is also a concern as to how humane these security force members would be towards immigrants who are entering the country with the mere intention of achieving the American Dream.
- HB737: Sets minimum wage in Texas as $15. All Texans deserve to be paid a more liveable wage. There are more Hispanic/Black people working in the food and service industry and struggling to make ends meet with inflation.
- HB50: Creates certain requirements for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to provide public information in languages other than English. Everyone deserves to be involved in conversations about our environment and preservation of natural resources, regardless of what languages we speak.
- HB12: Expands postpartum eligibility for Medicaid to 12 months. All pregnant people deserve quality healthcare that supports healthy families and pregnancies. State stats are shocking. 61% of uninsured Texans identify as Latino or Hispanic; this totals 27% of the Latino population in the state. HB12 will help save lives, since 90% of pregnancy-related deaths were preventable. HB12 advanced from the House.