Testimony

Testimony

LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF TEXAS HOUSE STATE AFFAIRS COMMITTEE

PDF Link: 2017 Testimony Women’s Health
WEDNESDAY APRIL 5 2017

I am Chris Frandsen, testifying as a member and on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Texas. We appreciate the opportunity to speak to you today n OPPOSITION to HB 434.

The League of Women Voters of Texas OPPOSES HB 434. Women’s health and access to comprehensive reproductive health services, including safe, legal abortions, are priority issues for the League and its members throughout the state. Our position on this issue, like other League positions, is derived through a lengthy and thoughtful process involving the participation of 24 local Leagues representing more than 5,000 supporters throughout the state of Texas. HB 434 would be an unreasonable impediment to the constitutional right to an abortion.

This proposed law would prevent parents of a child born with severe defects who have not received adequate information about the health condition of the fetus from bringing a lawsuit against the physician and/or other health professionals who withheld information. Eliminating a wrongful birth claim deprives such parents of the right to sue for monetary damages to cover the lifetime costs of caring for their child. These cases are rare but are appropriate redress for parents in such situations.

Eliminating the “wrongful birth” claim is an unreasonable restriction on the constitutional right of a woman, in consultation with her physician and family members, to make an informed decision about whether to have an abortion. HB 434 is a not so subtle way of giving medical personnel the opportunity to impose their religious beliefs on pregnant women by withholding information about the condition of the fetus – and depriving women of making an informed decision about continuing the pregnancy.

The League again thanks this Committee for the opportunity to express our views.

 

LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF TEXAS HOUSE STATE AFFAIRS COMMITTEE

PDF Link: 2017 Testimony Women’s Health
WEDNESDAY MARCH 22, 2017

I am Brenda Koegler, testifying as a member and on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Texas IN OPPOSITION TO HB 200 by Burkett. We appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today. Thank you for allowing us to share the League of Women Voters of Texas position on this bill.

Women’s health and access to comprehensive reproductive health services, including safe, legal abortions, are priority issues for the League and its members around the state. Our position on this issue, like other League positions, is derived through a lengthy and thoughtful process involving the participation of 25 local Leagues representing more than 5,000 members and supporters throughout the state of Texas.

This proposed bill would impose unnecessary prohibitions on women seeking abortions and their physicians. It would prohibit the procedure known as “partial birth abortion,” a procedure already prohibited under federal law, and would also prohibit the donation of fetal tissue derived from abortions for research.

The prohibition of “partial birth” abortion is an unnecessary duplication of federal law and addresses problems that don’t exist – apparently for the purpose of intimidating women seeking legal abortions and their medical caregivers. The ban on donating fetal tissue is also unnecessary and intrusive: women who have abortions should be empowered to donate the fetal tissue for important medical research.

The League again thanks this Committee for the opportunity to express our views and to speak out on behalf of women’s reproductive health and rights.

 

LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF TEXAS SENATE AGRICULTURE, WATER, AND RURAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE

PDF Link: 2017 Testimony Water
MONDAY APRIL 3, 2017

I am Jane MacFarland, testifying as a member and on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Texas in opposition to SB 225 We appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today. Thank you for allowing us to share the League of Women Voters of Texas position on this bill.

Our position on water permitting, like other League positions, is derived through a lengthy and thoughtful process involving the participation of 25 local Leagues representing more than 5,000 members and supporters throughout the state of Texas.

Although the author states that he intends only to streamline the process, SB 225 would dangerously weaken the permitting and appeal process in place for surface water permits and amendments from the TCEQ

  • The bill requires TCEQ to estimate time limits for the appeals process. TCEQ cannot control the timing of SOHA hearings and should not be made responsible for it.
  • The bill limits the entire appeal process to 270 days. This may or may not be feasible with current staffing.
  • Most distressing of all, the bill limits the number of participants in the appeals process to those who have participated in the original hearing process. This limitation of “standing” may prevent parties acting on behalf of the public at large from sharing vital considerations with the hearings judge.

If the Legislature is really concerned about the length of time it takes to apply for and even to appeal a new water permit, it would be far more sensible and effective to fully fund the TCEQ and SOHA so that adequate personnel could prevent bottlenecks in the system.

The critical value of Texas water resources to the future of the whole state and all its citizens demands that management processes be done with deliberation and care. Thank you.

 

LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF TEXAS SB 3

PDF Link: 2017 Testimony Public Education
TUESDAY MARCH 21, 2017

I am Barbara Frandsen testifying on behalf of the League of Women Voters in Texas in opposition to SB 3. We appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today to share the position of the League of Women Voters of Texas.

Like all other League positions, our view is derived through a lengthy and thoughtful process involving the participation of 25 local Leagues representing more than 5,000 members and supporters throughout the state.

Whether called vouchers, tax credits, scholarships, or grants, any program using taxpayer money to fund private and religious schools takes money away from public education. Regardless of denial and careful wording used by proponents, the purpose of vouchers remains focused on removing students and funding from the public domain. It is a myth that when a child leaves public education, the school saves money. In fact, the school loses money while all costs for the teachers, building maintenance, utilities, and materials continue as before. It is also a myth that voucher students show improved academic performance over public school students.

Studies do not demonstrate benefits for children living in poverty. According to Dr. Charles Luke, of the Texas Coalition for Public Schools, vouchers will not cover the cost of tuition for most private or parochial schools. Along with inadequate funding, lack of bus service means that lower income children will not be able to attend the schools promised by those in favor of vouchers. Approximately 90% will remain in public education.

We are concerned that private and religious schools do not have to follow state curriculum or meet accountability requirements that are required of public educators. In addition they do not have to offer the state mandated protections for teachers that are employed by our public schools. Our public schools must provide:

• State exams,

• ESL classes,

• Special education services,

• Free transportation.

In reality, vouchers may heighten segregation based on race, language, income, and disabilities. Although we support choice within the public school system, we will not support stripping funds from our constitutionally mandated public system. Free public education has always been, and will always remain, the bedrock of democracy.

Every dollar removed from public education leaves our already strained public system even weaker. We oppose vouchers because they will ultimately deny much needed funds to our public schools. Make no mistake. Whether intentional or not, the outcomes of vouchers will be destruction of public education. Vouchers begin the ending.

 

LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF TEXAS HOUSE ELECTIONS COMMITTEE

PDF Link: 2017 Testimony Voting Elections
MONDAY MARCH 13, 2017

I am Cinde Weatherby, testifying as a member and on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Texas in support of HB 450, allowing voters to use their mobile phones to access information previously downloaded or created before entering the polling place. We appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today and share the League’s position on the bill.

Promoting an informed electorate is the heart and soul of the League of Women Voters at the local, state, and national level. I feel sure you are all aware of our nonpartisan, information-based Voters Guides that offer candidate information before elections. The League of Women Voters of Texas supports HB 450, as we believe that online and mobile access to the Voters Guide is vital to getting that information to voters.

Most of us are progressively reliant on our mobile devices for information. The League knows hundreds of thousands of individuals are looking at our Voters Guide online. A rapidly increasing number of those are doing so on their mobile phones. With fewer election dates and more elected offices on the ballot, either a printed or electronic copy of a Voters Guide, or your own notes, are extremely helpful to making informed choices.

We applaud Representative Fallon for realizing the importance of allowing voters to study the issues and use the technological resources available to record their decisions. We respectfully request that you vote favorably on this bill.

 

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