A Legislative Roadmap for Houston

The recommendations outlined in our 2023 Texas Legislative Roadmap are essential to meeting the urgent needs of Houstonians. Rather than promote hateful policies that divide and oppress, we must be intentional about fostering a legislative environment that brings progress and prosperity to all. Here are the policies we urge state lawmakers to act on to move Houston forward.

Protect Fundamental Rights

Protecting and expanding the right to vote
  • Repeal the SB1 voter suppression law
  • Pass legislation to create online voter registration for eligible Texans
  • Pass legislation to allow Texans of any legal voting age to vote by mail for any reason
Safeguarding women’s health and reproductive freedom
  • Repeal the abortion ban and decriminalize women’s health decisions
  • (or, at the very least as an interim step, add exceptions for rape, incest, health of the mother, and severe fetal anomaly)
Protecting LGBTQ+ Texans and their families
  • Pass protections for sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression
  • Protect the parents of LGBTQ+ kids and their doctors from state interference in healthcare decisions for their families
Defeating bills and policies grounded in hate, bigotry, culture wars, and conspiracy theories
  • One current example is Senate Bill 147, which would make anti-Asian hate state policy by banning Chinese citizens – even legal U.S. residents and the families of American citizens of Chinese descent – from buying land in Texas. 
  • Overturn Gov. Abbott’s directive to prevent state agencies and universities from considering diversity, equity and inclusion policies in decision-making

Build a Safer Houston

Common sense gun safety
  • Repeal Texas’s permitless carry law
  • Require universal background checks
  • Pass red flag / extreme risk protection order law to prevent individuals who show signs of being a threat to themselves or others from purchasing or possessing a firearm
  • Raise the minimum age to purchase a firearm
  • Require safe storage of firearms to keep children safe from guns at home
Fighting crime
  • Pass a public safety exception to state and local property tax revenue caps so Houston can invest in keeping our communities safe without defunding other critical government services
  • Authorize and fund new criminal courts in Harris County to eliminate the trial backlog for violent offenses
  • Fund new technology investments to make law enforcement agencies more effective
  • Require and expand regional coordination of law enforcement agencies
  • Make transformational investments to expand access to mental health services and pass laws that prioritize treatment, when appropriate, over incarceration to relieve law enforcement of the job of providing mental health services (Texas ranks dead last of the 50 states in access to mental health services)
  • Expand funding and requirements for public safety data collection by local law enforcement agencies that will inform smart-on-crime public safety policies
Police accountability
  • Pass legislation mandating independent investigations after use of deadly force by police officers that results in death or serious injury
Criminal justice reform
  • Decriminalize marijuana
  • Pass a statewide ban-the-box law
  • Expand funding for Harris County specialty courts, including the Mental Health Court, Drug Court, and Veterans Courts
  • Expand funding for pretrial services and diversion programs
  • Expand funding for victims services programs
  • Expand funding for community re-entry programs
Access to healthcare 
  • Pass Medicaid Expansion to immediately provide access to health insurance for more than 1.4 million Texans, leveraging federally available funds
  • (or, at the very least as an interim step, pass Pregnancy Medicaid Expansion to expand postpartum Medicaid coverage for 12 months after pregnancy)

Expand Opportunity Across Houston

Support working families
  • Pass statewide $15/hour minimum wage and paid sick leave benefits
  • (or, at the very least as an interim step, give cities the power to pass these laws with voter approval)
Support housing affordability
  • Allow local taxing entities to offer flat-dollar local homestead exemptions, like the recently passed school property tax homestead exemption, to provide relief to middle class homeowners.
  • Reform the appraisal review process to make it fair for middle-class homeowners, including by removing advantages for the owners of large properties and owners who can afford expensive litigation 
  • Establish a Texas Low Income Housing Tax Credit (HTC) Program
  • Modernize regulations to incentivize housing affordability in urban areas
Support our kids with high-quality public education
  • Fully fund public education
  • Repeal the state’s unjust Robinhood recapture law
  • Pass universal pre-K
  • Raise the salaries of public school teachers 
  • Remove the TEA’s power to take over HISD

Invest in Houston’s Future

Local control
  • Restore Houston’s regulatory authority over public safety, public health, revenue collection, city operations, and local programs
  • Ensure Houston receives its fair share of regional funding by requiring the Houston Galveston Area Council and the Transportation Policy Council to adopt population-proportional voting when approving projects and allocating funds
  • Support a constitutional amendment to allow the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to fund public transportation, public bicycle paths, and public sidewalks, in addition to roads and highways 
  • Amend the Transportation Code to give default design authority to cities if roads are within city limits
  • Allocate Houston’s fair share of federal flood recovery, prevention, and mitigation funds