Virg Parks

commented on Letter To the Chronicle on "Early to Rise" 8/28/13 2013-08-30 16:05:30 -0500 · Flag
Like it or not, the initiative deserves a fair hearing by the voters. Over 80,000 people signed petitions to give it that. Let’s have a fair and open debate about it.

published Black lawmakers reflect on MLK's legacy in Civil Rights 2013-08-25 13:52:37 -0500

Black lawmakers reflect on MLK's legacy

"Jackson Lee watched King's Aug. 28, 1963, address to participants in the March on Washington on black and white television from her home in Jamaica, Queens. She was 13 at the time, bused daily to a middle school in a predominantly white suburb nearby as part of a school integration effort." 

See full article at http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Black-lawmakers-reflect-on-MLK-s-legacy-4757232.php


commented on FCC Puts 1,000 Low Power FM Frequencies Up For Grabs 2013-08-16 15:27:19 -0500 · Flag
Hey Laura! I just sent a shout out to a West Philly friend who is (I think) involved with Prometheus. We are certainly not lacking in folks that like to talk! Thanks for posting this.

published Debunk the Lies About Obamacare! in Healthcare 2013-08-10 01:04:49 -0500

Debunk the Lies About Obamacare!

The Kaiser Family Foundation website (http://kff.org/health-reform/) has some really great information and tools regarding implementation of the Affordable Care Act. 

Among the things I learned was that if I want to save money, I can opt for a "catastrophic" plan (aka, if I get hit by the proverbial bus) for about 1/3 of others.  I'm looking forward to checking out the marketplace! 


commented on Voter Photo ID 2013-10-02 10:51:34 -0500 · Flag
Toni — If the names are “significantly similar” such as an accepted nickname (Beto for Alberto), then the voter just initials a spot on the poll book that essentially is an affidavit swearing that s/he is the same person.


published Belated Mother's Day Gift -- Fair Pay! in Economy 2013-05-22 09:40:59 -0500

Belated Mother's Day Gift -- Fair Pay!

Sharing this Facebook post from SD6 Senator Garcia --

Show your love with fair wages & Support equal pay for equal work. Americans spent an estimated $20.7 billion on flowers, chocolates, meals and other gifts this last Mother's Day to show their moms how much they love them, according to the National Retail Federation.

Yes, we definitely love our moms. But do we ever stop to think that the greatest, most valuable monetary gift of all - one that keeps on giving every day of the year - would be equality in the workforce? With all the advances women have made in the last century or so, on the average they still earn only 77 cents for every dollar men earn, which also translates into lesser retirement and Social Security benefits. The Center for American Progress reports that over a 35-year working life, a woman on the average will earn $430,000 less than her male counterpart.

What is even worse is that if a Texas woman does not discover she is being discriminated against within 180 days of her first discriminatory paycheck, she has no right to take legal action at the state level. That injustice was corrected at the federal level by the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, the first piece of legislation signed into law by the newly elected President Barack Obama.

But as the state Legislature winds down this session, bills have been filed that will bring Texas law into alignment with the Ledbetter law, giving Texas working women the same rights to pursue gender discrimination claims in state court. One bill has already passed the house, and another, sponsored by Democratic Senators Sylvia Garcia of Houston and Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, is pending in the Senate. We urge our legislators to act quickly to secure its passage.

It's a measure that is fair and equitable: It protects the rights to due process of both employees and employers, by clarifying current law and by allowing full and fair hearings in either state or federal court.

So if you really love your mom, and all the other women in your life, we urge you let your state Senator know it, and soon. The clock is ticking.http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/Home.aspx


Good Samaritans Committing Election Fraud?!

HB 148 will be heard in Senate State Affairs Hearing - Thursday, May 9
State Affairs will meet at 1:30pm or upon adjournment in the Senate Chamber

Tell Senator Ellis that you support him in his opposition to this bill. Rodney.Ellis@Senate.State.tx.us or call 512-463-0113

 

 

HB 148 - This bill was hotly debated in the House on 2nd reading. Visit the News section below for links to articles detailing the debate. The bill could potentially make criminals of Good Samaritans who simply try to help their friends and neighbors by taking their sealed mail ballot to the mailbox. The original text of the bill as introduced, the text of the committee substitute that was passed in the House, witness list, and bill analysis can be found here. 

  

To further confuse things, the Senate sponsor, Senator Paxton, has drafted a bizarre committee substitute that actually makes the bill worse than it was to start with. The substitute:

  • Changes the limitation on the maximum number of ballots an individual can take to the mailbox back down to 2 (as was in the original bill as filed but that the author raised to 10 as a compromise),  
  • Adds language allowing campaigns and political parties to appoint poll watchers to observe assistance being given to a voter in a nursing home by a nursing home employee (nursing home employees and the military being the only groups of people exempt from prosecution for helping more than 2 voters), and
  • Would require the nursing home employees to post notice 72 hours in advance stating when they will be available to assist voters.  

Voter Suppression Bills Heading to the House Floor

The following bills were voted favorably out of committee and will soon be voted on by the Texas House of Representatives.  The two listed below are blatant attempts at voter suppression.  Call your State Representative and ask them to oppose the bills.  For information on other election related legislation, go to www.empowerthevotetx.org

HB 986 by Elkins
The bill would allow Harris County to provide mail ballots to voters only in English if the voter fails to check a box on the application to select a preferred language. Currently, Harris County is required to provide ballots in 4 languages. While the bill would only apply to Harris County at present, it could apply to other counties as their non-English speaking populations increase. Potentially violates Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act regarding ballot access for language minorities. Could be amended to be acceptable.
 

 HB 1560 by Klick
The bill creates penalties for paying someone to assist voters with mail ballots based on a quota system. ETVT supports penalties on those who provide compensation for quota based mail ballot programs, however, we are concerned about punishing the employee, who may have unknowingly violated the law, in addition to the employer. We would support the bill if that provision were removed.


published The Guns of our Founding Fathers in Civil Rights 2013-04-23 01:13:01 -0500

The Guns of our Founding Fathers

States United to Prevent Gun Violence has created an ad that looks at the 2nd Amendment from a very interesting perspective.

 

Click on the picture or the link to view.

 

guns.jpeg

 

 http://tv.msnbc.com/2013/04/22/gun-safety-a-new-ad-uses-history-to-argue-for-gun-limits/


Bill that Would Repeal Unconstitutional Statute Voted out of Committee

Senator John Whitmire reports that the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice advanced Senate Bill 538 by Senator José Rodríguez of El Paso on a committee vote of 5-0.

SB538 will repeal the "Homosexual Conduct Law" which was declared unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court in the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision. The bill would also amend the Health and Safety Code to delete the statement that "homosexual conduct is not an acceptable lifestyle and is a criminal offense under §21.06, Penal Code."

SB 538 is the first legislation ever filed in the Texas Senate to repeal the unenforceable §21.06 of the Penal Code. Identical legislation has been filed in the Texas House this session [HB 1701 by Farrar and HB 3232 by Coleman] and in every session since the Lawrence v. Texas decision.

Today's action is the first time the repeal legislation has ever been advanced by a Texas legislative committee subsequent to Lawrence v. Texas.

This is a win.  Now let's see what happens on the Senate floor.


Act Now to Save Public Education in Harris County!

HB 945 is a bill that would abolish the Harris County Department of Education.  The bill is set for a hearing before the House Education Committee on Tuesday, April 16. Please call any or all of the committee members below to urge them to protect HCDE and the critical services they provide to Harris County children.  Ironically, Republicans supported the HCDE until Democrats (including Diane Trautman and Erica Lee) became the majority on the HCDE Board. 

The money that HCDP distributes throughout all school districts in the county (not just HISD) would be transferred to the Commissioners Court where Republicans recently gained the majority.  The real reasoning behind HB-945 is clear.  For details on the issue, scroll down and read article with the same title posted in February.   Please share.

Committee members can all be reached at 512-463-0804.
Chair Rep. Jimmie Aycock
Rep. Alma Allen
Rep. John Davis
Rep. Joe Deshotel
Rep Harold Dutton
Rep. Marsha Farney
Rep. Dan Huberty
Rep. Ken King

Rep. Bennett Ratliff
Rep. Justin Rodriguez
Rep. Mike Villarreal


commented on Sen. Whitmire speaks up for fairness and equality 2013-04-10 16:40:35 -0500 · Flag
Cheap thrill of being in Austin for first ever Texas Democratic and Progressive Women’s Blue Ribbon Lobby Day was that both Sen. Whitmire’s bill and the House version sponsored by Rep. Mary Gonzalez were being heard in committee. Myself and several other women submitted our “for” comment cards. Thank you Senator Whitmire and Rep. Gonzalez for standing up for gay teens in Texas!

published An Oil Spill in Arkansas? You Betcha! in Environment 2013-04-08 14:46:00 -0500

An Oil Spill in Arkansas? You Betcha!

A lot of folks in Southeast Texas have earned good, honest livings in the oil and gas industry.  However, there comes a time when we need to start thinking of the impact fossil fuels have and will have on our environment and our children's futures.   What we are seeing now in Arkansas thanks to another pipeline containing Canada's tar sands oil is what we can expect in East Texas.  Tar sands oil is thicker than regular crude.  Instead of floating on the surface of water where it could be somewhat contained, it sinks to the river and stream beds.  Attempts to absorb some of the oil with paper towels as shown in the below linked video would be amusing if not so sad.

Here is link to an article and video about the devastation in Arkansas (now being diverted to nearby wetlands).  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/04/07/activists-claim-arkansas-oil-spill-diverted-into-wetland/

This takes you to a map of where the Keystone Pipeline will run.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/05/keystone-xl-pipeline-people-environment-health-map_n_3016383.html

Although the Keystone Pipeline extension through the Big Thicket and east Texas communities is supported by President Obama and many residents, not everyone is in agreement.  Nacogdoches County STOP (Stop Tarsands Oil Permanently) is a Texas based grassroots organization trying to at least slow it down.  http://www.nacstop.org/KXL_county_maps.html


commented on Elimination of straight-party voting in all judicial elections 2013-04-04 00:05:06 -0500 · Flag
The only purpose this and it’s companion bill in the House serves to make voting more difficult and time-consuming for partisan voters (regardless of Party affiliation). IF this passes (let’s hope it doesn’t leave committee!) voters should pack a sack lunch and bottled water in 2014 because we’ll be turning out a lot of Democratic voters and providing them information about their rights and why voting matters.

Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies

President Obama announced a new initiative today that could literally change life as we know it.  This sort of basic science bench work will surely lead to cures for diseases ranging from Alzheimers to Schizophrenia.  Further, it will help us better understand human behavior and the mind-body connection.  Teenagers make stupid choices because their frontal lobe (responsible for executive decision making) won't be fully developed for a few more years.  Not only do malnourished children that are fed AND nurtured thrive faster, but their growth is also evident in their brains.  Heroin, chocolate and sex trigger the same parts of the brain.  Traumatic brain injury and stroke manifest different symptoms depending on what part of the brain is damaged.  All this we know due to neurological research.  Imagine how much we have yet to learn from the most efficient computer of them all.  Learn more at the White House website.


commented on What are your thoughts on gun control? 2013-03-09 15:05:16 -0600 · Flag
And then there is this…Texas H.B. No. 553

A BILL TO BE ENTITLED

AN ACT
relating to firearms and the preservation of the Second Amendment
to the United States Constitution; providing penalties.

http://www.legis.state.tx.us/tlodocs/83R/billtext/html/HB00553I.htm

commented on Which bumper sticker do you prefer? 2013-02-06 22:16:08 -0600 · Flag
Nowhere but up folks!

commented on Medicare Is Not The Problem, Your Hospital Is 2013-01-16 07:58:21 -0600 · Flag
I’m pretty sure that California was also the birthplace of the Health Management Organization (HMO). By the mid-1990’s, one of the biggest HMO’s, Kaiser, Permanente, became known as the place that people with AIDS (cancer, or any other life-threatening-disease) went to die. It was cheaper overall to refer a long-term AIDS survivor that develops an easily treated opportunistic infection to hospice. You see, odds were that if the patient recovered from the one infection, he’d eventually develop another…and another…and another. So hospice (which only provides palliative care) is significantly less expensive in the life of the customer…err, patient. My own cancer experience with Kaiser could have gone much worse if I were unaware of the company’s problems. I’m alive because of being pushy, obnoxious and fighting for a speedy diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

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I'm an old dog always eager to learn new tricks. A social worker with strong grounding in social justice and diverse advocacy experience.