Advocacy Alert: Two Ways to Advocate for Your Low-Income Neighbors | United Way of Metropolitan Dallas

Advocacy Alert:
Two Ways to Advocate for Your Low-Income Neighbors

We are just 27 days away from the last day of the regular session of the 87th Texas Legislature, also known as Sine Day. This means we have less than a month to get our bills to pass both the Texas House and Senate and arrive at the governor’s desk. Also, it means that we have only a few more weeks to keep harmful bills stalled so they die instead of passing.

With such limited time left, it’s more important than ever for you to take action and ask others to speak out too. This week, we’re focused on several bills that would impact financial stability and health, two of the building blocks of opportunity, for low-income North Texans.

Here are two ways to advocate for your neighbors right now:

 

Support Bills that Would Remove an Outdated Barrier to Food Assistance Benefits

Did you know that Texans who own vehicles above a certain value don’t qualify for SNAP food assistance? These outdated limits are currently at $15,000 for the first vehicle and $4,650 for subsequent vehicles—both of which are extremely low thresholds.

Texans need their vehicles to travel to work, take their kids to school, go to job interviews, access medical care, get food and more. They should not be penalized for owning a vehicle. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many people lost their jobs or saw a sudden lost in their income—but they were unable to access SNAP because they owned cars above the vehicle asset limits.

Two bills, HB 2641 and SB 1914, would modernize the SNAP Vehicle Asset Test. And today, the Texas Food Policy Roundtable–which includes United Way of Metropolitan Dallas—is kicking off a “Week of Action” in support of these bills.

During the Week of Action, you can help spread the word about these two essential bills by:

  • Calling your state senator and representative (find the numbers here) and delivering the following message: “Hello, my name is [insert name], and I am a constituent calling about HB 2641 and SB 1914. Please support these bills so that the state will update the SNAP Vehicle Asset Test. Hungry Texans shouldn’t be disqualified from accessing SNAP simply for owning a vehicle. Thank you for your time.”
  • Posting a message on social media asking the Legislature to support these bills. Be sure to use their official hashtag, #txlege). Here are some sample posts:
    • Hungry Texans shouldn’t be disqualified from accessing #SNAP for owning a vehicle. #TXLege needs to pass HB 2641 and SB 1914 this session to reduce hunger in our state.
    • SNAP recipients shouldn’t have to choose between owning a car and having enough to eat. #Txlege please pass HB 2641 and SB 1914 and update the #SNAP Vehicle Asset Test.

 

Stop Efforts to Erase Local Payday and Auto-Title Lending Protections

Now more than ever, families are struggling to cover their regular expenses, and many choose to turn to a payday or auto-title loan. These predatory products worsen a family’s already desperate financial circumstance and exhaust the limited resources of nonprofits, faith partners and foundations that provide financial assistance.

In recent years, 46 Texas cities—including Dallas, Cedar Hill, DeSoto, Mesquite, Denton, Garland, Flower Mound and Grand Prairie—adopted ordinances that helped to combat the harmful effects of payday and auto-title loans. However, a new bill, HB 610, would effectively override     these beneficial ordinances and erase the basic protections that currently help 10 million Texans.

This harmful bill has been passed out of committee and is in the House Calendars Committee, which means it could be considered by the entire House soon. We need to try to hold it back!

 

Please call the members of the House Calendars Committee and ask them to oppose HB 610:

  • Chairman Dustin Burrows (Lubbock): (512) 463-0542
  • Vice-Chair Joe Moody (El Paso): (512) 463-0728
  • Tom Craddick (Midland): (512) 463-0500
  • Cody Harris (Hillsboro): (512) 463-0730
  • Cole Hefner (Mount Pleasant): (512) 463-0271
  • Ana Hernandez (Houston): (512) 463-0614
  • Ben Leman (Brenham): (512) 463-0600
  • Jared Patterson (Frisco): (512) 463-0694
  • Toni Rose (Dallas): (512) 463-0664
  • Shelby Slawson (Stephenville): (512) 463-0628
  • James Talarico (Round Rock): (512) 463-0670

 

When you call their offices, please share this message:

 

“Hello, my name is [insert name]. I am calling to ask Representative [insert name] to oppose HB 610 in the House Calendars Committee. This bill would harm Texans by effectively preempting beneficial payday and auto title lending ordinances, adopted in 46 cities across Texas, including Midland, Dallas, Houston and El Paso. Thank you for your time today!”

 

Updates on Our Priority Bills

Here’s your weekly update on the other key legislative activities we’re monitoring:

  • HB 133 (Rose), which allows moms to keep Medicaid for one year after childbirth instead of two months, passed the House and has been referred to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. The companion bill, SB 121(Johnson), has not received a hearing.
  • HB 290 (Cortez), which provides continuous coverage for children with Medicaid, passed the House and has been received by the Senate. The companion bill, SB 39 (Zaffirini), has not received a hearing.
  • HB 5 (Ashby), an omnibus broadband bill, has passed the House and Senate. Now, a Conference Committee will be appointed to work out the differences between the two versions.
  • HB 2333 (Howard), which creates a competitive grant that will accept and distribute funds to expand family and newborn support networks, was voted out of committee and has been sent to the House Local and Consent Calendar. The companion bill, SB 1520 (Seliger), has not received a hearing.

This article was published on: May 4, 2021