The Progress Texas Monthly

The Texas Legislature is one month old, and already we're hearing excuses about why conservatives don't want to meet the needs of our state. We know the truth: to secure a strong economy we must invest in our future. Supporting public infrastructure - like a strong education system and quality health care for our seniors and children - protects opportunities for future generations by recognizing that what we can achieve together is far greater than what we could ever do alone. As progressives in a conservative state like Texas, we need to blow the roof off our imaginations and dream big for our children - and follow up our dreams with action. 

We witnessed the power of your action on the first day of the Texas Legislature, when announced candidate for Lieutenant Governor and current Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and the School Land Board buckled to pressure from Progress Texas members and released $300 million for Texas school children. Patterson - who initially called all of us "slacktivists" and told Texas legislators he'd never yield to pressure - was forced to relent thanks to the action you and 5,225 of our members took, refusing to let Patterson hoard $300 million from public schools. Our win in this campaign is a perfect example of how your actions have terrific consequences, but only if we're willing to work together and fight for change.

Below is an overview of other actions we're asking our membership to take, along with how much Progress Texas grew in 2012 and a look at our organization in the news. As always, we thank you for your continued support, and look forward to working with you more in the coming weeks and months.{C}

Progressive Guide to the 83rd Texas Legislature

Last week, Governor Perry used his State of the State address to claim credit for the natural treasures of Texas and the hard-earned talents of Texans. In response, we released the first edition of our Progressive Guide for the 83rd Texas Legislature. Our guide details seven core issues that will be closely followed during the legislative session - the budget, Medicaid expansion, the battle to save public schools, family planning cuts, water, LGBT issues, and voting rights - and provides useful resources for you to learn more about these issues.

We've already received great feedback to our guide. In the coming weeks, we'll expand our guide to include an overview on a wide range of environmental issues, religious liberty, and ethics laws. If there are additional issues you'd like to learn more about, visit our Progressive Guide for the 83rd Texas Legislature and leave a note in the comments.

5 Amazing Stats

At Progress Texas we take pride in being data geeks. Our staff is constantly looking at our internal data to figure out what we are doing right and what we can do better. The last few weeks we have been reviewing all the data from 2012 for an annual analysis and report and came across 5 stats we just had to share:

  1. Our membership grew 183% in 2012. That is astonishing. Every month we continue to grow larger, stronger, and more influential because more people are finding us from across the state and joining this community. Every time you get a friend or family member to join our organization, our voice grows louder.
  2. Our members took 62,316 online actions in 2012. That doesn't even include the thousands of "off-line" actions that our members did, which include calling legislators, writing and submitting letters to local newspapers, attending rallies, and participating in various get-out-the-vote efforts in places like Congressional District 23 (which replaced conservative Quico Canseco and elected Pete Gallego).
  3. Online donations increased by 261% in 2012. In December, we shattered our end-of-year fundraising goal as 132 members made a financial contribution. We are only able to continue our work and run our campaigns because of the contributions of our members. If you love our work, think about contributing $10 today. If you really love our work, consider joining our Stakeholders Committee or Finance Council.
  4. We were directly quoted by the press in more than 400 stories in 2012. Newspapers, radio, TV and online - we were able to get our message across all of them. While impressive, we believe we can do far more in 2013 as we continue to be a strong and credible voice for the progressive community in Texas. In fact, we have ambitious plans to expand our press and field outreach to every part of this state.
  5. We have active members in 100% of all US Congressional Districts, State Senate Districts, and State House Districts. With active members spread across the state, we can influence elected officials - Republican or Democrat - on a variety of issues. We still have some areas that need more members and we plan to continue to expand in 2013. As we expand our presence, we increase our power and your voice. That's why we need your help telling your friends and fellow progressives to join Progress Texas.

Supporting Medicaid Expansion for Texas

An overwhelming majority of Texans support Medicaid expansion, a primary feature of President Obama's historic Affordable Care Act legislation. A recent poll by the American Cancer Society showed that 58% of Texans support expanding Medicaid, while only 30% oppose it. Medicaid expansion would help over 1.5 million Texans gain insurance and bring as many as $6 billion into Texas between 2014 and 2017. This is enough money to pay for nearly 90,000 nurses or more than 33,200 family doctors, creating a huge economic stimulus for our counties and state.

Currently, Governor Rick Perry and Lt. Governor David Dewhurst are posturing for a national stage that has already rejected them, saying Medicaid expansion is "off the table" so they can pander to Tea Party activists. In response to Dewhurst's absurd and uncompromising statement, over 3,000 Progress Texas members have contacted their Texas Legislators asking them to publicly support Medicaid expansion. Elected officials in the Texas Senate and Texas House have responded positively to our campaign and voiced their support for a healthy Texas.

We must continue to contact our Legislators and identify allies in the Capitol on this issue. Send an email to your Senator and Representative today and ask them to support Medicaid expansion publicly

Stop Rep. Bill Zedler's Birther Bill

On Wednesday, January 23, Republican State Representative Bill Zedler filed House Bill 650 - a birther bill. The legislation would require any candidate for President or Vice-President to submit his or her birth certificate to the Texas Secretary of State in order to be allowed on the ballot. Two days later, we launched our campaign - "Stop The Texas Birther Bill" - demanding Rep. Bill Zedler immediately withdraw House Bill 650. Already over 13,500 people have contacted his office and signed our petition!

Your massive response has resulted in two newspapers in Rep. Zedler's district, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the Fort Worth Weekly, running stories last week highlighting our petition and your work.

Help keep the pressure on Rep. Zedler to stop wasting our time and valuable tax dollars with his embarrassing birther bill. Sign our petition today and send an email to Rep. Bill Zedler's office demanding he pull House Bill 650 now!

Our Work In The News

The following are Progress Texas press hits in January:

Tuesday, January 29, 2013 (KTRH)
Mixed Reaction to Perry's State of the State

Friday, January 25, 2013 (Foft Worth Star-Telegram)
Zedler Beats the Birther Horse

Friday, January 25, 2013 (Forth Worth Weekly)
Petition asks Arlington lawmaker to pull 'birther' bill

Thursday, January 24, 2013 (Dallas Morning News)
Texas Democrats hope new group will lead them out of political wilderness

Sunday, January 13, 2013 (Austin Chronicle)
Bonus Bill of the Week: Corporations Can't Vote, But Can Make It Rain

Thursday, January 10, 2013 (Dallas Morning News)
Dallas nonprofit among donors to embattled Texas cancer-fighting agency's foundation

Wednesday, January 9, 2013 (Associated Press)
School Land Board releases $300M for Texas schools

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 (Texas Tribune)
Land Board to Transfer $300 Million to School Fund

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 (KXAN)
Roundup: The 83rd Session comes to order

Friday, January 4, 2013 (Dallas Morning News)
Texas' embattled technology, cancer-fighting initiatives await scrutiny from new Legislature