Bills Worth Caring About (And How to Care More)

I know that while most college students are active in politically engaged groups, not all of us want to, or have time to, do things like lobbying. Despite this, it is important to know what is going down in our state capitol as much as possible; afterall, it’s the “peoples’ house” and anyone is welcome to enter at any time -- something I would highly suggest if only to take in the beautiful sight. While there are SO MANY important bills in question during this legislative session, here are a few to keep an eye on, followed by different and accessible ways to advocate for or against them!

Bills:

  • HB375 has to do with requiring polling places on campus. In its current form, this applies to public universities with over 10,000 students -- but they are trying to make the number of students needed lower. This would help so many students, many of whom work or lack transportation, have fair and easy access to polling sites and encourage civic engagement among youth in a state with an abysmal voter turnout.

  • SB22 basically prohibits a government entity from working with facilities that provide abortion. This is targeted mostly, but not completely, at Planned Parenthood. I hope we all know that a) abortion is healthcare and making it unavailable endangers people and b) that Planned Parenthood does SO much more than just abortions. This bill puts people, specifically women, queer people, and women of color, in danger.

  • SB9 makes it harder for people, especially disabled and low-income people, to vote by creating more restrictions and criminal penalties around voting. Increased penalties create fear. The bill creates barriers for disabled people who need assistance voting and loosens voter information confidentiality, again creating fear and leaving room for more unnecessary voter purges. Like SB22, at the end of the day SB9 has a disproportionate effect on marginalized communities.

  • SB17 makes discrimination protected by the law, period. Among other things, SB17 would allow doctors and pharmacists to refuse patients and their needs that don’t align with their religious beliefs, this means people in small towns with one pharmacy can be denied birth control and trans patients can be denied the HRT they deserve. This will ultimately lead to increased unwanted pregnancies and mental health issues, respectively. Along these same lines, people could have their professional licenses (teaching, medical, law, etc…) revoked with the citation of a religious issue. Not cool at all.

What can I do about it?

  • This one is long-term: Vote! Vote! Vote! Take a look into what candidates stand for and how they would vote on bills.

  • If you have the time and transportation:

    • Connect with political organizations on campus and watch out for events like lobby days or phone/text banking opportunities.

    • We all know this one: write or call your representatives!! You are their constituents and they want to and SHOULD hear from you!

    • Go to the Capitol! You can either lobby as an individual (which is admittedly time-consuming and scary) or find one of many kiosks and register for or against a specific bill. Besides, this is an excuse to take a trip to Austin.

    • Vote.

  • If you lack time, transportation, or even energy (mental health is more important than calling yourself an activist):

    • If you don’t want to go back and forth or do the things listed above with an org, you can do things like phone banking remotely.

    • Find and sign petitions you believe in, people with more resources can take these numbers and names and produce them to representatives.

    • Being on the phone makes you nervous? It’s 2019, baby, Tweet at them.

    • Vote.

  • VOTE!

While I have presented to you bills that I am passionate about, I encourage you to find your own! It is so important, and, in many cases, easy, to take an active participation in the issues that impact our lives. Again, I can’t stress these points enough, don’t be afraid to cite mental health or any other issue as a reason to NOT partake in these actions, and V O T E!