The Texas UU Justice Ministry brings our congregations together to advance UU Principles and Values at the state level. One of the most important ways this is done is through citizen input into proposed bills in the Texas Legislature. Many of the social justice issues facing the country are decided at the state level, including healthcare, prison reform, access to reproductive health, racial justice, education, climate policy and many more.
If you are new to Texas or unfamiliar with the way the state legislature works, the “lege” is only in session every other year and only lasts 140 calendar days, unless one or more special sessions are called. The 87th Legislature is scheduled for January 12 through May 31, with at least one extension likely. As you can imagine, the whole process is rather frantic and quite a busy spectacle to behold!
Much of the work of the legislature will center on cuts in the budget due to economic fallout of the pandemic. Covid will also affect the way business is conducted. Normally, TxUUJM holds a rally day in February or March when Austin’s bustling statehouse is invaded by swarms of UU’s in bright yellow-orange “Side with Love” T-shirts. After a brief assembly for training in the morning, we would disperse to meetings with our individual Senators and Representatives, coming back together in the afternoon for a plenary rally and group photo. With restrictions on visitors to the Capitol as well as safety concerns, in-person meetings will likely not happen this year.
While the exact nature of the event is up in the air, we will probably do Zoom meetings with our legislators. We will urge them to support or oppose various bills targeted by TxUUJM and our allies. At this time, it is too early to determine what those exact bills will be, however members of UUCBV joined other TXUUJM congregations in laying out top issues.
According to Rev. Chuck Freeman, Executive Director of TxUUJM:
After a 10-week process of nominations and voting 25 Texas UU congregations have chosen these top issues for us to work on collectively from 2020-2022!
1. Racial Justice 2. Environmental Justice 3. Healthcare Access 4. Economic Justice 5. Voting Rights
In addition to the TxUUJM website, http://txuujm.org/, TxUUJM is a member of a broader progressive faith-based group, Texas Impact.
Here is their agenda for the current session: https://texasimpact.org/2021-2022-legislative-platform/.
Finally, to keep abreast of the Legislature and other Texas issues, if you are not already familiar with it, Texas Tribune https://www.texastribune.org/ is a highly acclaimed non-profit journalistic project.
Your UUCBV TxUUJM representatives, Pam Johnson and Jerry Wagnon, will be keeping you informed in the Lat and ECast as more information becomes available.
Written by Jerry Wagnon