3/26: Winter storm resources and COVID-19 related updates

Legislative Committee Hearings

Legislative committees continue to have hearings in the Texas House of Representatives and Texas Senate. Both of the committees I have been appointed to, the House Appropriations and Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committees, met this week. In the Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee hearing, I had the opportunity to lay out HB 2709, which will require a County Clerk to fill out applications for court-ordered mental health services for individuals being assessed in an emergency room or hospital. The Texas Hospital Association provide testimony on the importance of the issue and the bill received no opposition. 

In the Insurance Committee hearing this week two of my bills, HB 440 and 1110, were heard. HB 440 prohibits a health benefit plan from denying the full benefit of a claim for a hearing aid if the device is more than the benefit available, allowing individuals more freedom to choose their hearing aids. HB 1110 requires residential property insurers to make an initial payment of at least 80% of the estimated cost to repair or replace the damaged dwelling or personal property, minus the applicable deductible. I look forward to working with stakeholders on the two important bills and passing them out of committee in the coming weeks.

Bill Alert: Live Well Texas Program

I am proud to have authored HB 3871, the House (bipartisan) Live Well Texas Program, which would see that these Texans can access the physicians and healthcare facilities they need while also creating provider incentives to encourage participation. It is critical that the Texas Legislature takes the responsible step to help struggling families survive. Now is the time to pass HB 3871 and increase healthcare opportunities while generating significant revenue for Texas.

You can get involved by calling your state representative and asking them to support and coauthor the bill, telling your personal story during public testimony in the Committee on Human Services when the bill is set for a hearing, and spreading the word on social media.

Visitation Rules for Long-Term Care Facilities Update

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) has expanded visitation statewide in nursing facilities and other long-term care settings. Per federal guidance issued March 10 by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, fully vaccinated nursing facility residents are now allowed close, in-person visits with family members and friends who are not designated essential caregivers, as long as proper safeguards are in place. More information about specific visitation rules can be found here.

State-Run COVID-19 Mobile Testing Sites

The Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), in partnership with the Texas Military Department, is continuing to run COVID-19 testing locations across the state. Texans can find a testing site near them by visiting the COVID-19 Test Collection Site map.

Texas COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Locations

Texas Health and Human Services has created a map tracking the distribution of and locations providing COVID-19 vaccines. Texans can find providers near them in the coming months by visiting the COVID-19 Vaccine Availability map. A list of vaccine hub providers can be found here. Information about vaccination distribution and availability can also be found here. Information about the vaccine can be found here.

COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Updates

This week, 25 counties will be participating in the second week of The Save Our Seniors program, not including in Dallas County. Beginning next Monday, Texas will open COVID-19 vaccine appointments to all adults. This will include individuals 16 and older, but only the Pfizer vaccine is approved for individuals that are 16 or 17. DSHS has directed vaccine providers to prioritize people 80 years old or older when scheduling appointments and accommodate anyone in that age group who presents for vaccination, whether or not they have an appointment, by immediately moving them to the front of the line. That will ensure vaccination of anyone 80 or older with as small a burden on themselves as possible.

Volunteer to Vaccinate in Dallas County

Dallas County is in need of additional volunteers at their Fair Park Community Vaccination Center. Volunteers must be 18 years or older. After 15 hours of volunteer service, volunteers are eligible for a vaccine. Information on volunteering and the signup can be found here.

Upcoming Election: May 1

The May 1, 2021 General & Special Election is coming up. If you have moved since the November election, you may have to update your voter registration. Make sure your registration is up to date here. For those eligible, Vote By Mail ballots can be requested here. Information on the upcoming election can be found here.Check with your county and city’s websites for information on candidates and ballot propositions.

Carrollton Trails 2021 5K Run: Registration Open

Registration is now open for the City of Carrollton’s ninth annual Carrollton Trails 5K to be held Saturday, April 24. The event also includes a 1-mile Fun Run/Walk, so bring the whole family. Dogs do not have to be registered to participate. With the public’s health and wellness top of mind, the race will be split into six different timeslots: 8 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 9 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 10 a.m., and 10:30 a.m. Masks and social distancing will be encouraged throughout the event to ensure participants and spectators remain safe. Items such as masks and hand sanitizer will be provided to participants and spectators. Additionally, food items will be pre-packaged. More information and registration can be found here.

3/12: Winter storm resources and COVID-19 related updates

Last Week to File Bills this Session 

Today, Friday, March 12 is the last day to file bills for the 87th Legislative Session. You can access information on all the bills I have authored this session here

  • HB 2984 will require health benefit plans to provide coverage for treatment of autism spectrum disorder to an enrollee who is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder from the date of diagnosis if the diagnosis was in place prior to the enrollee’s 22nd birthday. It will prohibit health benefit plans from requiring an enrollee to be evaluated for autism spectrum disorder more than once every 10 years.
  • HB 2987 will enhance the penalty for someone convicted of indecent assault if they have a prior conviction history or are a health care or mental health care provider that commits the act while providing treatment.
  • HB 3095 will hold senior living communities liable for the deaths of residents through dishonesty or negligence and requires communities to perform criminal background checks for employees and report any criminal activity to police.
  • HB 3542 will require a health maintenance organization shall have appropriate personnel reasonably available at a toll-free telephone number to provide a verification under this section 24 hours a day, every day of the year, including on Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays. It also requires these organizations to accept and record incoming calls when personnel are not available.
  • HB 3552 will protect breastfeeding mothers by allowing mothers who are discriminated for breastfeeding in public to receive injunctive relief and damages up to $500 for each day the violation occurs.

Legislative Committee Hearings

Committee hearings have started in the Texas House of Representatives. This week, the House Appropriations Committee did not meet. However, my second committee, Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence, held hearings on multiple bills for the first time this session. 

Committees have begun to hear and debate bills. I am proud to announce that I have had my first two hearings in committee for HB 410 and HB 411. I look forward getting these bills out of committee in the coming weeks.

  • HB 410, which prohibits prior authorizations for health benefits that are already required to be covered by health plans, was heard in the House Committee on Insurance on March 9th. 
  • HB 411, which aligns state statute and TEA rules with federal law regarding special education terminology. This will sponsor a more collaborative environment between school districts, parents, and students. HB 411 was heard in the House Committee Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence on March 9th. 

House Democratic Caucus Pandemic Response Subcommittee

I am proud to be appointed to the Texas House Democratic Caucus Pandemic Response Subcommittee by HDC Vice Chair State Representative Toni Rose to help combat very poor decisions made by our state executive branch. The goal of our pandemic response team is multilayered. We will work tirelessly in the TXlege during the 87th legislative session to:

1. Improve health care infrastructure.

2. Expand equitable health coverage and access.

3. Mitigate economic impacts on businesses and workers during a pandemic.

4. Address matters of governance related to pandemic disaster response.

Texas House Priority Electricity Reforms

Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) announced the first phase of the House’s legislative reforms to protect consumers and strengthen our state’s electric grid after last week’s marathon hearings that examined the collapse of our electric infrastructure. Members of the Texas House have filed and will file the following legislation:

  • HB 10 (Paddie) restructures the ERCOT board, replacing the unaffiliated members with members appointed by the Governor, Lt. Governor, and Speaker of the House. It also requires all board members to reside in the state of Texas and creates an additional ERCOT board member slot to represent consumer interests. 
  • HB 11 (Paddie) requires electric transmission and generation facilities in this state to be weatherized against the spectrum of extreme weather Texas may face.
  • HB 12 (Raymond) creates a statewide disaster alert system administered by Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) to alert Texans across the state about impending disasters and extreme weather events.
  • HB 13 (Paddie) establishes a council composed of ERCOT, Public Utility Commission of Texas, Railroad Commission, and TDEM leaders to coordinate during a disaster. The committee will identify challenges with fuel supplies, repairs, energy operations and prevent service interruptions from the wellhead to the consumer. 
  • HB 14 (Goldman) requires the Railroad Commission to adopt rules requiring gas pipeline operators to implement measures that ensure service quality and reliability during an extreme weather emergency.
  • HB 16 (Hernandez) bans variable rate products like Griddy for residential customers. This bill will provide consumer protection to residential customers while still allowing the competitive market to flourish.
  • HB 17 (Deshotel) prevents any political subdivision or planning authority from adopting or enforcing an ordinance, regulation, code, or policy that would prohibit the connection of residential or commercial buildings to specific infrastructure based on the type or source of energy that will be delivered to the end user. 

Reopening Texas and Lifting the State Mask Mandate

Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order (GA-34) went into effect on Wednesday, lifting the mask mandate in Texas and increasing capacity of all businesses and facilities in the state to 100 percent. Businesses may still limit capacity or implement additional safety protocols at their own discretion. If COVID-19 hospitalizations in any of the 22 hospital regions in Texas get above 15% of the hospital bed capacity in that region for seven straight days, a County Judge in that region may use COVID-19 mitigation strategies. 

Masks work to slow the spread of COVID-19. We need to follow the advice of doctors and experts and continue to keep each other safe until the CDC tells us otherwise. Continue following CDC social distancing and masking guidelines until further notice.

State-Run COVID-19 Mobile Testing Sites

The Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), in partnership with the Texas Military Department, is continuing to run COVID-19 testing locations across the state. Texans can find a testing site near them by visiting the COVID-19 Test Collection Site map.

Texas COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Locations

Texas Health and Human Services has created a map tracking the distribution of and locations providing COVID-19 vaccines. Texans can find providers near them in the coming months by visiting the COVID-19 Vaccine Availability map. A list of vaccine hub providers can be found here. Information about vaccination distribution and availability can also be found here. Information about the vaccine can be found here.

COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Updates

This week, Texas has reached a milestone of providing vaccine doses to over 50% of the state’s seniors. This is important because that age group represents the overwhelming majority of COVID hospitalizations & fatalities. 34 counties will be participating in the second week of The Save Our Seniors program, including in Dallas County. The Grand Prairie and Irving join vaccination site also opened this week. Information about registration at the site can be found here. Additionally, the state will receive over 1.3 million vaccine doses in next week’s allocation. Overall, about 4.7 million people have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and 2.5 million are fully vaccinated.

Texas is expanding vaccination to people 50 to 64 years of age on March 15. More than 93 percent of the Texas fatalities directly caused by the coronavirus have been in people 50 and older, with those ages 50 to 64 accounting for 20 percent of all fatalities. More information on the new 1C priority group is available on the DSHS COVID-19 Vaccine Information website (English and Spanish). The Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel will continue to meet and make recommendations about the further allocation and distribution of COVID-19 vaccine. 

Winter Storm Recovery Resources

The Texas Department of Emergency Management (TDEM) has daily updates on the winter weather situation here. TDEM has also released a flow chart to guide those impacted by the winter storm with disaster assistance. The chart can be accessed here. On the www.tdem.texas.gov website, the home page has disaster assistance links and a “winter weather” box which opens to all the TDEM resources for individuals and locals. Texans are also urged to fill out the Texas Division of Emergency Management’s Texas Individual Assistance Reporting Tool (TIART) to help the state identify damages across Texas.

On February 22, Governor Abbott announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved a total of 108 Texas counties to receive Individual Assistance. Residents in FEMA Declared Counties can visit www.disasterassistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362 (6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. CT, 7 days a week. Additional counties will continue to be re-requested as the State of Texas continues to receive information reported from individuals who have suffered damage from the winter storm.

Additionally, city of Dallas residents whose homes sustained damage from the 2021 winter storm may be eligible for reimbursement for repairs made by licensed contractors. Call (214) 670-3644 or email HIPP@dallascityhall.com to find out if you’re eligible.

Affordable Care Act Special Enrollment

President Biden has reopened enrollment on the federal Affordable Care Act exchange to allow individuals additional time to sign up for health care plans or change their existing coverage. The special enrollment period will run until May 15, 2021. Consumers looking to sign up for a new plan or make a change to an existing plan may do so by visiting HealthCare.gov, by contacting the Marketplace Call Center or through Direct Enrollment.

Shuttered Venue Grant Preliminary Application Checklist

On March 5, the Small Business Administration released the Shuttered Venue Grant preliminary application checklist. Small venue owners who may qualify due to Covid-19 mitigation closure should begin reviewing the application checklist so everything is in order the minute the application does became available. More information and the checklist can be accessed here. More information on signing up during the Special Enrollment Period can be found on Cover Texas Now’s website.

City of Coppell Arts Center Art Classes and Shows

The Coppell Arts Center hosting new Try Something New art classes for children! Let them exercise their imagination and develop fine motor skills with a one-hour art class, designed for ages 3-12. February classes include a free “Make and Take Crafts” on March 13 and $30 “Spring Flowers Painting” on March 25. For adults, the center is hosting two hour art sessions. The adult class this month is “Teapot Charcoal Drawing” on March 24.

The Coppell Arts Center is also hosting a variety of live performances in the coming month. This month’s free virtual stream performance is “Spring Bouquet” by the Coppell Community Orchestra on March 28. The Selkie Girls are also performing a Celtic folk concert on March 13; tickets are $15. Concert information can be found here.

3/19: Winter storm resources and COVID-19 related updates

Legislative Committee Hearings

Committee hearings have started in the Texas House of Representatives. The House Appropriations Committee did not meet for a second week. However, my second committee, Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence, held hearings on multiple bills this week and voted out my HB 411 favorably. Next stop will be on the House Floor where it will be voted on by all the state representatives. 

My HB 907, which prohibits prior authorization for the medications of individuals with chronic illnesses or autoimmune diseases, was heard in the House Committee on Insurance on March 16th. This specifically will apply health benefit programs that provide benefits for medical, surgical, or prescription drug expenses incurred as a result of a health condition, accident, or sickness. I look forward to working with stakeholders on the bill and passing it out of committee in the coming weeks.

The American Rescue Plan

The American Rescue Plan was signed into law last week. $1.9 trillion was approved, amounting to about 27 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). This means $1,400 stimulus checks are on the way. This provision ensures individual relief is coming for the Texans who need it the most. Families will see up to an additional $3,600 per child from the expansion of the Child Tax Credit. This is estimated to benefit over 6 million children, and lift 500,000 Texas kids out of poverty. Our state will also receive $16.8 billion for the state government and $10.4 billion for local governments to invest in programs that will end the pandemic and promote economic recovery. The American Rescue Plan allocates over 12 billion dollars nationwide for vaccine procurement and distribution, which will make a large impact in Texas.

State-Run COVID-19 Mobile Testing Sites

The Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), in partnership with the Texas Military Department, is continuing to run COVID-19 testing locations across the state. Texans can find a testing site near them by visiting the COVID-19 Test Collection Site map.

Texas COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Locations

Texas Health and Human Services has created a map tracking the distribution of and locations providing COVID-19 vaccines. Texans can find providers near them in the coming months by visiting the COVID-19 Vaccine Availability map. A list of vaccine hub providers can be found here. Information about vaccination distribution and availability can also be found here. Information about the vaccine can be found here.

COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Updates

This week, 28 counties will be participating in the second week of The Save Our Seniors program, not including in Dallas County. The state has allocated over 18,000 vaccine doses for the third week of the initiative, which the state will use in partnership with local officials and service organizations to target Texans who are 65 years and older or homebound. TDEM and TMD will work alongside local jurisdictions to set up a central drive-through vaccine clinic in the community or administer directly to homebound seniors — these decisions will be driven by local officials as they identify vulnerable residents in their communities to participate in this program.

Carrollton Emergency Repair Assistance

Carrollton residents may be eligible for up to $5,000 in assistance with home repairs through the City’s Emergency Home Repair Program, funded by the federal Community Development Block Grant Program. These funds are available to qualifying property owners for damages such as those suffered in the recent winter storms. Repairs through the program must be urgent and pose a threat to the safety of the residents or structure, including burst pipes, electrical issues, and more. More information, including a full list of eligibility requirements, can be found at cityofcarrollton.com/cdbg. To apply for assistance, contact Community Development at communitydevelopment@cityofcarrollton.com or call 972-466-3060.

COVID-19 Drivers License and Identification Card Waiver Ending

The waiver for expired DL/ID cards officially ends on April 14, 2021. If your DL/ID is expired, renew today. Find out if you’re eligible to renew online at here, or schedule an appointment at your local DL office here

TWC: Summer Earn and Learn (SEAL) and Explore STEM!

The Texas Workforce Commission has announced the kickoff of the Summer Earn and Learn (SEAL) and Explore STEM! 2021 programs. These summer initiatives provide career guidance, hands-on learning and work opportunities to students with disabilities aged 14-22. Students participating in Summer Earn and Learn attend work readiness training to prepare them for successful employment. During their work-based learning, students earn a paycheck while acquiring new skills and professional experiences, as well as on-the-job training. Students with disabilities who participate in Explore STEM! day camps are inspired to develop an interest in STEM careers through lectures, hands-on activities, and presentations by visiting STEM professionals that is adapted to a virtual environment. More information about the programs can be found here.

Free Learning Platform for Women Entrepreneurs

Women own or co-own 45% of all businesses in the United States. These businesses represent all types of industries and are owned by all types of women. The majority are small, with great potential for growth in both revenues and job creation. Ascent provides these business owners with free exercises and tools, discussion guides, fireside chats, videos and more to both inspire and assist in business growth. More information can be found at their website here.

Carrollton Trails 2021 5K Run: Registration Open

Registration is now open for the City of Carrollton’s ninth annual Carrollton Trails 5K to be held Saturday, April 24. The event also includes a 1-mile Fun Run/Walk, so bring the whole family. Dogs do not have to be registered to participate. With the public’s health and wellness top of mind, the race will be split into six different timeslots: 8 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 9 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 10 a.m., and 10:30 a.m. Masks and social distancing will be encouraged throughout the event to ensure participants and spectators remain safe. Items such as masks and hand sanitizer will be provided to participants and spectators. Additionally, food items will be pre-packaged. More information and registration can be found here.

3/5: Winter storm resources and COVID-19 related updates

Reopening Texas and Lifting the State Mask Mandate

Governor Greg Abbott this week issued an Executive Order (GA-34) lifting the mask mandate in Texas and increasing capacity of all businesses and facilities in the state to 100 percent. Effective next Wednesday, all businesses of any type may open to 100% capacity. Additionally, this order ends the statewide mask mandate in Texas. Businesses may still limit capacity or implement additional safety protocols at their own discretion. If COVID-19 hospitalizations in any of the 22 hospital regions in Texas get above 15% of the hospital bed capacity in that region for seven straight days, a County Judge in that region may use COVID-19 mitigation strategies. 

Masks work to slow the spread of COVID-19. We need to follow the advice of doctors and experts and continue to keep each other safe until the CDC tells us otherwise. Continue following CDC social distancing and masking guidelines until further notice.

“Hold Harmless” Extended

On March 4th, it was announced that Texas would provide a “hold harmless” to Texas school systems for the rest of the 2020-21 academic school year only. This means funding will be made available to school systems in Texas that have seen enrollment and attendance declines because of the COVID-19 pandemic, as long as they maintain or increase current levels of on-campus attendance. You can read more about the announcement here.

State-Run COVID-19 Mobile Testing Sites

The Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), in partnership with the Texas Military Department, is continuing to run COVID-19 testing locations across the state. Texans can find a testing site near them by visiting the COVID-19 Test Collection Site map.

Texas COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Locations

Texas Health and Human Services has created a map tracking the distribution of and locations providing COVID-19 vaccines. Texans can find providers near them in the coming months by visiting the COVID-19 Vaccine Availability map. A list of vaccine hub providers can be found here. Information about vaccination distribution and availability can also be found here. Information about the vaccine can be found here.

COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Updates

This week, Texas began receiving doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 single-dose vaccine. The state will receive over 200,000 doses in next week’s allocation. The Save Our Seniors program has launched in 26 counties this week, including in Dallas County. The state has allocated up to 8,000 vaccine doses for the first week of the program, which the state will use in partnership with local officials and service organizations to target Texans who are 75 years and older or homebound. 

In addition to that program, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services directed states to expand vaccine eligibility to include people who work in school and child care operations. This includes those who work in pre-primary, primary, and secondary schools, as well as Head Start and Early Head Start programs (including teachers, staff, and bus drivers) and those who work as or for licensed child care providers, including center-based and family care providers.

Winter Storm Recovery Resources

The Texas Department of Emergency Management (TDEM) has daily updates on the winter weather situation here. TDEM has also released a flow chart to guide those impacted by the winter storm with disaster assistance. The chart can be accessed here. On the www.tdem.texas.gov website, the home page has disaster assistance links and a “winter weather” box which opens to all the TDEM resources for individuals and locals. This includes the reporting tool, FEMA disaster assistance, the Winter Weather FAQ, Local Official Resources and Warming Centers still operating. Texans are also urged to fill out the Texas Division of Emergency Management’s Texas Individual Assistance Reporting Tool (TIART) to help the state identify damages across Texas.

On February 22, Governor Abbott announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved a total of 108 Texas counties to receive Individual Assistance. Residents in FEMA Declared Counties can visit www.disasterassistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362 (6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. CT, 7 days a week. On March 2, Governor Abbott requested that an additional 32 counties be added to the federal Major Disaster Declaration for Individual Assistance. Additional counties will continue to be re-requested as the State of Texas continues to receive information reported from individuals who have suffered damage from the winter storm.

Governor Greg Abbott has also announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued a disaster designation for 23 counties in response to severe winter weather that has impacted the state. USDA continues to review production losses in all remaining Texas counties and may make future determinations as more information becomes available. This designation makes federal assistance, such as emergency loans, available to agricultural producers who have suffered losses in designated counties, as well as in counties that are contiguous to a designated county. The request, which was made in February, can be accessed here.

Additionally, city of Dallas residents whose homes sustained damage from the 2021 winter storm may be eligible for reimbursement for repairs made by licensed contractors. Call (214) 670-3644 or email HIPP@dallascityhall.com to find out if you’re eligible.

City of Coppell Water and Sanitary Sewer Usage Credit

The City of Coppell has announced that it will credit all residential and commercial water utility customers 2,000 gallons for both water and sanitary sewer usage due to the severe winter weather event. Additionally, the City will waive increased usage from a pipe break or leak with the submission of appropriate documentation. More information can be found here.

Tax Filing Date Moved to June 15

The Internal Revenue Service has moved the tax-filing and payment deadline for individuals and businesses in Texas to June 15 because of damage across the state caused by the severe winter storms.The extension applies to a variety of filing deadlines that fell after Feb. 11, including those for 2020 business returns, originally March 15, and quarterly payroll and excise tax returns, normally April 30. More information about the change can be found here.

TexFest Celebration in City of Carrollton

Carrollton’s annual TexFest celebration in Historic Downtown Carrollton will still be filled with craft beer, amazing food, local music artists, and more. Four sessions are available with a maximum capacity of 100 attendees per session. While entry to TEXFest is free, walk-up attendance will be on a first-come, first-served basis until the 100 person capacity per session is reached. Those who would like to guarantee admission can pre-purchase a ticket for $6 (includes souvenir beer glass!). More information can be found here.

DART 2021 Student Art Competition

DART is now accepting entries for the 2021 DART Student Art Contest.  The contest provides area students the opportunity to showcase their artistic talents to help promote the use of public transport. This year’s contest theme, “Everyday Heroes Ride DART”, gives students a chance to honor hometown heroes that have kept our community going during the pandemic.  All students (Kindergarten – High School) are eligible to participate and may submit their entries either online or via mail.  The deadline for entry submission is Tuesday, March 23, 2021.  One Best of Show winner will be selected from all K-12 entries and will have his or her artwork featured on DART buses and will receive a $1,000 cash prize from Dallas Contemporary. More information about the contest and applying can be found here.

2/26: Winter storm and COVID-19 related updates

The last week has been extremely difficult for many families across our entire state. Many of you dealt with rolling blackouts, and some of you had no power period. As we recover, we must work together to ensure everyone can bounce back as quickly as possible. Here are some links that you may find helpful:

On February 22, Governor Abbott announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved a total of 108 Texas counties to receive Individual Assistance and for Public Assistance (Emergency Protective Measures Only) in all 254 counties. Residents in FEMA Declared Counties can visit www.disasterassistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362 (6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. CT, 7 days a week. Additional counties will continue to be re-requested as the State of Texas continues to receive information reported from individuals who have suffered damage from the winter storm.

Texans are urged to fill out the Texas Division of Emergency Management’s Texas Individual Assistance Reporting Tool (TIART) to help the state identify damages across Texas. A full list of the governor’s weather-related announcements can be found here.

Texans are also encouraged to fill out the Individual State of Texas Assessment Tool to identify damages across the state. The survey can be accessed here.

Share your story with us

My office is collecting stories of your personal experiences from the winter storm. Your stories matter and we want to make sure they are heard. If you are still in need of assistance, please fill out and my office will reach back out to you.
Find the survey in English here.
Find the survey in Spanish here.

Requesting an Appeal of the Dallas County Vaccine Cuts

This week, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins sent a letter to Dr. John Hellerstedt at the Department of State Health Service appealing the cuts to the Dallas County allotment of vaccines. The state’s decision leaves the other North Texans who patiently waited on the list without a likely opportunity to get a shot for several weeks. Concerned residents can:

  • Request full transparency of the formula used to allocate the vaccine; 
  • Ask DSHS to restore the full allocation of vaccines to Dallas and Tarrant in week 12; 
  • Ask DSHS to make up lost shots from week 11 ASAP; 
  • Ask DSHS to keep Dallas and Tarrant counties vaccine amounts growing proportionately to match the increases in the state’s vaccine allotment.  

I look forward to seeing Dr. Hellerstedt’s response soon.

State-Run COVID-19 Mobile Testing Sites

The Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), in partnership with the Texas Military Department, is continuing to run COVID-19 testing locations across the state. Texans can find a testing site near them by visiting the COVID-19 Test Collection Site map.

Texas COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Locations

Texas Health and Human Services has created a map tracking the distribution of and locations providing COVID-19 vaccines. Texans can find providers near them in the coming months by visiting the COVID-19 Vaccine Availability map. A list of vaccine hub providers can be found here. Information about vaccination distribution and availability can also be found here. Information about the vaccine can be found here.

2/19: Winter storm updates

As we finish out a week where Texans faced unprecedented winter storm conditions and millions experienced power outages and no water across the state, I share the concerns for the safety of our neighbors and communities. It is unacceptable the conditions individuals were forced to try and survive in. I am committed to working with my colleagues at the state and local level to address the problems that lead to the disastrous situation many of us found ourselves in to ensure Texas is better prepared for this kind of emergency. My office and I have compiled a list of resources that might provide relief of insight to those in need. 

Warming Centers

Many of you have been dealing with rolling blackouts and some of you have had no power period. Cities within House District 115 have opened up warming centers to help you and your family, you can find more information below: 

Carrollton
Rosemeade Recreation Center
1330 E. Rosemeade Parkway
Carrollton, TX 75007

Click here for more information from the city.

Coppell
The CORE
234 Parkway Blvd
Coppell, TX 75019

Learn more about this warming center by clicking here.

Farmers Branch
Community Recreation Center
12050 Heartside Place
Farmers Branch, TX 75234

Call 972-813-9549 to schedule transportation if you are physically unable to get to the center. Read more here.

Irving
Senter Park Recreation Center
901 Senter Road
Irving, TX 75060

For assistance, call 469-875-0644 or 469-875-0643. You can also find more details by clicking here.

Boil Notices

While residents of House District 115 are not under a current boil notice, many of our surrounding municipalities and counties are. For more information on who is under a boil notice or being asked to conserve click here.

Price Gouging 

Price gouging is illegal, and the Office of the Attorney General has authority to prosecute any business that engages in price gouging after a disaster has been declared by the governor or president. To report price gouging or other disaster scams call the Consumer Protection Hotline, Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:00am – 5:00pm at 1-800-621-0508 or file a complaint online here

Committee Hearing on Statewide Blackouts

The House Committees on State Affairs and Energy Resources will hold a joint public hearing to consider the factors that led to statewide electrical blackouts during the recent unprecedented weather event; the response by industry, suppliers, and grid operators; and changes necessary to avoid future power interruptions on Thursday, February, 25th at 9 am. 

You can find more information about the hearing here and watch a live video broadcast of the hearing here.

Fair Park Vaccination Site

Due to the current weather conditions, Fair Park vaccine operations will remain closed through Saturday, February 20th. Operations will resume on Sunday, February 21st from 1- 6pm. They will be providing second doses to those who were due for their second dose on or before Friday, February 12. For more information and to check for any weather related updates on Fair Park vaccine operations, please visit www.DallasCountyCovid.org.

Share your story with us 

My office is collecting stories of your personal experiences over the last week. Your stories matter and we want to make sure they are heard. If you are in need of assistance, please fill out and my office will reach back out to you.

Find the survey in English here.
Find the survey in Spanish here.

Please let my office know if you have any needs or concerns and we will be in contact with you as quickly as possible. You can find our quickest updates by following our Facebook page or our Twitter profile.

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