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Posts published in February 2017

Representatives fight to save the Affordable Care Act

By Allan Jamail

Houston, TX. Friday, February 17, 2017 at the Julia C. Hester House Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of the 18th Congressional District joined with Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis and health professionals at a community forum on saving the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a law that has expanded the access to affordable health care to millions of Americans.

Congresswoman Lee said, “Quality affordable health care ought to be a right and not a privilege and that’s why we can’t afford to turn the clock back now; the affordable care act is not about statistics, it’s about the people you know and love.”

Health Professionals included, Dr. Natalie Dailey infectious disease specialist; graduate Harvard Medical School, George Masi, President and CEO of Harris Health, Steve Schnee, Executive Director of the Harris Center for Mental Health, Dr. Janice Beal, Ann Thielke, CEO, Good Neighbor Healthcare Center-Fourth Ward Clinic, Dr. Ann Barnes, Chief Medical Officer, Legacy Community Health Montrose Clinic, Steve Williams, Director, Houston Department of Health and Human Services and Dr. Dona K. Murphey, Formerly Associated with Baylor College of Medicine.

As a result of the ACA:

• 100 million Americans no longer have a life-time limit on healthcare coverage.

• 17 million children with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied coverage by insurers.

• 6.6 million young-adults up to age 26 can stay on their parents’ health insurance plans.

• 6.3 million Seniors in the “donut hole” have saved $6.1 billion on their prescription drugs.

• 3.2 million Seniors have access to free annual wellness visits under Medicare, and

• 360,000 Small Businesses are using the Health Care Tax Credit to help them provide health insurance to their workers.

The risks of repeal and dismantle, the plan Republicans have for the ACA are profound. In Texas alone, 1,874,000 individuals who have gained coverage since the ACA was implemented could lose it if the law is entirely or partially repealed.

Nearly a million individuals in the state who received financial assistance to purchase affordable Marketplace coverage in 2016 are at risk of having the coverage become unaffordable if the Republican Congress eliminates the premium tax credits.

Over 500 thousand children in Texas are at risk of having their coverage rolled back. And 205 thousand young people could lose coverage if the Republican Congress eliminates the provision in the law allowing children to stay on the parent’s plans until age 26.

The Congresswoman, quoted the words of Coretta Scott King, she said “The greatness of community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members…a heart of grace and a soul generated by love.” Congresswoman Lee said her fight to save the ACA is inspired by love.

Harris County combats animal overpopulation

Harris County, Texas – February 9, 2017. Each day an average of 60 – 80 unwanted animals arrive at the Harris County Animal Shelter. Almost all of them are victims of our community’s pet overpopulation problem. Although it is normally in the spring that the shelter receives an increase of litters of unwanted pets, this winter many litters of puppies and kittens continue to arrive at the shelter.

Responsible pet owners can help reduce the overpopulation of animals by spaying and neutering their dogs and cats.

In commemoration of National Spay and Neuter Awareness month, many organizations across Houston and Harris County are collaborating in the “Big Fix,” an event to raise awareness of the stray animal overpopulation problem in our community.

Thanks to the generosity of partners and volunteers, the Harris County Animal Shelter provided FREE spaying/neutering services to pets from unincorporated Harris County on February 11, 2017. The Shelter’s Animal Control Officers spread the word in communities with higher stray animal populations. The demand for these types of services are so great that all of the almost 200 spay/neuter spots for dogs were full.

“We are so grateful to several local veterinarians and volunteers who are donating their time to assist our Shelter in this important event! We continue to look for ways to make it easier and cheaper for pet owners to spay and neuter, it’s the only way to stop producing more animals than we have homes for” said Dr. Michael White, HCPH Veterinary Public Health Director.

In addition to preventing overpopulation, spaying and neutering makes for safe communities, healthier pets, especially if done before 6 months. Spaying and neutering has shown to:

* Reduce or prevent many types of pet cancers and other health problems.

* Help keep pets from digging out of back yards and wandering the neighborhood where they can be hit by cars or get hurt by other animals.

* Make animals easier to train and pets are happier.

* Make pets less likely to bite people.

* Keep unwanted animals from bringing diseases into neighborhoods and occasionally into homes.

* Help prevent unwanted or uncared for animals (animal dumping).

* Decrease overcrowding of animal shelters and increase the chance of finding forever homes for all.

Rep. Gene Green proposes Amendment to abolish the electoral college vote

President Would Be Elected Directly by the American People

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Tuesday, February 7th, Congressman Gene Green introduced a joint resolution, H.J.Res. 65, the Every Vote Counts Amendment, in the U.S. House of Representatives to amend the Constitution to abolish the Electoral College and require the President and Vice President be directly elected by the people.

“Every important elected office in America today is chosen directly by the people, except the President. The 2000 and 2016 elections have shown us that the Electoral College system is failing, undermining our nation’s basic principles of democracy and equality,” said Congressman Gene Green.

“One of the hallmarks of American democracy is its ability to adapt and respond to the people,” remarked Congressman Green. “Over 100 years ago, the Constitution was amended to require U.S. Senators be directly elected by the voting public in response to concerns similar to the Electoral College today. It is time for Congress and the states to get to work and give the power back to the American people.”

The Electoral College was created in the 18th century when communications were poor, literacy was low, and voters lacked information about out-of-state candidates. Section Three of the Every Vote Counts Amendment reads: “The persons having the greatest number of votes for President and Vice President shall be elected.”

The Every Vote Counts Amendment was introduced with 21 original cosponsors: Reps. Brendan Boyle, Julia Brownley, David Cicilline, Yvette Clarke, Steve Cohen, Joe Courtney, Peter DeFazio, Keith Ellison, Adriano Espaillat, John Garamendi, Al Green, Jared Huffman, Ted Lieu, James McGovern, Mark Pocan, Jan Schakowsky, Jose Serrano, Brad Sherman, Eric Swalwell, Juan Vargas, Filemon Vela.

North Houston District Recognizes Community Champions

HOUSTON – The North Houston District recently celebrated community and corporate partners who contribute to the area’s growth and success. North Houston District President Greg Simpson highlighted the importance of the honorees by saying, “Our ability to continue building this community is closely tied to our partnerships and volunteers.”

Melody Douglas, vice president of Finance & Administration for Morganti and vice-chair of the District’s board, joined Simpson in awarding outstanding community servants for 2016.

Hardy Properties at Intercontinental was recognized as Company of the Year for its substantial investment in a 34-building business park along West Hardy near the Sam Houston Parkway. Improvements at their business park changed the landscape of the District in that area.

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office took home the award as Partner of the Year for the commitment and dedication of the Harris County Task Force. Launched in March of 2016, the Task Force has contributed to an overall reduction in crime. Furthermore, their efforts to build relationships with area residents, especially youth, is changing the dynamic between law enforcement and the community.

As Volunteer of the Year, Tom Wussow, a longtime District board member, was acknowledged as a leader whose vision and insight continues to be an integral part of the organization’s progress. Credited with being the District’s founder, Wussow still offers guidance that helps the area address tough challenges. Following the 2016 Tax Day Flood, Wussow led efforts for an engineering study that puts the community in a position to compete for federal funds for flood mitigation projects.

Three Community Spirit Award recipients were honored for the critical roles and resources provided to support flood recovery efforts. Aldine ISD helped rescue families and safely transport them to shelters. Its M.O. Campbell Educational Center served as the primary shelter for District families displaced by the flood. Harvest Time Church became a primary donation drop-off and distribution point in the heart of the community, offering hot meals and supplies within walking distance of many of hardest hit apartment communities. The City of Houston worked tirelessly to expedite recovery efforts. A team met weekly with property owners to assist with critical needs, like permitting for repairs, debris removal, additional law enforcement and providing housing options and resources for displaced families.

North Houston District board members are also recognized for their service at the luncheon. Donna Volkerding, area business travel manager for Interstate Hotels and Resorts, was recognized for one year of service.

The volunteer appreciation event began in 1992 as a way to acknowledge individuals and organizations whose partnership and efforts significantly enhance or expand programs in the North Houston District service area.

About the North Houston District

Created in 1991 by the Texas Legislature, the North Houston District is a business improvement district that leverages public and private partnerships to provide enhanced services in transportation mobility, public safety, beautification and recreational development, marketing and strategic planning and development. Minutes from Bush IAH, the District’s 12-square-mile service area has 20 million square feet of office, retail and industrial properties. The District includes more than 4,400 businesses, 74,000 employees and 115,000 residents.

For more information, visit