Issues: Government

Sen. Ellis on Cuba announcement

(Austin, TX) // Today, Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) released the following statement:

“I congratulate President Obama on this historic step toward normalizing relations with Cuba. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Cuba on three separate occasions, and I am confident that this important change will benefit both Cubans and Texans alike.”

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Ellis Praises Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson

(Austin, Texas) – Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) today released the following statement on the announced retirement of Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson: Continue Reading »

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Ellis Joins Rep. Turner, Advocates in Support of LITE-UP Texas Enrollment

Deadline for low-income Texans to qualify for help on energy bills looming

(Austin, Texas) – Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) today joined Representative Sylvester Turner (D-Houston) and advocates urging low-income Texans to sign up for LITE-UP Texas energy bill assistance before the August 10, 2013 deadline.

The LITE-UP Texas program is designed to help qualified low-income individuals who live in areas where they can choose their own electricity provider to reduce their monthly cost of electric service. During this year’s regular session, the 83rd Texas Legislature made profound changes to this program, increasing the discount from 16.5 percent to 82 percent. The 82 percent discount will be effective for this September and also for May, June, July and August of 2014.

“Time is running out for low-income and elderly Texans to get the help they need to keep the power on in late summer,” said Ellis. “We are here to spread the word to make sure that Texans know there is help on the way.”

In 1999 the legislature created the System Benefit Fund to help low-income Texans pay summer energy bills when Texas deregulated electric utility companies. The Fund’s goal was to assist the least fortunate Texans in braving the summer heat, and as temperatures across the state soar to increasingly high levels, that mission is more critical than ever. Unfortunately, this session, the legislature ended the surcharge on customers’ electricity bills but took steps to provide a discount on customers’ September electricity bills for 2013 and May through August bills for 2014. According to the Public Utility Commission, about 500,000 Texans received aid from the System Benefit Fund to help pay their summer bills.

Since the creation of the System Benefit Fund, the legislature has often neglected to use the full balance to help Texans pay their summer electric bills, instead redirecting the balance to shore up budget shortfalls. For instance, in 2011 $650 million was left in the Fund instead of distributed to senior and needy Texans.

“I opposed the reverse Robin Hood plan to take from the poor,” said Ellis. “The System Benefit Fund was created for the explicit purpose of helping low-income Texans pay rising energy bills after electric deregulation. That’s where the money should be going and where Texans want it to go. Unfortunately, our side did not prevail, but at least there is the silver lining that Texans will receive a bigger discount this summer and in 2014, so Texans need to take advantage of it while they can.”


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Austinites required to recycle, but not bars

While Austin is trying to save the planet by banning plastic bags, every night thousands of glass bottles are thrown away. A lot of those are beer bottles that could be recycled, but in Austin there’s no requirement to do so. However, that could soon change. Continue Reading »

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Bill To Prohibit Enforcement Of Federal Gun Laws Dies In Senate

House Bill 928 would criminalize any police officer enforcing a new federal gun law in the state of Texas, and it immediately struck tensions between Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, and Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston. Continue Reading »

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Ellis Votes for Improved Payday Lending Plan

(Austin, Texas) – Following a series of consumer-friendly amendments and a pledge by leaders to maintain those protections, Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) today voted in favor of legislation to enact regulation of predatory lenders in Texas. Continue Reading »

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Ellis Opposes Reverse Robin Hood on System Benefit Fund

(Austin, Texas) – Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) today voted against legislation that would gut the System Benefit Fund and give away funds meant to help low-income and vulnerable Texans pay for rising energy bills. Continue Reading »

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Bills Renew Push for Posting Financial Disclosures

State Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, and Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, each filed legislation on Thursday that would require personal financial statements submitted to the Texas Ethics Commission to be made available online. Continue Reading »

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Statement of Senator Ellis on State of the State

(Austin, TX)Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) today released the following statement on Governor Rick Perry’s State of the State speech: Continue Reading »

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Senator Ellis Files Health Care Package for 2013 Legislative Session

(Austin, TX)—Today, State Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) filed a health care bill package aimed at implementing key elements of the Affordable Care Act in Texas. Texas has the highest percentage of uninsured in the nation with one in four Texans lacking insurance.


“It is time that we put partisan politics aside and do what is right for Texas.  This legislation will bring tens of billions of dollars to the state, expand Medicaid to approximately 1.5 million additional Texans, set up a state health insurance exchange that works for Texas and guarantees that the Commissioner of Insurance has the tools necessary to ensure rates are fair and affordable.  The expansion of Medicaid costs less in four years than what Texas hospitals spend on the uninsured population in one year.  The needs of these individuals will not disappear if we fail to expand Medicaid, but we will lose out on a nine to one match that other states will utilize and we will continue to pass the cost down to local hospitals and ultimately to taxpayers,” said Senator Ellis.


Senate Joint Resolution 8 allows voters to decide on the expansion of Medicaid as allowed under the Affordable Care Act.


Senate Bill 84 creates a state based Health Insurance Exchange and codifies key federal insurance provisions already in effect.


Senate Bill 85 provides the Insurance Commissioner with the authority to approve and deny health insurance rate increases.



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