Earlier this year, thousands of women and men across the country gathered together to protest the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump. On Jan. 21, people marched through the streets in Dallas, Austin and other Texas citieschanting “This is what democracy looks like!”
One of the people behind the Dallas Women’s March was state rep. Victoria Neave. She represents Texas House District 107 which includes Dallas, Garland, and Mesquite.
In a phone interview, Neave said, “We wanted to bring attention to women’s issues,” which include topics like reproductive rights, sexual assault, and women in politics.
“In the Legislature we only have 29 women out of 150 state representatives,” said Neave, which could mean a long road ahead for women who want equal representation in the state house. “We need more women to run at all levels,” said Neave. “This could mean school board to local city council, all the way to House and Senate.”
Also in the interview we discussed the next steps for people who feel passionately about women’s causes and progressive politics. House bill 1729 is the first bill Rep. Neave has laid out, and it’s designed to address the backlog of untested rape kits in Texas.
“There are thousands and thousands of untested rape kits across the state,” said Neave. “It is extremely difficult and painful for the victims to undergo a gruesome and detailed investigation after what they have undergone.”
The kits that are used to test rape are costly. “Anywhere from $500 to $2,000 per kit plus the laboratory costs, but that depends on how much DNA evidence is found,” said Neave. If Rep. Neave’s bill passes, it will contribute funding for the testing of the evidence on untested rape kits.
“Whenever you apply for or renew your driver’s license, state ID, or commercial driver’s license there would a box you check to donate a dollar or any amount that you want.” A state analysis predicts bill 1729 would generate around $1 million annually. The bill already passed the jurisprudence committee last month and is now heading for a full vote in the House of Representatives.
What about young citizens with resources? Students who wish to influence the political community without resources? They can make a difference too.
“It’s important for young people to raise their concerns with legislators,” said Neave. “I really listen when young people come and talk to me about what they take issue with.” This means calling and emailing local representatives and senators.
One point Neave really emphasized was school funding. “With public universities and community colleges, a lot of the leaders are cutting our funding,” she said. “It’s important for students to stand up and fight back against that.”
Neave, having grown up in a working class family in Mesquite, understands the importance of education for all and believes in making it more affordable, not less. She can’t do it alone.
“Don’t stay on the sidelines. Vote every year!” said Neave. “Not just for presidential elections, and federal congress, but local elections too.”
The Legislative session continues through May 10. Now is the time to be active. For those interested in pursuing a career in government Neave’s office is looking for interns. For more information check out District firstname.lastname@example.org.
The deadline to register to vote in the upcoming May 6 municipal election is April 6. Information on registering to vote is available at http://www.votetexas.gov/register-to-vote/