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District 137 Open House a Success

May 8, 2016

On Saturday, May 7th, over fifty District 137 residents attended our Open House to discuss issues that are important for Southwest Houston and the state of Texas. We received a great deal of feedback from the event that will help guide us in the next legislative session. We thank everyone who was able to attend, and are grateful to have had some exceptional speakers as we focused on the following policy areas:

Education
District 137 includes parts of Houston ISD and Alief ISD, both of which are characterized by the diversity of their student populations. Alief Superintendent H.D. Chambers has been a leader in transforming public education to meet the workforce needs of tomorrow. Chambers offered his insight on the challenges we have as a state to educate 5.2 million children and also spoke about the significant reforms enacted during the 2013 legislative session.

Health Care
Freddy Warner, System Executive for Memorial Hermann Healthcare System and Januari Leo, Government Relations for Legacy Community Health Services both discussed issues surrounding public health. Memorial Hermann is the largest health care provider in the region and Legacy has three clinics in District 137 that provide a full range of services for the uninsured and underinsured in our community.

Warner discussed the cost of health care and the burden on hospitals in providing indigent care for Texas’ large uninsured population and gave an overview of the funding battles over how the state pays for our health care systems. Leo talked about the different programs and services offered by Legacy. Both Warner and Leo discussed the impact of Texas’ refusal to expand Medicaid and the overwhelming strain it puts on our hospitals, clinics and healthcare system as a whole.

Public Safety
Celena Vinson, Assistant County Attorney discussed nuisance abatement through civil lawsuits and the different tools that can be used to fight illegal game rooms, gang activity, human trafficking, and other related crimes. Houston Police Lieutenant H. H. Conn talked about law enforcement efforts to build relationships in the community and the support her officers receive in return.

Supporting LNG exports, the Texas way

Houston Chronicle February 26, 2016

The following op-ed appeared in the Houston Chronicle on February 25th.

Supporting LNG exports, the Texas way
Cutting federal red tape will help the economy andraise U.S. energy leadership
By Paul Bettencourt and Gene Wu
February 25, 2016

Bipartisan support isn’t something you hear very often in Washington, D.C., but in Texas we understand the importance of working together to support efforts that will benefit the Texas economy and add jobs. Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) exports are an opportunity to do just that.

Thanks to the shale boom, the United States has moved from a position of energy scarcity to a position of strength and abundance. By liquefying surplus natural gas supplies and exporting it to allies overseas, the U.S. is able to solidify its place as a global energy provider while at the same time creating jobs at home and strengthening our own economy.

Texas is uniquely positioned to become a leader in the next chapter in America’s energy transformation due to our abundant natural gas supply, infrastructure and access to deep water ports. According to studies, LNG exports will create up to 155,000 Texas jobs in construction, operations, exploration and production by 2035 and contribute up to $31.4 billion to our local economies. The benefits of LNG exports are not just confined to Texas. LNG exports are expected to generate as much as $86 billion in net benefits to the U.S. economy and help create up to 2.4 million American jobs by 2035, according to a recent report from NERA Economic consulting. Additionally, a 2015 peer-reviewed study by Carnegie Mellon University found that exporting LNG from the U.S. to Asia or Europe can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared with burning coal.

LNG exports will play an important geopolitical role as well. For decades, our allies abroad have been dependent on countries that are politically at odds with U.S. interests in order to meet their demand for natural gas. Now that the U.S. has an abundant supply of natural gas that can be offered to our allies, we have the ability to weaken the stronghold that countries like Russia and Iran have on those countries while at the same time strengthening our own domestic economy. This past legislative session, we were the sponsors of a resolution urging Congress to expedite the permitting process for natural gas exports.

The measure, SCR 32, passed without opposition and was signed by Governor Abbott. Currently, costly and time-consuming regulatory limitations hinder the trade expansion and job creation that LNG exports are able to provide. Under the current process, license applications are delayed or backlogged at the Department of Energy.

This hurts hard-working Texans who will benefit from good-paying jobs and also prevents America from taking a leading role in the world market. An update to our policies is long overdue.

The energy bill currently working its way through Congress includes provisions that would help increase regulatory certainty for economically viable LNG export projects. The proposed legislation imposes a deadline for the DOE to review and act on export permit requests to non-free trade agreement countries following final environmental approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Most of our allies clamoring for U.S. natural gas – Spain, Lithuania, France, etc. – do not currently have a free trade agreement in place with the United States.

During this time of uncertainty in commodity prices, LNG exports still provide a bright spot for the energy industry that will create economic growth opportunities for hard-working Texans and businesses. We must not delay an opportunity to reinvigorate the energy markets, create jobs and provide our allies with a clean and reliable source of energy. As Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, we must continue to call on Congress to address this important issue of a burdensome permitting process.

The Texas way is a recognition of the obvious: that we must allow the United States to realize its full potential as a global energy leader with LNG.


Bettencourt is a Republican Texas state senator from Houston. Wu is a Democrat representing Houston in the state House of Representatives.

What Your Support Means to Me *UPDATED*

February 1, 2016

The Democratic Primary is just one month away. I’m honored to have the support of my colleagues in the Legislature, as well as many local leaders who have offered their endorsement of the work I’ve done for District 137.

None of this would have happened if I didn’t have your personal support. The reception I’ve gotten from voters as I go door-to-door in the district has been phenomenal and it is all due to the strong support shown by friends, constituents, and neighbors who believe in what we’re doing. It’s not too late to get involved and help us cross the finish line on March 1st.

2016 Endorsements:

  • Houston Chronicle
  • Sylvester Turner – Mayor of Houston
  • Scott Hochberg – former State Representative
  • Rev. Bill Lawson – founding Pastor, Wheeler Ave. Baptist Church
  • Rep. Al Green – United States Congress, District 9
  • Dr. Alma A. Allen – State Representative, District 131
  • Armando Walle – State Representative, District 140
  • Senfronia Thompson – State Representative, District 141
  • Harold Dutton – State Representative, District 142
  • Ana Hernandez – State Representative, District 143
  • Carol Alvarado – State Representative, District 145
  • Borris Miles – State Representative, District 146
  • Garnet Coleman – State Representative, District 147
  • Jessica Farrar – State Representative, District 148
  • Hubert Vo – State Representative, District 149
  • Sylvia Garcia – State Senator, District 6
  • John Whitmire – State Senator, District 15
  • Mike Laster – Houston City Council Member
  • Sue Lovell – former City Council Member
  • Melissa Noriega – former City Council Member
  • Gordon Quan – former City Council Member
  • Richard Nguyen – former City Council Member
  • Kristi Thibaut – former State Representative
  • Mary Ann Perez – former State Representative
  • Law Enforcement

  • Houston Police Officers’ Union
  • Houston Professional Firefighters Local 341
  • Texas Municipal Police Association
  • Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT)
  • Education

  • Texas Parent PAC
  • Houston Federation of Teachers
  • Texas State Teachers Association
  • University of Houston PAC
  • Labor

  • Texas AFL-CIO
  • Texas State Employee Union
  • Plumber’s Local Union #68
  • Democratic and Progressive Organizations

  • Harris County Young Democrats
  • Harris County Tejano Democrats
  • Texas Coalition of Black Democrats – Harris County
  • Area 5 Democrats
  • Houston GLBT Political Caucus PAC
  • Houston Stonewall Young Democrats
  • Planned Parenthood Texas Votes
  • Business & Industry

  • Texas Association of Realtors
  • Texas Apartment Association
  • Texas Hospital Association
  • Texas Medical Association
  • Texas Restaurant Association
  • Texas Farm Bureau
  • Texas Trial Lawyers Association
  • American Council of Engineering Companies (Houston) PAC
  • Rep. Wu Requests DOJ Investigation into State Directives on Refugees

    December 16, 2015

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    Contact: Beth Martin – 713-271-3900

    Representative Gene Wu Requests US Dept. of Justice Investigation into State Directives on Refugees

    Houston, Texas―State Representative Gene Wu announced today that he has sent a formal request to the U.S. Department of Justice asking that they investigate whether any Texas agency has violated the US Refugee Act of 1980, or if any Texas agency has violated the US Constitution or federal law by specifically targeting a group for discrimination based on their ethnicity or country of origin.

    “Governor Abbott and Commissioner Chris Traylor’s order to resettlement organizations to stop accepting Syrian refugees is unprecedented in our state’s history; Texas has never before interfered with any prior refugee group,” said Representative Wu. “Our nation’s highest laws directly protect all people from discrimination based on their race, ethnicity, religion, and many other factors. This order to assistance groups may have violated federal law.”

    Houston is home to over 70,000 refugees from 79 different countries, and resettles more refugees than any other city in the United States. Many refugee families reside in Texas House District 137 in Southwest Houston, along with numerous organizations offering programs, services, resources and support. The Alliance for Multicultural Community Services, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, Refugee Services of Texas, YMCA International Services, Partnership for the Advancement & Immersion of Refugees — all of whom have offices in District 137 — are only some of the organizations working in Houston to assist refugees.

    “The United States is a nation of immigrants. I am disturbed that our state’s leadership has chosen to target Syrian refugees and bully resettlement organizations in order to score political points,” said Representative Wu. “Targeting families who have already been victimized by ISIS and the Syrian civil war, and who have already been vetted through an intensive two-year federal review, is blatantly politicizing these refugees’ plight. I hope that the Department of Justice can put this issue to rest with their investigation.”

    The directives from Abbott and Traylor may violate other federal laws prohibiting discrimination based on ethnicity and county of origin. Wu adds: “I find it especially distressing that the directives call for discrimination based on the refugees’ national origin or ethnicity. Such discrimination strikes against our nation’s concepts of individual freedom and justice. It has only been a few years since the US Congress issued a formal apology for passing the “Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 — a law banning a specific ethnic group or nationality from entry into the United States. I believe that the Texas directives may violate federal anti-discrimination laws as well.”

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    12 16 2015 Rep  Gene Wu letter AG Lynch (1)

    Looking Ahead

    November 19, 2015

    This past Tuesday, we had over one hundred friends and constituents join us at our campaign kickoff at Barry’s Pizza. Thank you all for helping me celebrate the successes we’ve seen since you sent me to Austin in 2012!

    We’ll be in touch between now and the Democratic Primary on March 1. We’ll talk about both our past accomplishments and the work ahead. And, most importantly, we’ll continue to talk about ways that we can strengthen our neighborhoods right here at home.

    But I need your help – a candidate has announced his intention to challenge me in the Democratic Primary.

    My opponent has stated that he intends to run as the “conservative democrat.” He has early backing from individuals who actively campaigned against Democratic Party core principles, and has direct ties to local Republicans and conservatives. We have beaten Republican challengers in two general elections now, and, with your help, we will beat another one in the 2016 Democratic Primary.

    I’ve always been grateful for the support you’ve given me in years past. I invite you to reply to this email letting me know that you wish to show your support for our campaign. Let us know if you would like a yard sign or volunteer.

    Thank you,

    Gene Wu

    Proudly Endorsed By:
    • U.S. Congressman Al Green
    • State Senator John Whitmire
    • State Senator Sylvia Garcia
    • State Rep. Alma Allen
    • State Rep. Armando Walle
    • State Rep. Senfronia Thompson
    • State Rep. Harold Dutton
    • State Rep. Ana Hernandez
    • State Rep. Carol Alvarado
    • State Rep. Borris Miles
    • State Rep. Garnet Coleman
    • State Rep. Jessica Farrar
    • State Rep. Hubert Vo
    • Fmr. State Rep. Scott Hochberg
    • Fmr. State Rep. Kristi Thibaut
    • Fmr. State Rep. Mary Ann Perez
    • Fmr. State Rep. Melissa Noriega
    • City Council Member Mike Laster
    • Fmr. City Council Member Gordon Quan
    • Fmr. City Council Member Sue Lovell

    Representative Gene Wu and Other Asian American Leaders Support the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO)

    October 13, 2015

    MEDIA CONTACT: Greg Wythe
    Contact: Greg Wythe – 832-417-8364

    Representative Gene Wu and Other Asian American Leaders
    Support the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO)

    HOUSTON, TX – On November 3, 2015, voters in the City of Houston will be asked to vote on a referendum that will determine the fate of Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO). State Representative Gene Wu offered his support today to the proponents of the measure:

    “The Asian community and other immigrant communities are often discriminated against because of their race or ethnic background. We want to live in a city that respects us. HERO gives our communities a way to deal with discrimination without having to hire lawyers and file a long and expensive federal lawsuit. This is good for our community, and good for business.”

    Representative Wu recently conducted a Town Hall Meeting to discuss the ordinance at the Chinese Community Center on Saturday. Many local Asian-American leaders and organizations came to support the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, including:


    State Representative Gene Wu
    State Representative Hubert Vo
    City Council Member Richard Nguyen
    Hon. Gordon Quan
    Rogene Gee Calvert
    Vinh Ho
    Cecil Fong
    Nelvin Joseph Adriatico-Thadhani
    Houston 80-20 PAC
    OCA Greater Houston

    HERO specifically protects against discrimination based on sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military status, religion, disability, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity, or pregnancy. Unfortunately, there has been much misinformation spread by opponents of HERO. Rep. Wu says:

    “Houston is the last major city in Texas to pass such an ordinance. Opponents say there will be problems with bathrooms. But Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin have all passed similar laws, and there has not been a single issue. If you hear someone talk about bathrooms, they are trying to scare you. If you want to know the truth, read the ordinance.”

    State Rep. Gene Wu and other local leaders urge Houston voters to support Prop 1.

    The next Town Hall Meeting will be held on Saturday, October 24th at the Baker Ripley Center located at 6500 Rookin beginning at 11am.

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    Rep. Wu Supports Annual HISD Grads Within Reach Walk

    September 11, 2015

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    Contact: Beth Martin – 713-271-3900

    Representative Gene Wu Supports Annual HISD Grads Within Reach Walk

    On Saturday, September 12, 2015, Representative Wu joins community volunteers and school staff at Sharpstown High School in Southwest Houston in an annual effort to visit the homes of students who have not returned to finish high school and help them explore options toward graduation.

    “Volunteering on behalf of our neighborhood schools is one of the most rewarding experiences we can all take part in. Teachers, neighbors, and family members will be knocking on doors this Saturday to encourage dropouts to return to school and complete working toward their graduation. I encourage all Houstonians with time, talent, and resources to get involved and find ways to partner with a school in their community.”

    The Houston Independent School District (HISD) has held this annual event every fall since 2002. Last year, nearly 600 volunteers participated by visiting the homes of close to 1500 students across the city. The outreach effort led to the immediate return of 59 students, and many more who re-enrolled later in the year. Representative Wu has previously volunteered at Sharpstown High School, tutoring at-risk youth in the Grad Lab and Twilight programs.

    More than 1.2 million students across the country drop out of high school before receiving a diploma. These students are at a distinct disadvantage. According to the PBS Frontline special, “Dropout Nation,” the average high school dropout can expect to earn an annual income of only $20,241 — a full $10,386 less than the typical high school graduate.

    ###

    State Rep. Gene Wu Condemns Jeb Bush’s Defense of Term ‘Anchor Babies’

    August 25, 2015

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    August 25, 2015
    Contact: Beth Martin – 713-271-3900

    State Rep. Gene Wu Condemns Jeb Bush’s Defense of Term ‘Anchor Babies’

    HOUSTON, TX- Yesterday at a press conference in McAllen, Texas, in an attempt to appeal to ultra-right wing conservatives Jeb Bush defended his use of the term “anchor babies” by saying “frankly, it is more related to Asian people.” State Rep. Gene Wu (D-Houston) calls for Bush to apologize for using immigrants as scapegoats for political gain.

    “Virtually every American is an immigrant or a descendant of an immigrant,” Wu said. “But, every political season, some politician will think it’s funny to pin the ills of the nation on immigrants because they are convenient targets. America was built and made strong on the backs of immigrant labor. Latinos and Asian immigrants alike have contributed immeasurably to the wealth and prosperity of this great nation.”

    Rep. Gene Wu, an immigrant himself, represents Southwest Houston, an area rich in cultural diversity.

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    Representative Gene Wu Supports the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO)

    August 12, 2015

    Houston Unites press conference August 2015

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    August 12, 2015
    Contact: Greg Wythe – 713-271-3900

    Representative Gene Wu Supports the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO)

    On November 5, 2015, voters in the City of Houston will be asked to vote on a referendum that will determine the fate of Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO). State Representative Gene Wu offered his support today to the proponents of the measure:

    “I’m proud to support Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance. Houston has worked so hard to be known as an international city that attracts businesses from all around the world. Like real heroes, this ordinance protects everyone from discrimination and bigotry. We want the world to know that they will find a warm and welcoming home in Houston; a place where everyone has the opportunity to be successful.”

    HERO protects the rights of everyone who lives and works in the City of Houston. The ordinance provides an extra layer of security against discrimination in city employment, city services, city contracting practices, housing, public accommodations, and private employment. The ordinance specifically protects against discrimination based on sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military status, religion, disability, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity, or pregnancy.

    Houston is the among the last major cities in the nation to pass such an ordinance. If HERO is repealed, victims of discrimination would only be able to rely on the federal courts for redress; as the State laws provide little protection against discrimination.

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    HERO Support Statement

    Wu Issues Second Letter to DSHS Calling for the Release of Information Concerning Policies Denying Birth Certificates to Children of Immigrants

    August 10, 2015

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    August 10, 2015
    AMY BRUNO / 512-463-0492

    Wu Issues Second Letter to Department of State Health Services Calling for the Release of Information Concerning Policies Denying Birth Certificates to Children of Immigrants

    AUSTIN, TX – State Representative Gene Wu (D-Houston) issued a second letter to the Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner Kirk Cole asking for details concerning DSHS policy which has left unknown numbers of US citizen children of immigrant parents without copies of their birth certificates. Wu issued an initial letter on July 17th condemning the practice and requesting more information about Department policy, but DSHS has yet to respond.

    “Texans deserve to know if, when, and why a state agency began implementing policies that violate the US Constitution,” Wu commented.

    According to media reports, a pending lawsuit, and public statements made by DSHS, the Department’s Vital Statistics Unit has been rejecting matricula consular consulate issued identification cards as proof of identity when parents apply for birth certificates. DSHS also will not accept foreign passports unless they have a US Visa stamp. This leaves many parents of US citizens with no viable alternative form of identification to obtain their children’s birth documents under DSHS’ current rules. Over a dozen affected families are plaintiffs in the lawsuit against DSHS, filed by the Texas Civil Rights Project and Texas Rio Grande Legal Aide.

    Without birth certificates, parents may face challenges enrolling their children in school, obtaining benefits for their children, or proving a familial relationship. The affected children will also face challenges obtaining identification and proving citizenship later in life. It is unclear when this policy started, and when DSHS began enforcing it. This is the subject of Rep. Wu’s latest inquiry.

    “I am asking the Department to be transparent about when and why it initiated this policy,” Wu said. “DSHS is not above the law, and needs to come into compliance with the US constitution and issue birth certificates to all citizens. If DSHS’ motives were discriminatory or political in nature, we want to know that and take appropriate action to hold the agency accountable.”

    Several other state lawmakers have also condemned the practice, and urged DSHS to resume issuing birth certificates to all parents of US citizen children, regardless of the parents’ immigration status.

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