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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.

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    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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    Fifth Circuit Affirms Need for Voting Rights Act

    August 5, 2015

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    August 5, 2015
    Contact: Greg Wythe – 713-271-3900

    Fifth Circuit Affirms Need for Voting Rights Act

    AUSTIN – August 6th marks the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act which was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Most notably, the Act has accomplished greater access to the ballot box by eliminating obstacles used to keep racial and ethnic minorities from registering to vote.

    On the eve of this historic anniversary, today, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Texas’ Voter ID law has a “discriminatory effect” that violates Section Two of the Voting Rights Act. This ruling strikes down one of the most onerous and controversial voting laws in the nation.

    Representative Wu lends his support to plaintiffs in the Voter ID lawsuit: “Our democracy owes much to the Voting Rights Act for providing greater access to the ballot box. Today’s ruling by the Fifth Circuit affirms the continued need for strong protections of our right to vote.” Wu adds, “We should protect our voting process, but that effort should be weighed carefully against measures that disenfranchise voters because they are poor or live in rural areas.”

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    State Representative Gene Wu – a Democrat – represents District 137 in Southwest Houston.

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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wu Calls for Reform Following Death of Sandra Bland

    July 31, 2015

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    July 31, 2015
    AMY BRUNO / 512-463-0492

    House Committee Hears Testimony on Jail Standards;
    Wu Calls for Reform Following the Death of Sandra Bland

    On Thursday afternoon, the Texas House Committee on County Affairs heard testimony on jail standards, mental health, and officer conduct. The hearing followed the disturbing arrest and subsequent tragic death of Sandra Bland in the Waller County Jail.

    Rep. Gene Wu (D-Houston), County Affairs committee member, said following the hearing on Thursday:

    “We had an extremely honest and productive hearing today. I want to thank Chairman Coleman for his leadership in facilitating a candid and open discussion on these pressing matters. Sandra Bland’s death was a tragedy that did not need to happen. I hope we make the effort to learn from this incident and reform the way we operate our jails, and manage our criminal court dockets.”

    Approximately 61% of people in Texas county jails are being held pre-trial;[1] meaning that a court has not found them guilty of any crime. Many others sit in jail because they are unable to pay fines and fees assessed by the court. Rep. Wu adds, “Texas jails have become modern debtors’ prisons – those with means can leave, but the poor languish.”

    Media reports indicate that Waller County had recently moved to a “fixed bond” schedule, where the amount of the bond is set based on the criminal charge alone, without accounting for individual means and circumstances.[2] Rep. Wu notes, “This type of fixed bond schedule doesn’t take into account the actual nature of the incident or whether the defendant is a danger to others; it ties the hands of prosecutors and judges to make common sense adjustments.”

    Wu adds, “We have also discussed for years that criminal courts use personal recognizance bonds (‘PR Bonds’) for anyone charged with a petty offense and pose no risk of harm or flight; yet few courts have done so.”

    The hearing Thursday also highlighted pervasive mental health issues in jails. Following Bland’s death, The Texas Commission on Jail Standards found the Waller County Jail to be noncompliant with mental health standards; citing a lack of staff training on mental health and failure to check on inmates every hour.[3] The TCJS has cited Waller County Jail for standards violations multiple times over the last several years.

    According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, suicide is the leading cause of death in local jails, and more than a third of jail deaths occur within the first 7-days after booking.[4] A significant proportion of people in jails have serious mental health needs, and jail conditions can exacerbate mental health issues, cause significant distress, and lead to mental and physical deterioration.

    During the 84th Legislative Session, Wu championed efforts to improve jail conditions. He joint-authored HB 549, introduced by Rep. Eric Johnson (D-Dallas), which ensures people held in jail have the opportunity for in-person visits from family and friends; rather than video-only visits. Jails that had already switched to video-only systems will be allowed to continue with those systems due to a compromise needed to pass the bill, but Wu encourages all counties to do the right thing.

    “The ability to have direct contact with loved ones helps maintain the mental wellbeing of people in county custody,” Wu said. “We should not save money at the cost of increasing the risk that people will harm themselves.”

    Bland’s tragic death highlights injustices in Texas law enforcement and jail systems. Wu vows to work with his colleagues over the interim and during the next legislative session to push for meaningful change.

    “We need to reduce the number of people languishing in jail, decrease penalties for petty crimes, increase the use of personal recognizance bonds, improve overall conditions in jails, look at inequalities in our criminal justice system, and address law enforcement training and professionalism,” Wu said. “Texans deserve a smarter and more efficient criminal justice system. We will be asking for the public’s support on these efforts.”

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    [1]Texas Commission on Jail Standards. Texas County Jail Population, June 1, 2015. http://www.tcjs.state.tx.us/docs/POPSUMCurrent.pdf
    [2] See Neyfakh, Leon. “Why Was Sandra Bland Still in Jail.” Slate. 23 Jul. 2015. http://www.easybib.com/reference/guide/mla/newspaper
    [3] Texas Commission on Jail Standards. Special Inspection Report, Waller County Jail. July 16, 2015. http://www.tcjs.state.tx.us/docs/Waller_NC.pdf
    [4] Noonan, Margaret E. (2014) Mortality in Local Jails and State Prisons, 2000-2012-Statistical Tables. United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/mljsp0012st.pdf

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