Green Party of Texas State Platform (2008)
I. Grassroots Democracy
II. Social Justice and Equal Opportunity
III. Ecological Sustainability
IV. Economic Sustainability
A Call to Action
The Green Party of Texas State Platform expresses our commitment to creating meaningful and enduring change in the political process. This is an evolving document, a living work in progress that was drafted, amended, and adopted by the party membership through an open and democratic process.
As an electoral entity, the Green Party of Texas believes in building an alliance - an inclusive social and political movement - that relies on the efforts of active, responsible citizens, communities, and organizations. We are the alternative to the corporately controlled political system that governs and affects all of us.
The Green Party of Texas realizes that it is up to the people to reclaim and create democracy in order to better the quality of our lives.
Understanding that our actions will be judged by future generations, we work together in order to build a safer world for everyone.
The positions taken in this platform not only describe our hopes for the entire world but, specifically, our hopes for the State of Texas. These hopes stem from the Ten Key Values of the Green Party:
- Grassroots Democracy
- Social Justice and Equal Opportunity
- Ecological Wisdom
- Community-Based Economics and Economic Justice
- Feminism and Gender Equity
- Respect for Diversity
- Personal and Global Responsibility
- Future Focus and Sustainability
We, the Green Party of Texas (GPTX), looking to the future with hope and optimism, believe we can truly create a beautiful, lasting future, that together we can make a real difference in the quality of our lives and environment. Our common destiny brings us together across our state, our nation, and around the globe. It is up to us to choose how we will be remembered. It is for us to choose the future we are creating today.
I. Grassroots Democracy
A. Political Reform
- We support full public financing of all public election campaigns. Candidates must be given the choice of running campaigns with public funds instead of relying on campaign contributions from wealthy individuals and special-interest groups. We support legislation that enables candidates to be eligible for a fixed amount of public funds to be used for primary and general election campaigns.
- We support Instant-Runoff Voting (IRV), which enables voters to rank candidates (first, second, third, etc.) in order of preference. This simple, but important, reform will encourage more participation in the electoral process, save taxpayer money by eliminating the need for traditional runoff elections, and eliminate the "spoiler" effect of third-party candidates.
- We support Proportional Representation (PR), a democratic system that allows representatives to be elected from multi-seat districts in proportion to the number of votes received. PR is a fairer, more flexible, and more modern electoral system than the antiquated 18th-century "winner-take-all" method. Some form of PR is used by most of the world's established democracies, including Germany, Japan, Spain, Mexico, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Scotland, and South Africa. Texas Greens urge the passage of a state constitutional amendment that would allow state senators to be selected by PR, on the basis of their party's percentage of the total votes cast.
- All political parties that have ballot access in the state should be granted free and equal access to the media, including political advertisements. All candidates on the ballot for an office should have equal access to any organized multi-candidate debate, interview, or other media or public event. Because the broadcast airwaves are public property, all candidates on the ballot for public office should be allotted an equal amount of free airtime.
- We support banning the gifts and perks, including food, transportation, lodging, and entertainment that lobbyists currently give elected officials at all levels of government.
- We support prohibiting candidate and party fundraisers during the legislative session.
- The Green Party of Texas believes that it is unethical for candidates to solicit or accept campaign donations from sources outside the constituency of the office for which they are campaigning. Therefore, the Green Party of Texas advocates the prohibition of campaign funding for city council and school board candidates from donors beyond their city limits or school district boundaries, county office candidates from donors outside their counties, and state office candidates from sources outside Texas.
- We believe that the integrity of our democracy requires the use in all public elections of documented voting methods which produce a voter-verifiable paper record of each vote. Electronic voting devices must be based on open-source software available for public inspection. All official meetings to discuss and decide on voting methods and equipment must be open to the public. Only methods and equipment capable of supporting instant-runoff voting and election systems based on proportional representation should be used.
B. Political Participation
- We will act to broaden voter participation and ballot access, urging Universal Voter Registration and Primary and General Election Day Holidays.
- We believe that Texas voters should have a binding "none of the above" option on the ballot for every elected office.
- Texas citizens should have the right of Initiative and Referendum to create state laws and constitutional amendments. In the twenty-four states that already have an Initiative and Referendum process, it has been used to get women the right to vote, establish the eight-hour workday, reform campaign finance laws, and impose term limits on elected officials.
- The Bill of Rights, the first ten Amendments to the United States Constitution, has been incorporated into the constitutions of all 50 states because it is singularly the most important statement of principles on which our secular democratic republic was founded. As citizens, we need the fundamental human freedoms it enumerates to vote intelligently, to hold public office, and to govern.
Because every United States citizen should be keenly aware of these rights, the Green Party of Texas supports requiring that the United States Bill of Rights be prominently displayed in every public facility of our nation, especially the White House, the halls of Congress, the Supreme Court, every courtroom, state/county/municipal office buildings, parks, and the classrooms of every educational facility receiving any amount of public funding.
The Green Party of Texas intends to end corporate rule and create actual democracy, rule by "We the People." In order to achieve this goal, we acknowledge that current law and judicial decisions give corporations more rights and freedoms than natural human persons. This is a legally and morally illegitimate exercise of power, and we reject this usurpation of the sovereignty of the people of Texas.
It is inappropriate for the public policy decisions that shape our communities and affect our lives to be made in private boardrooms, closed-door regulatory agencies, or expensive courtrooms. Public policy ought to be made by elected officials in public forums with real and meaningful participation by citizens.
Elected state officials (acting in our name) create corporations through charters, the certificates of incorporation. In exchange for the charter, a corporation is obliged to obey all laws, to serve the common good, and to cause no harm. We call for rewriting the corporation code of Texas to reflect that a corporation is a public entity that must act in the public interest or have its charter revoked.
We categorically reject the U.S. Supreme Court decision of Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railway (1886), the case that illegitimately granted corporations the legal status of "persons." Only human persons have inalienable civil rights.
D. Community Media
The efforts of progressive social and political movements aspire to do more than simply push their point of view into the mass media, they work for short-term reforms and long-term changes that ensure people are heard and democratic conditions are present.
The expansion of meaningful democracy - full and rich public participation - requires serious media reform. For citizens to participate in the political process in a meaningful fashion, they must have access to reliable information. The Green Party of Texas looks forward to a media system that does more than simply offer information, one that creates the conditions for true political engagement.
This project will require both government and citizen participation. For example, policy requiring broadcasters to give free airtime to political candidates who are members of political parties nationally recognized by the FEC would help cut the costs of campaigns and reduce the effects of "big money" on our political system. Nothing in the First Amendment prohibits such reform.
To this end we support:
- the creation of locally operated media systems to provide independent fact gathering while remaining free from powerful institutions such as governments and corporations.
- citizens who work outside governmental structures, such as media watchdogs, in order to hold the corporate media accountable.
- citizens who direct their attention to and support alternative media that work outside the dominant corporate system to provide independent voices.
- increased funding to expand the public broadcasting system as a means to increase the range of information and opinions available to citizens.
- the creation of municipal taxes on corporate airwave usage.
II. Social Justice and Equal Opportunity
A. Public Heath Initiatives
- The Green Party of Texas endorses a universal single-payer health-care system that guarantees health care as a human right. Under such a system, affordable, quality health care will be available without regard to income, employment, health status, or place of birth. All people will be free to choose doctors and other health professionals. Health-care providers must practice according to professional standards without undue interference from third-party decision makers. The emphasis will be on preventive and primary care, which would reduce unnecessary overhead and insurance company profits, streamline financing, and improve efficiency.
- Until universal heath care is a reality, Texas must provide more funds for the Children's Health Insurance Program and expand it to cover adult parents.
- We support progressive sex education in public schools, including education on sexuality and sexual orientation, contraception, and sexually transmitted diseases.
- HIV/AIDS is an epidemic that affects both individuals and communities in Texas. We call for a dramatic increase in AIDS educational efforts and prevention. Effective HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment require research and development that require an increase in funding based on human need, not financial profit.
- We support the right of women to make their own decisions regarding all aspects of their reproduction, without any attempt by government to restrict or control their reproductive choices.
- We support medically accurate, publicly funded sex education/family planning programs as an effective means to empower reproductive decision making and reduce the need for abortion.
- Our support for meaningful reproductive choice for all women is matched by our opposition to coerced abortion, coerced sterilization, coerced contraception, coerced intercourse - coercion of any kind with regard to reproductive freedom.
- Current (2004) restrictions blocking stem cell research are unreasonable and should be modified.
- We support changing Texas law to provide for the following:
- Research in controlled investigational trials on the therapeutic efficacy of cannabis, including alternative methods of administration.
- The education of medical professionals regarding current, evidence-based, therapeutic use of cannabis.
- Allowing health care providers to discuss and recommend the medicinal use of cannabis without the threat of intimidation or penalization.
- The right of bona fide patients and providers of therapeutic cannabis to have safe access to, and to grow their own supply of cannabis, by removing all criminal penalties including seizure, fines, arrest, and imprisonment.
- Many scientific studies prove that vegetarianism/veganism is a healthy choice for consumers yet information and access to this diet is not readily available to the public.
- We urge that scientifically accurate materials from independent sources must replace nutritional information funded by the meat and dairy industry and that nutrition classes should include information on meatless and vegan options.
- We believe that schools, prisons, hospitals, the military, or any other government-funded organizations should provide nutritionally complete meatless and vegan options.
- United States citizens were conscripted into military service, and others were enticed to join and reenlist with promises of lifetime medical care, retirement pay, and other benefits. These citizens served their country honorably and many suffered disabling injuries in the line of duty. The Congress has overwhelmingly voted approval of these entitlements, but the president and Congress have consistently cheated these citizens out of their entitlements by refusing to fund them. We demand that this shameful injustice to this nation's disabled and retired military veterans be rectified.
B. Civil Rights
The Texas Green Party asserts the right of every individual to be treated equally and fairly as a full and valued member of society.
- We support the vigorous enforcement of civil rights laws, the aggressive prosecution of "hate crimes," and the strengthening of legal services for the poor.
- We oppose discrimination based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. We support the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people to be free from discrimination in all arenas of life including housing, jobs, child custody, and adoption. Moreover, we support legal recognition of same-sex civil marriage with all the rights and benefits currently granted to heterosexual couples.
- We condemn the practice of "racial profiling," a practice that justifies stopping motorists, harassing individuals, and using unwarranted violence against suspects with no justification other than race or ethnic background. We call for civilian monitoring of police agencies to eliminate police brutality and racial profiling. We call for racial profiling by law enforcement officers to be considered a state offense Class C misdemeanor with a penalty including, but not limited to, fine, suspension, and diversity training and for the creation of a private cause of action for damages by any victim, for which an award of attorney fees to a prevailing plaintiff will be mandatory.
- We support affirmative action as a mechanism to overcome the aftereffects of more than 500 years of racial discrimination in this country.
- We call for a public discourse on reparations for U.S. slavery, recognizing that the inequalities of history do not simply disappear.
- We support effective enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, including language access to voting.
- We call for a language policy that would encourage all citizens to be fluent in at least two languages. We oppose efforts to make English the only official language of the United States.
- We support feminist principles and equal rights for women.
- We affirm the individual's right to worship or not to worship as each one chooses.
- We recognize that children are entitled to the full respect due any human being, and that corporal punishment of children, either at home or at school, constitutes violence against children. Such violence, whatever its desired ends, has been amply demonstrated to have no positive effect on children. It is perpetuated from generation to generation and conditions children to accept violence as a means of dealing with conflict when they are adults. We are opposed to the corporal punishment of children and will support educational programs to end this practice.
- We believe that the "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism" (USA PATRIOT) Act does little to balance security and liberty, and we support all local, state, and federal initiatives to repeal the USA PATRIOT Act. We encourage Texas elected officials to pass resolutions to protect Texas residents against the unconstitutional measures of the USA PATRIOT Act.
C. Criminal Justice
- The Green Party of Texas supports laws that make the judicial process fairer for all people, and especially call for legislation to eliminate bias against the poor, minorities, and people with mental disabilities.
- We call for juvenile offenders to be tried as juveniles, not as adults.
- We call for the abolition of the death penalty for the following reasons:
- The criminal justice system is clearly biased against the poor, minorities, and people with mental disabilities;
- Innocent people have been sentenced to death in Texas;
- People who were minors when they committed their crime are executed despite the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which outlaws such punishment. The United States and Somalia are the only UN members that have not ratified it;
- Texas has executed citizens of other countries despite the fact that their consular rights have been violated;
- Capital punishment is significantly more expensive than life in prison and diverts scarce resources from effective crime-prevention activities;
- Capital punishment is not a deterrent to crime.
- We support changes in clemency procedures for capital crimes including the establishment of uniform clemency standards and public hearings on all clemency proceedings. Rehabilitation should be a factor considered for clemency.
- We support prison conditions that are humane, respectful, and rehabilitative. We support alternatives to prison "super-segregation" units, which contribute to mental instability.
- We support effective measures to reduce police brutality and hold officers accountable for official misconduct. The Texas State Attorney General's office shall investigate any police brutality complaint against any peace officer in this state.
- We call for the repeal of mandatory sentencing laws such as the "three strikes you're out" policy.
- We oppose the implementation of the National Real-ID legislation. The IDs are too costly and have been shown to be easily compromised, allowing for more rampant ID theft. The purported benefit of preventing terrorism will not materialize, because the ID can be issued with fraudulent supporting documents. Additionally, the legislation is unconstitutional, and plans to supply the data from the tracking of their use will compromise personal privacy.
D. Drug Policy
Public discourse on drugs has often been inaccurate, misleading, and only in reference to illegal drugs, leaving out pharmaceuticals and legal, potentially addictive substances, e.g. sugar and caffeine. Therefore, the Green Party of Texas calls for:
- an accurate and open dialogue on addiction and the use of drugs in our society;
- recognition that substance abuse is widespread and afflicts people of every socioeconomic status;
- substance abuse, including alcoholism, to be treated as a disease or psychological disorder, not a crime;
- increased access to treatment for substance abusers;
- a public dialogue on the decriminalization and regulation of currently illegal drugs;
- greater state autonomy in choosing to criminalize, decriminalize, or legalize addictive substances without having to fear reprisals by the federal government;
- a shift in focus from interdiction and incarceration to a plan that addresses the social causes of drug abuse: poverty, unemployment, racism, hopelessness, and alienation;
- redirection of drug war funds to education, prevention, and treatment;
- respect for the right of Native Americans to use peyote and other substances in religious ceremonies;
- schools to provide factual, unbiased information on substance use and abuse;
- an end to all tax deductions and subsidies for the tobacco and alcoholic beverage industries, including related farm subsidies;
- the decriminalization of marijuana, and the immediate release of all prisoners held on only nonviolent marijuana-related charges.
- recognition that pre-employment and/or random drug screening is a violation of the 4th amendment of the U.S. Constitution and an immediate ban on these practices.
The Green Party of Texas believes that every American deserves access to decent, affordable housing.
- Government should play an active role in the availability of housing. A broad and inclusive housing plan should devote resources to nonprofit community housing projects, private sector investments, and public housing initiatives that encourage individual ownership.
- We call for low-impact, site-specific designs that facilitate human-scale development and environmentally sensitive planning.
- Increasing the affordable housing stock available within local communities can be achieved through subsidies, trade-offs with developers, and the creative use of zoning. Pension funds and community development banks can be approached as important sources of new funding.
F. Tax Justice/Fairness
State and county tax codes are labyrinths of deductions, loopholes, exemptions, and write-offs, the result of insider and industry lobbying that has damaged our economy as it has served the interests of big business and financial institutions, leaving middle-class and poor people to shoulder a growing share of local and state taxes.
- The Green Party of Texas calls for substantive and wide-ranging reform of our tax systems to ones that are simple, understandable, and resistant to the machinations of special interests and that create jobs, economic efficiencies, social responsibility and innovation within the small business community.
- The high price of corporate welfare corrupts the political process by encouraging the exchange of political favors for campaign donations. Corporate tax breaks are ultimately paid for by higher taxes on the middle class; they distort the rules of the marketplace and seldom serve a larger public purpose. We call for tax policies that move to eliminate subsidies, loopholes and other exemptions that favor powerful interests. Small business, in particular, should not be penalized by tax systems that benefit those with undue access to power.
- We support a fair, above board, progressive tax system based on all income and resources. We support the elimination of the state lottery because it is none of those things. We oppose government-sponsored gambling as socially destructive and as a regressive form of taxation that preys upon the working-class and poor. We oppose any further legalization, government facilitation, or financial guarantees relating to any type of government-sponsored gambling.
- We call for new approaches to taxation. Taxing industrial pollution is an idea long overdue. Environmental taxes of this type, and "true-cost pricing," will aid in transforming major industries from being nonsustainable in their use of natural resources to being sustainable.
- We must examine the costs and benefits of consumption and value-added tax approaches.
- We propose raising corporate taxes.
- We support progressive taxation, believing that those with the most means have a responsibility to return more to their community - their "fair share."
- We oppose the privatization of Social Security.
- We call for a corporate income tax plan in Texas.
- The Texas sales tax system is one of the most regressive and unfair forms of taxation, imposing a disproportionate burden on the working class of Texas. Therefore, we advocate the abolition of the state sales tax and that it be replaced by a graduated income tax.
New housing, commercial, and industrial developments require support in the form of schools, hospitals, roads, energy, water, sewage, garbage, flood abatement, police and fire protection, etc. Currently, this support is unfairly paid for by current taxpayers through bonded indebtedness and increased taxes; this stimulates and subsidizes urban sprawl, and this support should rightfully be paid for by the new developments. We support levying Impact Fees on developers that will pay a reasonable share of the cost of the required support elements in new developments.
- We call for legislation to ensure that neither religious opinion nor religious practice shall be established by law.
- We call for legislation to prohibit the use of tax funds in any amount to promote or disparage religious belief, or to show any preference for 'faith' over 'secularism' in such matters.
G. Gun Safety
- The Green Party of Texas does not oppose lawful ownership of firearms.
- We support legislation and policies that require criminal background checks to be conducted on all secondary firearm sales. The criminal background check must be identical to that required by federally licensed dealers under the Brady Law.
- We support licensing and registration of newly purchased or transferred handguns and assault weapons.
- We support the right of local municipalities to regulate the sale, transfer, transportation, licensing, and registration of firearms, ammunition, or firearm supplies.
- We support legislation and policies that regulate firearms as consumer products and subject firearms to the same health and safety regulations as virtually all other consumer products sold in the United States.
- In order to stop gunrunning, we support limiting the number of handguns that can be purchased to no more than one handgun per person per month, or twelve handguns per year, except for licensed gun collectors, who would be exempt.
- We support the inclusion of a standardized gun safety course for all people as a requirement for obtaining a gun.
The Green Party of Texas regards education as the basic requirement of a democracy based on an informed, responsible, and active citizenry. The quality of children's education should not be dependent on the wealth of their parents or community.
- We oppose school vouchers. Public funding must serve public schooling. Texas cannot simultaneously build an excellent public education system and finance private schools.
- The state must substantially increase funding of local education budgets. Only by spending large sums on education and by making education a national priority with clearly defined goals and priorities can we reduce class sizes and teach special classes for youth with special and different needs, maintain and rebuild school facilities, which are deteriorating nearly everywhere, and modernize the curriculum. Furthermore, acknowledging and addressing the serious problems children bring with them to school will be as undeniably costly as it is essential.
- Within public education, we believe in broad choices. Curricula should include instruction in languages, arts and sciences, critical thinking, citizenship, and the history of social movements. Students must be taught nonintellectual skills such as interpersonal relations, dealing with emotions, nonviolent conflict resolution at every grade level, environmental appreciation, and vocational training. They should be taught in the arts of democracy, including how to be involved politically in their communities. Teaching should focus on helping people to learn at their own rate rather than encouraging rote learning and submission to authority.
- We support the continuation and expansion of bilingual education. In order to place Texas education on a par with most other countries, we believe that all students should be taught a second or third language, beginning in the first grade.
- We encourage flexibility in the structure of the school day and how individuals are taught, going beyond the traditional concept of the classroom. Teachers must bring the world into the classroom, and bring the classroom out into the community.
- Nonclassroom learning and the use of nonprofessional teachers are encouraged. Educational experiences can involve community service, citizenship, and job training.
- We oppose over reliance on high-stakes standardized tests when such tests are used as the primary criterion for grade advancement, graduation, or teacher pay. Likewise, we refute that the averaged scores from such tests can be used to make fair or meaningful comparisons between schools.
- Texas teachers are underpaid, overworked, and rarely supplied with the resources necessary to reach their students. Classroom teachers at the elementary and secondary levels should receive professional status, fully funded health insurance, and salaries comparable to related professions requiring advanced education, training, and responsibility.
- Principals are also essential people in effective educational institutions. We encourage the state and local school boards to deliver more programmatic support and move decision making to the true grassroots level - the classroom teacher and school principal.
- The unions that represent teachers ought to have the same right to call strikes that any other union does. Texas ought to remove legal restrictions that prevent teachers from participating fully in political life.
- We support the elimination of tuition and student fees at Texas public colleges and universities for Texas high school graduates.
- We oppose the presence of corporate advertising in schools. We also oppose the practice of public schools providing lists of students' names to corporate advertisers or military recruiters.
- If military recruiters are invited to schools or the school has a ROTC program, we insist that others also be invited who can provide an alternate view of the military and its enlistment promises and offer young people viable alternatives to enlistment.
Because Texas has a rich diversity of immigrants, the Green Party of Texas believes that we must respect the contributions and human rights of our new and existing immigrant populations.
- A comprehensive legalization program for all undocumented women, men, and children now living in the United States should be implemented.
- Immigration law enforcement policies should be free of abuse, respect human rights and international law, and cease the militarization of the Mexican border.
- Immigrant workers deserve the just labor policies that provide them with the same economic and labor rights guaranteed to any resident or citizen of the United States, including the right to a social security number, the right to organize collectively and to unionize in order to improve wages and working conditions, as well as the right to choose and change employers (worker mobility).
- Immigrants deserve equal protections and rights under labor and civil rights laws: legal protections in seeking justice for acts of hate or discrimination, the right to due process, and the nondiscriminatory application of immigration laws.
- Funding allocated to immigration authorities should provide for adequate resources to enforce labor and civil rights laws.
- Restrictions on immigrants' access to the legal and social service programs must be eliminated.
- Immigrant workers should have the right to permanent residency, with the option to become a U.S. citizen for those who desire to live in the United States.
- Monies earned by ex-Bracero workers must be returned to them, and a guarantee of earned monies given to future migrant workers.
- Legalized entry to the United States must be provided to those under duress, fleeing natural disasters, or pursuing family reunification, regardless of national origin and/or political affiliation
- Just global policies that fundamentally address problems of displacement, unemployment, and migration from poor countries must be instituted.
- The state must equalize the standard of living within colonias to that of developed urban areas by providing needed infrastructure and health services. Furthermore, state and county authorities should aggressively implement legislation that prevents the proliferation of colonias.
- Because indigenous nations are transnational, we support the guaranteed free and safe movement for members of these nations across current international borders, particularly for communal and spiritual gatherings.
III. Ecological Sustainability
The Green Party of Texas supports the strong enforcement of current clean air laws. The Clean Air Act seeks to ensure that air pollution does not exceed health-based standards.
- We demand that state officials responsible for enforcing the law aggressively promote compliance and hold polluters accountable.
- We call for new clean air laws that dramatically reduce pollutants that cause smog, acid rain, respiratory disease, global warming, and mercury contamination from power plants.
- We call for strict enforcement of the "new source review" provisions of the federal Clean Air Act, requiring old industrial facilities, including power plants and refineries, to install the best available pollution control technologies when they are significantly modified.
- We support "cumulative impact" laws that assure new industrial facilities will not be permitted in areas where the cumulative impacts of pollution from existing facilities present a health hazard to surrounding communities. Likewise, we support mandatory greenbelt buffer zones between industrial facilities and surrounding neighborhoods.
- We call for a reduction in emissions from diesel fuel and the development of alternatives to its use.
- The Green Party of Texas calls for the immediate enforcement of all existing clean water laws.
- We support the creation of public water conservation districts that are drawn up between counties along common interest lines to protect the districts from potentially detrimental development.
- In support for local control of public resources like water, we call for water supply areas to be excluded from "tax-free zones" that are currently used as incentives to development.
- The state of Texas should ensure that its bays and estuaries have adequate freshwater inflows and are valued as ecological resources.
- We support the goals of the Clean Water Act, in particular that our waters be nontoxic to plant and animal life.
- The Texas Water Development Board should focus on the water needs of the entire ecosystem of Texas, with the understanding that a healthy environment promotes healthy people.
- We support the return of aquifer recharge zones to a healthy, sustainable state to ensure maximum natural water supply.
- The state must develop mandatory water conservation guidelines for individuals, businesses, and agriculture and encourage the development and adoption of water-saving technologies such as drip irrigation and low-flow toilets.
- We call for an end to the "right-of-capture," which allows the unrestricted extraction and use of groundwater resources by individuals and corporations, and the establishment of laws and policies that promote the conservation of water as a public resource.
- The Green Party of Texas supports further development of mass transit in major urban areas in order to ensure convenient, affordable transportation, especially so that working people can get to and from work in a timely manner, and a cleaner and safer environment for urban residents.
- We support the development of rapid rail between major urban areas within the state.
- In addition to supporting the development of renewable energy to be used in automobiles, we support a registration tax on all gasoline vehicles that fall short of a minimum fuel efficiency standard.
- We oppose Ports-to-Plains superhighway construction proposals and endorse rail transport of freight to reduce environmental damage, create jobs, and support our domestic railroad industry.
- The process for building toll roads should be changed to allow input from citizens and affected city and county governments. Citizens should be enabled to petition for a referendum on proposed toll roads. Existing highways and roads, or single lanes on existing roads, should not be converted to toll roads without the same citizen and local government input.
D. Sustainable Agriculture
The Green Party of Texas supports a shift from corporate agribusiness practices to sustainable agriculture. Currently, our agriculture depends on synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides, as well as long-distance transportation.
- We call for a conversion to sustainable practices such as crop rotation, ecologically based pest management, and the use of natural fertilizers, green manures, and disease-resistant indigenous plants. These practices would provide numerous benefits including more nutritious, less chemically tainted food, improved soil fertility, reduced erosion, less water pollution, more stable farm income, and decreased dependency on imported petroleum.
- We support the maintenance and development of family-owned farms and ranches that provide a variety of agricultural products and are managed on a human scale. Small-scale food production should also be encouraged in cities, towns, and suburbs.
- We oppose "factory farming/ranching" operations. All farm animals must be humanely treated. Diversity and natural husbandry must be used to maintain healthy, disease-resistant livestock.
- We oppose the use of growth-producing hormones and the preventative use of antibiotics in the production of livestock.
- We encourage food distribution systems that ensure that a higher percentage of the money spent on food by consumers, and on agriculture by government, goes to farmers rather than to lenders, brokers, food processors, packers, and distributors.
- Organic production of food, feed, and fiber must be encouraged. Therefore, we support the expansion of the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) Organic Certification program so that it is comparable to similar programs in other states and affordable for its participants.
- The Texas Department of Agriculture works with farmers, ranchers, commodity organizations, cooperatives, and businesses through the GO TEXAN campaign to promote all Texas agricultural products including food, fiber, and wine as well as forestry and horticulture, thereby increasing sales at home and abroad. TDA sets standards, and "shall have the sole discretion to determine whether a product qualifies" for the GO TEXAN program.
- We call for TDA to require all products certified for the GO TEXAN campaign to be non-GMO (genetically modified organisms). (A genetically modified organism is any organism in which the genes or other genetic material have been modified by using in vitro [recombinant DNA] techniques.)
- Many thousands of acres in arid regions of Texas are being cultivated, resulting in erosion, topsoil loss, loss of habitat, and unreliable income for landowners. This increases the need for governmental relief and subsidies. TDA must provide more incentives to return these areas to sustainable rangeland. Sustainable range management practices help to establish permanent ground cover, which reduces topsoil loss from erosion while providing forage for domestic animals and wildlife, and a more stable income for land users.
- Ecologically sound practices of limited chemical use and water and soil conservation should be applied to urban and suburban landscaping and horticulture. Posted notice of pesticide use in public spaces should always be required.
- The Green Party of Texas believes that people have a right to know whether they are purchasing genetically engineered food products. Therefore, we support mandatory product labeling of such products.
- We call for a moratorium on genetically engineered products, including recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone. We demand that all genetically engineered products be proven safe to long-term public health and the integrity of the environment before being put on the market or having any chance to enter the environment.
- We oppose the patenting of life forms.
The Green Party of Texas is concerned that trust and good will toward the U.S. are being steadily eroded, as other nations and peoples see us doing virtually nothing to reduce our prodigious energy consumption and unsustainable addiction to fossil oil/gas. Alarmed that we are no longer able to sustain our society with our own natural resource base, we pledge to make significant strides toward making Texas energy self-sufficient. We understand that any calls for sacrifices in time, comfort, per-capita consumption, and recreational options necessary to reduce our demands on fossil oil/gas will evoke stiff opposition. The Green Party of Texas calls upon officials and citizens to confront this problem and deal effectively with the human family's growing dependency on non-renewable energy resources.
Texas has long been a major player in the fossil fuel industry. The Green Party of Texas challenges our government, industries, and citizens to become world leaders in the field of renewable energy, energy conservation, and education regarding the true costs of energy. While developing renewable energy, we must reduce the use of fossil fuels in automobiles and power plants.
- We call for a master energy plan for the state of Texas to be developed and overseen by an elected state energy commission. The master plan must target energy conservation and reduction of fossil fuel use. Components should include:
- educating the public about the indirect costs of our addiction to "cheap oil" such as wars in the Middle East, environmental degradation due to oil spills, global warming, and acid rain, health effects such as respiratory problems and cancer, and subsidies to the oil industry. If all these hidden costs were reflected in the price paid for gasoline at the pump, alternative forms of energy would be seen to be very competitive if not cheaper.
- building codes that require both passive and active solar designs on all new state government constructions;
- requiring the same codes for all new construction, both commercial and residential;
- an "Insulate Texas" program designed to assist all homeowners in raising the insulation value in their homes to a minimum rating of R-30. This program should have the flexibility and authority to assist lower-income homeowners with low or zero percent interest loans to be repaid according to the recipients' ability;
- the removal of sales tax from all insulation materials;
- a proportional tax penalty levied against companies and individuals that fail to comply with the "Insulate Texas" program.
- Developing renewable energy resources must be a priority. This must be a concerted effort by industry, colleges/universities, and nonprofit institutions. In order to achieve this goal, we call for:
- funding, in the form of grants and low-interest state loans, for the development of renewable energy by nonprofit institutions. These institutions must be allowed to retain the patents developed through this program in order to repay state loans by licensing these patents to corporations;
- tax incentives for companies that use solar and other renewable energy sources as alternatives to fossil fuels;
- regulations that ensure that natural gas-fired facilities replace fossil fuel-fired ones only as a stopgap measure toward a general conversion to renewable energy sources;
- the phase-out of aerobic sewage treatment plants by replacing them with aerobic plants that capture methane gas, a source of energy;
- a reeducation program to provide individuals whose jobs will be phased out as a result of a change in technology with the skills they will need to establish themselves in new careers in a sustainable energy industry.
- Reliance on coal and petroleum as our primary energy sources is not sustainable. Dependence on these fuels is economically, politically and environmentally detrimental. The United States is the world's largest consumer of these fuels per-capita, making us subject to foreign control of these markets and undue foreign influence over our government. We advocate a planned phase-out of their use and call for:
- the implementation of existing renewable energy technology and the development of new technologies to replace fossil fuel use;
- a ban on coal mining - both deep and strip mines - in Texas.
- Nuclear waste is not safely disposable. There is no known method to permanently isolate nuclear waste from the biosphere. Therefore, it is essential that the generation of nuclear waste be stopped. We call for Texas to:
- phase out and retire its nuclear power reactors;
- neither export nor import nuclear waste;
- dig up and store in facilities aboveground all nuclear waste currently being stored underground. All future storage must also be aboveground;
- neither continue nor expand the Nuclear Waste Compact with Vermont, which is set to expire in 2003.
- convert existing weapons-grade nuclear materials into power plant fuels in order to reduce nuclear weapon stockpiles.
G. Waste Management
Our society is taxing the limits of what our environment can absorb in the form of waste. From common household garbage to industrial waste, which often is toxic, the United States discards more waste per capita than any other nation. Because of blatant disregard for existing waste disposal regulations, and a reluctance to enact and enforce necessary regulations, our future is at extreme risk.
- The Green Party of Texas calls for the immediate enforcement of existing waste regulations and the assessment of state fines on violators in order to make complying with regulations economically preferable to paying fines.
- We support the concept of "zero waste" and efforts to maximize its economic benefit by enhancing the development of manufacturing technologies and support of companies that use recyclable materials as feedstock.
- We endorse revising superfund legislation to ensure cleanup of extreme waste sites not only in our state but in all states.
- Recycling services must be provided to all residences and businesses in all areas of the state. All providers of residential and commercial solid waste disposal services must have the capacity to pick up recyclable materials and distribute them to appropriate recycling agents.
- We call for an immediate halt to the incineration of any and all solid waste, sewage, nonbiological medical waste, and toxic waste.
- We call for all applications submitted by businesses for licenses, charters, and zoning requests to be accompanied by either an environmental impact statement or waste minimization plan delineating how the applicants will dispose of all their waste.
- We oppose the manufacture and export of any chemical banned by federal or state governments, and demand that the United States ratify the 1994 Basel Convention ban on the export of hazardous wastes.
- No community, large or small, should be required to bear the cost of cleaning up toxic or hazardous dumps. These costs must be borne by the manufacturer(s) of the toxic or hazardous substance(s) and companies or individuals responsible for the dumpsite. In cases where the companies no longer exist, superfund monies would be used for cleanup efforts.
H. Land Use
The Green Party of Texas is an advocate for the earth. We take a bioregional view of the ecosystem while acknowledging political boundaries. Guided by our sense of stewardship, we believe all land use polices, plans, and practices should be based on principles of sustainable ecological development and production.
- We encourage community ownership and use of land at the local and regional levels in the form of conservation land trusts under covenants of ecological responsibility.
- Communities must be designed or redesigned with energy efficiency in mind and on a human scale with integrated land uses.
- Lands already in public hands should not be sold (privatized). In the case of public land already slated for development, we advocate leasing of this land on a long-term basis, which would not only produce state revenue but also ensure retained public control over public land use.
- The ecological, social, and fiscal crises engendered by urban sprawl are becoming ever more apparent. We seek to curb sprawl by integrating such measures as urban growth boundaries, tax-base sharing, fair housing, and public transportation. Rural areas and farmland should be preserved through measures such as the purchase of development rights. Watershed planning should be undertaken to mitigate the impacts of urban development on our streams, rivers, and lakes. Appropriate measures include storm water management, soil erosion and sedimentation control, the establishment of vegetative buffers, and performance standards for developments.
- We urge comprehensive baseline mapping of our state's bio-resources.
I. Biological Diversity
The Green Party of Texas realizes that animal and plant life have been repeatedly abused by people without regard to the future of life on the planet. The protections granted to endangered species in Texas are inadequate to prevent their extinction. Because all life forms are interdependent, we call for the creation of progressive laws that protect the diverse web of life that supports our own existence. Greens believe that non-human animals are sentient beings and should be treated as such.
- Conscientious Objection
- If a person has an objection to physically or mentally harming non-human animals, they should not be made to do so.
- Students and volunteers of institutions and businesses should have a protected right to refuse, without penalty, handling, transporting, or otherwise coming into contact with animals living or dead, and participating in or assisting others with animal experimentation, dissection, unnatural activities or other actions that are not explicitly part of their job description or program.
- Wildlife and Habitat The natural habitat of wildlife is in a state of crisis due to human interference and encroachment. Recreational hunting and fishing do not exist primarily to supply food, and government programs sometimes favor recreational hunting and fishing over natural predator-prey relationships as means of controlling wildlife populations.
The Greens believe:
- Non-lethal and educational approaches to human conflicts with
wildlife should be used in place of painful or deadly methods
- Wildlife advocates, non-hunters/anglers, and/or
anti-hunters/anglers should receive equal representation in the
oversight of wildlife management agencies.
- Wildlife refuges should be established and maintained for the
protection of both habitat and species, not for the production of
game animals. These refuges should encourage biodiversity by
providing non-human animals the opportunity to live a natural and
healthy life and favoring non-human animal predator-prey
relationships ahead of hunting by humans.
- Texas Parks and Wildlife Services should be prohibited from
all attempts to promote "new game species," and no new
hunting, trapping or fishing seasons should be established.
- Public funds should not be used to promote or subsidize
recreational hunting or fishing, sport or commercial trapping, or
The use of trapping devices that often result in non-fatal
mutilation or otherwise prolonged suffering, such as leg hold traps,
should be abolished.
- Non-lethal and educational approaches to human conflicts with
- Companion Animals
Overpopulation of companion animals has reached epidemic
proportions in the country. The Greens believe local and state
government should aggressively fund spay/neuter programs and provide
financial assistance to encourage the development of no-kill shelters
IV. Economic Sustainability
A. Business and Job Creation
- The Green Party of Texas supports an economic program that combats the concentration and the abuse of economic power.
- We support many different initiatives for forming successful, small enterprises that together can become an engine (and sustainable model) of job creation, prosperity, and progress. Small business is where the jobs are. Over the past decade and a half, all new net job growth has come from the small business sector.
- We believe that conservation should be "profitable" and employment should be creative, meaningful, and fairly compensated.
B. Living Wage
The Green Party of Texas supports a Living Wage that would allow all 40-hour-a-week, minimum-wage workers to afford a one-bedroom apartment in the communities in which they work. Applying the Fair Market Rates published by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, affordable means that no more than 30 percent of an individual's gross income should be spent on housing.
C. Rural Sustainability
Rural America, originally a network of towns supporting surrounding farms, has seen the most devastating and least thought-out changes in the last fifty years. Because of the increased efficiency of farm machines, fewer humans are needed on the farms. Often, people living in these areas cannot expect to receive the same job opportunities or pay scale that larger job markets offer. Third- and fourth-generation shop owners, who have decided to be solid parts of their community and not play in bigger corporate games, are finding their family businesses folding under to national chains that decided to compete in their market. Rural towns in Texas must be allowed to decide for themselves how to shape their future. For counties of less than 35,000 people, the Green Party of Texas supports the following principles:
- All nationally backed companies or franchises applying for business or building permits must first win a public referendum.
- State banks should be given greater latitude in investing in individual and small businesses.
- Towns should be able to participate in "tax-free" zones in their region.
- Towns should develop master plans.
- Towns should form regional associations in order to exchange information and provide help to each other.
- Co-ops and open-door trade groups should be formed within local communities and neighboring communities.
Our country was built on individual opportunity and, with it, individual responsibility and integrity. Modern corporations endeavor to force their employees to be as much alike as the items they manufacture. Individuals within corporations who try to uphold democratic principles in the workplace are chastised or even dismissed. Industry and manufacturing have also proven to be as indifferent to the environment as they are to their employees. Therefore, the Green Party of Texas calls for regulations that will prioritize democracy and environmental awareness over monetary profits.
- Employees and communities must be given the same rights as stockholders in the decision-making process of corporations.
- "True-Cost Pricing" must be used in taxing companies and would include the amount of energy needed to produce an item, as well as waste from the production process and the recyclable aspects of the product itself when its "life" is over.
- Materials that are not recyclable must be banned from production, both in the manufactured item itself and in its packaging.
- Energy standards for acceptable recycling must be established. If it takes more energy to recycle a product than it did to produce it originally, then the product is not recyclable.
- Manufacturers should prioritize durability and longevity of products over profits and money flow, and abandon short-term, self-destructing products designed to force consumers into repeated buys.
- The Green Party of Texas rejects trade agreements negotiated in secret and unduly influenced by corporate attorneys and representatives. Particularly, we oppose the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Not only are both threats to the constitutional power of Congress and local sovereignty, effectively limiting the participation of citizens in decisions, but they also create administrative bureaucracies that serve only corporate interests, are unaccountable to the general public, and impervious to legal challenge. We demand that these agreements be reexamined and revised to include more specific environmental and workers' health and safety standards in the text itself, not as peripheral "side agreements."
- We reject any agreement that threatens the authority of state and local communities to establish stronger health, safety, and environmental standards.
- We reject agreements that negotiate downward our basic human rights including our environmental, health, safety, and labor standards, the right to bargain collectively, the right to a reasonable wage, and prohibitions against child and forced labor.
- We call for the embargo against the people of Cuba to be lifted.
- The Green Party of Texas supports a broad program of reform in the banking and savings and loan industry that will ensure that their commonwealth obligations to serve all communities are met. We understand that the present system is skewed to serve, first and foremost, the interests of large businesses, transnational corporations, and wealthy individuals. Since lending institutions are chartered by the state to serve the best interests of communities, the privileges that come with being given power at the center of commerce carry special responsibilities.
- The government should take serious steps to ensure that low- and moderate-income people and communities, as well as small businesses, have access to banking services, affordable loans, and supporting capital.
- We support the extension of the Community Reinvestment Act and its key performance data provisions to provide public and timely information on the extent of housing loans, small business loans, loans to minority-owned enterprises, investments in community development projects, and affordable housing. We challenge the Texas legislature to charter community development banks that would be capitalized with public funds and work to meet the credit needs of local communities.
- We oppose all predatory lending. Greens will restore Texas anti-usury laws that cap interest rates at the prime rate plus six percent.
Whereas a democratic society must consist of democratic systems, institutions, and organizations;
Whereas our communities benefit most when all people who are able to can contribute work to the benefit and improvement of their communities;
Whereas the common "workday" is likely to occupy a significant portion of the waking hours of our entire lives;
The Green Party of Texas believes that it is, therefore, imperative to our democratic existence that the workplace reflect the values of our society and operate in a fair and democratic manner, ensuring that the business practices of employers do not infringe on the basic human, constitutional, or labor rights of the people.
We call for:
- Workers' Rights
We call for workers' rights for all workers employed by any entity in the state of Texas, public or private, with no exceptions. Employees shall provide all employees with a clear, concise, and thoroughly defined job description. No employee shall be disciplined, transferred, demoted, or terminated without just cause. We oppose the extension of the 40 hour work week under any circumstances. Any person working over 40 hours in a work week must receive overtime pay and benefits. As a long-term goal, we support further reduction in the work week below 40 hours.
- Collective Bargaining
The right to collective bargaining and union membership and representation should be available to any two or more workers who choose to exercise this right. We respect the right to freely discuss, organize, and/or participate in demonstrations, including, but not limited to, strikes and boycotts to effect change in any private or public policy, with protection against permanent replacement and/or retaliation from any employer, or from any public agency.
- Free and Fair Union Elections
- The right to organize and engage in collective bargaining belongs solely to each individual worker. Neither people outside a bargaining unit, with the exception of union representatives, nor employers may participate in or interfere in any way with a labor organizing campaign or its related activities beyond what is legally permissible.
- An excelsior list provided by employers to the National Labor Relations Board and labor unions must include workers' first and last names, home address, home phone number, and job classification. Employers must be held accountable for the accuracy and completeness of the excelsior list.
- Within the time frame of one calendar year, beginning at the time of a union election, the first contract between a company and its employees must be in effect. Once that year has elapsed without a valid contract, the process may move to a federal jury trial or to federal arbitration. A decertification election must not take place until after the first contract has been signed.
- Prevailing Wages
We call for an overhaul of the prevailing wage laws in Texas, including responsible documentations and auditing, standard surveys updated every three years, and clearly visible posting of the Prevailing Wage Act. Any public works constructions project documentation and auditing procedures must include keeping daily logs of individual workers, submission of payroll records and daily logs to the public agency, and keeping same on the job site accessible to individual workers in a non-supervisory area; audits must be conducted on a monthly basis; apprentice workers must be included in the work.
- Living Wage, Welfare, and Workfare
The Green Party of Texas supports a living wage that would allow all 40-hour-a-week, minimum-wage workers to afford a one-bedroom apartment in the communities where they work. Applying the Fair Market Rates published by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, affordable means that no more than 30 percent of an individual's gross income should be spent on housing. Welfare benefits must be equal to the living wage standard of the county in which the welfare recipients reside. Workfare programs may not cause the demotion or unemployment of existing workers and will be subject to prevailing wage laws.
- Prison Inmate Labor
The Green Party of Texas believes that prison inmate labor should only be used with the intent to provide skill training as part of a rehabilitation program. Skills learned in prison institutions should provide the real and genuine possibility of finding work outside the prison system. Prison inmate labor must not cause the demotion or unemployment of existing workers and be subject to prevailing wage laws. Prison inmates should have workers' rights equal to their counterparts outside the prison system.
- Jury Duty and Election Days
For each day of work that a worker misses because of jury duty, the worker will be paid one full day's living wage by the court of jurisdiction, and without penalties or reduction of benefits by the worker's employer. Workers must be allowed one half day off work on election days, unless that day becomes declared a national or state holiday, or moved to a Saturday and the worker is not working that day.
- Public Transportation
The Green Party of Texas asserts that people should not be forced to purchase an automobile as a precondition of employment.
A. Peace - the Foundation of a Just Society
Greens support building an economic and political system that enables peace. Peace is the foundation that is necessary for grassroots democracy, preservation of the environment, and the protection of human rights.
In order to increase the likelihood of peaceful relationships between nations, we oppose:
- escalation of the military budget,
- occupation of other nations, and
- aggressive actions against other nations.
Greens support human rights and civil liberties for all people. To this end, we call for an end to:
- the use of torture or inhuman and degrading treatment of human beings,
- detention and imprisonment of human beings when no charges are filed,
- denial of access to legal representation for detainees and prisoners,
- denial of visits by family and by human rights organizations,
- existence of secret prisons,
- and transfer of prisoners to states which practice torture.
B. National Security
National security is of prime importance to the Green Party of Texas. All nations have the right to self-defense.
The best chance for long-term national security will arise from dealing with other nations and other peoples respectfully, abiding by international law and agreements and by supporting democratic movements in other countries.
Greens support steps to eliminate the sources of rage and frustration against the United States, including:
- removing U.S. troops from foreign countries,
- ending support for corrupt or brutal regimes,
- withholding military aid to countries that are occupying foreign territory, and
- ending support for countries that are repressing their own citizens.
Specifically, Greens support ending military aid to Israel as long as Israel illegally occupies Palestine and continues its apartheid treatment of the Palestinians.
We believe that the appropriate response to terrorism is active law enforcement with international cooperation and under the auspices of the United Nations. We condemn the opportunistic use of fighting terrorism as an excuse for:
- massive imperial expansion,
- construction of new generations of nuclear weapons,
- escalation of the military budget,
- sales of arms and weapons technology to foreign countries
- targeting of vulnerable minority groups,
- an assault on civil liberties and democratic mechanisms, at home and around the world.
C. Lasting Conflict Resolution
The Green Party of Texas understands that conflict between human beings and between political entities is inevitable. The methods that are used to resolve conflicts both reflect and determine the state of society and global civilization. Therefore, we support methods of conflict resolution that give all members involved in conflict a democratic and peaceful alternative to violence and war.