The Dallas Express was able to spend some time with Texas lawmaker Toni Rose to hear what she had to say about 2023 and what she is looking to tackle at the Capitol in 2024.

Rep. Rose (D-Dallas) is one of 150 state representatives. She represents District 110, which includes the Dallas County communities of Oak Cliff, Pleasant Grove, and Balch Springs.

The Texas House of Representatives meets in Austin in regular session every odd-numbered year for a maximum of 140 days. However, Rose said, “Although the position is considered part-time when you represent a district, you receive calls all day. We are like a social services office — the work is never done. Just as much as I willingly sacrifice for my district, my family sacrifices for me to support me in what I do for the community and the state.”

When Rose was asked what work in 2023 was most significant to her, she confidently referred to extending postpartum care funding for women.

“Women were dying after having their baby at an alarming rate because of the lack of postpartum care available to them by Medicaid beyond two months, especially black women. They had cardiovascular issues, hypertension, and more but could not get the help they needed. I have been advocating for longer Medicaid coverage for mothers for years,” said Rose.

According to 2018-2020 maternal deaths and mortality rate data taken by the National Vital Statistics System, Texas ranked number one in deaths at 257, with Florida coming in second at 141. This averages 22.9 deaths per 100,000 live births in Texas. The national average was 20.4. Over 50% of all reported births in Texas in 2020 were covered by Medicaid.

“My district is mostly low-income and depends on Medicaid. Some people get the idea that this need is because they do not have jobs or don’t want to work. This isn’t always the case. People are working but have low-paying jobs, and healthcare is very expensive. They need assistance from the state,” claimed Rose.

Her advocacy led to the adoption of HB 12 in June 2023. The bill expands Medicaid coverage for women, extending it to six months after delivering or experiencing an involuntary miscarriage. Additionally, the coverage period now includes 12 months following the last day of the woman’s pregnancy.

“This is life-saving legislation,” said Rose.

When Rose graduated from college, she went to work for Child Protective Services for six years. From there, she assisted in the correctional mental health psychiatric unit at Parkland Hospital. Seeing first-hand the needs of those she served, access to healthcare remains a top priority for her.

“Most people look at stats — I look at faces,” Rose said.

When asked why she decided to join politics, she replied, “What better way to impact mental health than through legislation?”

Looking toward 2024, Rose said she aims to focus on healthcare needs, especially mental health. She also said she was looking to boost retention programs to assist those returning to their communities after incarceration.

“I live in ZIP code 75216. This zip code shows more inmates in the Texas criminal justice system than other ZIP codes in the state. People are coming out of prison and cannot adequately reenter society to support themselves. They are often denied jobs and housing — so many obstacles. We need to do better. When we do better for them, this helps everyone,” she said.

Rose reminds herself daily who she serves:

“When I walk the halls at the Capitol, I walk with the spirit of my constituents. They will always be at the forefront of the work that I do. My background is in human service. I have strategically placed myself in areas that will bring funding and resources to improve the lives of Texans.”