Protecting our coastal communities is not just a moral imperative, but an economic necessity. We saw what happens (and are still living it) when we don’t invest in coastal resiliency infrastructure — we spend years playing catch up, and sometimes never even do. Too many businesses had to shutter permanently or close for a long time, and too many families that were displaced permanently or are living in tarnished homes because the Texas government simply never prioritized our community in significant investments. We should be making stronger efforts in collaborating with the Federal government in ensuring that necessary federal funding that is passed in significant infrastructure spend bills is captured here in the Coastal Bend. — that includes over $4B in Hurricane Harvey Mitigation Funding that is being held up by HUD & the US Office of Management & Budget.
Home owners have been baring the tax burden for too long — this needs to stop. This is because of tax loopholes dating back to the 90’s that major corporations & industries in Texas are using to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. We need to close these loopholes to ensure that owners of large industrial and commercial properties are taking advantage of can no longer cheat Texans on their tax bill. It’s not raising taxes — it’s enforcing the law. We are going to have to ensure that recent investments in our public schools (the biggest beneficiary of property tax dollars) are sustained at the state level, and we shouldn’t be turning to home owners to cough up more of their hard-earned dollars to make that happen.
AFFORDABLE & RESILIENT HOUSING
We are facing a serious housing crisis all across our communities in Texas, including right here in the 32nd District where half of our home are occupied by renters. We must do better to ensure that those that want to stay and invest in our community are able to do so. When we talk about affordable housing, we have to be real about what the definition of affordability is — and that is based off the area median income. Credit worthiness is a major factor in turning renters into homeowners. Our rent payment is the largest monthly payment that we make, but is not reported on our credit reports. With Texas having some of the strictest tenant laws, rent payments should count towards building ones credit. We must pass stronger building codes and have sustainable plans to ensure that our homes can withstand natures force when it enters our communities — we see too many homes simply blown away.
Story after story that I heard in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey — and even years later - people are fed up with how they are being treated by TWIA (Texas Windstorm Insurance Agency) and tired of jumping through costly hurdles just to get partial payment or nothing at all. Residents in the Coastal Bend need authentic representation that is willing and ready to stand up to TWIA and the insurance lobby so that we don’t have residents stuck in bureaucratic red tape with uncaring adjusters and tarnished homes. For far too long insurance companies and their lobbyist have been waging a war on property owners by protecting insurance companies that refuse to pay out legitimate weather-related claims. Residents shouldn’t have to fight for what they pay into and deserve.
In the 86th Legislature, a major school funding bill was passed to invest in our public schools and teachers. While this bill is a significant investment in our public education system right now, we have plenty of work to do to ensure we can maintain funding for our public schools in the future. We cannot let this be a one-and-done bill. We need to ensure our teachers are getting their hard earned raises, our classroom sizes don’t go up, and that we are investing in personal development for our students ranging from anti-bullying programs to quality after-school programs. We should be emphasizing vocational training in manufacturing, engineering, technology, coding, and more so that way our students can be prepared for the real world right out of college.
I believe that healthcare is A RIGHT and NOT a privilege. So let's take the burden off of families that are paying high-priced premiums and small business owners who are unable to expand due to their mandates on employee coverage. We should be working to expand Medicaid so that we can ensure that families struggling to maintain their own private insurance are able to get coverage, and here’s the best part — it’s already paid for through the Affordable Care Act. Our problem is that the Texas Legislature is refusing to accept federal funds that have already been allocated to us. Texas currently has the highest maternal mortality rate in the country. Let’s be proactive in caring for our expecting & new mothers by providing low-cost/free access to care they need, and expanding healthcare access in our smaller and rural communities.
In the 2019 Texas Legislature, I was honored to be working alongside Burn Pits 360 Veterans Organization to fight for HB306, The Texas Open Burn Pits Registry Act, which was authored by Rep. Abel Herrero & Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa and signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott. To me, “Thank you for your service” isn’t just a hollow statement — it means getting achieving actual to thank them for their service. We should expand and aggressively promote current mental health and PTSD programs and services, and help those veterans get treated for opioid addiction. Our country spends billions in training our service members — let’s connect our veterans with better jobs that fit the skill set they learned while serving our country by expanding on current programs. We also should be expanding the number of government contracts given to veteran-owned businesses, so that they will have an opportunity to grow.
Women make .79 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts, with African-America women making .60 cents on the dollar and Latinas making .55 cents. We should be making serious efforts to close the gender-pay gap by fighting for equal pay for women by strengthening current laws & eliminate "previous salary" questions from the hiring process, and promote pay transparency. We have a serious domestic violence problem in our communities and we must be promoting programs meant to combat this problem and ensuring harsher punishment for perpetrators. I believe the only person that knows how to make the best healthcare decision for a woman is the woman herself — let’s stop radical ideology that is killing women across our state.
Regardless of political affiliations — 81% (CPPP) of Texans belief their local elected officials should maintain control over decisions made for their communities. We saw serious efforts by Republican politicians to strip local control from our community and ensure that State Legislators who are caught up typical Capitol politics continue to decide what is best for us. I’m a firm believer that our local communities and the elected officials that they chose to represent them should maintain control over what is best for their community. State government should be there when it is needed and stay out of the way when it’s appropriate to.
I have always been an advocate in protecting under-served and discriminated against communities. Whether you are LGBTQ+, a person of color, a woman, or a religious minority — to me, y’all means all. You can bet that I will fight back against any attempts to step on vulnerable communities and work on legislation that adds protections for the systemically oppressed. Until we pass the federal Equality Act, we must pass legislation that adds the LGBTQ+ community to be a protected class. Let’s decriminalizing minor possessions of marijuana. This non-violent crime has been locking up our minority population for decades. It's time to end that and we do that by legalizing marijuana use. The tremendous tax revenue and the cutting down on drug trafficking will make our communities safer. Texas should not be doing business with or investing in private prisons — these are draining our taxpayers of much needed funding that can be used for education or infrastructure.
Voting is a right that was enshrined by our founding fathers. Any attempts to limit or prevent voting from any community should be stopped. We should be making it easier for Texans to be able to vote — not put up barriers. This includes automatic voter registration when becoming of age to vote, looking at lowering the voting age to 17 so that our high school students can begin to get civically engaged earlier, online voter registration, and expanding early-voting periods. It’s already a requirement that high schools make serious efforts to register their students that turn 18 — let’s invest in programs to promote that.