Ron Reynolds

TLCQ 2014: Ron Reynolds

In the Seventh installment of the 2014 Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire, we hear from State Representative Ron Reynolds, incumbent of the Texas House of Representatives, District 27.  He is a Democrat, running for reelection.

Please note: Responses have been received directly from the candidate, and have been posted ver batim from the email received. This is done out of fairness to all candidates. Publishing these responses does not constitute an endorsement, but will be considered during the endorsement process.

 

TL:  What is your name, as it will appear on the ballot?

RR:  Ron Reynolds

 

TL:  Are you a current or former elected official? If so what office(s)?

RR:  Current: Texas State Representative, District 27

 

TL:  As a political candidate, you clearly care about what happens in certain levels of government. In your own words, why is government important?

RR:  I am passionate about protecting and serving the rights of my constituents. Our government provides the platform to establish laws that protect citizens and preserve their rights, prosperity, longevity, infrastructure, education and peace of mind for their families and generations to come.

 

TL:  If elected, name your top 3 priorities you hope to accomplish for 2015 legislative session. Describe how you plan to accomplish them.

RR:  My top three priorities are to fight for economic development, expand access to high quality affordable health care and fund public education.

I will continue to accomplish these goals by ensuring funding for entrepreneurs and small business owners within Fort Bend County through low-interest loans and start-up grants, and equal opportunities for contracts with state governmental entities.  Regarding health care, I believe all Texans have a right to high quality affordable healthcare.  I will continue to support legislation that funds CHIP, stem cell research and access to healthcare for everyone.  Public education in Texas ranks at or near the bottom compared to the rest of the country. I am committed to correcting this problem by supporting initiatives that de-emphasize the significance of teaching to the test and support our educators and students.

 

TL:  A 2013 survey found that 54 percent of Texas voters support Medicaid Expansion under the Affordable Care Act. Expansion is also supported by the Texas Hospital Association. Without Medicaid Expansion or an alternate solution, Texas Hospitals are having to provide over $5 billion dollars annually in uncompensated care to patients who lack insurance.  This leaves Texas taxpayers paying not only for the uncompensated care of our residents, but also paying for expanded healthcare benefits in other states. If elected, would you support Medicaid Expansion or an alternate solution for the state of Texas, so we can bring our tax dollars back where they belong?  If not, please explain why.  If so, please explain how you would work to pass such a measure.

RR:  I support Medicaid Expansion under the Affordable Care Act and other options that will restore the funding necessary to support the state’s CHIP program and other critical programs that protect the health of our families.

 

TL:  In the coming years, the state of Texas is projected to have a population boom of historic proportions. But with more people and more opportunities comes an ever-increasing strain on Texas roads and infrastructure. Describe your thoughts on what needs to be done to improve Texas infrastructure now so we can plan for a bright future for the state.

RR:  Fort Bend County is one of the fastest growing counties in the nation. It is a challenge to keep up with expansion while not compromising quality of life.  Infrastructure is essential to maintaining excellent highways, airports, roadways, water systems, drainage, wastewater treatment, traffic lights and bridges. I will remain proactive in supporting infrastructure projects that plan long-term and strategically for the future economic, physical, social and cultural well-being of the county.

 

TL:  What makes you the best candidate for this office?

RR:  I believe to whom much is given, much is required. I am a public servant at heart and always will be. It is simply who I am. I am the best candidate for this office because I care about the well-being of our constituents and will continue to fight for the best interests our families, educators, business owners and community leaders. I willingly reach across the aisle to achieve positive results for the benefit of our citizens, while putting people matters first over politics.

 

TL:  When not on the campaign trail, how do you like to spend your free time?

RR:  Staying grounded through maintaining a strong spiritual life and spending time with my family are very enjoyable to me.

 

Thanks to Representative Reynolds for his participation.

 

Cameron County Courthouse Dome

Texoblogosphere: Week of September 22nd

The Texas Progressive Alliance wishes it had as much vacation time as Congress does as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff highlights the wit and hateful wisdom of Dr. Steven Hotze, one of the leading blights of the anti-gay movement in Texas.

Libby Shaw writing at Daily Kos believes there is a simple way to stop the controversial Tea Party candidate Dan Patrick from becoming the next Lt. Governor. Vote for Leticia. When Democrats vote Democrats win. How are we going to stop Dan Patrick? Easily. Vote for Leticia.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. While Texas has been prosperous in recent years, the prosperity is not being enjoyed by everyone. Abbott’s Message Is Good News For Corporations, Scraps For The Rest Of US.

The only constitutional amendment on the November ballot commits over a billion dollars a year to state highway maintenance from the Rainy Day Fund. Some think that’s a good idea, and some don’t. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs thinks — with the help of Sen. Kirk Watson — that you should decide for yourself.

Neil at All People Have Value wrote that the recent terrible ambush shooting of Pennsylvania state troopers is believed to be the deed of an extreme anti-government individual. Neil says that police would be better served focusing on real threats than pepper-spraying Occupy Wall Street types or sending tanks to Ferguson, Missouri. APHV is one of many pages worthy of viewing at NeilAquino.com.

With the first General Election Gubernatorial Debate in 8 years, everyone can agree that it was an exciting week in Texas politics. Texas Leftist has a full review of the contest. Who knew Greg Abbott was such a compelling liar??

===================

And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Better Texas Blog presents a report showing the large impact that medical bills resulting from a visit to the emergency room can have.

The Texas Election Law Blog catches Greg Abbott playing the race card in the followup to the Houston Votes story.

Nonsequiteuse pushes back on sexist tropes in the latest iteration of the Wendy Davis divorce story.

Newsdesk reminds us that the allegations Wendy Davis is making about Greg Abbott in the Texas Youth Commission sexual assault scandal go way back, and the questions she’s raising have been raised before without being answered.

Grits puts the privately-run Bartlett State Jail on the list of facilities the Legislature might consider shuttering if they decide to close more prisons.

The TSTA Blog takes Texas Monthly‘s Erica Greider to task for buying into Republican flimflammery about funding cuts to public schools.

Stephanie Stradley tackles the complex question of what a sensible discipline policy for NFL players might look like.

Unfair Park highlights a video expose of crisis pregnancy centers, including one in Dallas.

Project Q Houston interviews Mel Gonzales, a transgender student who was named Homecoming King at his high school in Sugar Land.

 

(photo credit:  The dome of the Cameron County Courthouse in Brownsville, Texas.  From 254TexasCourthouses.net

Texas DPS LGBT

DPS Discrimination: Texan Refused License Over Marriage Certificate

In the business of everyday life, it’s sometimes easy for LGBT Texans to forget about the huge inequalities that they face due to state government.  If you haven’t been fired because of your sexuality, you may not think it’s a problem for others, or just not feel the need to act strongly on the issue.

But this week, John Wright of the Texas Observer notes the story of one family’s struggle which hits painfully close to home.  A Texas woman and legal, licensed driver in her former home state of California was denied the ability to obtain a Texas license, simply because her official state-issued marriage certificate revealed that she is LGBT…

After Connie Wilson married her partner of nine years in California last year, she took her wife’s last name, Wilson, which now appears on both her California driver’s license and her Social Security card, in addition to all of the couple’s financial and medical records.

This summer, the couple relocated to the Houston area with their three children for work. With her California driver’s license nearing expiration, Wilson took her documents to a DPS office in Katy last week to obtain a Texas driver’s license. When a DPS employee noticed that Wilson’s name didn’t match her birth certificate, she produced the couple’s California marriage license identifying her spouse as Aimee Wilson.

“Her only words to me were, ‘Is this same-[sex]?’” Connie Wilson recalled. “I remember hesitating for probably 10 seconds. I didn’t know how to answer. I didn’t want to lie, but I knew I was in trouble because I wasn’t going to be able to get a license.”

Wilson eventually responded that although California doesn’t differentiate, she happened to be married to a woman.

“She immediately told me, ‘You can’t use this to get your license. This doesn’t validate your last name. Do you have anything else?’” Wilson said. “She told me I would never get a license with my current name, that the name doesn’t belong to me.”

Texas has both a state statute and a constitutional amendment prohibiting recognition of same-sex marriages from other states. However, Wilson contends she isn’t asking DPS to recognize her marriage, but rather trying to obtain an accurate driver’s license reflecting her legal name according to the state of California and the U.S. government.

“I’ve been deprived the freedom to drive a vehicle once my current California driver’s license expires,” Wilson said. “I’m further being deprived the freedom to use air travel, make purchases that require a valid photo identification, seek medical attention for myself or my children, as well as other situations that would require proving who I am legally as an individual.”

Just so we are clear, California is just as much a part of the United States of America as any other state.  Yet, according to Texas law, our DPS workers apparently have the right to discriminate between official documents from other states just based on the names listed.  How is it possible that DPS workers accept one California marriage license as documentation, but then turn around and refuse another simply because the persons listed may be of the same sex??  This is absolute discrimination.  You can be certain that Mrs. Wilson, with the help of Equality Texas and other groups, will pursue this issue to the fullest extent of the law, as they should.

Beyond discrimination, this action is a violation of the United States Constitution, under the “Privileges and Immunities Clause”.  Here’s  Article IV, Section II from the Articles of Confederation, via the Cornell University Law School Page

Section 2.

The citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states.

A license is a legal privilege as given by a state.  So for Texas to refuse recognition of a privilege granted in California is an act directly against the Constitution.  This is an offense made all the worse due to direct discrimination committed by Texas DPS.

Luis Lopez

TLCQ 2014: Luis Lopez

In the Sixth installment of the 2014 Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire, we hear from Luis Lopez candidate for the Texas House of Representatives, District 132.  He is a Democrat.

Please note: Responses have been received directly from the candidate, and have been posted ver batim from the email received. This is done out of fairness to all candidates. Publishing these responses does not constitute an endorsement, but will be considered during the endorsement process.

 

TL:  What is your name, as it will appear on the ballot?

LL:  Luis Lopez

 

TL:  Are you a current or former elected official? If so what office(s)?

LL:  No

 

TL:  As a political candidate, you clearly care about what happens in certain levels of government. In your own words, why is government important?

LL:  My seven siblings and I grew up in poverty, which forced me to take on adult responsibilities at an extremely young age; this made me aware of the inherent economic inequalities in Texas, and of the lack of investment in critical aspects of everyday Texans’ lives. Government should provide all communities with a well-funded, high quality, public school system, a well maintained infrastructure, economic security, and access to clean water.

 

TL:  If elected, name your top 3 priorities you hope to accomplish for 2015 legislative session. Describe how you plan to accomplish them.

LL:  I will accomplish the following goals through working with legislators from both parties.

  • As State Representative for District 132, I will make Texas Education a priority by fighting to appropriately fund our public school system and distribute resources in a fair and equitable manner. In addition, I will work towards making college more affordable.

 

  • My focus will also be geared towards ensuring that families and the local businesses in House District 132 are provided with the best opportunities for growth. I will introduce legislation that will provide tax relief for small businesses owners. Moreover, I will support and will prioritize a gradual phase-in increase of the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, as it will increase worker productivity, increase business profits, and help bring families closer to achieving the American Dream.
  • I will work to expand health coverage for the large number of uninsured Texans via the Medicaid Expansion.

 

TL:  A 2013 survey found that 54 percent of Texas voters support Medicaid Expansion under the Affordable Care Act. Expansion is also supported by the Texas Hospital Association. Without Medicaid Expansion or an alternate solution, Texas Hospitals are having to provide over $5 billion dollars annually in uncompensated care to patients who lack insurance.  This leaves Texas taxpayers paying not only for the uncompensated care of our residents, but also paying for expanded healthcare benefits in other states. If elected, would you support Medicaid Expansion or an alternate solution for the state of Texas, so we can bring our tax dollars back where they belong?  If not, please explain why.  If so, please explain how you would work to pass such a measure.

LL:  Yes, as the State Representative for House District 132, I will support Medicaid Expansion.

 

TL:  In the coming years, the state of Texas is projected to have a population boom of historic proportions. But with more people and more opportunities comes an ever-increasing strain on Texas roads and infrastructure. Describe your thoughts on what needs to be done to improve Texas infrastructure now so we can plan for a bright future for the state.

LL:  Republicans avoid this reality with all of their budget cutting talks. Starving our state budget for political purposes when our population continues to grow is irresponsible. There is a lot of waste in the budget that can be eliminated if we responsibly scrutinize the budget, and utilize savings on expanding our investment in roads and infrastructure. Obviously, federal investment in our roads and infrastructure will only bolster our investment. We cannot promote a successful business climate when our crumbling infrastructure goes ignored. It’s just bad governing.

 

TL:  What makes you the best candidate for this office?

LL:  I have real life experience and knowledge regarding Texas’ current challenges, such as education, employment, and small business development—the kind of challenges Texas families worry about every day. I will stand up and fight for our public schools and for our institutions of higher education, so they will provide our Texas businesses with a robust and well-trained workforce. I will promote transparency and accountability on the legislative and budget process so that my constituents can once again trust in and count on state government. And I will protect the interests of the foundation of our economy: small businesses. The families of HD-132 need a representative who will fight for them.

My opponent offers the status quo provided by Rick Perry, Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick, and others who have run this state based on self-serving values that have divided our great state. Such valuies ignore our public schools, overtax our small businesses, and promoted cronyism in our state government.  My opponent prides himself as being Gov. Perry’s “point man” on the Voter ID bill, a bill that we know will only hurt our democratic process. In addition, this is my opponent’s third time running for a State Representative seat in a District where he does not reside.

It’s time to put an end to this and get to the work of governing based on our families’ needs. Residents of House District 132 need a State Representative that understands their daily struggles and will work tirelessly, always keeping in mind the best interests of our communities’, families and of our small business owners. I am that representative.

 

TL:  When not on the campaign trail, how do you like to spend your free time?

LL:  Growing up with 7 siblings, I strongly value and take advantage of all opportunities to spend time with my siblings, parents, wife, and beautiful one year old daughter. I have been involved in our communities since the age of 14. Community services continues to be my passion and one of my favorite ways to spend my free time. I also enjoy playing and watching sports.

 

Thanks to Mr. Lopez for his participation.

Jaci Velasquez

Music Musings: Jaci Velásquez

If there’s one place that most people can be assured to experience music their week, that place is their house of worship.  Music traditions are as old as the churches, synagogues and mosques that practice them, if not older.  That’s why it’s no surprise that some of the best contemporary singers come from Contemporary Christian music.  This is definitely the case with Houston native and bi-lingual superstar Jaci Velásquez.

As the child of evangelical ministers, Velásquez literally grew up singing in the church.  By the time she had her first breakout hit at 16, she was already a more experienced singer than many young stars of a similar age.  The song that was that hit, On My Knees, is one that touched the hearts of millions.

Since then, Velásquez has gone on to win 7 Dove awards, Grammy nominations and various other accolades, fielding successful albums in both English and Spanish.  The emotional and dynamic range of her voice is what sets this singer apart, and has undoubtedly been a key ingredient to her worldwide fame in the Christian community.  Check out some of her songs below.

On My Knees

 

Un Lugar Celestial  (A Heavenly Place)

 

Llegar A Ti

RGV Debate

Texas Gubernatorial Debate 1: Review

In some ways, the result of the first Gubernatorial Debate was predetermined.  Even if nothing else had happened, the mere fact that State Senator Wendy Davis and Attorney General Greg Abbott met on the debate stage for this year’s Governor’s race was a clear win. A win for the state of Texas.

In truth, that is the most important occurrence from the first Davis and Abbott contest.

The candidates had very different goals for the evening. Davis played the role of underdog, going after her opponent’s policies, positions and former actions every chance she had. Abbott, on the other hand, tried to keep focused on his goal of running against President Obama more so than his actual Democratic opponent. Given these disparate objectives, it’s fair to say that both candidates achieved their desired outcomes.  Davis landed a bunch of good one-liners that manage to question Abbott’s policies.  Abbott was able to respond to Davis and then successfully pivot away from giving a more substantive answer.

On style points, I thought Abbott did a better job, as Davis came off at times over-rehearsed and a bit distant. But that’s just mainly a personality preference, as other voters may have preferred Davis’ approach.

On substance, I think both squared off pretty evenly. Davis had more one-liner attacks, but she also managed to not make the whole debate about attacking Abbott. She offered solutions of what she would do differently in several instances.  Here are two of Wendy Davis’ most epic moments…

On the $5.4 Billion dollars in cuts to education…

“These [education] cuts that you are defending… they are not Conservative, not Liberal, just dumb.”

On Medicaid Expansion…

“Mr. Abbott is California’s best friend in Texas because he wants to continue sending our tax dollars to them.  California already has one Governor… they do not need two.”

For all of the fast and furious accusations being thrown at him, at least Abbott did have something to say, regardless of whether one liked his answer. Being caught off guard is actually the worst thing that can happen during a live debate, and Abbott, to his credit, was very successful at avoiding that trap.  That being said, he was still quite short substance, and instead managed to play some careful slight of hand with his responses to several questions.  Take this direct exchange between Davis and Abbott, once again over the devastating cuts to Texas school districts…

Davis:  Mr. Abbott, Judge Dietz has recently ruled against you and in favor of the schoolchildren of Texas, ruling that our schools are unconstitutionally under-funded.  The only thing right now coming between our children and appropriate funding of our schools today is you.  On behalf of the 5 million children of this state, will you agree that you will drop your appeals, and allow our schools to be appropriately funded?

Abbott:  Senator Davis, there is actually another thing coming between me and settling that lawsuit… that is a law that you voted on and passed in 2011 that removes from the Attorney General the ability to settle lawsuits just like this…

Did you catch the careful distinction there??  Abbott did NOT answer Davis’ question.  He has the ability to drop the appeals, even if the 2011 law removed the ability for him to settle the lawsuits.  Davis did not ask him settling anything.  Abbott’s careful pivot here is key.

To be fair, Abbott’s direct question to Davis was to ask if she regrets voting for Barack Obama.  Davis simply avoided the question (in a less artful manner than Abbott) and spoke about why she is running for Governor.

Those two exchanges get to the heart of how this debate went.  Though Davis felt distant throughout, she did at least save her best points of audience connection for her closing remarks. Overall, my assessment is a slight win for Abbott, just because the situation felt more natural for him.  But Davis met her objectives for the debate, and now has given her base, and all of Texas, a firm representation of what the Democratic party stands for.  When performances are as close as these two candidates gave last night, the overall effect may simply come down to what sticks with the audience the most.  Davis’ one-liners?  Abbott’s demeanor??  Only time will tell.

If you missed last night’s debate, here’s the full video from KGBT Action News.  Check it out, and let me know your thoughts in the comments.

 

(photo credit:  Gabe Hernandez of the McAllen Monitor)

 

Van de Putte purple

Corpus Christi Caller Times Endorses Leticia Van de Putte

The Coastal Bend region’s lead newspaper has announced its endorsement for the Lieutenant Governor’s race, calling Democratic candidate Leticia Van de Putte a “Democrat that GOP voters should trust.”  Here’s an excerpt from the full-throated endorsement by the Corpus Christi Caller Times

The Democratic Party’s effort has been all about Van de Putte’s Senate colleague, gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, because of the national attention Davis gained from her filibuster against an abortion bill. But if there’s one race the Democrats need to win, it’s the lieutenant governor’s race. And not for the sake of the Democratic Party. She [Van de Putte] deserves the job irrespective of her party affiliation just like U.S. Sen. John Tower was deserving all those years he was Texas’ only Republican elected statewide.

Van de Putte is the most deserving Democrat in any race we’ve examined this cycle. Her colleagues in the majority-Republican Senate respect her and would welcome her leadership. And they’d be unlikely to do to her what has been rumored they would do to Patrick — change Senate rules to make the lieutenant governor less powerful. Lieutenant governor, despite its name which suggests a junior executive-branch role, is really a powerful legislative-branch position. And, as Van de Putte explained to our board, senators like it that way because of the leverage that their lieutenant governor can give them in their dealings with the House.

Van de Putte displays a strong grasp of issues even for someone who has been in the Legislature since 1991. She represents a landlocked district but is as informed about coastal windstorm insurance as acclaimed near-expert Hunter, one of many Republicans of whom she speaks highly.

She correctly identifies education and transportation and water infrastructure as priority issues. We wish we were hearing more from the gubernatorial candidates about those and less about what’s wrong with each other. Van de Putte doesn’t waste time tarring Patrick — enough Republicans are tending to it for her.

Van de Putte is a working pharmacist, which means that she’s informed about health care on more levels than most of her colleagues — and that she completed a tough, choosy STEM program in college. The world — and lawyer-heavy Texas government — needs more STEM professionals. Republicans who are true to their party’s philosophy would agree.

For all of the praise given to Van de Putte, the Caller Times editorial board had no such praise for her Republican TEApublican opponent Dan Patrick. They even admitted that even the prospect of sending Patrick to lead the State Senate could have disastrous results for the Texas legislature.

As if the Senator’s long record of bipartisan leadership wasn’t enough to land the endorsement, it’s clear that the editorial board was equally impressed with her unparalleled understanding of the many contemporary issues facing Texas.  If you’ve taken the time to read any one of Leticia Van de Putte’s Texas First plans on her website, what you encountered was nothing short of astounding.  The amount detail with which Van de Putte conveys her positions on a wide range of issues– veteran’s services, healthcare, human trafficking, immigration, the economy, infrastructure and so much more– would fascinate even the best policy analyst.  Basically, Leticia Van de Putte is the Ezra Klein of the Texas legislature.

Given the complete lack of information on Dan Patrick’s website, expect to see more major endorsements for Leticia Van de Putte.

 

(photo credit:  Austin MD magazine)

A Voice for the Rest of Texas