As a physician, every day I see the impact of state-level policies on our community: patients who struggle to find transportation, balancing paying the rent or medical procedures, in fear of seeking care because of their legal status, or unable to find quality housing and education for their families. Yet there is not even one physician in the Texas State House of Representatives, and much less a woman who can champion reproductive rights. There is no voice who can speak about the intersection of health access, housing, immigration, education, public health and a sense of belonging. That's why I'm running.
In the next session, the state will redraw political boundaries. If Republicans stay in the majority, these arbitrary lines will continue to be drawn for political power. In a state whose demographics are rapidly changing, I will fight for lines that are independent of political party and give power and voice to the community.
Women's Reproductive Rights
If we don’t take back the house, Republicans will continue their march to restrict women’s access to healthcare. Now, with a conservative U.S. Supreme Court, Texas legislators may even seek to challenge Roe vs Wade. I will fight any attempt to further restrict women’s access to healthcare and work to reverse the damage that’s been done to reproductive rights.
Common Sense Gun Legislation
Texas has suffered the effects of mass gun violence and it is time that we do something. Midland-Odessa, El Paso, Santa Fe, and the Sutherland Springs mass shootings have moved even Lt. Governor Dan Patrick to call for universal background checks. We need to capitalize on that momentum. I will start by introducing legislation to require background checks on all gun sales, red flag laws, and the banning of high capacity magazines.
Texas has a history of being undercounted. Every 1% of the population not counted will result in a loss of $54 million annually for the next ten years. We need all hands on deck from the governor's office, the state legislature, county and local governments to work in partnership to ensure that we have the best count possible and to ensure that our communities of color are not undercounted.
In 2015, legislators allowed medical marijuana for one condition. Today, there are over eight pages that list the conditions under which medical marijuana can be prescribed. Doctors not the legislature should decide what is best for patients. We need to make sure the process for dispensaries is fair and transparent as well as see it as an entrepreneurial opportunity. We should evaluate legalization as an opportunity to increase state revenue to strengthen education funding. Finally, any legalization should also include the expunging of records for past low-level marijuana offenses.
Weather does not respect political boundaries. Climate change will only make floods and other weather related events more common. Allison, Ike, Harvey, Tax Day & Memorial Day floods, and Imelda all have a lesson for us to learn: we need to ensure there is adequate funding at the state level for preparation, mitigation, and response for flooding. The state needs to serve as a convener to ensure that local, state, and federal efforts complement each other and we need to incentivize climate friendly business policies in the state and energy production.
Healthcare Funding Crisis
In 2021 the state will lose an additional 3 billion dollars in healthcare funding. Without a plan, the sick, the elderly, and the uninsured will face additional barriers to access the care they need. As a physician, I have first hand experience that will position me to address the complexities in healthcare and fight for affordable access for all.
Despite the best medical center in the world, Texas has some of the nation's worst health outcomes. We need a legislator who knows how the healthcare system works and how to improve access. I will fight for pricing transparency, minimizing vaccine exemptions, supporting direct primary care and health sharing options, funding mental health services and infrastructure, expanded use of telemedicine, and funding public health prevention and mobile clinics.
Texas has a history of focusing not on where people are from, but on what they can become. However, legislators have turned a blind eye to our immigrant community and I will fight against bills like SB4 and it's unintended effects. I will introduce legislation to provide transparency and accountability for the state's $800 million budget for border security and give immigrants the ability to obtain an ID needed for driving and obtaining medical care.
Texas has a shortage of 600,000 affordable housing units. For every 100 people making under the federal poverty level there is only 29 homes available. I will promote policies and legislation to help with the affordable housing shortage especially in low-income neighborhoods and areas like Houston where flooding has dramatically cut the available stock of affordable housing. I believe that in our state we can help everyone have access to an affordable place to live.
Learning should be local and we need to continue the gains made in education in the last legislative session. The recent changes in student funding, teacher and support staff pay, and school finance are good first steps, but we need to make sure that they are funded for the long term. Pre-K should also be funded long term and offered in every school in our state. We need to rely less on standardized testing and put more control back in the hands of educators. We need to ensure that public schools are not underfunded at the expense of for-profit charter schools. Finally, in partnership with public health and non-profit agencies we need to fund full wrap around services for schools and neighborhods in need.
The strong economy in our state will require robust planning and infrastructure for our transportation system. Whether it is highways, roads, light rail, or high speed rail, we need to make sure that when transportation projects are being developed that the impact on communities is being planned for and mitigated. Project proposals like the I-45 redevelopment around downtown need to take into account community input, impact on small businesses, air quality, and neighborhood access before they are put into implementation.