Election Q&A: Texas Legislature District 15

Texas Legislature District 15

Lorena McGill (D)
Occupation: lawyer

Experience: counsel at the Organization of American States in Washington, D.C.; chairwoman for the Montgomery County Hispanic Chamber
Contact: www.lorenafortexas.com

What are the top challenges now facing residents in your district, and how do you plan to address them?

LM: Underemployment/unemployment; lack of access to health care, including mental health; and inadequate funding for public education, exacerbated by COVID-19. The 87th legislative session faces challenges that we will overcome only by working together. Bipartisanship is key; I will only file bills that have a Republican co-sponsor. I will find ways to collect federal reimbursement dollars to address uncompensated health care and to properly fund public education to comply with the existing mandates and address our current needs.

What are the largest effects of the COVID-19 pandemic you have seen in District 15, and what role does the state government have in local recovery?

LM: The energy sector price shock and the pandemic affected jobs and small and mid-size businesses like mine. Some, but not all, federal funds Texas received have been disbursed. Meanwhile, people are struggling to pay rent, put food on their tables or see a doctor. Elected officials must lead by example; leaders do not wait to get sick with the virus to acknowledge it is real and serious and to prompt their constituents to protect themselves and their families.

Why do you believe you would be a good voice to represent District 15 in the Legislature?

LM: My volunteer work has allowed me to better understand the challenges in our district. I decided to run because I have seen our challenges, and I know how much more we will get done if we focus on fixing, rather than fighting. Bipartisanship is important, especially now. I will provide the balance we need in Austin, enact good policies and represent everyone in our district, continue to reach across party lines and continue to lead through service.

What are one or two specific bills you are looking to file or support at the start of the 2021 session?

LM: I am looking to file bills previously introduced that sought Medicaid expansion and closing the coverage gap. Access to affordable, quality health care for all Texans is too important an issue to drag our feet or reinvent the wheel, particularly now. Also, I will look to file bills that will create revenue for the state without the need to increase residential property taxes, like restoring public school funding by closing the "Equal and Uniform" corporate tax loophole and legalization and appropriate taxation of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

Steve Toth (R)
Occupation: small-business owner; realtor
Experience: two terms in Texas Legislature; chairman of the Mighty Oaks Foundation board
Contact: www.stevetothfortexas.com

What are the top challenges now facing residents in your district, and how do you plan to address them?

ST: The Woodlands is one of the top destinations in Texas for conventions, while it's also home to many oil and gas companies. All businesses have been impacted by the pandemic but these two industries more than any. My office has worked hard to help families who lost jobs, and we will continue to work to revitalize the economic engine of House District 15.

What are the largest effects of the COVID-19 pandemic you have seen in District 15, and what role does the state government have in local recovery?

ST: The loss of life from COVID-19 has been a horrific loss for many, but so too has the economic suffering caused by the state of Texas. The state needs to make restitution for the damage it has brought upon the families as a result of this shutdown.

Why do you believe you would be a good voice to represent District 15 in the Legislature?

ST: I've lived in South Montgomery County for over 20 years. As a small-business owner and state representative, I've come to know the challenges these businesses face. I've worked very hard during this pandemic to be a voice for them in this time of loss.

What are one or two specific bills you are looking to file or support at the start of the 2021 session?

ST: I unequivocally support limiting the governor's power to shut down the Texas economy in times of disaster. We have three branches of government for a reason. The Texas Constitution creates a provision for the governor to call a special session so that the Legislature together with the governor can deal with a crisis. I will be filing legislation to limit appraisal districts from increasing the taxable value of our homes.

This article comes from our ABC13 partners at Community Impact Newspapers.