U.S. House of Representatives
Texas 8th District
Hi. I’m Elizabeth Hernandez and I want you to join me in my quest to bring common sense solutions to Washington, D.C., and restore Congress to a place of judgment, transparency and accountability. Now, more than ever, we need leaders who have the courage and creativity to tackle the issues and make the decisions required to move this country forward. I’m running for Congress, and I am asking for your vote.
I live in The Woodlands where I am raising my 3 children, ages 5, 11 and 14. My background is in accounting, where I have worked for nearly 20 years in a variety of roles, in companies ranging from large corporations, to very small, locally owned businesses. On top of that, I am also in the final stages of completing my Accounting degree from Sam Houston State University, which I will receive in July 2020.
Although I am quite busy, after seeing what has gone on in Washington D.C. the last several years, I could not stand idly by when it is clear that we desperately need new leadership for the country. So I filed to run for U.S. House TX-8, the seat currently held by Kevin Brady. We must immediately address multiple issues facing all of us: Affordable Healthcare, Climate Change, Public Education, Social Security and Infrastructure, to name a few.
With my extensive study of public policy, I have ideas for a number of programs I want to implement, some of which are similar to my Democratic colleagues, and some of which are different. But with respect to every single issue, the explanation from Washington is always the same: How do we pay for it?
That's where I can offer the most help. In the business world, it is never an acceptable response to dismiss critical needs due to cost alone. Businesses who take such an approach fail, while the innovative businesses with creative solutions thrive. The same applies to world powers, and to an exponential degree. We need more accountants to get our fiscal house in order. By last count, there are only 11 members in Congress with Accounting Backgrounds. Because so many issues are tied to our fiscal strength, I want to join them, and fix that problem.
In my house, we have a saying that my kids know all too well:
“Learn so you can earn. No handouts.”
In that same vein, I do not expect a handout. I will earn your vote. Toward that end, you will not hear hollow political rhetoric from me. Instead, I will offer specific ideas on the issues, and what I plan to do in Congress to fix them.
Additionally, through social media and town hall events, I will have regular dialogue with voters to obtain feedback on my plan and how it can be improved. When we work together, we can solve any problem.
Please join me on this journey. Election Day is coming up on November 3! I’m confident that as you follow my campaign, you will find that my ideas elevate my candidacy above that of my opponent, Congressman, Kevin Brady.
I look forward to earning your vote.
The National Debt just exceeded $23,000,000,000,000. You read that correctly. The United States is $23 trillion in debt. And it is rising by nearly $1 trillion each year. To put this in further perspective, each year, the United States must currently pay $490 billion (10% of our entire budget) on the interest alone. Imagine for a moment how $490 billion could be spent on other programs for the benefit of the Country. Thus, it is clear that the National Debt is one of the most important issues we face. And it’s one of the primary reasons that I'm running for Congress.
You may recall that leading up to the last presidential election, the National Debt became a central talking point for Donald Trump and conservative media outlets. President Trump promised to “run the country like a business" and tackle our debt.
Having spent nearly 20 years in working in accounting, I quickly realized that President Trump and the Republicans had no interest in running the country like a business. Instead, they're running it as their own personal Ponzi scheme. Upon winning the White House, the Republican's first order of business was to slash tax rates for their ultra wealthy friends and donors. This, of course, led to a decline in revenues, which only further increased the debt. And the their justification for the disproportionate tax cut for the rich is hogwash.
The Republicans claim that the wealthy need the bulk of the tax cuts so that they can re-invest in the economy. Of course, this position ignores the fact that any tax break to the middle and lower income Americans will immediately go back into the economy. But giving a tax cut to someone who already has millions in the bank will do nothing to spur the economy. That certainly explains why immediately after the tax cut was passed by the Republican House and signed by the president, the Republicans received a $500,000 thank you from the Koch Brothers:
I recently read an article discussing the need for more Accounting professionals in Congress. Accounting professionals will not be so easily fooled by the Republicans' Ponzi scheme and would address the fiscal woes we face. Check it out below:
Year after year, we run a budget deficit, running up the debt even higher. We cannot continue to spend more than we take in. In Congress, following standard accounting principles I’ve learned through experience and my education, I will truly tackle the debt as a business would do. We cannot continue to spend more than we take in, and must generate revenues we can use to begin paying down the debt. We accomplish this by keeping the tax cuts for the middle and working classes, but amending the tax code and adjusting the marginal tax rates and capital gains rates to capture revenues that are now being lost due to the Republicans' needless tax cuts for the wealthy. We must also find ways to operate the government more efficiently and cutting spending in any areas that we can.
Additionally, as any responsible business owner would do, it is time to invest in our country. To do so, I will vote to authorize spending on improvements to infrastructure in TX-8 and throughout the country. This will not only give us much needed upgrades to our infrastructure, but it will also work to create jobs, lowering unemployment and generating revenues to the country and stimulating the economy—all of which work toward paying down our debt.
Most people agree that everyone should have access to affordable healthcare for themselves and their family. Yet, we have long disagreed on how to accomplish that goal. Although the ACA is far from perfect, it was a great start toward the goal of affordable healthcare for all.
There are a number of important rights established by the ACA, such as the protection against denial of coverage for a preexisting condition, a prohibition against lifetime spending caps, and protection for young adults starting their own lives by allowing parents the option to keep their children on their group health plan through age 26. Almost everyone agrees that those are necessary rights secured by the ACA and should not be retracted, Yet, if the ACA were to be repealed, those protections would immediately disappear, wreaking havoc on many families. Therefore, repealing it with no plan to replace it, as Kevin Brady and the Republicans fight for every day is not an option. Instead, let's work together toward improving what we've started.
We must expand Medicare coverage, and I favor the plan promoted by former Presidential and Senatorial candidate, Beto O'Rourke. This plan would offers Medicare coverage anyone who seeks to use it, but retains the option of private insurance and employer-sponsored health plans for those who prefer that route. This allows many Americans the freedom of choice for their healthcare and eases the burden that the government would shoulder under a pure Medicare for all system.
Also, in opening up Medicare coverage, we must simplify Medicare. The various plans, supplemental plans, deductibles and coverages can be dizzying. Worse yet, the options often put people in a position of having to be psychic, and magically predict what medical issues may arise for them in the future. And if they guess wrong, the medical coverage can be rather ineffective, leaving the insured with substantial out of pocket costs that the coverage was designed to avoid. This must change. We need real insurance plans that Americans can actually use to protect their families.
It is time to honor the words of our founding fathers, and treat all men and women equally. While the laws are supposed to prevent discrimination, and ensure equal pay for equal work, the laws have many holes that allow employers to perpetuate the discriminatory practices.
To fix this, I will introduce legislation to strengthen Civil Rights protections for women and minorities. First, I will seek to amend the discrimination statutes to eliminate the caps on emotional damages and punitive damages.
Currently, when an employee files a discrimination complaint in court, even against the largest corporations, the employee is limited to recovering $300,000 for emotional and punitive damages—combined. And in some cases, such as those brought under the Equal Pay Act, which is supposed to guarantee women equal pay for equal work, and the Fair Labor Standards Act, which is supposed to protect all workers against unfair pay and working conditions, punitive damages are not even available to those seeking justice.
Under our civil justice system, punitive damages are the most important deterrent to stopping unlawful practices by the corporations. So let's be honest: When they are available, $300,000 is ridiculous, and frankly demeaning to the employees who file discrimination cases, since it is literally a drop in the bucket for a large corporation. As a result, the cap provides no deterrent to stop companies from discriminating and perpetuates the discrimination against women and minorities in this country. This must stop.
Second, we must reform the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and actually empower it to stop discriminatory practices that plague the country. Currently, the EEOC accepts complaints of employment discrimination and conducts an investigation into that complaint. Often, however, the investigation is limited to receipt of a brief written response from the employer, and then closing the file, concluding that it cannot conclude one way or the other, and then allowing the employee to seek a lawyer and file the claim in Court, often at a substantial cost to the employee that many cannot afford.
In fewer than 5% of the complaints filed does the EEOC find that discrimination occurred. Worse yet, even in those rare circumstances in which the EEOC finds discrimination and formally issues that Letter of Determination, it has zero power to stop the discrimination. Rather, even if the EEOC is certain that discrimination interfered with your employment, its power is limited to attempting to negotiate a settlement between the employee and the employer. It cannot issue an injunction against the practice. And it cannot fine the employer for its reprehensible conduct. While the EEOC can file suit against the employer, the case is still at the mercy of the judge, with many of these cases being dismissed for “lack of evidence” before it ever gets to be heard by a jury. And, as noted above, when the case makes it to a jury, the emotional distress and punitive damages are capped. This must change.
I will seek to reform the EEOC, and empower it to take greater enforcement actions, and fine employers for the discriminatory practice found, similar to those of Occupational Safety and Health Administration. When employers receive notice that OSHA is investigating an unlawful health or safety practice, they immediately take notice. In stark contrast, when they receive notice from the EEOC that a complaint has been filed, they simply laugh it off knowing that the complaint will likely go nowhere, and the exposure is very limited.
We must take immediate steps to protect our environment, and end the assault on the Environmental Protection Agency. We all need clean air and clean water to survive. Yet, the Republicans continually target the EPA for budget cuts, forcing the Agency to reduce staff, which reduces the number of investigators who are responsible for inspecting and catching the polluters. This must stop. I will seek a significant increase in funding for the EPA, in order to ensure that corporations comply with our environmental laws, and pay steep fines for violating their obligations.
I will also push to strengthen our environmental regulations under federal law. As we speak, the Trump Administration is attempting to significantly roll back the regulations implementing the National Environmental Policy Act, which would make it far easier for corporations to begin projects in federally protected areas with little or no environmental review.
Finally, I will push to implement the Green New Deal platform.
We must get serious about addressing climate change. The science is real. It is undisputed now that fossil fuels are destroying our planet. We must work toward improving the technology for renewable energy sources. As that technology is improved and becomes more efficient, it is ultimately expected to be cheaper than fossil fuel energy. We must be leading the charge for that technology, not trailing it. The Houston area has long been known as the energy capital of the world. But if we do not keep up, then we will lose that title, and fall behind in the global economy, unable to compete given the reliance on old, outdated and expensive fossil fuel energy. There are a vast number of new jobs in renewable energy ready and waiting for us to create. It's now time for leaders in Washington to recognize that, and fight to create those jobs right here in TX-8.
I was raised attending public schools. I currently have 2 children in public schools and 1 child entering the public school system next year.
As a working parent, I understand the value, and sheer necessity, of a high quality public school system in America. Many working parents simply do not have the time to educate their children on their own. Those children should not be left behind. Every child in America deserves the opportunity to compete. That opportunity starts with a solid education.
I also understand that offering everyone the highest quality education is not a "handout." It's an opportunity for everyone to get ahead in this country, regardless of economic status or background. It's basic common sense, given that an educated population is vital to a strong economy that is poised to compete globally well into the 21st century.
Therefore, I will push for federal funding for 4 specific improvements in our public schools: 1) Increase the number of teachers in public schools. Lowering the student to teacher ratio results in closer relationships among the students, teachers and parents, ensuring that students stay on target with their education.
2) Fund after school child care that also provide for tutors to assist children with their homework and additional learning opportunities. This assists working families who often struggle with finding transportation and affording child care after the school day ends when the parents are often working. Additionally, it is well-documented and often discussed that the students who have assistance after the school day far outperform those students who do not have such access. We cannot leave the children behind who have working parents who do not have the time and/or resources to assist the students after school;
3) Fund nutritious breakfasts as well as lunches for all students to ensure that no child begins the school day on an empty stomach. It does little good to offer a quality education to a student who is physically and emotionally unable to perform academically; and
4) Provide funding to increase the number of counselors in public schools. As they grow, students develop academically, socially and emotionally at a rapid pace. They need guidance as they transition from children to young adults. Thus, with increased counselors, each student can be seen regularly by a trained professional, helping with their growth and development. Therefore, in addition to the safety benefits discussed above in reducing gun violence, this plan improves student development, and assists today's young generation in transitioning from today's students to tomorrow's leaders.
Congress must do its job and work to reduce gun violence in this country. At the outset, I must tell you that I am a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment. However, advocating for the Second Amendment does not mean standing idly by and waiting for the next gun-related incident. Frankly, I find it repulsive and infuriating to see Congress stalling on implementing solutions to address this epidemic.
The first step is to implement universal background checks for firearm sales and eliminate the private sale exemption. As an advocate for the Second Amendment, I am for responsible and legal gun ownership. As such, we must ensure that all those who purchase a firearm have passed a comprehensive background check and are legally qualified for gun ownership in this country. Nearly one year ago, on February 27, 2019, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives passed HR8--the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019. Sadly, although the Act has Bipartisan support, current TX-8 Representative, Kevin Brady, voted against universal background checks. The Senate now must step up and pass it to be signed into law. While I would hope that Senator Cornyn would vote in favor of it, I'm not counting on that. Of course, as long as Mitch McConnell and the Republicans control the Senate, it will likely not even get to a vote. We must take back the Senate in November, and get a 60 Senate majority in order to defeat Republican filibusters. This will allow us to finally see real solutions to gun violence passed into law, including the universal background checks already passed by the House, as well as legislation reinstating the assault weapons ban, which has already been demonstrated to significantly reduce gun deaths, and legislation that allows for liability against the gun manufacturers.
I also believe that gun violence can be significantly reduced by increased detection and treatment of emotional disorders. In other words, we must tackle this problem at its core. To do so, I will push for federal assistance for research into the underlying cause of these incidents and to increase the number of teachers and counselors in our public schools. By lowering the student to teacher ratio in our schools, we can obtain closer teacher-student contact (and teacher-parent contact), which will help immensely to detect emotional issues that students may be struggling and get them the counseling that they need. Moreover, by increasing the number of counselors, we can ensure that each student is seen regularly by a trained professional. This will help to guide students in their growth and development, better preparing our students for the future. And it will also help detect any emotional health issues in students that may otherwise go undetected and untreated in our students. We must prioritize the funding to address this issue by formally declaring gun violence to be a public health emergency.
In addition to helping our school-age children, we must also help our adults, as well. First, we must make it easier for working adults to take time to receive counseling. To do that, I will propose an amendment to the Family and Medical Leave Act that will expand the number of employers covered as well as the leave requirements for employees seeking time off for mental health treatment.
I will also look to amend the Mental Health Parity Act in order to close loopholes that too many insurers are using to deny coverage for mental health treatment. Similarly, I will pursue Federal legislation establishing minimum levels of coverage for mental health treatment. Most insurance plans are woefully inadequate regarding coverage for mental health treatment, resulting in significant out of pocket expenses, and causing many people to go untreated.
Everyone benefits from improved infrastructure. First, quality roads and bridges keep us safer. They also allow us to efficiently travel and transport goods throughout Texas and the country. Properly maintaining roads also cuts down on vehicle repairs caused by poor road conditions, which many of us have experienced first hand.
Although TX-8 has been one of the fastest growing Districts in the country, our infrastructure has not been maintained to keep pace with our growth. There are currently 23 bridges in TX-8, crossed over 30,000 times daily, that are classified as structurally deficient. This jeopardizes our safety, and makes it much more difficult to conduct business in our area. It delays transportation of goods, slows our drive times to work, costing us time and money, and impacts the ability to attract new business to the District.
In addition, maintaining our infrastructure creates jobs both in Texas and throughout the country, fueling our economy. Therefore, when I’m in Congress, improving our infrastructure will be a top priority for me, and I will work to ensure that we receive much needed federal funding to repair the roads and bridges in TX-8, bringing jobs to the district and making us all safer.
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