Rep. Raymond speaks in favor of a bill that prohibits Texas cities from defunding the police. As a result of the 2020 Census, Laredo is covered by this new law and may not defund the police.
Throughout my time as a Representative, I have worked hard to address the issue of rising property taxes. I have introduced more than one proposals to lower property taxes for all Laredoans and all Texans. As a member of the Ways and Means Committee, I was proud to work on legislation that we finally passed two sessions ago, which puts the brakes on local governments from continuing to raise taxes at the rates they had been doing.
Now, they need to go to the voters when they get about a certain level. Voters will have to approve the increase, or not approve it -- but I believe that since voters pay the bills, they should decide whether the tax rates should go above the limit we in the legislature set for them.
Rep. Raymond Fights for Property Tax Relief
I also pushed for Governor Abbott to include property tax relief on the 2021 Special Sessions. At first he did not. But he finally did, during our third Special Session and we passed it. It was not as much as I wanted, but it will help. We passed legislation, which will allow every homeowner to increase the homestead exemption from $25,000 up to $40,000. It is a good start, but we can do more to relieve the property tax burden felt by so many. And I am committed to continuing this fight.
Every Texan deserves to have equal access to medical assistance. My past work on the Human Services Committee, which has oversight of the Health and Human Services Commission, helped me to develop a strong understanding of the need as well as the ability that we have in this great state to provide for all of our people. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, I have worked tirelessly to make sure the State of Texas deployed more doctors, nurses, medical equipment additional ER capabilities and vaccines in order to make sure Laredoans were safe and stayed healthy. I continue this work, because we must maintain vigilance against any further strains/variants of COVID, or other viruses.
I also believe we can bring Texas billions more in federal dollars for health care by working with Congress and the Administration. Texans deserve a first class health system and we must work toward that end.
Through my over 20 years of public service I have focused on quality health and education for Texans and have worked tirelessly to ensure a fair and equitable business environment that includes protections for our environment for the future of our children.
I have worked hard to push for higher pay for teachers, retired teachers and all school employees. When everyone else was willing to give up on passing a teacher pay raise, I pushed and pushed in order to make sure we passed a pay raise not only for teachers, but for all school employees. I am proud of that. In addition, I have worked hard to make sure we pass legislation providing retired teachers with a 13th check on more than one occasion.
Laredo continues to be one of the fasted growing cities in the state. At times, we have to build a new elementary school nearly every year. I have fought to make sure we provide more ability for local school districts to have the funds to help build and maintain new schools campuses.
During the COVID-19 Pandemic, I have worked closely with our schools in order to be able to keep our students, teachers and families safe. Giving schools the ability to use virtual learning, as is necessary.
Here is a link to the Texas Education Agency website, for more information and resources.
Clean and fair elections are the keystone to a democracy. We have the ability to ensure that all who are eligible are able to vote and those that are not -- do not. I will continue to work with my colleagues ensuring the integrity of this system, working toward methods that make it easier to register to vote and vote, but harder to cheat, abuse or disrespect our system of voting.
When our voting rights are trampled upon or threatened, I will fight for the right of every Laredoan and Texan who is legally able to vote, to do so. I will not compromise what so many of our founding fathers and so many men and women in our armed forces worked and fought for -- many giving their lives.
Many know that Laredo is the busiest Inland Port in America, but many do not know that Laredo has reached the heights, at times, of being the number one busiest Port in America period! We continue to hover around 2nd or 3rd busiest port, but our potential has not been reached. I have worked hard with our International Trade Community to pass legislation which will make it easier for us to grow trade and bring more jobs to Laredo. I am proud to have many supporters in the Trade Community, because they know I have delivered.
I have passed bills doing away with the Toll from Camino Colombia, which has lead to more investment of capitol in the Colombia Bridge area, both on the Texas side and the Mexico side of the border. In addition, I have passed legislation, which will allow more trucks with heavier loads coming into the U.S. to so in a safer and more profitable manner from the World Trade Bridge to the the Colombia Bridge and over to Interstate 35.
Finally, I have fought hard for millions of dollars to be invested into our transportation infrastructure all along the Laredo trade routes and all along the Bob Bullock loop. This did not just happen, it took many years of educating my colleagues in Austin how important Laredo trade was for all of Texas and all of the United States. I will continue bringing in millions, because we have so many more opportunities before us, if we make that investment.
Our students must feel safe in their schools. I was proud to be the first to bring attention to bullying in our schools and passed the first bill on this issue. Since then, anti-bullying legislation has become a priority for the entire legislature. We have to keep making sure students are not afraid to go to school. I will continue this effort.
During the COVID-19 Pandemic, students, as well as their teachers, administrators, other school personnel and families of students worried about their safety, with reference to their health. I worked hard to make sure each campus met the needs of their particular circumstances, in order to minimize any COVID outbreaks in the student populations. I am proud that in Laredo, we were able to do just that. Keeping the spread of COVID to a minimum, by utilizing technologies like distance and virtual learning. I also fought hard to make sure schools were not penalized, with reference to state education dollars, as a result of any actions they took to meet their needs.
As the son of a school teacher, I will also work hard for our students, teachers and all school employees.
Laredo and Webb county have been in the forefront of taking the lead on energy production. My grandfather, A.D. Raymond, worked in the oilfields for Texaco for nearly 45 years. I have been around the energy industry all my life. I was a Chief of Staff at the Texas Railroad Commission, before I was elected to the Legislature. I know deep in my bones how we can continue to build on what we have done in the field of energy, being a leader in the production of oil and gas -- especially gas -- and also have Laredo and Webb take the lead on renewable energy. We are now home to some of the most significant solar and wind energy farms in Texas. This is energy, which is producing more environmentally friendly energy and jobs.
As a member of the State Affairs Committee, we have oversight of the PUC (Public Utilities Commission) and ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas). I have worked hard to make sure we continue to build an electric grid in Texas that can meet the needs of our current usage and future demands. We cannot grow economically, if we are not fully prepared to meet current demands. This has long been a priority for me and many others, but we have not gotten the full in the past, in order to make sure we do not have brown outs and power outages. We will only be able to fully fix this issue of a reliable grid, when we agree to make it one of our number one priorities -- as it is for me.
All my career, I have proudly supported and worked for our Veterans. I have passed laws, which have brought hundreds of millions of dollars in benefits for our Texas Veterans.These laws include more benefits for disabled benefits, property tax cuts for Veterans and their spouses, home loans, home improvement loans, land loans, programs to help Veterans with PTSD and other battle related disabilities.
As the Chairman of the House Committee on Defense and Veterans Affairs, I will continue to fight for our Veterans, just like they have always been willing to fight for us.
During my tenure as Chairman of the Human Services Committee, which has oversight of the Department of Family and Child Protective Services, I lead the effort to pass major reforms -- which was supported on a bi-partisan basis -- that will lead to children in the care of the state to receive better care. The reforms included making sure we helped children who were being abused, before they ended up being killed.
We made sure that children who had to be removed from their homes would continue to live closer to home, where they have a family support system, instead of being sent to another part of Texas. In addition, we passed a bill, which I had long proposed, that allowed families, such as grandparents, aunts and uncles, who passed the background and screening tests, to take care of the child. This has shown to be much more successful than placing the child with someone they do not know at all.
The Foster Care system had to be redesigned, in order to help prevent abuses which had occurred in the past. No child that is taken into State care, because of abuse at home, should then be subjected to more abuse, while in the care of the State or a Foster Home.
I continue to work on this issue, because these are truly the most vulnerable children in our communities.
Perhaps controversial to some, fantasy sports is a harmless pastime that has mistakenly become vilified. To outlaw fantasy sports would be akin to outlawing the lottery. I will be working with leaders in the house to help Texas equalize its laws with laws that already exist in the federal government.