Public Education

Mary Ann has always been a strong supporter of public schools. She is a proud product of public education, as are her two sons. She graduated from Milby High School and her two sons attended public schools within the Houston Independent School District.

During the 2019 Legislative Session, Mary Ann co-authored House Bill 3, which allowed for several large gains in funding, offered pay raises for teachers, and helped shore up the retirement system for educators. It increased funding for vulnerable students by providing more funds for counseling services and special education programs. HB 3 set a great foundation, and next session, there will be new challenges to address in order to ensure that our students and teachers are able to attend school in a productive, safe environment.

In regards to Higher Education, Mary Ann is a proud graduate of the University of Houston-Downtown. During the 86th Legislative Session, she passed House Bill 1277, which authorized a fee, proposed by the UHD Student Government Association and supported by the student body, to construct a Wellness and Success Center at UHD.

House District 144 contains San Jacinto College and Lee College, and both play a key role in helping to close the gap between high school graduates and energy industry jobs at all levels. Mary Ann will continue to partner with these institutions and support increased funding.

Health Care

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted each of us in different ways and has shown us that we need to reevaluate how we address concerns regarding the state’s healthcare infrastructure. The pandemic has forced us to reexamine our practices from top to bottom to make sure healthcare is affordable for all Texans. Next session, Mary Ann will continue to push for better quality and easier access to health care. She will continue to support Medicaid expansion for the state of Texas. Currently, we are leaving millions of dollars on the table that can be used to help Texans in need.

Last session, Mary Ann worked with the Alzheimer’s Association on House Bill 284, which would have required that nursing homes and assisted living facilities disclose to patients and/or loved ones, whether or not they have a state-issued certification to care for Alzheimer’s patients. Alzheimer’s certified facilities are required to provide additional staff, a planned activity program, adequate security, and supervision. The bill passed the House of Representatives, however, it did not make it past the Senate floor. Mary Ann plans to carry this bill again in hopes of protecting vulnerable Alzheimer’s patients and ensuring they have proper care.

Flood Mitigation & Infrastructure

Transportation safety and infrastructure quality have been a part of Mary Ann’s legislative priorities each session. House District 144 has some of the most important, yet some of the oldest infrastructure in Texas, which is why she strives to achieve a balance between motorist safety and transportation initiatives that maximize access in and around the Port of Houston.

In the aftermath of the devastating Hurricane Harvey, many people realized that their property insurance policies did not include flood coverage. This was a very harsh realization for many who were affected by the disaster. In the interest of making it easier for consumers to understand their insurance policies, Mary Ann passed SB 442. This bill places a clear disclosure on commercial property and/or residential property insurance policies informing the policyholder that their policy does not cover flood damage. This will help consumers better prepare for the future and avoid being blindsided should another disaster occur.

Hurricane Harvey greatly impacted the area and made it clear that improving flood infrastructure is critical. Mary Ann supported the Harris County Bond Program in August 2018, which helped increase funding for the Harris County Flood Control District. Today, we see the results of many projects underway, from drainage projects to dam repair and improved flood mapping. At the state level, Mary Ann voted in favor of several bills aimed at helping the region better deal with flooding.

Energy

As a member of the House Committee on Energy Resources, Mary Ann focuses on several important policy areas aimed at keeping the region a safe and strong energy producer for the state and nation. The committee is responsible for legislation pertaining to the transportation, development and storage of oil and natural gas, as well as, alternative forms of energy, matters involving pipelines, electric regulation and energy efficiency. Serving on this committee allows Mary Ann to contribute to the conversation from the perspective of Southeast Harris County and House District 144, home of the largest petrochemical and industrial energy complex in the United States.

During the 86th Legislative Session, Mary Ann proudly supported House Bill 3745, which renewed the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP) and its funds. TERP funding is utilized by various industries in the region and serves as a great incentive for helping reduce pollution and improve air quality.

Economic Prosperity

Due to COVID-19, there are millions of Texans who are unemployed and thousands of small businesses that have been forced to close. Due to these unforeseen circumstances, the state must step in and assist those in need. As a member of the House Committee on International Relations and Economic Development, Mary Ann will continue to work with the Texas Workforce Commission with the goal of creating programs aimed at helping businesses survive, while getting Texans back to work safely.

During the 86th Legislative Session, Mary Ann passed House Bill 4347, which amended the Tax Code to allow the City of Baytown to use state and local hotel tax revenue and other tax proceeds to construct a convention center hotel on Bayland Island. The center will bring revenue to the City by attracting various industries, businesses and tourists to Baytown.

Consumer Protection

Mary Ann believes in protecting all Texans and has worked tirelessly to pass legislation with the safety of consumers in mind.

During the 86th Legislative Session, she authored three bills relating to card skimming at gas pumps. Credit card skimming is a rapidly growing problem and data show that Texas leads the nation in this type of crime. Harris County is a huge hotspot due to its high population, numerous gas pumps and high rate of mobility for motorists.

Card skimming affects banks, merchants, and most of all, consumers. It is a major inconvenience for consumers, whose personal account information has been compromised, and results in millions of dollars in financial losses for banks throughout the state.

After months of negotiations and stakeholder meetings, gas station owners, state agencies, financial institutions and law enforcement came together in agreement to combat card skimmers at gas pumps. House Bills 2945, 2624 and 2625 help address this problem.

House Bill 2945 gives the Attorney General rulemaking authority to implement “best practices” in order to prevent skimmer installations on gas pumps. The bill also creates a payment fraud fusion center, which provides law enforcement with a centralized location and the tools necessary to investigate financial crimes. This improves investigations, ensures consumer information is confidential, creates stronger reporting, and best practices for merchants in fraud cases.

House Bill 2624 allows offenders of payment fraud to be prosecuted in any county in which the crime was committed, or in any county in which a victim whose information was stolen resides.

Lastly, House Bill 2625 provides penalties to criminals who are caught with multiple counterfeit cards.

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