House Minority Whip, Rep. Ron Reynolds, wasted no time taking action when the 85th Legislature convened earlier this month.
The Democrat from Missouri City released five press releases recently outlining action he has taken on issues of the minimum wage, racism, officer-involved deaths, the economy and minority representation. They are as follows:
Statement after filing HB 854 (officer-involved injury or death)
“Jordan Baker. Mike Brown. Eric Garner. There are blatant problems with the criminal justice system, and many of you have demanded change. I want change as well. I am proud to announce the filing of House Bill 854, which would require the appointment of a special prosecutor when there is an officer-involved injury or death.
The special prosecutor, appointed by the Attorney General, would be from a different area than that which is served by the officer. Texas needs an independent, impartial, specially appointed prosecutor to handle these most sensitive incidents. Fostering trust in the criminal justice system is a worthy reason to change procedure.
We should not be afraid or reluctant to explore new ways of administering justice. The system may never be perfect, but it is nevertheless worthwhile to strive toward that goal. The intent of HB 854 is to take a positive step toward a better criminal justice system in Texas. Your voices were heard at the rallies, panel discussions, and town halls. This legislation is the next step in the fight. Please urge your representatives to support HB 854, and let us ensure that the lives lost were not in vain.”
Statement on race-motivated incidences
House Minority Whip, Representative Ron Reynolds proudly joined many House and Senate colleagues, along with multiple civil rights organizations to address racially-motivated incidences of harassment and intimidation that have escalated across the country since the November elections of 2016.
Leaders from the African American, Latino, and Asian communities called upon Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Speaker of the House Joe Strauss to address the hateful rhetoric, racial tension, and uncivil political speech that has escalated since the election of President-Elect Trump.
Rep. Reynolds and his colleagues challenged the leaders of the Republican Party to be united in resisting bottom-barrel politics during the 85th legislative session and work together as statesman to address the pressing issues that matter to all Texans, such as public education, healthcare, our economy, jobs, and not the divisive partisan policies of the Tea Party. Rep. Reynolds called about upon Texas legislators to be responsible and accountable in the ongoing fight against racial bullying, inflamed political speech, and fear mongering.
The civil rights organizations also immediately called for a review of the appointments to the Legislative Budget Board. Despite being a Majority-Minority state with 53 percent minority population, Republican leadership has failed to appoint a single minority policymaker to the 10-member board that oversees fiscal recommendations to state agencies and evaluates their performance. The lack of minority representation on such a powerful committee is unacceptable and denies fair representation to all Texans in the operation of their state government.
HB 476 (small business growth)
Rep. Reynolds Pre-filed House Bill 476 (in December) to be considered during the upcoming 85th Legislative session. The bill will require the comptroller and state agencies to give preferences to small businesses when purchasing goods or services with a value less than $500,000.
“I recognize that small businesses are critical to our economic strength and stability of this state, they are the backbone of our economy. This bill will provide crucial opportunities for our small businesses and will ensure that they can continue to expand and thrive”, stated Reynolds.
Small businesses represent 98 percent of all employers and employ 46 percent of the private-sector labor force. Small businesses are crucial to the fiscal condition of the state and numbered 2.3 million. In addition they employ over 4 million people every year.
I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House to move this bill forward so that we can develop good policies that will create more jobs and expand economic prospects for our small business owners”, commented Reynolds.
HB 475 (raising minimum wage)
Rep. Reynolds pre-filed House Bill 475 (in December) to be considered during the upcoming 85th Legislature which would raise the minimum wage in Texas to $15 an hour.
“Raising the minimum wage in Texas to $15 an hour will put more money into the pockets of hard-working Texans and it is a critical step in creating an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few. We need to close the economic gap here in Texas, working work-full time and trying to support a family on less than $15,000 a year is impossible,” stated Reynolds.
Raising the minimum wage in Texas will increase earnings for thousands of workers, and support the local economies where they live, work and spend their earnings. In addition, businesses small and large will recognize that raising the minimum wage will boost morale and increase productivity. Higher wages also sharply reduce employee turnover, which can reduce employment and training costs. The typical minimum wage worker is not a high school student earning weekend pocket money. In fact, 89 percent of those who would benefit from a minimum wage increase are age 20 or older, and 56 percent are women.”
HB 604 (single-member districts for Fort Bend ISD)
Rep. Reynolds pre-filed House Bill 604 (in December) to be considered during the 85th Legislative session. The bill will require that each member of the Fort Bend ISD Board of Trustees be elected in single districts instead of the current at-large system.
“Fort Bend ISD is one of the most diverse in the nation, as well as one of the most culturally diverse in the State of Texas, it is a majority-minority district. The current student population is: African American 32.80 percent, Hispanic 27.22 percent, Asian/Pacific Islander 21.74 percent, white 15.29 percent and American Indian/Alaskan Native .32 percent. However, only two out of seven FBISD trustees is a minority, one African American and one Asian. The members of our school board should be more reflective of the culturally rich diverse make up of our community”, stated Reynolds. “Fort Bend ISD’s antiquated at-large system is no longer beneficial to our students and families.”
FBISD is Texas’ seventh largest with close to 73,000 students. Out of the top eight school districts, only two do not have single member districts, FBISD being one of those. The surrounding school districts like Houston and Lamar Consolidated currently use single-member districts. Moreover, and even more compelling our Fort Bend County state representatives, county commissioners, constables and city council members are all elected from single districts.
“Single-member districts have been a very effective method of affording minority voters an equal opportunity to elect candidates of their choice. Additionally, strengths of single-member districts rest in close ties between representatives and constituents, the accountability of representatives to the voters, and constituency service. We need to move FBISD forward into the future and leave behind this ineffective and antiquated system that is not reflective of our fast growing diverse population”, commented Rep. Reynolds.
Ron Reynolds represents Texas House District 27, which encompasses communities of Fort Bend County. Representative Reynolds currently serves as the Democratic Whip of the Texas House Democratic Caucus, and a member of the House Committees on Elections and Environmental Regulations.