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Texas House, District 89

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    Sameena Karmally (D) Attorney

  • Candidate picture

    Jodie Laubenberg (R) Homemaker/Legislator

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Length of residency in your district:

Occupation/main source of income:

Education (include all degrees):

Highlights of current civic involvement/accomplishment:

Highlights of past civic involvement/accomplishment:

Previous public offices sought or held:

How much funding have you raised for your campaign?

Who are your top three contributors?

Have you ever been arrested or involved in any criminal proceedings? If so, please explain:

Have you ever been involved in any civil lawsuits or declared personal or professional bankruptcy? If so, please explain:

What is an example of how you led a team or group toward achieving an important goal?

What political leader do you most admire and why?

Why are you running for this office?

Why should voters choose you over your opponent?

What are the state's greatest challenges that government can address?

The current two-year budget restored billions of dollars from previous cuts. Are there places where you advocate more spending and, if so, how would you pay for it? Are there areas where you would spend less?

The state’s business climate is considered a jobs magnet. How would you improve on today’s business conditions, regulation or promotion?

Please assess the safety net for Texas' poor and working poor. What changes, if any, would you make?

The 2013 Legislature broke with the recent past and boosted spending on mental health care. What other reforms should lawmakers pursue to address mental health in Texas?

What would you advocate to prevent another disaster like what happened in West?

Texas' "Closing the Gaps in Higher Education" master plan is due for a 2015 update. Are there new directions or initiatives you advocate for the state's colleges and universities?

How will you judge whether the state’s new accountability system is working for public education?

The Legislature may have to contend with another court order to overhaul the system of financing public schools. What is your idea of a better way to support public education in Texas?

If voters approve an extra $1.2 billion a year in highway spending in November, that’s only a fraction of what TxDOT says is needed. How would you bridge that gap to meet the needs of the growing population: taxes, fees, tolls, borrowing, some combination, or none of the above? Please be specific.

An ABA-sponsored, bipartisan review of Texas’ death penalty recommended numerous reforms. What weaknesses or needed improvements would you cite in the administration of the death penalty?

Do you favor open carry for handgun owners in Texas?

Gov. Rick Perry has advocated "decriminalization" of marijuana possession. What changes would you support in prosecution of drug laws in Texas?

Would you vote to place a medical marijuana amendment before Texas voters?

What changes, if any, would you make in Texas’ open records and open meetings laws?

Should the Legislature pass laws that supersede local control over oil and gas drilling?

What, if anything, should the state do to reform laws that govern payday lending?

City/Town Allen, TX
Age 41
Campaign Phone Number (657) 214-1424
I have lived in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex for over 30 years. I was three years old when my family moved to Garland and have lived in Irving, Bedford, and Hurst, Texas. I have lived in the district a little over a year.
Attorney, currently transitioning to a will and estates law practice. I spent seven years practicing corporate law at a large law firm and the last three years as a stay at home mother. My husband works in the IT field and supports our family.
B.S. in Biological Science from the University of Dallas; M.A. in Middle East Studies from UT Austin; J.D. from UT Austin School of Law
In the course of this campaign I will continue to speak out on the issues of funding public education, water planning, fracking, foster care abuse, domestic violence, the environment, and other issues that we all need to be aware of. I personally have been involved in several local voter registration drives, one of which registered/updated 70 voters in one day! I have been a long-time proponent of voter registration and civic engagement in the South Asian community. Through local groups, I participate in raising funds for a local women's shelter and I donate to the Collin County Children's Advocacy Center. While juggling the extra curricular activities of two small children, and running a campaign, we regularly participate in coat drives, food drives, and other activities sponsored by local groups. I am leader of my son's Boy Scouts den. And of course, I manage our household and spend time parenting my children into becoming responsible citizens, which I consider to be an important part of civic involvement!
While practicing corporate law, I volunteered with the Dallas and Fort Worth offices of Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas assisting in family law cases such as divorces and wills. I volunteered with Texas C-Bar incorporating entities and applying for nonprofit status with the IRS. I represented pro bono a low-income tenant in a dispute with a landlord. While I was working full time and before I had children, I volunteered in literacy programs in high-need public schools reading with children. I served for three years on the Library Board of the City of Hurst, Texas and participated at town halls in Hurst. Last year I organized a toy drive and two blood drives. Before that I founded a weekend preschool at a house of worship in Tarrant County.
Approximately $40,000. The average donation size is $150.
Family, friends, and individual supporters have contributed 90% of campaign funds. The remaining 10% are from PACs local to the D/FW area such as Women Organizing Women, a women's democratic club based out of Plano (my largest donor to date).
As a corporate lawyer, I often led teams of attorneys in multiple offices towards the closing of complex multi-million dollar business transactions. Setting clear expectations, leading by example, and making sure people have the resources that they need to complete tasks are they key to team success. In a corporate context, this meant working alongside senior and junior associates, paralegals, and legal secretaries in tasks big and small -- not to micromanage things, but rather to lend a helping hand and ensure that everyone knew what needed to be done, how, and that I knew what each task entailed in terms of time and resource commitment. I believe the best leaders are those willing to work the hardest from the ground level up, rowing alongside the other members of the team, rather than shouting directions from the front.
Benjamin Franklin, who somehow managed to simultaneously champion virtue, religion, science, liberty, community responsibility, and the written word. He was truly a public servant, with a vision of what people could do for the common good if they put the needs of the community ahead of their own private gain. In America, he is credited with the first Hospital, first lending library, first Police Department, first Fire Department, first Insurance Company, two colleges, a philosophical society, an anti-slavery society, a printer's union, and of course his practical body of written work. He also prioritized lighting, cleaning and paving of streets! As someone who embodied the American ideal of a self-made man, who showed his dedication to knowledge by founding universities and newspapers, and who served when needed as Colonel in militia, a member of the Continental Congress, first postmaster, ambassador, governor and more, he's someone whose service and dedication I admire. I don't believe American democracy works unless citizens like him step up to serve others.
Our state government is driven by special interests and has failed to deliver on basic services. My opponent, as state chair of ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, supports privatization in any context, even when the "customers" are Texas children or the elderly. As taxpayers, we are already stuck with private tollroads owned by foreign corporations for years to come. In 2012 we had more than 8,000 overcrowded classrooms in Texas. Our population continues to grow in North Texas and we're running out of water! An aged oil pipeline is about to transport tar sands crude right by Lake Lavon and we are one oil spill away from thousands of North Texans having to rely on trucked in bottled water. The bottom line is, I pay my taxes, and I demand decent public services for my family, my friends, my neighbors, and all the hard working people of Texas.
We must reject a politics of fear and hate and focus on the things that truly matter: our schools, economy, roads, and water. Overcrowded classrooms across the state are completely unacceptable and shortchanging our children's future. There are many problems in Texas where the solutions are known, easy, and cost-effective. West-like chemical explosions are one example of a fixable problem where good governance will save lives. Our broken foster care system is another. My opponent wants to privatize social security and teacher's retirement pay, put religion in schools, put the government in your home and family decisions, pay for state-funded therapy for gays, and the list goes on - I want to restore the Texas that I grew up in and give my children the same opportunities that Texas gave me.
State leadership must restore confidence to the people that government can deliver basic services effectively. We need to take back government from plutocratic special interests and return it to its roots in the people, and its function: meeting their needs. The last legislative session, with its spotlight on regulating abortion at 20 vs 24 weeks instead of addressing the $6-10 billion/year need in transportation funding, speaks volumes about the priorities of current elected officials - including my opponent, who started the whole mess. The impetus to privatize public services is a dangerous one that often results in taxpayers getting stuck with bills that last generations while a large company lines its profits (e.g., toll roads, private prisons, student testing companies). With special interest groups like ALEC offering campaign contributions in one hand and lobbyist-written model bills in the other, is it any wonder that taxpayers feel disconnected from their "elected" representatives?
I would spend less on favors for Rick Perry's friends! Texas lost almost $44 billion in revenue due to tax loopholes and exemptions and last year according to our state comptroller. I would oppose the proposed $3-5 billion/year of capacity subsidies for power companies (that require companies to do nothing other than what the free market already incentivizes them to do - sell electricity to consumers for profit), and other forms of corporate welfare. I would advocate, as most economists do, incremental raises in the minimum wage. I would accept the $80 billion of federal funds that Perry rejected to expand medicaid so our county hospitals can continue to carry out their core mission of saving lives and providing quality health care. I support increased spending on our basics: education (especially pre-K for lower income kids), roads, and water planning. When we invest in the future, families and businesses can thrive and our taxpayer base and economy can keep growing.
Improving our basic services will improve business conditions for all businesses. Texas lags in basic infrastructure and our neglect of schools, roads, and water planning is going to catch up with us as our population here in Collin County continues to boom. We should invest in water desalination projects and encourage cities, businesses and homeowners to xeriscape to save water. We should encourage wind and solar energy investment. Road congestion causes delay and some estimate commuter congestion will cause the economy to suffer $20 billion/year. If we want to compete with other commercial centers on the coasts, then we need to boast that our public schools and other public services are among the best in the nation, and that we will invest and maintain our roads, ports, energy grid and water resources. We need to leverage our success to deliver the people of this state the opportunities they deserve: the best schools, the best roads, the best public universities, the best future for their children.
The best safety net for the poor and working poor is investment in education. Without a change in downward trend of education achievement, our taxpayer base is going to look radically different in 20 years. Education is the single best predictor of socioeconomic success, and we must invest in pre-K education which will set kids on a path to high school graduation and higher education. Now that Texas has fixed its food stamp application process (thanks to a court order), we can improve participation in the federal food stamp program by reaching out to eligible elderly and working poor. Also, I would advocate, as most economists do, structured raises in the minimum wage so that a full time worker does not live a life of poverty. I would support tuition forgiveness for anyone who goes back to school for training as a skilled laborer in an industry where there is a shortage. For example, gulf coast shale operations are projected to need 36,000 more welding and construction workers on oil shale operations by 2016. Finally, we must continue to accept federal funds to feed school children - which my opponent did note vote for!
According to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, if Texas had invested to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, the state could have accessed an additional $80 billion in federal funds for low-income Texans to have insurance. Refusing to expand Medicaid is such a large mistake, it overshadows any other reforms that could or should be made to address the mental health needs in Texas. As Mayor Rawlings said, these are not numbers; these are people. Our state schools that house the mentally disabled are still rife with abuse despite several federal investigations. Texas should allocate the resources needed to comply with the settlement they reached in court with the DOJ in 2009 to adequately remedy the horrific conditions of our state schools. As of last fall not a single school has complied with even a third of the provisions in that settlement. Elected officials, including the Attorney General, and our lawmakers, need to take this court mandate seriously instead of minimizing and ignoring this problem.
I agree with the common-sense reforms outlined in the Morning News "Blueprint for Keeping Communities Safe" published on Dec. 28, 2013. All of the reforms are necessary, some are clearly cost-effective, and will save lives. I would immediately advocate to (1) require county fire codes and expand the State Fire Marshal Office’s inspection authority; (2) require that disclosure reports of hazardous chemicals and fire inspection history should be accessible online, preferably with an online map; and (3) Increase penalties, and enforce those penalties, for lax storage and handling practices; fire inspection violations; failure to disclose chemicals. As a longer term goal, I would require businesses to procure adequate liability insurance and advocate for other agency and intra-agency reforms.
Yes, I would look for ways to encourage STEM participation with an eye to the clean energy jobs and private space programs which will are coming to Texas. To achieve long term goals of increasing student, and especially minority, participation, success, and excellence in higher education, we should invest in pre-K programs for qualifying children. I would support a robust loan forgiveness program for college graduates who pursue studies in fields where there are shortages of skilled labor, such as nursing, construction, clean energy, STEM-related teaching, or students who otherwise commit themselves to further training as a skilled craftsman.
The new categories of "Student Achievement", "Student Progress", "Closing Performance Gaps" and "Postsecondary Readiness" are confusing and not intuitive for parents. In addition, English language learners are now included, PSAT scores will be accepted, but excluded from school's scores, and the system includes a combination of state and local ratings. Sometimes too much information is unhelpful and in this case, I think these indices will be unhelpful to parents, but is surely keeping dozens of administrators gainfully employed. This was not a change sought by parents and will not be helpful to parents. The sooner we return to the old ratings, a snapshot of student test scores, the better. Exemplary, Recognized, Academically Acceptable or Academically Unacceptable were easy for parents to understand and simplistic enough that parents could take those labels with a grain of salt.
The state must act to end property tax discounts for commercial developers. Residential taxpayers are shouldering more than their fair share of the property tax load. The idea that Texas sits on oceans of natural resources and cannot find money to finance public education is absurd. Instead of subsidizing oil and gas companies record profits year after year, Texas should increase the tax on oil and gas profits that originate in Texas. Ultimately, we need to change the funding formula so that the budget for schools can meet the expanding population and increased costs. The budget for schools cannot be cut as a cost-saving measure to balance the state budget - it's just too important for our future.
Rather than issue bonds and go into debt, or build more toll roads which merely defer and expand the "tax" over generations, a small incremental increase in the gasoline tax is essential to provide for the maintenance of our roads that will accommodate the population growth. With the current rhetoric that all government spending, and all government functions, is wasteful, increasing the gas tax is an obvious solution that will require a modicum of political will on the part of politicians and some amount of confidence in the state government. In combination, I would support state-run toll roads that would fund improvements on an ongoing basis if voters approve and if the tolls have a clear expiration and cannot be auctioned off to a third party. If an increase in the gasoline tax encourages people to use less gas by using public transportation, consolidating errands, carpooling, choosing hybrid vehicles, that's a double win.
I support abolition of the death penalty. Even if one overlooks the moral implications of state-mandated taking of life - and that every person has a constitutional right to life - the current means and methods belie so many weaknesses as to make implementation of the death penalty patently unjust in Texas. We have executed the mentally ill, many of whom had sought long term treatment and were denied. Independent investigations suggest we have even executed the innocent. The means of execution are far from merciful. Pursuit of the death penalty by prosecutors costs more than life imprisonment, making the entire process fiscally irresponsible - those funds (millions of dollars) could be applied towards actual crime prevention.
As a mother who had to send her kindergartner to school the day after Sandy Hook, I support common sense gun regulation. Universal background checks on ALL gun sales should be the law. I fervently hope that responsible gun owners will lead the way in changing the current gun culture of intimidation, bravado, and carelessness that has taken hold. Just as we test physical and mental fitness before allowing someone control of a motor vehicle, so we should periodically asses the mental fitness of those who own guns and enforce strict penalties for failing to store guns safely around children. Until this happens, and until we find a way to curb the current epidemic of gun violence, I oppose open carry. I have no objection to the current concealed handgun laws.
Jail time for minor drug possession is not an effective use of tax dollars. Small amounts of marijuana possession accounts for over half of the drug arrests in Texas. The penalty should be reduced to a Class C misdemeanor (fine). With the money saved, I would prefer to see an emphasis on rehabilitation, treatment for substance abuse, and transitioning people from their existing circumstances into a new setting that promotes legitimate employment.
Yes. Marijuana can benefit people under a doctor's care and should be considered and regulated like other useful medical treatments.
The laws are sufficient. Lax compliance with the law is an issue. In Collin County, a quorum of County Commissioners met with Ted Cruz earlier this year and discussed county business in violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act. To date, there has been no consequence for this violation. Stricter penalties and stricter enforcement are needed. Isn't it a bit sad that we have been electing representatives we trust so little that we feel the need to discuss the creation and enforcement of new laws to help citizens "police" how they perform their jobs? We need to restore good government that the people trust, and I intend to earn that trust.
One important state action should be to legislate against the common law doctrine of the rule of capture. Oil and gas companies should not be allowed to drain Texas groundwater dry just because they have the biggest pumps. Oil and gas companies should be subject to the authority of local water conservation districts - they are currently exempt. Secondly, the state should take action to regulate fracking under a similar rubric to the Clean Water Act of 2005. Overall, I support the right of cities to restrict fracking and other heavy operations within their borders, as Dallas did at the end of 2013.
Payday lending in Texas is out of control. We have the industry policing itself through the state government via millions of dollars in campaign contributions and appointed officials who are straight from the industry - outrageous! Many of the resolutions adopted by major cities in Texas should be adopted at the state level. For example, Dallas limits the number of times a loan can be refinanced, requires that payments be applied to pay down the loan's principal, and that loan amounts should be based on a borrower's capacity to repay. Penalties should be harsh for failure to comply with state regulations on required disclosures, information postings, and product restrictions. However, the state should not preempt city ordinances, as many cities have taken action to present their citizens and should be free to act in the future in light of a legislature under the thumb of the industry. For hard working Texans, payday loans should be a convenience to help them pay their bills on time, not a crushing debt that eviscerates their savings. This is a prime example where the Republicans have prioritized private profits over the needs of working Texans.
Address P.O. Box 1154
City/Town Wylie, TX 75098
Age 60
Campaign Phone Number (214) 537-5275
18 years
Spouse - Software Developer
The University of Texas at Austin - BA Liberal Arts, 1980
Currently serving as State Representative.
Collin County Park Board - assisted in the promotion and passing of the bond initiative for Open Space/Park and Trail plan. Parker City Council, Farmersville Rotary, Wylie Chamber, Allen-Fairview Chamber, Murphy Chamber
Parker City Council, Republican State Executive Committee.
Approx. $350,000
All my reports are available on-line. I am not sure who the top three contributors would be over the close to 12 years I have been in office.
I recently authored the Women's Health and Fetal Pain Protection bill - HB2 (83rd Special.) I led the floor debate and passage of landmark legislation to raise the standards for abortion clinics and to restrict abortions after 5 months with certain exceptions.
Margaret Thatcher - She was a strong woman who led her country back to strength and influence in world affairs. She was brilliant yet down to earth, relating to her constituency. Like her counterpart, Ronald Reagan, she had a sharp wit and a wonderful sense of humor, in spite of the vilification from her very vocal enemies. She was a great leader and a true role model for women in politics.
I am a strong supporter of the free market. Government is squeezing small businesses through taxes and massive regulations. I am running for office to slow down and even stop the government encroachment. I am both socially and fiscally conservative. The district I represent does not want a micro-managing government. It is a district of families, entrepreneurs and very independent individuals. I believe I offer a fair and balanced representation for this district.
I have a proven record of supporting my district on issues of education, transportation, water and many other local issues. I work closely with my school, city and county officials. My reputation for being accessible and getting resolution is well known throughout my district. I have also helped countless individual constituents resolve issues with state bureaucracies. I have a good working relationship with my legislative colleagues in both political parties. It is important to have a representative who knows the district and constituency. Again, my record has consistently supported the Texas model of low taxes, limited government spending and predictable and stable government regulation. I am the most qualified choice in this race.
Border Security - stepping in where the current federal administration fails. Education - assuring every student has equal opportunity to learn and reach his/her education goal. Water - mediating and mitigating the needs of growth areas with areas of high water supply. Transportation - keeping up with the growth of the "Texas Success" model. Healthcare - balancing the safety net for the neediest without becoming the single provider of health services. Economy - keeping Texas a job creation leader.
My first session in 2003, the legislature passed a budget of $114.7 billion. Last session, 2013, the legislature passed a budget over $214 billion. The issue is how should we prioritize spending as opposed to increase spending.
Get rid of the small business job-killing Margins Tax.
Medicaid. Health Insurance Premium Payment Program. CHIP. TANF. SNAP. Texas Women's Health Programs. CHIP Perinatal. Nurse Family Partnership Program. Texas Workforce Commission Job Training Programs. Mortgage Payment Assistance. Credit Counseling and Consumer Credit Counseling Services. Weatherization Program. Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program. These are only some of the many programs available to the poor and working poor administered either by state or local government agencies. My office has assisted many individuals who have needed help and guidance in this area. However, the best safety net is a good education that enables the individual to pursue a job that will bring independence from government.
Having cared for a mentally ill family member for 10 plus years, I know the seriousness and sadness of this issue. The legislature increased mental health funding last session by more than $280 million and I want to see results of how people are actually being helped.
More government regulation is not always the answer.
I like the Governor's initiative/challenge for colleges to offer a $10,000 degree plan to students. Collin College began a successful dual enrollment program with several top universities to provide an affordable alternative for students pursuing a higher education. Both of these ideas did not need legislation. I have confidence the colleges and universities will continue to develop innovative plans to help more students achieve their goals without excessive debt upon graduation.
Graduation improvement with the graduate accomplishing his/her goal of achieving a vocation or college degree and all entering the work force as a productive citizen.
There will always be fighting over school financing. Robin Hood redistribution did not fix the financing issue, the Lottery did not fix the issue, perhaps money alone is not the problem or the solution. Parents whose children are in consistently failing schools need options.
Use the transportation fund only for road construction and maintenance.....the purpose for which it was originally intended.
The death penalty is needed for heinous crimes against innocent victims. Better use of modern technology and science in identifying the guilt or innocence of the accused will improve the administration of this most serious sentence.
No changes.
Require that the person requesting the records is a resident of Texas.
Oil and gas production are the backbone of the state's economy. City government is a creation by state government (which is constitutionally created), and therefore should work with the legislature in managing the regulation of this important industry. We should work together to help Texas lead the nation in energy independence from unreliable foreign oil.
The legislature passed extensive legislation regulating the payday industry in 2011. Many of the regulations are just taking effect. It is important to see how the new regs are affecting the borrowing consumer.