By Bill Spinks

The Midlothian Chamber of Commerce’s month-long virtual Legislative Series added its highest-profile speaker yet last Wednesday: Texas U.S. Senator Ted Cruz.

The second-term Republican junior senator answered questions presented by Ross Weaver, executive vice president of Town Square Title and chair of the Legislative Affairs Committee, in a Q&A session.

Cruz was first elected in 2012 as the state’s junior senator and was reelected to a second term in 2018. In 2016, he ran for the Republican nomination for president, winning contests in 12 states and finishing second. Cruz held a number of governmental positions from 1999 until 2003, when he became Solicitor General of Texas and served in that capacity until 2008.

Cruz opened by addressing two dire crises affecting the U.S. today: the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed hundreds of thousands and sickened millions around the globe and in this country; and the economic slowdown resulting from efforts to fight the virus, resulting in 51 million Americans losing their jobs, Cruz said, the worst since the Great Depression.

"I believe the No. 1 economic priority right now today has to be restarting the economy, getting Texans back to work," Cruz said. "I have been this week engaged in a teletour all across the state of Texas … and there’s a consistency to what you hear from Texans. Texans want to go back to work."

Q: Should Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac be applying an Adverse Market Refinance Fee at a time when economic vibrancy is at risk?

Senator Cruz has taken a stance to ease credit availability to U.S. families and small businesses. The specific policies of Fannie and Freddie need more research and the Senator committed to reviewing the policy closely with his team.

Q: What is the Federal Government doing to help small businesses get back to work?

The CARES Act was passed as Relief Legislation so small businesses and families could survive the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Senator Cruz is now looking forward to the proposed Recovery Act. In the new bill, several policies would be introduced to provide relief from the effects of the pandemic shutdowns:

•Retain reduced regulations

•Suspend payroll tax through the end of the year

•Federal tax credit offered to businesses providing regular COVID-19 testing

•Limit business liability to protect businesses as they reopen

Q: Can small businesses look forward to a solution for rising health insurance costs for their employees?

Senator Cruz believes the answer to rising premiums is offering more options by allowing competition in health insurance options. Cruz has been a vocal advocate for repealing the Obamacare Act. He has succeeded in repealing the individual mandate placed on US Citizens by the Obamacare Act. The senator also advocates legislation for expanded use of HSA to increase accessibility to affordable health care for Americans.

Q: How can Federal Government provide guidance and leadership as we adapt to Distance Learning?

Distance and Virtual learning programs have impacted most Americans, including the Cruz family. Senator Cruz believes the elementary through high school campuses should seek reasonable measures to return to in-person learning. While the COVID-19 virus poses a risk to public health, Cruz also stated the risk mental illness and triggers found in economic downturn paired with social isolation need to be considered.

Q: Will Senate extend the FAST Act?

With a general election in November, the senator does not expect new legislation to be passed before the end of the year. Bipartisan interest does lend to future movement of an infrastructure bill.

Q: How can we handle the next crisis better?

Senator Cruz commended Americans on their innovation and adaptability by using technology more efficiently. Businesses, medical offices, and schools have discovered ways they can use technology to improve programs. He is also seeking to retain the reduction of regulations placed on businesses to permit efficiency and economic freedom.Policy makers vastly underestimated to consequences of a shutdown.

In the future, policy makers can learn to weigh visible and invisible harms that result from decisions made by leaders. Senator Cruz hopes leaders of the US can adopt a broader scope of consideration during a disaster or crisis.

Q: What issue is most important to you?

School Choice. The senator readily answered with his passion for education. Cruz is most proud of proposing the bill amendment expanding 529 savings plan to K-12 education, allowing parents to use a tax advantaged savings account for their child’s education at any level. Senator Cruz has included a tax credit program for donors to scholarships for K-12 education in the current Recovery Bill headed to Senate.

Cruz closed with a message of hope and encouragement. He encouraged his constituents to join together and find unity. The senator thanked the Midlothian community for the leadership provided among each other.

The Legislative Series wrapped up the month of August with outgoing Texas House District 10 Rep. John Wray and the favorite to replace him in Austin in November, Republican nominee Jake Ellzey. Coverage of this webinar will appear in next week’s print edition of the Mirror.

Previous Chamber webinars in August featured Ellis County Judge Todd Little and U.S. Congressman Ron Wright, who represents Texas’ District 6. Each webinar in the Legislative Series will continue to be available for on-demand viewing.