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Texas This Week: Annie "Mamá" Garcia, candidate for U.S. Senate

Annie Garcia is a small business owner and the founder of the nonprofit OpHeart, which supports children born with life-threatening heart defects.

AUSTIN, Texas — 2020 is set to be an exciting year in politics. Here are three things you need to know from the first week: 

Three things to know in Texas politics

Dozens of new Texas laws went into effect on Jan. 1, ranging from decreasing the rate cities and counties can increase property taxes without voter approval to putting an end to surprise medical bills to changing prize rules for bingo games. 

RELATED: List: New Texas laws going into effect Jan. 1, 2020

A Texas law is once again under scrutiny. On Thursday, a Texas judge ruled a hospital in Fort Worth can stop providing life-sustaining care to 11-month-old Tinslee Lewis under the state's 10-Day Rule. The law basically states that when doctors believe they are doing more harm than good by keeping a patient alive, they can get the hospital board's approval to stop care. Patients or their families then have 10 days to find a different facility to admit them. If they can't, the hospital can stop giving a life-sustaining treatment on day 11.

On Friday, the Fort Worth Court of Appeals granted Tinslee emergency relief, preventing Cooks Children Hospital from removing her from life support.


Court of appeals grants emergency relief for baby Tinslee

Tinslee Lewis: The Texas '10-day rule' explained

The lone Texan in the Democratic race for president has dropped out. Former HUD Secretary Julian Castro suspended his campaign Thursday. That leaves 14 Democrats vying for the party's nomination.

RELATED: Julián Castro ends presidential campaign

Annie Garcia, candidate for U.S. Senate

The number of Democrats running for president may be decreasing but that's not the case in the race to challenge Republican U.S. Senator John Cornyn. There are 12 Democrats in that race – including Annie Garcia, a small business owner and the founder of the nonprofit OpHeart, which supports children born with life-threatening heart defects. 

Ashley Goudeau sat down with Garcia to discuss her campaign.

Ashley Goudeau: For our viewers who may not be as familiar with your campaign, tell us a little bit about yourself and why you're running for the U.S. Senate.

Annie Garcia: "Well, so, my name is Annie Garcia and I was actually raised up the road in Georgetown, Texas. I went to Rice University and then I came back to town to get my JD at the UT Law. I live in Houston now. I have two small businesses and a small nonprofit organization.

But I also wanted to say that I lived in Ecuador for two years and in Spain for four months. I like to tell people that [it’s] only thanks to a Texas public school education can I ask for your vote in English, Spanish and German. As to why I am running, it's a great question. I've never run for anything before. And I think it comes down to really three points for me. One is that I'm just fed up. I'm fed up with how hard it is for people to live in this country, and it's only getting worse. And I'm fed up with politicians that say they're going to fight for us but then there's no action taken. I also feel like we're running out of time. It would have been nice to have a nice, long resume of political achievements but the reality is that our planet is literally on fire and when we have elected officials that can go on Fox News and say that our president deserves a third term because of the crimes he's committed in office, we're in serious trouble. So, I feel an incredible sense of urgency in the moment that we're in. And then, finally, I would say, as a Texas Democrat, I'm pretty tired of losing and I know that we can regain John Cornyn's seat. And not only that, we can get our Democratic presidential candidate, the electoral college votes, we can take back our Texas House. It's an incredibly important race but we have to have the right candidate and I didn't see that. I didn't see anybody that had the political courage, the moral integrity or the work ethic, frankly, to inspire people again in how good government can be. So I entered the race."

Goudeau: Besides the obvious differences of you being a Democrat and Sen. John Cornyn being a Republican, what is it about him in particular that made you want to challenge him for this seat at this time?

Garcia: "Well, I feel the urgency of where we are now. It's not just his seat, it's what happens in our Senate. It's what happens in our state. And John Cornyn is – he carries the water for this administration. Name one thing that he has done that has helped Texans. We are separating children from their families at the border, we are losing children. We have children in our custody that are dying and our public education system has taken a huge hit. Where has he been for Texans?"

RELATED: The Last Word: Include civic responsibility in your New Year's resolutions

Goudeau: Let's talk about some of the issues that really impact folks right here in Texas. Perhaps the biggest issue, the thing on the forefront, is healthcare. We have the largest number, the largest rate of folks who don't have health insurance – both adults and children – in the entire country. How can we begin, in your opinion, to address healthcare and access to healthcare?

Garcia: "Well, so, I have a personal story about this. My daughter was born with an undiagnosed heart defect. At six weeks old, we took her into the emergency room, she was barely breathing and she ultimately would be diagnosed with this heart defect. She ended up having two open-heart surgeries and was in the ICU for 12 weeks. We didn't have insurance, but we were in Spain. So we didn't need health insurance. She got $1.5 million of treatment and, had that happen in the United States, even with insurance, co-insurance, it would have been a $200,000 bill for us. That would have broken our family, financially. And it's not just the lack of coverage – 25%  of Americans don't have adequate coverage – it's also that 65% of personal bankruptcies are due to medical bills. And if you can get in the hospital, up to 400,000 people die due to medical error – 400,000. Our system is expensive, it doesn't cover everybody and it's not very good. And so, we need a system that looks like Spain. We need a system where every person never hesitates to take their child into the ER because they're worried about how much that bill is going to be."

Goudeau: Another issue that we, unfortunately, are faced with – and just recently are faced with – are acts of mass violence. We just had an act happen in White Settlement, we recently saw what happened in El Paso, what happened in Midland-Odessa. When we have these types of incidents happen, the conversation generally turns to guns and what can be done about guns. What are your thoughts there?

Garcia: "I worry about how we have allowed the right to bear arms, this interpretation of the Second Amendment, to override every American's right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That is what we are sacrificing. It makes no sense that in this country we lose 40,000 people every year to gun violence. We are such an outlier in comparison to any other country in the world almost, except for Brazil. Any other country, any other industrialized country, we lose more people in this United States in one week, in one week, than what they lose in a whole year. This is because of the proliferation of guns, and that's what we need to focus on. And absolutely yes to all the low-hanging fruit – we need to close the loophole on private gun sales, we need to do background checks, we need to take weapons of war off of the streets – but we have to be smarter and more clever. We require drivers to have liability insurance, we should require gun owners to carry that same liability insurance. Insurance companies’ entire business model is assessing risk. And we need to stop going and putting that cost onto society and instead make gun owners responsible for their own liability insurance."

WATCH: The Last Word: Include civic responsibility in your New Year's resolutions


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