Interview with Rep. Ken Legler of the Hispanic Republican Conference (VIDEO)
by Adryana Aldeen on May 5, 2011 at 12:51 PM
Update: State Rep. Ken Legler passed away Friday, June 1st. TexasGOPVote would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and share this interview in his memory.
The following interview with Texas State Representative Ken Legler is one of a series of interviews conducted by VOCES Action and TexasGOPVote with members of the Hispanic Republican Conference in the 82nd session of the Texas Legislature. Rep. Legler is a member of the Texas House of Representatives representing District 144, which includes parts of Houston, Pasadena, and Pearland.
Rep. Legler took some time from his busy day on the House floor to do this interview. He told us why he believes Hispanics are an important voting block in Texas. He also explained how Texas is the largest natural gas producing state, and if the Democrats stepped aside, Texas and the rest of the U.S. would be energy independent. Rep. Legler is a member of the Environmental Regulation Committee and the Pensions, Investments & Financial Services Committee.
The Hispanic Republican Conference has been growing. Originally it was formed by the House’s five Hispanic Republicans but has since been joined by other State Representatives whose districts have at least 30% Hispanic constituents. The Hispanic Republican Conference will be addressing some issues that have been controversial in parts of the state with large Hispanic populations.
Hispanics make up 36% of the Texas population and this percentage is growing. Hispanics share Republican conservative values of fiscal responsibility, faith, hard work, family values, and are pro-life. VOCES Action has been educating and empowering Americans with Hispanic backgrounds, and who hold conservative values, to make more responsible and informed voting decisions.
TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW:
Adryana Boyne: Hello, we are with Representative Ken Legler from the Texas House, and we're in the middle of session, so Mr. Legler has allowed us to interrupt him for a little bit so we can do this interview. Thank you very much, Mr. Legler.
Ken Legler: You're welcome, Adryana.
Adryana Boyne: I would like to first of all ask you why you are a conservative?
Ken Legler: Well that is my philosophical view, that's how I grew up. I think the majority of Americans, when they really come down to it, they are conservatives. They believe in being self-reliant. Now being self-reliant doesn't mean you don't help your neighbor, it means you help yourself, you want to do everything on your own. You want to see the achievement. When you have your own self worth, that is America, and that's what America is about.
Adryana Boyne: You joined the Hispanic Republican Conference here in the Texas House of Representatives. Can you tell me why you chose to do that?
Ken Legler: Definitely. One of the reasons is, in my district, right now the population is 57% Hispanic, so I am definitely what they call a major minority, if you want to call it a minority. I consider us all conservatives basically, but yeah 57% minority on the Hispanic side. When you add it up, if you count the African Americans, that's 70%, I'm a 70% minority district.
Adryana Boyne: Now you know that most Democrats are telling the people that Hispanics should be Democrats, can you tell me why you disagree with that?
Ken Legler: They are wishful thinking. One of the reasons I'm going to disagree with that, when I walk the neighborhoods, I walked in my first race 8,000 houses, and in my second race 7,000 houses, knocking on doors, and my district is 57% Hispanic, so I knocked on a majority of Hispanic doors. Everybody agrees with the same thing, it doesn't matter if you're Hispanic, or it doesn't matter if you're African American or Asian or Anglo or whatever you want to call yourself, they're worried about certain things, less government interference, less taxes, let me be responsible for myself, and so that's the reason why I joined because I want them to know that just because you say you are Hispanic, you have a Hispanic surname does not mean that you cannot be conservative. I believe when it comes out to that point, they're going to say yes, I am a conservative, and if you are conservative that means you're Republican Party, then it's the Republican Party. That's the way I think you vote, in fact, that's the way I was voting. With being that large of a district, I could not have won my race with over 20 points, and I was running against a Spanish surname in my district, so if that doesn't tell you that if you have a Spanish surname you can be a Republican, then I don't know what does. My last figures I have here was in my district, one good thing, for Spanish surnames, voter output was 31.5% in my district compared to 21.6% in the state, so I actually had a 10% higher voter turnout by Spanish surnames than the state did, and if you put that overall in my district, I was about 1 point below the average of the voters, so definitely, if it wasn't for the Spanish surnames voting, I could not have won the race, especially by over 20 points.
Adryana Boyne: Well that is wonderful. This is something important that the people can know that they can identify with the values because we're talking about the values that we hold, not playing the race card, like you said, you were really running against someone with a Spanish surname, that is important.
Now, I know that you are very involved, but certainly, you are involved with certain committees that you have been assigned. Can you tell me about those committees that you are involved in, and tell me just a little about what you are doing one those?
Ken Legler: Correct. One of the committees, this is my second time serving on this committee, is the Environmental Regulations Committee, very important, it creates jobs, it created our health basically. That committee oversees Texas Environmental Quality Commission, which most people don't realize is the second largest environmental agency in the world, EPA is number one, Texas is number two, and that means we're larger than China, Germany, France, India, Brazil, any of these countries. We have the second largest environmental protection agency in the world and that's what we do in Texas, we oversee that, and we're doing a very good job of that. The air is cleaner now, the water is cleaner now, the waste is more manageable because we in Texas know what takes Texas to succeed.
Adryana Boyne: Mr. Legler, is the Environmental Regulations Committee addressing the overreach of the federal government and the EPA into Texas industries and environmental matters?
Ken Legler: Yes, we are very interested, and we're trying to do something about that. We are trying to bring in the division region 6 administrators and ask him questions. Unfortunately, he doesn't show up all the time. We actually are passing some rules that are stating that we will follow what is best for Texas, and a special part of that is greenhouse gas. We're making a statement that greenhouse gas is voodoo science in a way because it has not been proven, and greenhouse gas can just devastate our economy, devastate our jobs if the EPA follows through, so we are passing rules and laws. We're trying to pass an act that says greenhouse gases are a voodoo science, let us make sure we use real science and what we have been doing to continue cleaning our environment.
Adryana Boyne: The oil and natural gas resources on U.S. territory will lead to U.S. jobs and energy independence, yet Democrats and environmentalists are dead set on preventing this. How can we move forward with developing these resources in Texas, Mr. Legler?
Ken Legler: In Texas, we're doing a very good job, we have the Barnett Shale area, and we have the shale and natural gas and oil down by the border, outside of San Antonio, which will make us probably one of the largest states with natural gas protection, so in the state of Texas, we're doing a very good job. Unfortunately, offshore, which a lot of jobs in the Houston area and along the coast rely on it. We were talking about drilling platforms and drilling bids and all the rest, the federal governments been stopped by it, which hurts our jobs. Why they think we shouldn't drill off the Gulf of Mexico, off the Atlantic Coast, off the Pacific Coast, or in Alaska and become self-sufficient and not have to worry about places like Libya anymore, well you can always worry about it, but you don't have to become involved in them, or even Iraq or Iran or Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, we could become self-sufficient in our energy. I do not understand, I have no clue why the Democrats keep fighting it. I don't understand one part of that. I don't know if it's just because they want to fight us, the Republicans, or if they really believe in it, which worries me more than if they just are trying to fight us because if they are really trying to believe in that, they're trying to make us a second nation to other countries, then where we should be and we have energy with coal, gas, nuclear to be self-sufficient, and not only that, we have algae, new energy come out from algae, wind and solar, Texas is the largest wind producers, electricity in the nation. We can by self-sufficient in our country, and we can be a very, very strong country, and those type of jobs, they're jobs that create other jobs. In other words, that industry creates jobs. We are almost at the point where we have enough natural gas, where we can actually export natural gas to Europe. We have enough coal where we can export coal to China. Wouldn't that be great sending things to China instead of bringing it in.
What the Pensions, Investments & Financial Services Committee does, it oversees banks, state banks, state credit unions, actually you'll receive perpetuated care and cemeteries. One of the big highs that we have also seen is the cash pay day, cash title loans, we're going to set standards for them, they follow under certain guidelines, but we're not going to take them out because people rely on them for a lot of issues, we're not going to take them away, but we are going to put guidelines on them. The other part is the retirement system, which you could teach retirement system, state employment system, municipality police, we oversee that to make sure the retirement system is a good financial. This was my first year on that committee. It's very interesting, and I learned a lot about this one.
Adryana Boyne: That's wonderful. Well, thank you very much. First of all, I want to say thank you for serving your district, but also, thank you for serving all the state of Texas.
Ken Legler: It is my pleasure Adryana. Thank you very much.