AUSTIN, March 13 - The first non-emergency bill to be considered by the full Texas House of Representatives will be the one to create a new university in South Texas, say Rio Grande Valley lawmakers.
House Bill 1000 will be heard next Tuesday, March 19.
The legislation not only creates a new university but also a four-year medical school, by merging UT-Pan American, UT-Brownsville, and the Regional Academic Health Center.
State Rep. Eddie Lucio, III, is vice chairman of the House Calendars Committee. He and his colleagues set the calendar for the legislation. “We reached quick consensus in committee that this bill was deserving to be the first non-emergency bill heard on the House Floor,” Lucio said. “It has great significance for what we are doing as a state to improve the Texas economy and create new opportunities for our students.”
Lucio said currently, 133 of the 150 House members have signed on as co-authors or joint authors of HB 1000. He said this shows “energetic support.” He also pointed out that in order for the new university to access the Permanent University Fund, a wealthy endowment created by leasing land in West Texas for oil and gas production, the legislation requires a two-thirds vote in the House and the Senate.
The primary author of HB 1000 is state Rep. René Oliveira, the dean of the Rio Grande Valley’s legislative delegation. The joint authors are Reps. Bobby Guerra, D-McAllen, Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, Oscar Longoria, D-La Joya, and Dan Branch, R-Highland Park. Branch chairs the House Higher Education Committee. The co-authors include Reps. Lucio, Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City, Armando ‘Mando’ Martinez, D-Weslaco, and Sergio Muñoz, D-Mission.
“The entire Valley delegation has worked hard to move the new university concept forward so quickly. It's been one based on communication, teamwork and a regional vision,” said Oliveira, D-Brownsville. “We have also received great support from joint author Dan Branch and other Republican House leaders. We're doing a good thing, and we're doing the right thing.”