AUSTIN, Texas – At a Rio Grande Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting two weeks ago, state Rep. Terry Canales gave an oral report on how the 88th Legislature went.
The Edinburg Democrat has followed this up with a written report that he has sent to constituents. He says it was his best ever legislative session, passing 26 individuals pieces of legislation into law. He said these bills address crucial issues that affect the lives of everyday Texans.
Canales chairs the House Committee on Transportation. It is logical, therefore, that many of his legislative successes were transportation-related.
“As a Texas state legislator, I am honored to serve my constituents and work towards a better future for our great state. Each bill that my office passed addresses critical issues that affect our lives such as transportation infrastructure, future water supplies, open government, and public safety,” Canales said.
“These bills are not just numbers on a sheet of paper; they represent positive changes that will directly benefit the lives of Texans across the state. The Rio Grande Valley also was very successful in fighting for its share of the budget. The success of our community in the recent legislative session is a testament to the experience and skills of our delegation and community leaders.”
Here are key initiatives Canales worked on:
Transparency and Open Government
House Bill 3444 will require more local governments (cities, counties, school districts, water districts, and more) to post their meeting agendas online. This important step toward greater transparency will empower our communities and ensure citizens can more easily find information on the actions of their local governments.
House Bill 2135 was amended onto HB 3033 by Landgraf. This language closes a loophole used by local governments to slow down the release of public information through a Public Information Act request. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, some governments refused to respond to TPIA requests if their physical offices were closed, even if the staff was working remotely. The amendment closes this loophole and will ensure that reporters and the public can more quickly get information from our government.
During the recent legislative session, Texas House Transportation Chairman Terry Canales worked to extend two of our largest transportation funding tools which together make up over 40% of Texas’s transportation funding and will help ensure that our transportation system keeps pace with the demands of our growing population and economy. HB 2230 and SCR 2 demonstrate our state’s commitment to the ongoing improvement and expansion of our transportation infrastructure, ensuring that future generations can enjoy a reliable and efficient system that helps our communities thrive.
House Bill 2230 extends Proposition 1 which dedicates a portion of existing oil and gas production taxes to Texas transportation projects.
Senate Concurrent Resolution 2 extends Proposition 7 which dedicates portions of existing sales taxes, and motor vehicle sales and rental taxes for Texas transportation projects.
HB 5373 will help Hidalgo County Drainage District No. 1 create the first new drinking water supply source in the Rio Grande Valley in decades. Hidalgo County has seen an increase in major rain events and their intensities which has resulted in significant property damage and a heavy toll on our residents. As part of this bolstered focus on drainage, the County is focused on major drainage projects including the creation of the Delta Reservoir just northeast of Monte Alto. The reservoir will aid with flood water detention but also serve as the creation of the Rio Grande Valley’s first new potable water source in decades. Just this past summer, South Texas was on the verge of a major crisis due to drought and record-breaking heat.
HB 5373 gives Hidalgo County Drainage District No. 1 the authority to fund, construct, operate, and maintain water reclamation and treatment facilities to convert local floodwaters into a drinking water supply. This bill was necessary to allow the District to reclaim flood waters and apply them to higher beneficial use by treating them to potable water standards.
House Bill 1556 reauthorizes the Texas Water Development Board, an agency that has over the past 20 years provided almost $4 billion in financial assistance to South Texas communities for water supply, water and wastewater treatment, flood control, and agricultural water conservation projects.
Public Safety and Protecting Our First Responders
House Bill 2314 makes it easier for the families of first responders who lose their loved ones in the line of duty to claim their loved ones’ death benefits. The current process is burdensome and because of that, some families have not received the benefits they are owed.
House Bill 3555 amends the state’s Labor Code to add workers comp coverage for peace officers who sustain serious injuries when traveling to an emergency call, coverage that only currently applies to firefighters and EMS.
Senate Bill 2376 creates a new “Support Adoption” License Plate and allows Texans to make a donation to support Texas adoption when they renew their Driver’s License. We have thousands and thousands of kids in Texas right now who are waiting to be adopted. We have to do more to support the children and families who are looking to adopt.
Local Budget Highlights
- The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley is slated to receive $290,376,440 in funding through the General Appropriations Act while the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine saw their appropriations increase by nearly 20% to $88,803,241 for the biennium.
- The top highlight at UTRGV was $12 million over the next biennium for the new School of Podiatric Medicine at the UTRGV School of Medicine. The first cohort started classes on August 1, 2022. The 2nd cohort will start on July 31, 2023.
- $25 million for a new A&M University System Health Science Center building in Hidalgo County
- $120 million to build a new 50-bed mental health state hospital in the Rio Grande Valley
- $85 million for the construction of inpatient mental health facilities with up to 100-bed capacity
- $20 million for the purpose of funding improvements to the Pharr International Bridge. The 20 million helps close a funding gap that will essentially double the capacity of the Pharr International Bridge, decreasing wait times and attracting more businesses to the Rio Grande Valley.
- $10 million to help extend the runway at South Texas International Airport in Edinburg
- $5 million for hangar extension at Mid-Valley Airport in Weslaco
Canales is also a member of the Sunset Advisory Commission. The 11-term House member represents District 40 in Hidalgo County, which includes portions or all of Edinburg, Elsa, Faysville, La Blanca, Linn, Lópezville, McAllen, Pharr and Weslaco.
Editor’s Note: State Rep. Terry Canales can be reached at his House District Office in Edinburg at (956) 383-0860 or at the Capitol at (512) 463-0426.
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