McALLEN, RGV – State Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa will be sworn in as the Texas Senate’s president pro tempore when the 84th Legislative Session begins next Tuesday.
Under Senate Rules, at the beginning of each legislative session, the Senate can elect one of its members as president pro tempore. The president pro tempore performs the duties of lieutenant governor when the lieutenant governor is absent. The new lieutenant governor will be current state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston.
After being nominated by his colleagues, Hinojosa will, according to his office, deliver an acceptance speech which will include “his lessons of life and public service.”
The last legislator from the Rio Grande Valley to serve as president pro tempore was state Sen. Eduardo ‘Eddie’ Lucio, Jr., in 2003. For one day during his or her stint as president pro tempore, a state senator is made Governor of the Day. On this day the governor and lieutenant governor are out of the state. Lucio was Governor of the Day on April 26, 2003.
A Democrat from McAllen, Hinojosa represents the counties of Nueces, Jim Wells, Brooks, and Hidalgo (part) and serves as chairman of the Senate Committee on Intergovernmental Relations and vice-chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance. He is also a member of the Senate Committees on Natural Resources; Criminal Justice; Agriculture, Rural Affairs and Homeland Security as well as the Legislative Budget Board (LBB) and the Sunset Advisory Commission. He was first elected to the Texas Senate in 2001.
Here is Hinojosa’s official biography:
State Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa proudly represents the people of District 20. Born in McAllen, Texas, in Hidalgo County, Hinojosa is the eldest of eight children. He attended Mission ISD schools as a child and worked as a farm worker during his teen years. He led the Mission Eagles football team as their quarterback, and after graduating, Hinojosa volunteered to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps.
In Vietnam, Hinojosa served his country with distinction from 1966 to 1968 before returning home to continue his education. Hinojosa graduated with honors from the University of Texas-Pan American with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He completed his legal studies at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
After returning to South Texas, Hinojosa served as staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society of Nueces County and later as an Assistant Attorney General for the Texas Attorney General. In 1980, Hinojosa began his own private practice in McAllen, where he continues to represent clients in both civil and criminal matters.
Hinojosa was first elected into office in 1981, serving in the Texas House until 1990 and again from 1997 to 2002. During his tenure in the Texas House, Hinojosa passed landmark legislation, such as the establishment of the Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC) which promotes physician training on the Texas/Mexico Border. As the Chairman of Criminal Jurisprudence, Senator Hinojosa sponsored the Texas Fair Defense Act, reforming procedures for providing court-appointed defense counsel to indigent defendants, and carried DNA legislation that has resulted in freeing many wrongly convicted citizens.
Since his election to the Texas Senate in 2002, Hinojosa has secured more than $100 million for new construction at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and at the University of Texas-Pan American. Senator Hinojosa’s efforts have brought millions in funding to support the economic growth of Senate District 20, composed of Brooks, Hidalgo, Jim Wells, and Nueces Counties.
During the 2011 Legislative Session, Hinojosa authored SB 975, the Statewide Dropout Recovery Bill, offering a better future to our younger generations in Texas. He has been a leader in making state government more efficient by serving as the only South Texas member of the Sunset Advisory Commission from 2008-2011. He carried sunset legislation for high profile agencies such as TxDOT, DPS, and the Texas Water Development Board. Hinojosa has championed legislation to rein in rising university tuition costs, has worked with a bipartisan group of legislators to allocate more than $120 million for border security, and to honor our Veterans, he passed legislation to create a monument to Vietnam Veterans on the State Capitol grounds.
During the 2013 Legislative Session, Hinojosa authored SB 24, historic legislation that will merge UT-Pan American and UT-Brownsville and create a free standing medical school in South Texas. The expansion of educational opportunities will create greater access to healthcare and will be a great boost to the South Texas economy. The educational and healthcare opportunities are endless and will serve the unique and critical needs of South Texas as well as for all Texans for decades to come. Senator Hinojosa also secured critical funding for the Corpus Christi Bay Harbor Bridge Replacement project and passed legislation to allow South Texas communities and hospitals to draw down millions of federal matching funds to expand and invest in their healthcare infrastructure and to reimburse hospitals for indigent care through a federal 1115 Healthcare Transformation Waiver.
Senator Hinojosa was named “Top Ten Best Legislators” for 2013 by Texas Monthly magazine, making it his third time to receive the prestigious honor. He was named “Top Ten Legislator for 2013” by Capitol Inside for the third time as well.
Hinojosa has received a number of awards for his public service during his more than 20 years as an elected representative of South Texas. In 2012 Senator Hinojosa was honored to receive the CHRISTUS Health Eagle Award for his outstanding legislative leadership and strong commitment to healthcare issues and the 2012 “Border Texan of the Year” for his great contributions to the lives and well-being of residents along the border and his tireless dedication to bringing economic and educational benefits to the Coastal Bend area and South Texas. In 2011 he received the “Big Voices for Little Texans Award” from CASA, was recognized with the National Award/State Alliance Champion Award by the Boys & Girls Club, and the National Organization of Women has named him their “Legislator of the Year.” In 2005, he received the John Henry Faulk Award from the American Civil Liberties Union, and has also been a co-recipient of the James Madison Award given by the Freedom of Information Foundation.