AUSTIN, Texas – The Rio Grande Valley again has two members of its legislative delegation on the powerful Texas House Committee on Transportation.

They are Reps. Terry Canales of Edinburg and Armando Martinez of Weslaco. Canales is again the committee’s chairman. Martinez is a former vice chairman of the panel.

New House Speaker Made Phelan announced the committee assignments on Thursday.

The Rio Grande Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization is looking for state funding and support for three of its top highway projects this year. The projects are IBTC and SH 365 in the Pharr-Donna area, the Brownsville East Loop, and the Second Causeway  for South Padre Island.

State Rep. Terry Canales
State Rep. Terry Canales

These three projects were identified as priorities by RGVMPO Executive Director Andrew Canon during a recent interview on KURV 710 Radio recently. 

An emerging top project for the Texas Department of Transportation, Cameron County Regional Mobility Authority and Hidalgo County Regional Mobility Authority is a new 27-mile east-west expressway that would connect I-69 Central north of Edinburg to I-69 East north of Harlingen.

Rep. Martinez thanked Speaker Phelan for appointing him to the Committee on Transportation and the Committee on Culture, Recreation, and Tourism. 

“I am extremely passionate about transportation and have served on this committee for multiple legislative sessions. I look forward to continuing ongoing projects in the Rio Grande Valley and serving our great State of Texas on these two committees,” Martinez said.

Rep. Canales is the first Latino to be appointed chairman of the House Committee on Transportation in Texas history as well as the first from the Valley in over 50 years. He pointed out that the panel is responsible for oversight of critical infrastructure development for the state, including roads, railways, and ports. 

“I am extremely honored that Speaker Phelan has appointed me to be the Chair of the Transportation Committee again for this legislative session,” Canales said. 

“One of the most important facts that I have learned over the last two years as chairman was that Texas must better prioritize transportation infrastructure to be ready for the year 2050 when the state’s population is forecasted to be around 47 million. We cannot solve all of our infrastructure issues quickly, but I will continue to use my time and resources to ensure Texas is adequately preparing for the future.” 

State Rep. Armando Martinez

Whelan also appointed Canales to the Committee on International Relations & Economic Development. “Thank you Speaker Phelan for these influential committee appointments, and it is my honor to serve on these committees to help create a more prosperous Texas and District 40 for my constituents,” Canales added.

The Mexican American Legislative Caucus was pleased with the committee assignments made by Phelan. 

Members of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus (MALC) were appointed to Speaker Pro Tem (Rep. Joe Moody of El Paso), eight chair, and thirteen vice chair positions for the 87th Legislature. 

State Rep. Rafael Anchia of Dallas is chairman of MALC. He said the assignments position MALC Members to lead on matters critically important to the caucus including the House Committee on Redistricting, which will oversee the reapportionment of congressional and Texas Legislative districts. 

“We congratulate our MALC Members who, because of their hard work and expertise, were entrusted with leadership roles for the 87th Legislative Session. MALC Members will lead on getting relief to Texas families, defeating COVID-19, and placing our state on the road to recovery,” Anchia said. 

Speaker Phelan is from Beaumont. He said of the committee assignments: “The State of Texas has arrived at a pivotal moment in its history – one that requires us as lawmakers to work with one another, build consensus, and leverage the diverse strengths and backgrounds of those within our chamber to confront the unique challenges ahead,” said Speaker Phelan. “I have dedicated my speakership to creating a member-driven process that affords each of my colleagues a seat at the decision-making table, and have made these committee assignments to reflect their preferences, talents, and where I believe they will have the greatest impact on the issues to come before this body.”

Phelan said he made the assignments with a number of considerations in mind, including the interests, skillsets, and express committee preferences of each member, the needs and priorities of the state’s rural and urban areas, and the diverse demographics of the House’s membership. 

Texas House Speaker Made Phelan

Phelan added: “The nature of this session will be anything but status quo, and the House stands to benefit from members assuming new roles and responsibilities and the fresh perspectives these appointments provide. I have utmost confidence that each of these appointees will excel in the positions they’ve been selected for, and I thank them in advance for the work they will do.” 

Twelve members have been selected to chair committees for the first time. Consistent with House practice in preceding sessions, members are considered eligible to serve as a chair or vice chair in their third and second terms respectively, making 104 members eligible for a chair and 130 members eligible for a vice chair this session. Over 40% of the house’s membership has served less than three terms.

Analysis of Committee Assignments:

•The current makeup of the Texas House is 82 Republicans and 67 Democrats (with 1 vacant seat).

•Including the Speaker Pro Tempore, a leadership position equivalent to a chair, 21 chairs are Republicans and 14 are Democrats;

•Consistent with House Rules, which were adopted by members during the first week of the legislative session, there are 34 standing committees to which members have been appointed.

Of those committees:

  •5 chairs and 14 vice chairs are women;

  •14 chairs and 21 vice chairs are Black, Hispanic, or Asian-American;

  •11 chairs and 7 vice chairs represent rural areas of the state; and

  •24 chairs and 27 vice chairs represent urban areas of the state.

Click here for a full list of the assignments by member.

Click here for a full list of the assignments by committee.

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows state Rep. Armando Martinez of Weslaco.


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