David A. Diaz, Your Valley Voice
Valuable legislative information in Spanish that could help millions of Texas residents understand the key workings and major actions of state lawmakers could be added to the websites of the House of Representatives under administrative action being requested by Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg.
Nearly a third of all Texans speak Spanish and 10 percent of all Texans do not speak English. The significant number of Spanish-speaking citizens in Texas has caused an increased demand in equal access to state resources.
Seeking to reach out to people in the state, nation, and world whose primary language is Spanish, Canales is proposing that the home page of each House member’s official website have Spanish language translations, similar to the website of Texas state senators and of other major state agencies.
Chaille Jolink, The Burnt Orange Report
The 83rd Legislative Session in all its Special Session glory has finally come and gone. What's left are some interesting stories, a few bills passed, a budget, a history making filibuster, and nineconstitutional amendments Texans can vote on this November 5th.
Last month I interviewed State Representative Terry Canales, who represents a majority of Edinburg in Hidalgo County. He is a freshman state representative who took the place of expat Aaron Pena. In our interview we talked about the newly minted Medical School in South Texas, the guns on campus measures, and a few of the bills Representative Canales had the chance to author and even pass through the legislature.
Find out more about Representative Canales and the bills he passed his first session below the jump.The UT Med School is one of the most important pieces of legislation that has passed in recent memory to affect South Texas. Representative Canales personally spearheaded efforts to get the 100 co-authors to sign onto the bill, and he also noted that because tuition revenue bonds were not dealt with this session South Texas lost approximately $100 million dollars.
Ricardo Rodriguez quits as judge, announces bid to replace longtime DA Guerra
Jacob Fischler, The Monitor
EDINBURG – After 6 1/2 years as a state district judge, Ricardo Rodriguez removed his judicial robes figuratively and literally Thursday afternoon as he announced his resignation from the bench to run for Hidalgo County district attorney.
“I am not stepping down,” Rodriguez said. “I am stepping up to the challenge.”
Flanked by his wife, Deyanira, on his left and his parents on his right, Rodriguez spoke to a few hundred enthusiastic supporters at the Edinburg City Auditorium for about 11 minutes.
Though he declined to get into specifics in his remarks or in a brief question-and-answer session with reporters following the announcement, he accused incumbent Hidalgo County District Attorney Rene Guerra of dispensing justice selectively based on political influence.
Abbott promises more funding for border security
Jacob Fischler, The Monitor
Calling it “the most significant vulnerability to the State of Texas,” Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott outlined last week a broad strategy to secure the Texas-Mexico border.
In a telephone interview, Abbott said as governor he would work to put “more boots on the ground” at the border, improve communication and cooperation between state and local and federal agencies and increase the use of technology, all of which would be funded largely by seizures of illegal assets through aggressive prosecutions of money laundering operations.
“I believe our crackdown and taking of transnational gang and international drug cartel assets will fund a large part of the expansion of operations we need on the border,” he said.
He cited several examples in which investigators in a unit within the Attorney General’s Office that focused on money laundering cases related to cartels seized assets worth millions of dollars from drug cartel members.
As South Texas prepares for Tuesday, July 16 bill-signing ceremony for UTPA/UTB merger, Rep. Canales praises new vision for university
DAVID A. DÍAZ, My Harlingen News
A packed house is expected on Tuesday, July 16, in the Student Union Building at the University of Texas-Pan American for a morning bill-signing ceremony, featuring Gov. Rick Perry, along with state legislators, UT System officials, and county and local leaders.
The gathering, which is open to the public, will herald the merger of UT-Pan American with UT-Brownsville, and the creation of a full-fledged UT medical school, which will include a major component of the medical school in Hidalgo County, says Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg.
Perry will join Gene Powell of San Antonio, formerly of Weslaco and who is Chairman of the UT System Board Regents, Ernest “Ernie” Aliseda of McAllen, a member of the UT System Board of Regents, and Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., Chancellor of the UT System, for the event. They will unveil plans for the new university in South Texas.
The Legislature had quite a busy day today, in both chambers. The House has adjourned until Monday, and the Senate gavels back into play at 2PM tomorrow. Obviously, the most controversial and newsworthy item is still HB2/SB1, the omnibus anti-abortion bill. However, a number of actions were taken today dealing with the other two topics on the call, as well as a third not on the call. Let us digest the matter.
For starters, both the House and Senate concurred in a final Miller compliance bill for sentencing 17 year olds convicted of Capital Murder. The Texas Tribune reports that SB2 by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Harris County) was passed 30-1 in the Senate and then 113-23 in the House. As the Austin American-Statesman noted, this is the Senate’s original bill, which places a mandatory life with parole sentence, typically meaning parole after 40 years. The House’s bill originally allowed the jury to consider aggravating circumstances and evidence that would lead them to specifically sentence the minors to life-without-parole.
Some Democrats, led by Rep. Terry Canales (D-Hidalgo County), objected to the bill because it prevented juries from considering any mitigating circumstances and evidence that would lead them to impose a lighter sentence, such as 25 years. The only Senate objector was Sen. Jose Rodriguez (D-El Paso County). Rodriguez objected because of his belief the bill is unconstitutional. For what it’s worth, I wrote an entire Law Review article on this exact topic last semester, so I beg to disagree. But that’s a discussion for a different day. Anyways, both Houses passed the identical SB2, which now heads to Governor Perry’s desk.
Juvenile detention center investigation continues, Valley lawmaker speaks out
Ashly Custer, Valley Central
After three Evins Regional Juvenile Center employees were arrested, the facility continues to be under the microscope.
The Inspector General arrested officers Juan Tamez, Julian Fuentes and security director Pete Martinez on July 2.
The three were charged with official oppression and tampering or fabricating physical evidence at the center.
Seven staff members allegedly knew about the abuse of three minors but failed to report it.
According to the investigation, there were no serious injuries and the seven employees have been suspended.
House panel OKs bill to allow parole for young killers
The House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee has again recommended a bill that would close a sentencing loophole for 17-year-olds convicted of capital murder.
Members passed House Bill 4 with a 5-1 vote Tuesday morning after public testimony Monday.
State Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, cast the vote against recommendation. He has been pushing his own version of a new sentencing structure that would allow for life in prison with parole and life without parole. But House Bill 10 also included a lengthy list of mitigating circumstances to be used during sentencing.
Canales' bill was left pending in committee.
Outreach group eyes voter ID after Supreme Court ruling
Jared Janes, The Monitor
At the voter outreach group AACT, they’re drafting public service announcements with November in mind.
The Supreme Court’s ruling that a section of the Voting Rights Act was unconstitutional opened the door for the state to ask voters to show certain forms of photo identification at the polls. Within days, the Supreme Court also threw out a lower court decision that blocked voter ID, allowing state officials to implement the plan originally passed by lawmakers in 2011.
While minority advocates still argue the law remains unconstitutional, AACT is proceeding as if the law will be in place for November.
“We’re working on this very diligently because we think it’s really important,” said AACT director Eliza Alvarado, whose organization already met with its creative team to begin building a public outreach campaign. “This is a big change and people need to have a lot of time to prepare if they don’t have this type of identification.”
3 Evins employees arrested, accused of mistreating youth, destroying the evidence
Jacob Fischler, The Monitor
EDINBURG – Three employees at a juvenile detention facility were arrested last week for allegedly using excessive force against inmates.
Officers from the Texas Juvenile Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General arrested Evins Regional Juvenile Center correctional officers Juan Tamez and Julian Fuentes, along with Evins Director of Security Pete Martinez between June 21 and 27.
Tamez and Fuentes were charged with official oppression, a Class A misdemeanor, and Martinez was charged with tampering or fabricating physical evidence, a third-degree felony.
“They will not be working with this agency again,” said Jim Hurley, a spokesman for the Juvenile Justice Department. Hurley said he did not know if the three had officially been terminated, but was confident that they will be in the near future.