Jared Janes, The Monitor
EDINBURG — Hidalgo County commissioners recognized the work of the county’s legislative delegation Tuesday, calling the session one of the best for South Texas in recent memory.
Along with their colleagues from Cameron and Starr counties, Hidalgo County legislators passed a bill that will merge the Rio Grande Valley’s two universities and create a freestanding medical school here. But local lawmakers also passed dozens of other bills on topics ranging from healthcare to criminal justice to transportation.
Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia told the delegation that the impact from the legislation session would be long lasting.
“I can honestly and sincerely state that this session is the best session, most positive session and the one we got the best benefits during the past 39 years” I’ve been practicing law in Hidalgo County, Garcia said. “During all times, it was a really good feeling to see our delegation at work and the respect they enjoy with other members of the state House and Senate.”
Bill awaiting Perry's signature would require confessions written in native language
Jacob Fischler, The Monitor
A bill authored by State Rep. Terry Canales is awaiting Gov. Rick Perry’s signature.
Assuming he signs it, he’ll do something the new law would guarantee for all Texans accused of a crime: signing a document that suspect can read in their native language.
The Edinburg Democrat’s bill, HB 2090 — which was sent to the governor’s desk May 26 — would require that a written statement signed by an accused criminal be presented in a language the accused can understand. Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, sponsored the bill in the Senate.
Until the law takes effect on Sept. 1 — or if Perry decides to veto it — a non-English speaker can sign a criminal confession in English without comprehending what the statement actually says.
Civil rights increased for Texans who do not fully understand English
DAVID A. DÍAZ, La Feria News
Tale of 10 lawmakers: RGV delegates' legislative highlights of 2013
Jared Janes, The Monitor
McALLEN — Here’s a look at the 10 delegates’ key feats from the 2013 legislative session:
State Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg
Canales on how the state budget restores cuts to education, a key part of his campaign platform:
“The budget, in my opinion, had a lot of good and some bad, but it was a cost-benefit analysis,” Canales said. “We restored much of the cuts that the previous session had imposed upon us. We still have a long ways to go with respect to education funding but we’ve come far from what we began with.”
Edinburg, Hidalgo County land major components of UT medical school “on monumental day” with blockbuster legislation merging UT-Pan American with UT-Brownsville
DAVID A. DÍAZ, My Harlingen News
The Texas House of Representatives on Friday, May 17, gave preliminary approval to blockbuster legislation, authorized the previous day by the Senate, to merge The University of Texas-Pan American with the University of Texas-Brownsville – and bring major components of a UT medical school to Edinburg and Hidalgo County.
The landmark measure, Senate Bill 24 by Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and Rep. René Oliveira, D-Brownsville, would have immediate, long-range, and unprecedented positive impacts on the economy, health care, and higher education in deep South Texas, said Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg.
“On this monumental day, the Rio GrandeValley has forever changed the way people will look at us. Some people believe that a ‘Friday Night Football Mentality’ rivalry dooms our South Texas communities. This is slander,” Canales reflected. “When the stakes are highest, as it is with this incredibly important issue, we always remain united.”
Valley university bill advances
Jennifer R. Lloyd, San Antonio Express-News
The Texas Senate quickly approved a controversial version of a bill Thursday to create a new University of Texas institution in the Rio Grande Valley that would eventually have its own medical school.
Negotiations built last-minute compromise on med school
Jared Janes, The Monitor
AUSTIN — Standing together as an entire delegation, the Rio Grande Valley’s House members pushed through a compromise Friday that would finally establish the region’s long sought medical school and a super university.
The House voted unanimously to adopt a compromise amendment drafted by the Valley’s legislators that lays out a detailed blueprint for the new university and medical school, ending strife that erupted over whether Hidalgo County should be the primary site for the medical school. With the proposal’s Senate sponsors already announcing their intent to support the compromise, the bill will be sent to Gov. Rick Perry after perfunctory actions that remain in both chambers.
While the bill garnered early support from both ends of the Valley, the region’s unity nearly broke down over the location of the medical school — a fight that has lingered since the creation of the school’s precursor in the late 1990s.
Campus protection bill tentatively approved by House
David A. Diaz, Valley Town Crier
Without opposition, a measure that would increase protection at hundreds of rural school campuses against accidental gunfire from hunters and marksmen engaged in their sport on nearby properties was tentatively approved on Saturday, May 4, by the House of Representatives.
House Bill 801 by Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission, would require the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife (TDPW) to include information in its mandatory hunter education program about a hunter's personal responsibility for discharging a firearm, awareness of school property and other surroundings and the danger of discharging a firearm across a school property line. This information also would be made available in any written or Internet-based material produced by TDPW for the hunting public.
Texas requires mandatory hunter education for every hunter, including those from out of state, or those born on or after September 2, 1971. Annually more than 30,000 youth and adults become certified under the program operated by the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife.
A touching moment on the House floor
Karen Brooks Harper, Dallas News
Freshman Democratic Rep. Terry Canales of Edinburg just told a story that left few dry eyes in the House.
His new baby boy was born over the last few days, Caleb Ezra Canales, which is great news on its own. The heartbreaker here is that the Canales family had already lost a baby boy, Judah.
At some point recently, GOP Rep. Debbie Riddle asked Canales if he had named his baby yet. He responded that he was too busy and hadn’t yet, so she suggested he name the baby Caleb.
“That’s a beautiful, Biblical name,” Canales responded. Then, as she was sitting there at his desk, he looked it up.