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Rep. Terry Canales, D-McAllen, featured on Tuesday, September 17, 2013, addressing the State Legislative Session Wrap-Up Luncheon, sponsored by the City of McAllen, the McAllen Economic Development Corporation, and the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, held at the McAllen Country Club.

Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR

With a growing number of state agencies providing detailed information in Spanish on their respective websites, Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, is working to create a bilingual presence on the Internet for the Texas House of Representatives. Canales has filed House Bill 288, which proposes that key components of the home page for the House of Representatives, as well as for the individual websites for each of the 150 state representatives, also have the capability to be read in Spanish. “It is both practical and beneficial to offer legislative information in both English and Spanish. As we seek to modernize our government and keep pace with the 21st century, I believe we must allow legislative information to be accessible in English and Spanish,” said Canales, who is fluent in English and Spanish. “The success of government depends on effectively communicating with the public and offering nondiscriminatory, accurate information.” On Wednesday, March 18, HB 288 was unanimously approved by the House Committee on Transparency and Operation with the recommendation that it be approved by the House of Representatives, then sent to the Senate for their action. Canales noted that the Texas Senate for the past 14 years has maintained and improved its Spanish-language version of its Internet web site, including the individual official websites of each state senator. That site is available online at http://www.senate.state.tx.us/Senado.htm. The House of Representatives should also break down language barriers, the lawmaker said. “People in the United States should speak English because that is the most spoken language of our country, but we do not want to disenfranchise those (who are more fluent in Spanish),” Canales said. “According to a 2011 Census survey, almost 30 percent of Texans speak Spanish. Of that figure, more than 42 percent of those Texans speak English less than very well.” The Center for Immigration Studies found that the Census Bureau recently released information from the 2013 American Community Survey (ACS), including languages spoken for those five years of age and older. “The new data show that the number of people who speak a language other than English at home reached an all-time high of 61.8 million, up 2.2 million since 2010,” Karen Ziegler and Steven A. Camarota reported in their October 2014 article, One in Five U.S. Residents Speaks Foreign Language at Home, Record 61.8 million. “The largest increases from 2010 to 2013 were for speakers of Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic. One in five U.S. residents now speaks a foreign language at home.” (http://cis.org/record-one-in-five-us-residents-speaks-language-other-than-english-at-home). In 2007, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a federal agency under the management of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, released updated information, based on the 2000 Census, that detailed the languages spoken in U.S. and Texas. According to the CDC, English and Spanish, or predominantly Spanish, are spoken considerably by Texas residents at their homes, including in the major metropolitan regions not located along the Texas-Mexico border: Harris County (Houston): 898,885; Dallas County (Dallas): 539,570; Bexar County (San Antonio): 517,885; Tarrant County (Ft. Worth): 218,615; Travis County (Austin): 168,285; and Nueces County (Corpus Christi): 118,745. These figures do not include residents in those counties who spoke English only. Counties bordering Mexico, as expected, reported large percentages of their residents who spoke English and Spanish, or predominantly Spanish. “Providing more Spanish-language content on the House of Representatives websites also will help generate more commerce with non-English nations which do business with Texas, he added. “Texas bordering Mexico also makes it crucial that our largest trading partner have access to our Legislature and the information we have.” According to http://www.TexasWideOpenForBusiness.com, which is a maintained by the Texas Economic Development Corporation – an arm of the Office of the Governor – Mexico in 2014 was ranked number one with $102.6 billion in Texas exports, followed by Canada ($31.1 billion), Brazil ($11.7 billion), China ($10.9 billion), and the Netherlands ($8.9 billion) as the top five international trade partners. Exports are goods or services sent from Texas to another country for sale. Mexico also held the top spot as country of origin for Texas imports, accounting for more than $90.1 billion, or 29 percent, of Texas imports in 2014. China ranked number two for Texas imports ($45.4 billion), followed by Saudia Arabia ($19 billion), and Canada ($17.4 billion), added TexasWideOpenforBusiness.com. Imports are goods or services sent from another country to Texas for sale.The public hearing, in its entirety, is available on the Internet by logging on to http://www.house.state.tx.us/video-audio/committee-broadcasts/ , then scroll down to “03/11/15 Government Transparency & Operation” and click the committee’s name.

••••••

Spanish-language content for Texas House of Representatives website moves forward with committee approval, reports Rep. Canales

By DAVID A. DÍAZ
Legislativemedia@aol.com

With a growing number of state agencies providing detailed information in Spanish on their respective websites, Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, is working to create a bilingual presence on the Internet for the Texas House of Representatives.

Canales has filed House Bill 288, which proposes that key components of the home page for the House of Representatives, as well as for the individual websites for each of the 150 state representatives, also have the capability to be read in Spanish.

“It is both practical and beneficial to offer legislative information in both English and Spanish. As we seek to modernize our government and keep pace with the 21st century, I believe we must allow legislative information to be accessible in English and Spanish,” said Canales, who is fluent in English and Spanish. “The success of government depends on effectively communicating with the public and offering nondiscriminatory, accurate information.”

On Wednesday, March 18, HB 288 was unanimously approved by the House Committee on Transparency and Operation with the recommendation that it be approved by the House of Representatives, then sent to the Senate for their action.

The Spanish-language components would not include all documents in the House and House member’s websites because that would involve millions of words, since each member files up to 100 or more pieces of legislation each session.

Although there are translation services available for free on the Internet, such as https://translate.google.com, that software technology is not as accurate as the work of a skilled human translator.

His focus is on providing expert Spanish language translations of enough key portions to help millions of Texans better navigate through the House of Representatives and the House members’ websites.

“We’re not going to be translating bills. At first, we want the most basic, crucial legislative information, such as press releases, current events, biographies,” he said. “The Texas Senate has been doing it for years, and that is one of the most compelling reasons. Why is the Senate doing it, and we’re not?”

Canales noted that the Texas Senate for the past 14 years has maintained and improved its Spanish-language version of its Internet web site, including the individual official websites of each state senator. That site is available online at http://www.senate.state.tx.us/Senado.htm.

The House of Representatives should also break down language barriers, the lawmaker said.

“People in the United States should speak English because that is the most spoken language of our country, but we do not want to disenfranchise those (who are more fluent in Spanish),” Canales said. “According to a 2011 Census survey, almost 30 percent of Texans speak Spanish. Of that figure, more than 42 percent of those Texans speak English less than very well.”

The Center for Immigration Studies found that the Census Bureau recently released information from the 2013 American Community Survey (ACS), including languages spoken for those five years of age and older.

“The new data show that the number of people who speak a language other than English at home reached an all-time high of 61.8 million, up 2.2 million since 2010,” Karen Ziegler and Steven A. Camarota reported in their October 2014 article, One in Five U.S. Residents Speaks Foreign Language at Home, Record 61.8 million. “The largest increases from 2010 to 2013 were for speakers of Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic. One in five U.S. residents now speaks a foreign language at home.” (http://cis.org/record-one-in-five-us-residents-speaks-language-other-than-english-at-home)

In 2007, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a federal agency under the management of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, released updated information, based on the 2000 Census, that detailed the languages spoken in U.S. and Texas.

According to the CDC, English and Spanish, or predominantly Spanish, are spoken considerably by Texas residents at their homes, including in the major metropolitan regions not located along the Texas-Mexico border:

• Harris County (Houston): 898,885;
• Dallas County (Dallas): 539,570;
• Bexar County (San Antonio): 517,885;
• Tarrant County (Ft. Worth): 218,615;
• Travis County (Austin): 168,285; and
• Nueces County (Corpus Christi): 118,745.

These figures do not include residents in those counties who spoke English only.

Counties bordering Mexico, as expected, reported large percentages of their residents who spoke English and Spanish, or predominantly Spanish.

“Providing more Spanish-language content on the House of Representatives websites also will help generate more commerce with non-English nations which do business with Texas, he added. “Texas bordering Mexico also makes it crucial that our largest trading partner have access to our Legislature and the information we have.”

According to http://www.TexasWideOpenForBusiness.com, which is a maintained by the Texas Economic Development Corporation – an arm of the Office of the Governor – Mexico in 2014 was ranked number one with $102.6 billion in Texas exports, followed by Canada ($31.1 billion), Brazil ($11.7 billion), China ($10.9 billion), and the Netherlands ($8.9 billion) as the top five international trade partners.

Exports are goods or services sent from Texas to another country for sale.

Mexico also held the top spot as country of origin for Texas imports, accounting for more than $90.1 billion, or 29 percent, of Texas imports in 2014. China ranked number two for Texas imports ($45.4 billion), followed by Saudia Arabia ($19 billion), and Canada ($17.4 billion), addedTexasWideOpenforBusiness.com.

Imports are goods or services sent from another country to Texas for sale.

The public hearing, in its entirety, is available on the Internet by logging on to http://www.house.state.tx.us/video-audio/committee-broadcasts/ , then scroll down to “03/11/15 Government Transparency & Operation” and click the committee’s name.

Canales’ presentation, questions and recommendations by the committee members, and the public testimony begin at 57:17 into the broadcast, and lasts until 1:11:00.

Among the state agencies – and there are about 200 state boards, agencies and commissions in Texas – which currently provide content in Spanish on their respective web sites are:

• Texas Department of Criminal Justice http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/espanol/index.html
• Texas Secretary of State http://www.sos.state.tx.us/sos_espanol.shtml
• Texas Senate http://www.senate.state.tx.us/Senado.htm
• Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts http://www.window.state.tx.us/comptrol/espanol.html
• AboutTexasCov http://www.texas.gov/es/Pages/default.aspx

••••••

Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, represents House District 40 in Hidalgo County. HD 4o includes portions or all of Edinburg, Elsa, Faysville, La Blanca, Linn, Lópezville, McAllen, Pharr, San Carlos and Weslaco. He may 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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