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Photograph By ISMAEL GARCÍA
Featured, from left: Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen; Terri Drefke, President and CEO of the Food Bank RGV; Pharr Mayor Dr. Ambrosio Hernández; Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission; and Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville. Hinojosa, Muñoz, and Lucio were among several South Texas legislators honored during a legislative reaction hosted by the Pharr Economic Development Corporation and the Rio Grande Valley Partnership at the PEDC headquarters on Tuesday, June 23, 2015.

Photograph By ISMAEL GARCÍA

Gov. Greg Abbott’s visit to McAllen on Friday, February 12, 2016, will provide him a historic opportunity to support a plan by Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission, which would allow a statewide vote to require that half of all future gubernatorial appointments go to qualified women, a move which would dramatically increase the number of women in powerful state leadership positions. Under the Muñoz measure, Texas voters in a statewide election would have the power to create a law that women receive half of all gubernatorial appointments to powerful state boards, commissions, and agencies, such as the Texas Transportation Commission and The University of Texas System Board of Regents. During a four-year term, a governor will make about 3,000 appointments, according to the governor’s office. Muñoz would file the proposal when the Texas Legislature begins its regular session in January 2017. If approved by lawmakers, state voters could see it on the ballot as soon as November 2017. “Gov. Abbott will be in the Valley for a fundraiser for the Hidalgo County Republican Women, and I know many of them will be very interested in hearing from him whether he believes qualified women should receive half of all gubernatorial appointments,” said Muñoz. “I have developed the legislation that would achieve what I believe will forever improve the representation of women at the highest levels of state government.” Muñoz said that Secretary of State Carlos Cascos, the former County Judge of Cameron County who was the first gubernatorial appointment for Abbott, on Thursday, January 21, 2016, during a luncheon in Edinburg, was presented Muñoz’ plan for delivery to the governor. “The governor has had time to study my proposal, and I cannot think of a better time or place for him than the Valley to let all of us know what he thinks, and what he plans to do about it,” said Muñoz. Abbott is the featured guest for the Lincoln Reagan Dinner, which will be held at the Valencia Event Center, located at 3012 S. Jackson Road in McAllen. The event begins at 6 p.m. “I encourage Gov. Abbott to make history, just as he made history by becoming the first governor of Texas who is physically-challenged and must use a wheelchair, by supporting an idea whose time has come,” Muñoz added. Muñoz said the idea was brought to him by David A. Díaz, a legislative consultant from McAllen. Díaz and Miriam Martínez had worked together on the issue when Martínez, a South Texas broadcast journalist and business owner, ran for Texas governor, seeking the 2014 Republican Party nomination, which was won by Abbott. Martínez said if elected governor, her gubernatorial appointments would be been divided evenly between women and men, and she would have asked for a statewide vote to make that practice a permanent requirement. There are more than 200 state boards, commissions and agencies whose members are appointed by the governor, with the consent of the Senate. “Under this proposal, if approved by the Legislature and Texas voters, every time vacancies occur in each state board, commission and agency which requires a gubernatorial appointee, the first vacancy shall be filled by a qualified woman, the next vacancy shall be filled by a qualified man, and so on,” Muñoz said. “This method will guarantee that women will receive their fair share of the most powerful gubernatorial appointments.” Cascos, who was in Edinburg on Thursday, January 21, 2016, was provided with a copy of the Muñoz plan, and the Secretary of State, who was formerly county judge of Cameron County, agreed to present it to Abbott. Cascos was the first gubernatorial appointment announced by Abbott in November 2014. The Texas Senate confirmed Cascos as the 110th Secretary of State on Wednesday, February 18, 2015. In agreeing to take Muñoz’ plan to Abbott, Cascos shared his own commitment to increasing the roles and number of women in leadership roles in Texas. “I think it’s important to have a diverse representation of qualified women and men of different origins,” Cascos said. “I don’t think there is anyone who does not welcome diversity: male, female, Hispanic, African American, Asian American. Diversity is good.” The Secretary of State, who serves as the chief elections officer for Texas, reflected on the importance of Muñoz’ plan. “I think it’s something that’s noteworthy. There are a lot of groups that are not that well -represented,” Cascos said. “In my office alone, we have African American, Hispanics and Anglos. So my office, since I have been in there, has become more diverse than what it was before I got there.” Muñoz said his proposal is not a quota, which favors one group at the expense of another. “Under this plan, a majority, in this case, men, would not lose out to a minority – women – because the population of Texas is, and most likely will always be, about half men and half women,” Muñoz said. “Any Texas governor would find no problem whatsoever finding women who are very qualified for half of all gubernatorial appointments.” The UT System Board of Regents, which is currently operating under a $16.9 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2016, has two women and seven men on that governing board. The Texas A&M System Board of Regents, which is currently operating under a $4.2 billion budget for Fiscal year 2016, has two women and seven men on that governing board. The Texas Ethics Commission, which is responsible for administering and enforcing laws that require financial disclosures of state lawmakers and legislative employees, has one woman on its eight-member commission. The Texas Department of Transportation, which has a $23 billion two-year budget, is governed by the five-member – and all male – Texas Highway Commission. Only three women have been appointed to this powerful commission since 1993. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, a seven-member board which oversees the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and its 2016-17 $719 million budget, is comprised of all men.

••••••


Gov. Abbott’s visit to McAllen on February 12 provides historic opportunity to support plan by Rep. Muñoz to dramatically increase the number of women in powerful state leadership positions

 
By DAVID A. DÍAZ
 
Gov. Greg Abbott’s visit to McAllen on Friday, February 12, 2016, will provide him a historic opportunity to support a plan by Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission, which would allow a statewide vote to require that half of all future gubernatorial appointments go to qualified women, a move which would dramatically increase the number of women in powerful state leadership positions.
 
Under the Muñoz measure, Texas voters in a statewide election would have the power to create a law that women receive half of all gubernatorial appointments to powerful state boards, commissions, and agencies, such as the Texas Transportation Commission and The University of Texas System Board of Regents.
 
During a four-year term, a governor will make about 3,000 appointments, according to the governor’s office.
 
Muñoz would file the proposal when the Texas Legislature begins its regular session in January 2017.
 
If approved by lawmakers, state voters could see it on the ballot as soon as November 2017.
 
“Gov. Abbott will be in the Valley for a fundraiser for the Hidalgo County Republican Women, and I know many of them will be very interested in hearing from him whether he believes qualified women should receive half of all gubernatorial appointments,” said Muñoz. “I have developed the legislation that would achieve what I believe will forever improve the representation of women at the highest levels of state government.”
 
Muñoz said that Secretary of State Carlos Cascos, the former County Judge of Cameron County who was the first gubernatorial appointment for Abbott, on Thursday, January 21, 2016, during a luncheon in Edinburg, was presented Muñoz’ plan for delivery to the governor.
 
“The governor has had time to study my proposal, and I cannot think of a better time or place for him than the Valley to let all of us know what he thinks, and what he plans to do about it,” said Muñoz. 
 
Abbott is the featured guest for the Lincoln Reagan Dinner, which will be held at the Valencia Event Center, located at 3012 S. Jackson Road in McAllen. The event begins at 6 p.m. 
 
“I encourage Gov. Abbott to make history, just as he made history by becoming the first governor of Texas who is physically-challenged and must use a wheelchair, by supporting an idea whose time has come,” Muñoz added.
 
Muñoz said the idea was brought to him by David A. Díaz, a legislative consultant from McAllen.
 
Díaz and Miriam Martínez had worked together on the issue when Martínez, a South Texas broadcast journalist and business owner, ran for Texas governor, seeking the 2014 Republican Party nomination, which was won by Abbott.
 
Martínez said if elected governor, her gubernatorial appointments would be been divided evenly between women and men, and she would have asked for a statewide vote to make that practice a permanent requirement.
 
There are more than 200 state boards, commissions and agencies whose members are appointed by the governor, with the consent of the Senate.
 
“Under this proposal, if approved by the Legislature and Texas voters, every time vacancies occur in each state board, commission and agency which requires a gubernatorial appointee, the first vacancy shall be filled by a qualified woman, the next vacancy shall be filled by a qualified man, and so on,” Muñoz said. “This method will guarantee that women will receive their fair share of the most powerful gubernatorial appointments.”
 
Cascos, who was in Edinburg on Thursday, January 21, 2016, was provided with a copy of the Muñoz plan, and the Secretary of State, who was formerly county judge of Cameron County, agreed to present it to Abbott.
 
Cascos was the first gubernatorial appointment announced by Abbott in November 2014.  
 
The Texas Senate confirmed Cascos as the 110th Secretary of State on Wednesday, February 18, 2015. 
 
In agreeing to take Muñoz’ plan to Abbott, Cascos shared his own commitment to increasing the roles and number of women in leadership roles in Texas.
 
“I think it’s important to have a diverse representation of qualified women and men of different origins,” Cascos said. “I don’t think there is anyone who does not welcome diversity: male, female, Hispanic, African American, Asian American. Diversity is good.”
 
The Secretary of State, who serves as the chief elections officer for Texas, reflected on the importance of Muñoz’ plan.
 
“I think it’s something that’s noteworthy. There are a lot of groups that are not that well -represented,” Cascos said. “In my office alone, we have African American, Hispanics and Anglos. So my office, since I have been in there, has become more diverse than what it was before I got there.”
 
Muñoz said the time has come for Texas to build on its international reputation as a leader for all people.
 
“I believe Texas is ready to take this remarkable step forward in democracy, and in doing so, show the world what we are doing to make sure that women are equal to men in legal, political and social rights,” said Muñoz.
 
Women are underrepresented on most state boards and commissions which require gubernatorial appointees, and many of the state agencies they help lead have annual operating budgets of hundreds of millions of dollars, up to $10 billion and even higher.
 
Abbott recalled that on Election Night in November 2014, Abbott said “I made a promise to the people of Texas that I would begin work immediately to keep Texas the beacon of opportunity and the best state in the United States of America.”
 
The governor pledged that he “would fight for all Texans, I would unite our great state with key appointments that reflect both the geography and the diversity of our great state. Texans from every corner of the state need to feel that they are a part of the state’s leadership, that they are coauthors of our future.”
 
Muñoz said his proposal is not a quota, which favors one group at the expense of another.
 
“Under this plan, a majority, in this case, men, would not lose out to a minority – women – because the population of Texas is, and most likely will always be, about half men and half women,” Muñoz said. “Any Texas governor would find no problem whatsoever finding women who are very qualified for half of all gubernatorial appointments.”
 
The UT System Board of Regents, which is currently operating under a $16.9 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2016, has two women and seven men on that governing board.
 
The Texas A&M System Board of Regents, which is currently operating under a $4.2 billion budget for Fiscal year 2016, has two women and seven men on that governing board.
 
The Texas Ethics Commission, which is responsible for administering and enforcing laws that require financial disclosures of state lawmakers and legislative employees, has one woman on its eight-member commission.
 
The Texas Department of Transportation, which has a $23 billion two-year budget, is governed by the five-member – and all male – Texas Highway Commission. Only three women have been appointed to this powerful commission since 1993.
 
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, a seven-member board which oversees the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and its 2016-17 $719 million budget, is comprised of all men.
 
The three-term lawmaker, who serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, which shapes the state’s $209 billion, two-year budget, said his proposal is consistent with his professional and legislative work.
 
“I am a champion for women, who make up half of our adult population, with a proven record of promoting equal pay for equal work, and through my leadership roles on the House Appropriations Committee, supported and voted for hundreds of millions of dollars for women’s health care, protecting victims of family violence, and much more,” said Muñoz.
 
According to the independent online publication, The Texas Tribune, “the House version of the 2014-15 budget included an additional $100 million for women’s health funded via a bolstered primary care system — dollars that first made it through the Senate, and should allow the state to serve an additional 170,000 low-income women.
 
“Both chambers also funded the Texas Women’s Health Program, making up for the $9-to-$1 match that the federal government pulled over Republican lawmakers’ decision to force Planned Parenthood clinics out of the program,” reported Tribune reporter Emily Ramshaw. “The House budget also includes a rider that would restore millions of dollars in federal family-planning dollars — called Title X — that the Obama administration recently redirected from the Department of State Health Services to an outside women’s health coalition.”
 
The authority to make governmental appointments is one of the powers given to the Governor of Texas by the state’s constitution.
 
In 1972, Texas voters had a direct voice on the office of the governor, voting in a statewide election to extend the two-year term, which had first been established by the Texas Constitution of 1876, to the current four-year term, according to the Texas State Historical Association (https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/mbgos).
 
The current four-year term of the governor took effect in 1975, according to TSHA.
 
According to the governor’s office:
 
• Most appointments are state officials and members of state boards, commissions and councils that carry out the laws and direct the policies of state government activities;
 
• Members of task forces that advise the Governor or executive agencies on specific issues and policies; and
 
• State elected and judicial offices when vacancies occur by resignation or death of the office holder.
 
Article IV, Section 12 of the Texas Constitution, provides the governor with the power to appoint individuals to the governing boards of more than 200 state boards, commissions, and agencies. Those appointments must receive the approval and consent of the Texas Senate.
 
Since the appointment power of the governor is provided the the state constitution, it would require the Texas Legislature, when lawmakers return in January 2017 for its five-month regular session, to approve Muñoz’ plan, which would authorize a state constitutional amendment to be decided by voters in a statewide election.
 
Muñoz’ proposed constitutional amendment and resulting election would have to be approved by two-thirds of the members of the Texas House of Representatives and the Texas Senate. Then, more than 50 percent of the vote by the public in a statewide election would be needed to make it law.
 
Appointed Positions
 
This is a list of all entities to which the Governor makes appointments or nominations.
 
More detailed information on each entity is available via the Texas Records and Information Locator (TRAIL). TRAIL provides links to most agencies’ background information, web pages, and the text of statutes.
 
Click here for an alphabetical list of all entities. Applicants may apply for any entity on either list.
 
According to Abbott’s office, below is a list categorized by subject matter relating to the board, commissions and agencies which involve gubernatorial appointments. 
 
Economic Development (11)
 
Aerospace and Aviation Advisory Committee
Economic Development Stakeholders, Advisory Board of
Economic Incentive Oversight Board
Product Development and Small Business Incubator Board
Small Business Assistance Advisory Task Force, Office of
University Research Initiative Advisory Board, Governor’s
 
Financial (12)
 
 
 
Healthcare (10)
 
Adult Stem Cell Research Coordinating Board, Texas
Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response, Task Force on
Medical or Mental Impairments, Adv. Comm. to the Texas Board of Criminal Justice on Offenders with
 
Higher Education (14)
 
 
Human Services (11)
 
Protect Our Kids Commission
 
Humanities (13)
 
 
Legal (12)
 
Improving Outcomes for Juveniles Adjudicated of Sexual Offenses, Task Force on
Judicial Districts Board
Non-Criminal Penal Laws, Commission to Study
Procurement Advisory Council, Statewide
Real Estate Broker Lawyer Committee, Texas
Specialty Courts Advisory Council
Timothy Cole Exoneration Commission
Uniform State Laws, Commission on
 
Natural Resources (31)
 
Colorado River Authority, Central
Drought Preparedness Council
Farm and Ranch Lands Conservation Council, Texas
Oil and Gas Regulation and Cleanup Fund Advisory Committee
Red River Boundary Commission
Red River Compact Commission
Technical Advisory Committee to the Bureau of Economic Geology
 
Public Education (9)
 
Assessments & Accountability, Texas Commission on Next Generation
Mentoring Program Advisory Committee, School District
 
Public Safety (9)
 
Criminal Justice Advisory Council, Governor’s
 
Regulatory-Industry (22)
 
Galveston County Ports, Board of Pilot Commissioners for
 
Regulatory-Professional (36)
 
 
State Oversight (32)
 
 
••••••
 
Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission, has served in the Texas Legislature since 2011 and represents all or parts of the cities of Hidalgo, Granjeño, McAllen, Mission, Palmview and Pharr. His Capitol office is located at E1.508 in the Capitol extension, and may be reached at (512) 463-0704. His District Office is located at 121 E. Tom Landry, Mission, and may be reached at (956) 584-8999.

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