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Featured: Rep. Eddie Lucio, III, D-Brownsville, with former Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen, observing, on Thursday, January 26, 2017, addressed lawmakers and their staffs from upstate, renowned Valley health professionals, and area leaders at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine in Harlingen as part of the Rio Grande Valley Partnership tour for state legislators to answer questions about the state of medicine in the Valley.

Photograph By DAVID PIKE

The Mayor and City Council will part of a delegation that will be meeting with state lawmakers in Austin on Tuesday, February 7, 2017, helping promote the community’s and region’s top priorities for the ongoing 85th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature at the Capitol, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. Since the mid-1990’s, the mayor, city council, and Edinburg EDC leadership have played active and successful roles in promoting the legislative priorities for their community at the State Capitol. Their efforts have resulted in passing state laws and policies that have had a huge beneficial economic impact on the city. From lobbying on behalf of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and its School of Medicine in Edinburg, to helping secure funding that has converted U.S. Expressway 281 into Interstate Highway 69, the mayor, city council, Edinburg EDC Board of Directors, and their respective staffs, have worked with the city’s state legislative delegation on behalf of their constituents. The Edinburg EDC, of which Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of the Mayor and City Council. The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mayor Richard García as President, Harvey Rodríguez, Jr. as Vice President, Elías Longoria, Jr. as Secretary/Treasurer, and Richard Rupert and Dr. Peter Dabrowski as Members. Edinburg EDC Board Vice President Rodríguez, Edinburg EDC Executive Director García, and Letty Reyes, Director of Business Development & Public Affairs for the Edinburg EDC, are scheduled to be in Austin as part of Rio Grande Valley Day. Mayor Richard García and Edinburg EDC Executive Director Agustín García, Jr. are not related.

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Edinburg leaders to participate in Rio Grande Valley Day at State Capitol on Tuesday, February 7

By DAVID A. DÍAZ
Legislativemedia@aol.com

The Mayor and City Council will part of a delegation that will be meeting with state lawmakers in Austin on Tuesday, February 7, 2017, helping promote the community’s and region’s top priorities for the ongoing 85th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature at the Capitol, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced.

The Edinburg EDC, of which Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of the Mayor and City Council.

The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mayor Richard García as President, Harvey Rodríguez, Jr. as Vice President, Elías Longoria, Jr. as Secretary/Treasurer, and Richard Rupert and Dr. Peter Dabrowski as Members.

Mayor Richard García and Edinburg EDC Executive Director Agustín García, Jr. are not related.

Edinburg EDC Board Vice President Rodríguez, Edinburg EDC Executive Director García, and Letty Reyes, Director of Business Development & Public Affairs for the Edinburg EDC, are scheduled to be in Austin as part of Rio Grande Valley Day.

In addition to the mayor, the Edinburg City Council includes Mayor Pro Tem J.R. Betancourt, Councilmember Homer Jasso, Jr., Councilmember Richard Molina, and Councilmember David Torres.

As a result of the planned appearances by the Mayor and Edinburg City Council at the Texas Capitol on Tuesday, February 7, 2017, the regular meeting of the Edinburg City Council, which would have been held on that day, will instead take place on Thursday, February 9, 2017.

The agenda for the Thursday, February 9, 2017 meeting of the Edinburg City Council is available online at: http://www.cityofedinburg.com/councilagendas.php

Since the mid-1990’s, the mayor, city council, and Edinburg EDC leadership have played active and successful roles in promoting the legislative priorities for their community at the State Capitol. Their efforts have resulted in passing state laws and policies that have had a huge beneficial economic impact on the city.

From lobbying on behalf of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and its School of Medicine in Edinburg – state universities can not lobby the Texas Legislature – to helping secure funding that has converted U.S. Expressway 281 into Interstate Highway 69, the mayor, city council, Edinburg EDC Board of Directors, and their respective staffs, have worked with the city’s state legislative delegation on behalf of their constituents.

Edinburg is represented in the Texas Legislature by Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, with Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, containing 84 percent of Edinburg in his House District 40, while Rep. R.D. “Bobby” Guerra, D-McAllen, including 16 percent of Edinburg in his House District 41.

Edinburg’s involvement in the February 2017 RGV Day also demonstrates its ability to work in partnership with other communities on key issues of importance to the entire South Texas region.

According to the McAllen Chamber of Commerce:

RGV Day at the State Capitol is being organized by the McAllen Chamber of Commerce and the City of McAllen. Chamber President Steve Ahlenius announced the date at a recent McAllen Chamber governmental affairs committee meeting. He said a number of Valley cities have already signed up.

The 85th Legislative Session has begun and community leaders, businesses and organizations invite you to join them for Rio Grande Valley (RGV) Day in Austin on Tuesday, February 7, 2017 to meet with elected officials and share our region’s legislative agenda.

Representatives from McAllen, Edinburg Brownsville, Weslaco, Pharr, Harlingen, Rio Grande City, UT-RGV, South Texas College, Texas A&M, Rio South Texas Economic Council and other businesses will be involved in the one-day legislative outreach trip to the Capitol.

RGV Day in Austin provides residents, community and business leaders the opportunity to visit the state capitol and better understand the legislative process. Events at our State Capitol will include resolutions on the senate and house floors, a luncheon with local legislators at the Sheraton Capitol Hotel, visits with all 181 legislators and an evening wine and hors d’oeuvres reception in the Legislative Conference Center located at the Capitol.

Participating communities and organizations strive to be the voice for local businesses in the state policy-making process. The goal is to show elected officials that the Valley is engaged in the legislative process and is passionate about its agenda items.

Much of the delegation will leave from McAllen the morning of Tuesday, February 7, 2017 to arrive in Austin, and return to McAllen on Wednesday, February 8, 2017.

In addition to the City of Edinburg, the Edinburg EDC, and the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce, RGV Day Partners are the City of McAllen, City of Harlingen, City of Weslaco, Starr County Industrial Foundation, Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation, McAllen Chamber of Commerce, Weslaco Chamber of Commerce, McAllen Convention and Visitors Bureau, Mission EDC, McAllen EDC, Harlingen EDC, Weslaco EDC, Pharr EDC, McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, Anzalduas International Bridge, McAllen Public Utilities Baord, Port of Brownsville, RGV Partnership, South Texas College, IBC Bank, BBVA Compass, Texas A&M, UTRGV Foundation, Food Bank RGV, Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP, The Warren Group Architects, Shepard Walton King Insurance Group and The Monitor.

UTRGV, AREA HEALTH CARE LEADERS PROVIDE UPDATE FOR STATE LEGISLATORS

Dr. Leonel Vela, Senior Associate Dean for Education and Academic Affairs at The UTRGV Valley School of Medicine, on Thursday, January 26, 2017, participated in a panel discussion with leaders from three area hospitals and provided an update on the medical school’s progress for visiting state legislators.

The panel discussion, held at the UTRGV Clinical Education Building in Harlingen, also featured:

• Dr. Ambrosio Hernández, Medical Director of Surgical Services at Rio Grande Valley Driscoll Children’s Hospital, Chief Medical Compliance Officer for Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, and Mayor of the City of Pharr;
• David Glassburn, regional CFO of Harlingen Medical Center; and
• Manuel “Manny” Vela, President and CEO of Valley Baptist Health System.

Edinburg is home to the state-of-the-art, $54 million, 88,260 gross-square-foot UTRGV Medical Education Building which provides the first two years of a medical student’s education. It was built to help produce highly educated, culturally attuned doctors to serve the region, where the ratio of doctors to patients is barely half the national average and significantly lower than the state average.

The Harlingen campus provides the third and fourth years of medical education for students.

Vela said having a medical school in the Valley provides more local students an opportunity to pursue the dream of becoming a physician.

Born in San Juan and raised in Pharr, Vela shared his own story of having to leave the Valley to get the medical education and training to become a doctor. Many of his peers did not get that chance, he said.

Today, about 38 percent of the UTRGV School of Medicine’s charter class is from the Valley, he told legislators.

“I think back to my generation. And when I see these young people, I wonder how many of them would have had to forgo that dream if we did not have a medical school,” he said. “These are the physicians who will have the opportunity now to complete their training, and many of them will stay here to address the healthcare challenges we have here in the Valley.

“In our medical school, we’re not only preparing them to be excellent physicians, but physicians who understand the unique needs that we have here in our community,” Vela said.

Legislators from all over Texas and members of their staffs were in the Valley as part of the Rio Grande Partnership’s 2017 Legislative Tour, where they learned about issues facing the Valley.

The panelists updated legislators on how the School of Medicine is providing opportunities for economic growth and research, and shared how its residency programs are helping close gaps in healthcare access in a medically underserved area.

They also asked legislators to consider continuing their support of funding more residency slots, and the continuation of the Medicaid 1115 Waiver.

The Lower Rio Grande Valley visit was organized by the RGV Partnership and UTRGV.

PASSWORD for access to these photo galleries: RGV (all uppercase).

PHOTO GALLERY – HARLINGEN VISIT: http://utrgv-umc.photoshelter.com/gallery/20170127-Texas-Legislature-RGV-Tour-DP/G00000MZc8gdMknE/C0000OxOMyzQL3z4

PHOTO GALLERY – BROWNSVILLE VISIT: http://utrgv-umc.photoshelter.com/gallery/20170127-Texas-Legislature-UTRGV-Tour-DP/G0000KxhsUwb1bQQ/C0000OxOMyzQL3z4

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Jennifer L. Berghom and Gail Fagan contributed to this article. For more information on the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation and the City of Edinburg, please log on to http://edinburgedc.com or to http://www.facebook.com/edinburgedc.

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