Featured: Texas Department of Public Safety troopers, wearing their traditional “Texas Tan” uniforms and cowboy hats with their patent leather gun belts, showed up on Friday, March 3, 2017, along with other South Texas law enforcement professionals for the groundbreaking of the multi-million dollar Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence, located at 4300 S. Cage Boulevard in Pharr. The upcoming campus is a collaboration between South Texas College, the City of Pharr, the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo School District, and the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). “The facility will benefit the region by adding additional programs in public safety, law enforcement, border security, and fire science. These programs provide college level certificates and degrees for public safety and law enforcement professionals in the Rio Grande Valley,” said Mario Reyna, Dean for Business and Technology at STC. “Furthermore, this center will be able to accommodate the professional continuing education courses required by all law enforcement officers. The spectrum of courses offered will cover all the needs of our region. Traveling to College Station or San Antonio for specialized training will be a thing of the past.”
Photograph By ALEX RÍOS
Texas Department of Public Safety troopers, Texas Rangers and other DPS commissioned officers, such as Criminal Investigations Division Special Agents, Texas Capitol Security, and other personnel within the Texas Highway Patrol, would earn overtime pay on a daily basis under legislation by Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, Rep. Rick Miller, R-Sugar Land, and Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen. House Bill 483 by Miller/Canales and Senate Bill 297 by Hinojosa, which are identical in language, would change Section 411.016, Government Code, to allow DPS, which is a state police force, to calculate overtime for eligible staff – including its Homeland Security Division and Counterterrorism Division – based on working more than eight hours in a 24-hour period, according to the bill analysis of both measures. The two bills would benefit officers because it would allow them to take sick leave or other types of leave without risking the loss of earned overtime. As DPS officers move to a standard 50-hour work week, they will develop a reasonable expectation of paid overtime based on the standard schedule. “In order to increase protection for our citizens, DPS often has its troopers on duty for up to 12 hours a day, which is 48 hours during four days of a five-day, eight hour a day, workweek. ” Canales explained. “But currently, if for whatever reason, any trooper who has worked more than 40 hours in four days is not available or not needed on the fifth day, he or she would not receive any overtime pay. That’s not fair. Our law enforcement professionals put their lives on the line for us every day.”
FEATURED, FROM LEFT: Claudia Jackson, Executive Director of Strategic Communication and Government Relations, Del Mar College, Corpus Christi; Barbara Canales, Attorney-at-Law, Corpus Christi; Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg; Dr. Gilda Ramírez, Vice President, Small Business & Education, United Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce; and Rosie Gonzalez Collin, Director of Community Relations, Port Corpus Christi, meeting in Canales’ office at the State Capitol on Wednesday, February 8, 2017. The Coastal Bend delegation met with Canales to discuss pending legislation that will affect community colleges in Corpus Christi.
Photograph By CARLOS PIMENTEL
With Texas’ energy industry expected to grow in 2017, Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, will play a key role on legislative matters that affect this vital economic force, which accounts for $13.8 billion in Fiscal Year 2015 ($15.7 billion in FY 2014) in taxes and royalties that directly fund Texas’ public schools, roads and emergency services. Canales on Thursday, February 9, 2017, was reappointed to the House Committee on Energy Resources, which has widespread jurisdiction over proposed laws and policies that, among its duties, deals with the conservation of the energy resources of Texas, the production, regulation, transportation, and development of oil, gas, and other energy resources, protecting the environment, and the activities of the Railroad Commission of Texas. The House District 40 state legislator, who is in his third two-year term, also was reappointed to the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence, which usually considers proposed measures designed to protect Texans from criminals. “I will be supporting efforts to let family violence victims know more accurately the whereabouts of convicted abusers when those criminals are out on bond for their violence, to develop classroom education to teach young people how to be in a healthy relationship, and to increase state funding for women’s shelters across the state,” he said.
Featured, from left: Erika Canales, seated, bears witness as her husband, Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, takes the oath of office on the floor of the Texas House of Representatives at the State Capitol in Austin on Tuesday, January 12, 2016, as he begins his third term representing House District 40 in Hidalgo County.
Photograph By ALEX RÍOS
House Bill 326, which would prohibit an employer from keeping any portion of a gratuity paid to or left for a tipped employee, has been filed by Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, as part of a series of proposals by Texas lawmakers designed to increase the minimum wage in Texas. HB 326 would benefit thousands of such employees whose hard work still leave them in poverty. “Every time a business is paid with a debit card or credit card, that firm must pay a fee for that financial service,” Canales explained. “But for waitpersons in restaurants – those professionals who provide excellent service and depend on gratuities to make a living – it is unfair if employers pay that fee from the worker’s tips.” In a related measure, Canales in 2015 voted for House Joint Resolution 26, which proposed an amendment to the Texas Constitution that would establish the minimum wage in Texas at $10.10 an hour, or the federal minimum wage, whichever is higher. House Joint Resolution 26 was defeated by Republicans in the House of Representatives on May 15, 2015. However, for the current five-month legislative session, which began in early January 2017, similar measures have been filed. According to the Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP), if legislation to increase the minimum wage is approved by the Texas Legislature later this spring and not vetoed by Gov. Greg Abbott, more than 67,000 workers in Hidalgo County, or about 43.1 percent of the labor force, would get a pay increase, Canales noted.
Featured: Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, preparing to address the Rio Grande Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Legislative Report Card Luncheon, held on Thursday, August 18, 2016, at the Embassy Suites by Hilton McAllen Convention Center.
Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR
Additional measures have been filed by state lawmakers that would prevent Texas governments from approving certain types of contracts whose payments are allowed to be kept secret, said Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, a strong supporter of the people’s right to know, who has already introduced similar legislation that will promote transparency in government. Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake, and Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, on Tuesday, January 3, 2016, each introduced two pieces of identical legislation, representing four individual bills, to close loopholes in the Texas Public Information Act that were created by recent Texas Supreme Court rulings. A key portion of the Capriglione/Watson proposals share the intent of Canales’ House Bill 349, which would require local governments in Texas to reveal the amount of public funds paid in part or in whole for parades, concerts, or other events open to the general public. Canales drafted his HB 349 following growing concern about a stand taken by McAllen city government that it is prevented in disclosing the fee it paid to Enrique Iglesias, one of the best-selling Latin recording artists in the world, who was the star attraction for a December 5, 2015 concert, held at McAllen Veterans Memorial Stadium, as part of McAllen Holiday Parade organized by the City of McAllen.
Featured: Congressman Vicente González, D-McAllen, poses with constituents Matthew and Claudia Martínez, also of McAllen, during González’ election night victory event on Tuesday, November 8, 2016 at the Embassy Suites by Hilton McAllen Convention Center.
Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR
Ongoing strategies to remain a center of legislative influence on behalf of its constituents will be considered on Tuesday, January 3, 2017 by the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council, which is scheduled to take action on two cost-sharing measures designed to keep the House District 15 congressional office in the city and to continue with the services of a federal liaison team in Washington, D.C., the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. Among the items set on the City Council agenda for its first regular meeting of 2017 are efforts to cover half of the lease for the district office of Congressman Vicente González, D-McAllen, and for the city and the Edinburg EDC to split the costs for Holland & Knight, LLP, located in Washington, D.C, which is serving as the legislative liaison for the two local government entities. The Edinburg EDC, of which Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg 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.