Featured, from left: Rep. Matt Schaefer, R-Tyler; Rep. Mike Lang, R-Grandbury; Rachel Wetsel, Clerk, House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence; and Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg. Canales was serving as Chair of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Subcommittee on Asset Forfeiture during its meeting in Austin on Wednesday, March 29, 2017.
Photograph By HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHY
Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, along with a bipartisan supermajority of the Texas House of Representatives, wants President Trump and Congress to avoid any actions that would threaten almost $92.5 billion in annual Texas exports to Mexico, which is the largest trading partner for the Lone Star State. Exports are goods or services sent to another country for sale. Mexico’s relationship to Texas is so important to state lawmakers that they want to make sure their federal counterparts in Washington D.C. also don’t jeopardize hundreds of thousands of Texas jobs because of negative stereotypes or ignorance of Mexico’s roles in creating jobs and prosperity for all Americans. Through the use of a legislative measure, House Resolution 1025 by Canales, the Texas House of Representatives is urging the nation’s top elected leaders to recognize the huge significance of trade between Texas and Mexico. “As Texans, we understand the importance of the Texas-Mexico relationship to the economic success of state. 382,000 Texas jobs are supported by trade with Mexico” said Canales. “Should this relationship be impacted negatively, the social and economic security of the Texas border region would be devastating.” HR 1025, which is being sent to President Trump and Congress, calls on national leaders – many who are unfamiliar with U.S. international commerce involving Mexico – “to fully evaluate the impact of proposed federal trade policies, legislation, executive orders, and other actions on Texas-Mexico commerce.”
In certain situations, active duty members and veterans of the U.S. military who suffer from a brain injury, mental illness, or mental disorder, including post-traumatic stress disorder, or was a victim of military sexual trauma that occurred during or resulted from the defendant’s military services – and who are convicted of their first criminal offense in Texas – would be able to have that conviction wiped off their record automatically and for free, Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, has proposed. His measure, House Bill 322, which was approved on Wednesday, April 12, 2017 by the Texas House of Representatives on a vote of 146 to 0, now goes to the Texas Senate for its action. HB 322 also would extend these protections to eligible members of the reserves, national guard, or state guard. Having a court order the destruction of records of the conviction is known as an expungement. An expungement is currently available for certain Texans, but the costs nationwide can start around $400 and go up to $4,000, plus court costs, depending on the nature of the charge, according to CostHelper.com. Texas veterans “are being failed by current law because in many cases these wounded warriors do not get their record expunged because it requires hiring a lawyer and paying additional court fees,” added the House District 40 state lawmaker, who is an attorney. “Such costs prevent many veterans eligible for an expungement from doing so.” But under HB 332, U.S. military personnel and veterans who successfully complete a rigorous and effective series of rehabilitative programs offered through veterans courts in Texas would be able to have their record cleared of a first offense, saving them thousands of dollars and precious time. “Criminal records are like scarlet letters that a person carries for the rest of their lives,” Canales said. “Our active military personnel and veterans fight and die for us, and I believe if they mess up, they should be given special consideration under the law.” HB 322 was requested by judges statewide who oversee the state’s veterans treatment courts.
Graphic Courtesy U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Featured: Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, addresses fellow lawmakers from the front podium in the chamber of the Texas House of Representatives during the first half of the 140-day 85th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature, which began in mid-January 2017.
Photograph By HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHY
The long-standing practice statewide of jailing tens of thousands of Texans who are too poor to pay expensive fines for Class C misdemeanors, such as traffic tickets, could soon come to an end under legislation by Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, which has been strongly approved by the Texas House of Representatives. “In Texas, tens of thousands of people are being sent to jail each year for failure to pay tickets, fines and fees arising from court cases,” said Canales, an attorney. “We have too many Texans statewide who are struggling to pay rent and groceries, then they wind up getting ticketed for the most minor offenses, such as traffic violations. In the effort by government to squeeze money out of indigent Texans, taxpayers end up paying to jail these minor offenders.” House Bill 351, which received final approval on Thursday, March 23, 2017 from the House of Representatives, would clear up confusion in existing state law so local judges, including justices of the peace, can allow the defendant to perform community service instead of being thrown into jail when they are found indigent. “At the time of sentencing, judges should also be making judgments on whether defendants can even pay the fines that are levied,” Canales said. “Low-income Texans are being set up to fail by the way fines and fees are handled, and they are often driven deeper into poverty.” A defendant who has the money to pay the fine, but refuses to pay it, would still face the risk of being jailed by a judge, he added. HB 351 would also help save taxpayers’ money because of the hidden costs, such as the expenses and legal responsibilities involved in holding a person in jail. “The valuable resources of our judicial and law enforcement professionals, and especially our jails, should remain focused on putting violent criminals, thieves and robbers behind bars, not on poor people charged with an offense whose only punishment is a fine,” said the House District 40 state representative.
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.