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Rep. Canales supports creation of Texas legislative panel to improve governments’ transparency and accountability to citizens

Rep. Canales supports creation of Texas legislative panel to improve governments’ transparency and accountability to citizens

Featured: Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, with his wife, Erica, on Wednesday, October 4, 2017, prior to the House District 40 state legislator addressing the Edinburg Rotary Club on various issues that affect his constituents.

Photograph By ALEX RÍOS

Texans deserve more power to know what their governments are doing, says Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, who has formally asked Speaker of the House Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, to create a special House-Senate legislative panel to improve transparency and accountability to citizens. Canales, the House District 40 state lawmaker from Hidalgo County, during his career in the Texas Legislature has authored, sponsored, and voted for legislation designed to strengthen public knowledge about the actions of local and state governments, before, during, and after such efforts by those public entities take place. “I have a proven track record of fighting for open-government legislation during my five years as a state lawmaker, through carrying measures that bear my name, and through my work in House committees and on the floor of the House of Representatives, where I have always spoken in favor and voted for dozens of measures that protect the people’s right to know about what our local and state governments are doing in our name with our public resources,” said Canales. In general, open-government is a set of beliefs that all government business should be open to regulation and scrutiny by the public. The Texas Public Information Act and the Texas Open Meetings Act are the two most powerful sets of laws in the state regarding public disclosure of actions of local and state governments. During the recently-concluded 85th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature, which was held from January through May 2017, Canales authored one of the few proposals dealing with open government and public information that became state law. As of September 1, 2017, as a result of Canales’ House Bill 214, the Texas Supreme Court and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals – the highest courts in the state – are required to dramatically improve the ability of the public to see what is going on in the two Austin-based powerful trial courts. “Recording and broadcasting courtroom proceedings can promote transparency and allow the public to evaluate the efficacy of the judicial system,” explained Canales. “To increase the public’s access to the judicial branch, H.B. 214 builds upon previous policies by requiring the Texas Supreme Court and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to make video recordings of their oral arguments, and any open meeting the courts have, and publish the recordings on their respective websites.” The Texas Supreme Court is the state’s highest court for civil matters, and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is the state’s highest court for criminal matters.  

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Rep. Muñoz, whose legislation protects children, consumers, crime victims, and public education, to seek fifth term as House District 36 lawmaker

Rep. Muñoz, whose legislation protects children, consumers, crime victims, and public education, to seek fifth term as House District 36 lawmaker

Featured: Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission, in his seat at his desk on the floor of the Texas House of Representatives. 

Photograph by PETER SALINAS

Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission, whose legislation protects children, consumers, crime victims, and public education, will seek a fifth, two-year term as state lawmaker for House District 36, a key South Texas region which includes all or parts of the cities of Hidalgo, Granjeño, McAllen, Mission, Palmview and Pharr. Muñoz, whose achievements have earned him membership to key House legislative panels, including the powerful House Committee on Appropriations, also has used his eight years experience in the Texas Legislature to make improvements on border trade and economic prosperity, educational funding and opportunities for students, teachers and education professionals, while successfully championing a higher quality-of-life and access to health care for his constituents. “There is no substitute for experience in life, and the same goes for the Texas Legislature,” said Muñoz, an attorney by profession. “When it comes to getting results for our area, I have an expert knowledge of the legislative process, so I know how to work with my colleagues and the state leadership, and I am able to get big things done for us in House District 36.” Muñoz and his wife María Elena have three children – Gael Sebastián, Sergio Emiliano, and Caterina Violetta. He is the son of former Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Sr., a local healthcare businessman and Connie Muñoz, a long-time educator from the Mission area. His sister, Marla Muñoz-López, is a healthcare professional. He attributes his success and commitment towards civic duty to the values instilled by his parents and strengthened by his love for his family. In addition to his immediate family and his service in the Texas Legislature, Muñoz is a civil and criminal law attorney and sole principal of the Muñoz Law Firm, serving the South Texas region. He served as a Municipal Judge in Palmview, Texas and is a member of the Hidalgo County Bar Association. Beyond his professional service, Representative Muñoz is a member of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and the Knights of Columbus. He attends both Our Lady of the Guadalupe Catholic Church and St. John of the Field’s Catholic Church. Muñoz 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 CAP 4S.4 in the Texas Capitol, 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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U.S. military personnel and veterans suffering from mental health trauma tied to their time in the service would get key legal protections under plan by Rep. Canales approved by Texas House

U.S. military personnel and veterans suffering from mental health trauma tied to their time in the service would get key legal protections under plan by Rep. Canales approved by Texas House

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

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Delta School Supply Giveaway, hosted by Rep. Canales in partnership with Edcouch-Elsa Rotary, Elsa Economic Development Corporation, and City of Elsa, set for Thursday, August 18, 2016 at Carlos F. Truan Junior High Gym in Elsa

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Featured: Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, addressing South Texans during a Memorial Day event at the Brooks County Courthouse in Falfurrias on Monday, May 30, 2016.

Photograph By ALEX RÍOS

The annual Delta School Supply Giveway, which will donate key learning materials, ranging from pens and pencils to paper, erasers and notebooks, is underway and will wrap up on Thursday, August 18, 2016, when the donations will be distributed, while supplies last, to students enrolled in the Edcouch-Elsa, La Villa and Monte Alto school districts, Rep. Terry Canales has announced. “Throughout the state and nation, many families simply don’t have enough resources to properly provide the school supplies needed by their children,” the state lawmaker reflected. “But through the love and caring that our residents have for our communities and for our youth, these small acts of kindness are investments in all of our future and well-being.” Any student enrolled in the Edcouch-Elsa, La Villa, and Monte Alto school district is eligible, but each child and parent must be present to receive a backpack. Each child will get a backpack approved by the school districts, which means it is clear or mesh. In the backpack will be supplies to get a child started out for the year: pencils, folders, notebooks, tissues, glue sticks, erasers, pencil case, rulers, colored pencils and crayons. The backpacks with school supplies will be given away from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Carlos F. Truan Junior High Gym, located at 700 East Ciro Careers Drive in Elsa. There will also be a raffle of school supplies and various resources and service-oriented organizations at the event.

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Proposed law to prevent Texas governments from keeping secret any expenditure paid for with tax funds will be filed by Rep. Terry Canales

Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR

Featured: Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, addressing the Public Affairs Luncheon, sponsored by the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce and the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation on Thursday, January 21, 2016 at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance.

Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR

A proposed law that would prevent Texas governments from approving contracts whose payments are secret will be filed in 2017 by Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, who said he is a strong champion of the people’s right to know. Canales said Texas governments – from school districts to state universities and agencies – should not be allowed to keep secret any expenditures paid for with tax funds.

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