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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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DPS troopers, Texas Rangers, and other eligible Highway Patrol personnel would receive daily overtime pay protections while promoting public safety under plans by Rep. Canales, Rep. Miller, and Sen. Hinojosa

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.”

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Increased fee planned by Texas Department of Agriculture would hurt small business exporters of citrus and rose products, says Rep. Canales

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Featured: Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, on Tuesday, July 5, 2016 at the Medical Education Building in Edinburg, which is a major component of the School of Medicine for the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Canales was a cosponsor in 2013 of Senate Bill 24, authored by Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and sponsored by Rep. René Oliveira, D-Brownsville, which created a full-fledged medical school for deep South Texas.

Photograph By ALEX RÍOS

Under a measure being proposed by the Texas Department of Agriculture, which is being opposed by Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, small business citrus and rose nurseries throughout Texas would pay dramatically higher fees to the state for exporting their products to the rest of the nation. Canales is the only Valley lawmaker among the 28 state legislators calling on TDA Commissioner Sid Miller, a Republican, to eliminate a proposed fee increase by the state agency for the issuance of phytosanitary certificates, which helps guarantee that plants and plant products exported by Texans are pest-free. The proposed fee increase would especially hurt small business owners, the House District 40 lawmaker noted.

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Digital driver license law by Rep. Canales now in development stage by Texas Department of Public Safety

Photograph By MORPHO TRUST TECHNOLOGY

Texans are approaching the day they will have the option to carry a virtual version of their driver license on their smartphone, as illustrated in this image, as a result of a state law by Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, that is now in the development stage by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Photograph By MORPHO TRUST TECHNOLOGY

“Under my legislation, which was contained in Senate Bill 1934 and became law on September 1, 2015, the Texas Department of Public Safety was required to conduct a study concerning the use of a digital mage for identification and proof of licensure purposes,” Canales reported. “As a result, five major proposals on how to achieve this goal have been submitted for the first time to the DPS.” Canales’ idea would result in Texas developing a system where such digital driver licenses could become a reality in Texas within the next few years.

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