Featured, from left: Rep. Óscar Longoria, D-La Joya, Vice-Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Gary VanDeaver, R-New Boston, Rep. Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, and Rep. Will Metcalf, R-Conroe gather during a break on the floor of the Texas House of Representatives during the Regular Session of the Texas Legislature during Spring 2017.
Photograph By HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHY
Featured: Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, recites the Pledge of Allegiance on the floor of the Texas House of Representatives at the Texas Capitol in Austin. In an effort to help South Texas residents better understand the pros and cons of building a new Hidalgo County Courthouse, the House District 40 lawmaker has submitted a series of questions, which Canales has received from his legislative constituents, to Hidalgo County Judge Ramón García. García has been the main supporter of a current plan favored by the county judge to build a new courthouse, whose cost could reach $150 million, in downtown Edinburg, next to existing Hidalgo County Courthouse.
Photograph By HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHY
Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, an attorney whose House District 40 features much of Edinburg, including the downtown region, in a January 16, 2018 letter to Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia, has submitted concerns from citizens. “There is little doubt that our current courthouse is not adequate for the actual needs of this community, yet I believe we need to work together to clarify misconceptions that seem to be circulating around the area,” Canales stated in his letter to García. “I have a series of questions that I have been asked by Hidalgo County residents that I would like answered in writing to help my constituents and myself become more comfortable with this project.” Canales said as he receives the responses – on the county judge’s official letterhead – to the specific questions from citizens, he will share those answers in follow-up news releases from his legislative office and postings on social media. “It is much better to get Judge Ramón García on the record on these important questions which continue to be asked by the community, show his answers to the people, and let the chips fall where they may,” Canales said. Canales has been deeply involved in introducing and passing state legislation that benefits Hidalgo County residents and county government, including working with Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and Rep. Armando Martínez, D-Weslaco, as a joint author in 2015 that resulted in the creation of a special fund to pay for construction, renovation, and repairs to the county courthouse. “Every major issue involving Hidalgo County government and services protecting Hidalgo County residents have been shaped and are reviewed by me,” Canales said. “The current and proposed county courthouse are in the heart of my legislative district, so you can bet that I have been very involved in following this very important development.”
Featured: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class JoAnn Consiglio, assigned to Navy Officer Recruiting Station Harlingen in Texas, is joined by other sailors of Navy Recruiting District San Antonio and Navy City Outreach Southwest Region, including Lt. Cmdr. Diana Tran-Yu of Navy City, in discussing grassroots perspectives on opportunities, benefits, and careers in the Navy to students during Latina Day on Wednesday, October 4, 2017 at the Hispanic Engineering, Science, and Technology (HESTEC) Week on the Edinburg campus of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
Photograph By BURRELL PARMER
With scores of Texans preparing to pay their 2017 annual home property taxes, Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, is reminding military veterans, and the surviving spouses of first responders who were killed or fatally injured in the line of duty, that there are new laws in place that can help many of them reduce the bills on their primary residence. “Home ownership is a vital part of the American Dream, and I have always supported efforts to provide property tax relief to Texans, such as local property tax freezes for homeowners who are 65-years-of-age or older, and for homeowners who have physical disabilities,” said Canales. “This year, I successfully authored House Bill 217, which provides property tax relief for certain veterans who have a disability, and I voted to place two other measures that protect homeowners on the November 2017 statewide constitutional amendments election ballot, where they were subsequently approved by voters – House Joint Resolution 21 and Senate Joint Resolution 1.” The House Research Organization, which is the nonpartisan research division of the Texas House of Representatives, provides the following background and goals of HB 217, HJR 21, and SJR 1, which became state law in 2017: House Bill (HB) 217 – Canales was the author of HB 217 while Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, sponsored Canales’ bill in the Texas Senate – provides veterans who are disabled, in the instances they were not protected under now-former Texas laws, the ability to defer collection of property taxes or the abatement of a foreclosure/sale of their home due to delinquent property taxes; House Joint Resolution (HJR) 21 – it was approved by Texas voters as Proposition 1 during November 7, 2017 state constitutional amendment election– fixes a shortcoming in current law that unfairly resulted in increasing the financial burden on a veteran with a partial disability who paid some amount of the cost of a donated home; and Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 1 – it was approved by Texas voters as Proposition 6 during the November 7, 2017 state constitutional amendment election – allows a surviving spouse of a first responder who is killed or fatally injured in the line of duty to receive an exemption from ad valorem taxation from all or part of the market value on the surviving spouse’s residence homestead, as long as the surviving spouse has not remarried since the death of the first responder. According to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Texas offers a variety of partial or total (absolute) exemptions from appraised property values used to determine local property taxes. A partial exemption removes a percentage or a fixed dollar amount of a property’s value from taxation. A total (absolute) exemption excludes the entire property from taxation. Taxing units are mandated by the state to offer certain (mandatory) exemptions and have the option to decide locally on whether or not to offer others (local option). (https://comptroller.texas.gov/taxes/property-tax/exemptions/
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.
Featured, from left: McAllen City Commissioner Omar Quintanilla; Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen; McAllen Mayor Jim Darling; Dr. John Krouse, UTRGV Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the School of Medicine; and UTRGV President Guy Bailey, on Wednesday, October 11, 2o17 at the Medical Education Building in Edinburg.
Photograph By PAUL CHOUY
The City of McAllen presented a $1 million check to The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine on Wednesday, October 11, 2017, at the Medical Education Building on the Edinburg Campus. The contribution is in support of the school’s mission to educate students and residents and provide increased access to healthcare. The payment is part of a memorandum of understanding UTRGV signed with McAllen and other Valley cities to support and ensure the success of the School of Medicine. “We are grateful for the City of McAllen’s support of the School of Medicine,” said UTRGV President Guy Bailey. “These funds will support UTRGV and the School of Medicine in its mission to engage in innovative research, clinical care and the training of the next generation of physicians for the Rio Grande Valley.” McAllen Mayor Jim Darling said the payment by the City of McAllen is its contribution to help improve the health and prosperity of the region. “In order to help the entire Rio Grande Valley grow and improve – as a community, in business, and most importantly, in our health – then a strong and vibrant UTRGV School of Medicine is tantamount to help make that possible,” he said. Dr. John H. Krouse, Dean of the School of Medicine and Vice President for Health Affairs, said McAllen’s support further solidifies the partnership between the UTRGV School of Medicine and the communities it serves. “It will allow our faculty, medical residents and students to continue providing healthcare to those who otherwise would not have access to care,” Krouse said, “and it will help fund the innovative research that addresses the healthcare needs of the Valley community.”
Featured, seated, from left: Rep. John Zerwas, M.D., R-Katy, the Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, and Rep. Óscar Longoria, D-La Joya, the Vice-Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, prepare to lay out the proposed $217+ billion, two-year state budget late last spring on the floor of the Texas House of Representatives. On Friday, October 13, 2017, Longoria was appointed by Zerwas to serve as Vice-Chairman of the newly formed Subcommittee on Disaster Impact and Recovery, which is part of the 27-member House Committee on Appropriations.
Photograph By HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHY