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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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More Texas legislators file legislation that would prevent controversy sparked by McAllen contract with Enrique Iglesias, reports Rep. Terry Canales

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.

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Open Government Seminar, available to the public, set for Thursday, June 9, at McAllen Chamber of Commerce, announces Rep. Canales

Open Government Seminar, available to the public, set for Thursday, June 9, at McAllen Chamber of Commerce, announces Rep. Canales

Featured, from left: Harvey Rodríguez, Jr., Vice-President, Board of Directors, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, and Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, at Canales’ District Office in Edinburg on Monday, December 14, 2015.

Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR

An Open Government seminar, offered by the Office of the Texas Attorney General and the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, will take place on Thursday, June 9, 2016 at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, 1200 Ash Avenue, Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, has announced. “Access to public records gives our citizens the opportunity to participate in public life, help set priorities, and hold their governments accountable. A free flow of information can be an important tool for building trust between a government and its citizens. Public access to our government’s work is a fundamental human right,” said Canales. “Democracies die behind closed doors. The First Amendment, through a free press, protects the people’s right to know that their government acts fairly, lawfully, and accurately.”

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