Featured, from left: Alfredo Álvarez, President, Texas State Teachers Association Region 6 and Donna TSTA Treasurer; René Zamora, President, Edinburg Texas State Teachers Association; Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg; and María “Maggie” Inglett, President, Harlingen Texas State Teachers Association, and Officer, TSTA Region 6. On Wednesday, April 28, 2018, in the First National Bank Ballroom in Mercedes, Canales, the House District 40 leader, was the only Rio Grande Valley member of the Texas Legislature who received the prestigious “Friend of Education” award by the Texas State Teachers Association (TSTA) – Region 6.
Photograph By ALEX RÍOS (more…)
Featured: A recent U.S. Air Force poster, part of an ongoing campaign by the American military in support of Airmen and their families who have been a victim of sexual assault. In Texas, a statewide effort led by Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, is underway to develop strategies to reduce sexual assault by equipping the public with knowledge and awareness of this serious crime by designating April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Photograph Courtesy of U.S. AIR FORCE
Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, has proposed that April would be designated as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Texas in order to increase knowledge that leads to more prevention of sexual assault and punishment of criminals, and to authorize the regular observance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month through appropriate activities in public schools and other places. Sexual assault, according to FindLaw.com, occurs when a defendant – intentionally and knowingly – commits any of a number of prohibited sexual activities listed under Texas’ sexual assault law without the victim’s consent. Canales’ proposal, as illustrated in House Bill 822, was overwhelmingly approved by the Texas House of Representatives on Thursday, April 2o, 2017. The bill will now go to the Texas Senate for their action. “Today, I passed legislation out of the House to officially designate the month of April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in an effort to raise public awareness about sexual assault and educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual assault,” Canales said. “We need everyone’s help to reduce sexual assault, and I believe that officially designating this month is a step in the right direction towards proactively reducing sexual assault.” Sexual assault is a serious criminal violation. Canales’ measure stems from a study conducted by UT Austin’s Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault, whose findings were released on Friday, March 24, 2017. The report titled Cultivating Learning and Safe Environments showed that sexual assault is an ongoing problem throughout society, including in the halls of higher education. According to the study, almost 200 out of the more than 3,800 students who participated in the anonymous online survey reported to have been sexually assaulted since they have been enrolled at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s campuses. Nine percent of those students who participated in the anonymous online survey – almost 350 individuals – said they had been victims of unwanted sexual touching since they have been enrolled at UTRGV’s campuses. “These figures are shocking, to say the least,” said Canales, an attorney who also serves on the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence, which shapes state laws to protect Texans, especially from violent criminals. “But through this legislation, and another major bill I am working on, we are going to help remove the shroud of secrecy over sexual assault, family violence, and stalking policies at our public universities and colleges.” House Bill 1096, coauthored by Canales and Rep. J.M. Lozano, R-Kingsville, would require public universities and colleges in Texas to provide students and organizations with information about these crimes. “If HB 1096 becomes law, but a public university or college fails to provide that information, that university or college would not receive any state funding,” Canales said.
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: Janiece Longoria of Houston, a renowned attorney who was born in McAllen and grew up in Pharr, was one of three Texans appointed on Monday, January 23, 2017 by Gov. Greg Abbott to the University of Texas System Board of Regents, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. If approved by the Texas Senate, she would serve on one of the most powerful state boards, which controls tens of billions of dollars for the UT System, including money for the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and the School of Medicine campuses in Edinburg. Her term would begin on February 1, 2017 and end on February 1, 2023.
Photograph by: Scott Dalton
Janiece Longoria may soon be joining fellow attorney Ernest Aliseda of McAllen as a current UT System regent with deep roots in the Rio Grande Valley. Aliseda was appointed to a six-year term on the nine-member UT System Board of Regents by Gov. Rick Perry in February 2013. Longoria is a daughter of the late Sen. Raúl Longoria, D-Pharr, who was a civil rights activist in the Texas Legislature, both in the House of Representatives and then in the Senate, where he represented Hidalgo County. The Edinburg Mayor and the Edinburg City Council, along with the Edinburg EDC Board of Directors, lobby the Texas Legislature and the UT System Board of Regents on behalf of the UTRGV and School of Medicine campuses in Edinburg. Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director for the Edinburg EDC, which is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mayor Richard García as President, Harvey Rodríguez, Jr. as Vice President, Elías Longoria, Jr. as Secretary/Treasurer, and Richard Rupert and Dr. Peter Dabrowski as Members. Agustín García, Jr. and Mayor Richard García are not related.
Featured: Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, at the rostrum (large desk) facing the Texas Senate chamber at the State Capitol Building. The portrait behind her is of Stephen F. Austin, known as the “Father of the Republic of Texas”, done shortly before his death on December 27, 1836.
Photograph By SENATE MEDIA SERVICES
Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, is one of six 2016 inductees into The Daily Texan Hall of Fame, the non-profit Friends of The Daily Texan announced recently. The organization was established in 2013 to support quality journalism and a strong future for the student newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin. While a UT undergraduate, Zaffirini served as a reporter, feature writer, copy editor, headline writer, assistant editor and special issue editor for The Daily Texan. “This award is especially meaningful to me because working for The Daily Texan was an amazing experience that strengthened my resolve to pursue a career in communication and public service,” Zaffirini said. “What’s more, I am grateful to the Friends of The Daily Texan not only for this honor, but also for their work to promote quality journalism and to ensure the success of The Daily Texan in the digital world. I share their belief in the power of student journalism, and, equally important, their commitment to freedom of speech and freedom of the press.”