Featured: Rep. Sergio Muñoz, D-Mission, left, and Speaker of the House Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, discuss legislation important to the state in this image, taken Wednesday, April 15, 2015, on the floor of the Texas House of Representatives.
Photograph By HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHY
A proposal by Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission, which would allow a statewide vote in November 2017 to require that half of all future gubernatorial appointments go to qualified women, is scheduled for a public hearing at the Capitol on Wednesday, March 29, 2017. Muñoz’ House Joint Resolution 29 is the final measure scheduled to be heard by the House Committee on State Affairs, a 13-member legislative committee that includes Rep. René Oliveira, D-Brownsville, and Rep. Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City. That committee, chaired by Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, will be meeting in Room EXT E2.108 in the Texas Capitol complex. The meeting will begin once the House of Representatives finishes up its work for the day on Wednesday, March 29, 2017. It also will be broadcast live, and the entire session can be viewed online at http://www.house.state.tx.us/video-audio/ , then click “State Affairs” for that day. Under the Muñoz measure, if approved by the Legislature this spring, Texas voters in a statewide election on November 7, 2017, would have the power to create a law that women receive half of all gubernatorial appointments to powerful state boards, commissions, and agencies, such as the Texas Transportation Commission and The University of Texas System Board of Regents. During a four-year term, a governor will make about 3,000 appointments, according to the governor’s office. There are more than 200 state boards, commissions and agencies whose members are appointed by the governor, with the consent of the Senate. “In making any appointment to a state board, commission, or other governing body of a state agency, the governor shall, to the extent possible, ensure that the gender composition of the board, commission, or governing body reflects the gender composition of this state,” Muñoz said. In Texas, as of 2016, there were slightly more women/girls in Texas (12.6 million) than men/boys (12.4 million), according to estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau (https://suburbanstats.org/population/how-many-people-live-in-texas).
Featured: Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, addresses fellow lawmakers from the front podium in the chamber of the Texas House of Representatives during the first half of the 140-day 85th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature, which began in mid-January 2017.
Photograph By HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHY
The long-standing practice statewide of jailing tens of thousands of Texans who are too poor to pay expensive fines for Class C misdemeanors, such as traffic tickets, could soon come to an end under legislation by Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, which has been strongly approved by the Texas House of Representatives. “In Texas, tens of thousands of people are being sent to jail each year for failure to pay tickets, fines and fees arising from court cases,” said Canales, an attorney. “We have too many Texans statewide who are struggling to pay rent and groceries, then they wind up getting ticketed for the most minor offenses, such as traffic violations. In the effort by government to squeeze money out of indigent Texans, taxpayers end up paying to jail these minor offenders.” House Bill 351, which received final approval on Thursday, March 23, 2017 from the House of Representatives, would clear up confusion in existing state law so local judges, including justices of the peace, can allow the defendant to perform community service instead of being thrown into jail when they are found indigent. “At the time of sentencing, judges should also be making judgments on whether defendants can even pay the fines that are levied,” Canales said. “Low-income Texans are being set up to fail by the way fines and fees are handled, and they are often driven deeper into poverty.” A defendant who has the money to pay the fine, but refuses to pay it, would still face the risk of being jailed by a judge, he added. HB 351 would also help save taxpayers’ money because of the hidden costs, such as the expenses and legal responsibilities involved in holding a person in jail. “The valuable resources of our judicial and law enforcement professionals, and especially our jails, should remain focused on putting violent criminals, thieves and robbers behind bars, not on poor people charged with an offense whose only punishment is a fine,” said the House District 40 state representative.
Featured: Dr. Peter Dabrowski, Maestro of the Valley Symphony Orchestra, and a member of the Board of Directors for the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, on Tuesday, February 28, 2017, was inducted into the Rio Grande Valley Walk of Fame at Hidalgo’s BorderFest. Presenting him with the honor was Miss Hidalgo 2016 Alma Pamela Niño. Dabrowski was nominated by the City of Edinburg and selected to the Rio Grande Valley Walk of Fame by the City of Hidalgo, Hidalgo’s BorderFest committee, and the Rio Grande Valley Walk of Fame Commission. Dabrowski is in his 15th season as Music Director and Conductor of the Valley Symphony Orchestra. Additionally, he serves as Associate Dean of the College of Fine Arts, Professor of Music, and Conductor of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Symphony Orchestra in Edinburg. He is committed to providing exhilarating musical performances and education in the Rio Grande Valley. The Walk of Fame celebrates life, achievements and significant civic contributions of outstanding men and women in all walks of life to the communities in the Rio Grande Valley and South Texas.
Photograph By RONNIE LARRALDE
Featured, from left: Hiren Govind, Chief Operating Officer, Qube Hotel Group; Mike Govind, Owner and Operator, Best Western Plus – Edinburg Inn & Suites; Letty González, President, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce; and Jacob De León, Funeral Director, Memorial Funeral Home, and Chairman of the Board, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce, on Tuesday, February 28, 2017, at the State Farm Arena in Hidalgo. During that evening, as part of the City of Hidalgo’s 2017 Borderfest, Mike Govind, a former member of the Board of Directors for the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, was inducted into the Rio Grande Valley Walk of Fame.
Photograph By RONNIE LARRALDE
Edinburg’s retail economy showed an improvement of more than 3.7 percent in January 2017 compared with January 2016, based on local sales taxes generated during those months, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. The amount of local sales taxes collected also helps reflect the strength of an economy, along with construction activities, per capita income, education, historical performances, and related trends. The local sales tax is used in Edinburg to help pay for many city services, while the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation uses its one-half cent local sales tax to help generate economic development in the city. For January 2017, Edinburg’s retail economy produced $1,573,510.95 in local sales taxes, compared with $1,516,885.34 in January 2016, representing an improvement of 3.73 percent. Edinburg’s 3.73 percent increase was third-best among the Valley’s major economies, with Harlingen posting the top improvement, a 4.10 percent growth in January 2017 over January 2016. In terms of local sales tax revenue for January 2017, McAllen led all major Valley cities with $4,129,303.57. Brownsville was second, ($2,586,308.57), Harlingen was third ($1,769,340.94), and Edinburg was fourth ($1,573,510.95). The Edinburg EDC, of which Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director, 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.
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.”
Featured, from left: Elva Jackson Garza, Vice President & Marketing Manager, Edwards Abstract and Title Co.; Byron Jay Lewis, President & CEO, Edwards Abstract and Title Co.; Guy S. Huddleston, III, Senior Vice President & Corporate Ambassador, Edwards Abstract and Title Co.; Mike Overly, Executive Vice President/COO/CFO, Edwards Abstract and Title Co.; Edinburg Mayor Richard García; Dr. Ted C. Jones, Ph.D., Chief Economist and Senior Vice President, Stewart Title Guaranty Co.; D.D. Hoffman, Senior Vice President & Corporate Ambassador, Edwards Abstract & Title Co., and Brandon Linscomb, Vice President/Agency Services Manager, Stewart Title Guaranty Company. This portrait shot was taken on Thursday, March 2, 2017 at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance during the 13th Annual Real Estate Forum, which drew almost 300 real estate professionals and business leaders, and which was hosted by Edwards Abstract and Title Co., whose headquarters is in Edinburg. Garza is a former member of the Board of Directors for the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation. García is the President of the Edinburg EDC Board of Directors.
A group photo during the H-E-B Distinguished Chair in Diabetes and Genomics for the South Texas Diabetes and Obesity Institute luncheon on Wednesday, Mar. 8, 2017 at the McAllen Country Club in McAllen, Texas. From L to R: Dr. Havidan Rodriguez, Winell Herron, Dr. Sarah Wililams-Blangero, Linda Tovar, Kelly Scrivner-Cronin.
UTRGV Photo by Paul Chouy
Photograph By ROBERTO GONZÁLEZ
Featured, from left: Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley; Winell Herron, Vice President of Public Affairs, Diversity & Environmental Affairs, H-E-B Grocery Company LP; Dr. Sarah Williams-Blangero (seated), Director, South Texas Diabetes and Obesity Institute (STDOI); Linda Tovar, H-E-B Manager of Public Affairs, Border Region; and Dr. Kelly Scrivner-Cronin, Vice President for Advancement, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Williams-Blangero, a genetics and infectious diseases expert, is Director of STDOI. UTRGV leaders on Thursday, March 9, 2017, named Williams-Blangero as the Endowed Chair of the H-E-B Distinguished Chair in Diabetes and Genomics for the South Texas Diabetes and Obesity Institute. Rodríguez is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation.
Photograph By PAUL CHOUY