Featured: Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, on Thursday, September 20, 2018, addressing the news media at Edinburg City Hall after being named a Transparency Champion by the Texas Press Association for his record of supporting the Texas Open Meetings Act and the Texas Public Information Act.
Photograph By ALEX RÍOS
Bills introduced by Rep. Canales to promote government transparency, create University of Texas at Austin School of Law distance learning at UT Rio Grande Valley, reduce fraudulent telephone calls, register 3D handguns with DPS
The first round of legislative measures by Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, that will be considered by the Texas Legislature were introduced on Monday, November 12, 2018 at the Capitol, including proposals to promote government transparency, establish a University of Texas at Austin School of Law distance learning program at UT-Rio Grande Valley, reduce fraudulent telephone calls, and require secretly-made 3D handguns to be registered with the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Monday, November 12, 2018 was the first day a state lawmaker can introduce any measure into the legislative process and be given a number. State representatives submit legislation, known as a House bill, with the Chief Clerk of the Texas House of Representatives; state senators submit legislation, known as a Senate bill, with the Secretary of the Texas Senate.
The Texas Legislature officially convenes (returns to work) for its 140-day regular session on Tuesday, January 8, 2019. But state lawmakers can begin submitting their legislative proposals, known as bills, weeks ahead of time, for many different reasons, including letting the public know about the lawmakers’ ideas so Texas citizens can participate in the fate of those measures.
“The Texas Capitol, where the Texas Legislature meets and works, is the ‘People’s House’,” Canales said. “Whether a citizen supports, opposes, or can improve any legislation, or has their own ideas for state laws and policies, I strongly encourage anyone and everyone to be part of the Texas state legislative process.”
The House District 40 state lawmaker, who was unopposed in 2018 for his upcoming fourth two-year term in the House of Representatives, said constituents can contact him through his Edinburg District Office at 956/383-0860 or at his Capitol office at 512/463-0426, communicate with him on his Facebook page, and/or email him at [email protected].
Canales, who in late September 2018, received the Transparency Champion Award from the Texas Press Association, has reintroduced a bill to increase the public’s access to
In 2015, the Texas Supreme Court delivered a court ruling known as the Boeing ruling (Boeing v. Paxton), which resulted in shielding public access to many government contracts with private businesses. In some cases, it has become impossible to see how taxpayer money is spent on items such as contracted school services or even how much total money is spent on a contract.
On Thursday, September 20, 2018, Canales’ dedication to protecting the people’s right to know about their government activities earned him the Transparency Champion award from the Texas Press Association.
TPA Executive Vice President Donnis Baggett traveled to Edinburg to present Canales with the organization’s recognition. Baggett commended Canales’ transparency-related efforts during the 2017 regular session of the Texas Legislature, calling him a “warrior.”
HOUSE BILL 138 – Canales has also refiled legislation from previous years calling for the Board of Regents of the University of Texas System to create the UT School of Law Distance learning program at the UTRGV campus in Edinburg.
The Rio Grande Valley faces a geographical barrier to public law schools and has one of the lowest lawyer-to-citizen ratios in the state. His proposal is aimed at helping reduce the significant financial burden on students from the Rio Grande Valley residents who already have been accepted as first year students at the UT School of Law in Austin. Once those students successfully complete the first year in the Valley, they would transfer to the Austin campus to finish the final two years of their legal education, and receive their diploma from The University of Texas at Austin School of Law.
His proposal to cut down caller ID spoofing, which is the act of using commercially available technology that appears on a person’s caller ID screen, would give state prosecutors the authority to file criminal charges against individuals who defraud, harass, or cause harm to unsuspecting Texans. Often, spoofing involves unwanted calls from auto-dialers and telemarketers whose intent is to scam the person being called.
HOUSE BILL 101 – Under the Truth in Caller ID Act, the Federal Communications Commission rules prohibit anyone from transmitting misleading or inaccurate caller ID information with the intent to defraud, cause harm or wrongly obtain anything of value. Anyone who is illegally spoofing can face penalties of up to $10,000 for each violation. However, spoofing is not always illegal. There are legitimate, legal uses for spoofing, like when a doctor calls a patient from her personal mobile phone and displays the office number rather than the personal phone number or a business displays its toll-free call-back number.
HOUSE BILL 38 – Other concerns raised by law enforcement leaders include 3-D-printed guns do not require much skill or training; anyone can produce their own gun with ease if they have access to a 3-D printer, and it would also allow people who might otherwise fail a background check to possess a gun, like convicted felons or domestic abusers.
As a result, Canales – who is a strong supporter of the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment – is carrying legislation that would require 3-D printed guns to be registered with Texas Department of Public Safety within a certain period of time, individuals who create 3-D guns would have to first pass a criminal background check, and a serial number imprinted on steel attached to the gun would be required, which would allow for detection by metal detector, and also it would help law enforcement officials to track the owner if it is found at a crime scene.
Among the other House bills pre-filed by Canales into the state legislative process on Monday, November 12, 2018, the Edinburg attorney wrote the following legislation:
HOUSE BILL 21 – Providing a sales tax holiday on the purchase of textbooks by university and college students in order to help them and their families to better afford those textbooks;
HOUSE BILL 51 – Requiring the Texas Supreme Court to create and promulgate certain plea forms, and require that those forms be required to be used by all courts by a date decided by the Supreme Court;
HOUSE BILL 110 – Requiring the Texas Office of Court Administration to determine how much money Texas taxpayers would save if certain Class C misdemeanors were reclassified to civil violations;
HOUSE BILL 115 – Requiring cruise lines with casinos that operate out of Texas ports to report to the state what are the odds and payout percentages of their gambling devices;
HOUSE BILL 133 – Prohibiting employers from withholding an employee’s tips to cover the cost for the debit/credit card processing transaction fees;
HOUSE BILL 144 – Preventing an employer from requiring or using a credit report of an potential employee as a condition of employment, and also banning an employer from denying employment or promotion to an employee based on their credit report;
HOUSE BILL 149 – Requiring school districts in Texas to pay unemployment compensation for bus drivers when they are not needed during the summer breaks;
HOUSE BILL 168 – Requiring state government, in partnership with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, to evaluate the creation of bilingual zones in Texas, which would result in government notices and services being provided in multiple languages;
HOUSE BILL 176 – Allowing millions of Texans who have fulfilled their sentence for a conviction of a minor misdemeanor to have that offense removed from their permanent record by a state judicial court;
HOUSE BILL 181 – Creating a pilot program for the issuance of digital identification, specifically a Texas driver license; Providing state prosecutors the authority to file state charges against suspects arrested for assaulting federal law enforcement officer, such as agents of the FBI, the U.S. Border Patrol, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement;
HOUSE BILL 184 – Requiring state prosecutors to divulge to the jury the benefits and costs of the sentence they are recommending because it can cost an estimated $40,000 a year to keep one person in state prison – money that can be instead used by the state government for teachers, law enforcement officers, and other equally-important public servants; and
HOUSE BILL 186 – Requiring that in criminal cases involving the possession of marijuana that the state can only charge defendants with the actual weight of the drug allegedly in their possession, and no longer include the weight of the container of the illegal drug.
A list that is updated every day of legislation, including amendments, authored, sponsored, co-authored, and co-sponsored by Canales is available online at:
Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, represents House District 40 in Hidalgo County, which includes portions or all of Edinburg, Elsa, Faysville, La Blanca, Linn, Lópezville, McAllen, Pharr and Weslaco. He may be reached at his House District Office in Edinburg at (956) 383-0860 or at the Capitol at (512) 463-0426. For more on this and other Texas legislative news stories which affect the Rio Grande Valley metropolitan region, please log on to Titans of the Texas Legislature.