Featured: Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, recently made Texas history by being appointed as the first Mexican American to serve as Chair of the powerful House Committee on Transportation. In this image, taken on Thursday, September 20, 2018, Canales addresses 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 LUIS LARRAGA
With highways, airways, waterways, and railways vital to economic prosperity and safety in Texas, the House Committee on Transportation is “ready, willing, and able” to move forward with major legislation in 2019 and beyond, says Rep. Canales
With highways, airways, waterways, and railways vital to economic prosperity and safety in the Lone Star State, the House of Representatives Committee on Transportation is “ready, willing, and able” to move forward with major legislation in 2019 and beyond,” says Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg.
Canales is Chair of that powerful, 13-member legislative panel that will have major influence on proposals that will affect the fate of transportation and transit.
Among the broad powers wielded by the House Committee on Transportation, that committee has jurisdiction over governmental entities, including the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, the Texas Department of Transportation, and the Texas Transportation Commission, which administer and distribute billions of dollars every two years for projects statewide.
On Wednesday, February 13, 2019, the Committee on Transportation was scheduled to hold its first public meeting – set to begin upon adjournment of the House of Representatives – in Room E2.030 in the State Capitol Building.
In case of all House committee public hearings, persons with disabilities who plan to attend those meetings and who may need assistance, such as a sign language interpreter, are requested to contact Stacey Nicchio at (512) 463-0850, 72 hours prior to the meeting so that appropriate arrangements can be made.
“With explosive population growth across Texas, including in my own district, our state must plan for future transportation needs, while continuously maintaining our present infrastructure,” said the House District 40 state lawmaker. “I look forward to working closely with local, state, and federal partners to make sure Texas’ transportation network continues to be the best in the country.”
Transportation is the act of transporting, or the state of being transported; conveyance, often of people, goods etc., and transit is the act of passing over, across, or through something (https://wikidiff.com/transportation/transit).
On Wednesday, January 23, 2019, Canales was appointed by Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, to lead the House Committee on Transportation.
A committee is a group of legislators appointed by the presiding officer of the House of Representatives (Bonnen) or the Senate (Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, R-Houston) to which proposed legislation is referred to a specific task is assigned.
The Chair is a legislator appointed to preside over a legislative committee.
Canales first Latino to serve as Chair of House Committee on Transportation
When Canales was appointed Chair of the House Committee on Transportation by Bonnen, both men made history because Canales became the first Mexican American lawmaker to serve as Chair of that committee.
“I very much appreciate Speaker Bonnen’s confidence in my legislative experience and achievements, as well as his commitment to bring more diversity into the highest levels of the Texas Legislature,” Canales said. “Texas is a majority-minority state, and it is in the best interests of all Texans that Hispanics, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, and Native Americans hold legislative leadership positions.”
A majority-minority state is a state with one or more racial and/or ethnic minorities making up a majority of the population.
According to ThoughtCo., a premier reference site with a 20+ year focus on expert-created education content:
“The Lone Star State may be known for cowboys, conservatives, and cheerleaders, but Texas is far more diverse than stereotypes paint it to be. Minorities comprise 55.2 percent of its population. Hispanics comprise 38.8 percent of Texans, followed by 12.5 percent who are black, 4.7 percent who are Asian and 1 percent who are Native American. Whites comprise 43 percent of the Texas population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
“While Texas boasts a rising Latino population, its black population has increased as well. From 2010 to 2011, the black population of Texas rose by 84,000 — the highest of any state.”
Legacy of Rep. Geanie W. Morrison on transportation legislation
Canales also had high praise for Rep. Geanie W. Morrison, R-Victoria, who was Chair of the House Committee on Transportation the previous two years.
She is now Chair of the House Committee on Local and Consent Calendars Committee.
“Madam Chair Morrison, in partnership with former Speaker of the House Joe Straus (R-San Antonio), and with the invaluable contributions of her fellow members of the House Committee on Transportation, during the 2017 and 2018 legislative interim, held public hearings throughout the state, and from those meetings, developed a series of important proposed laws and policies for review and action during the current 140-day session by the 86th Texas Legislature,” Canales said.
“Many of those recommendations will come through the 2019-2020 version of the House Committee on Transportation, and I am blessed to have incredible House members serving with me on this committee,” he noted, and pledged, “We are ready, willing and able” to move forward with major legislation in 2019 and beyond.
The following background on transportation needs in Texas was provided as part of Morrison’s committee’s comprehensive Interim Report to the 86th Texas Legislature:
“To understand the challenges facing Texas and its efforts to maintain and expand its transportation infrastructure, it is essential to also look at the population growth that the state has experienced. Between 2010 and 2016 Texas had the nation’s largest population growth in each of those years.
“The total population increased from 2010 to 2017 by three million, one-hundred fifty-eight thousand, four-hundred and ninety-six.
“The metropolitan statistical areas of Austin-Round Rock, Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, and San Antonio-New Braunfels led the way in population growth during this time.
“Texas has five of the top fifteen most populous cities in the country as of July 1, 2017, and seven of the fifteen fastest growing cities with a population greater than fifty-thousand. These factors have led to population projections indicating that Texas will continue to grow to as many as 42 million residents by 2050.
“A longer look back at the population growth reveals that Texas’s population increased by fifty- five percent between 1990 and 2013. The population grew from approximately seventeen million to approximately 26.4 million. During that same time period, the annual vehicle miles traveled (VMT) increased from 162.2 Billion VMT to two-hundred forty-three Billion VMT, an increase of 80.8 billion VMT, or 49.8%.
“By 2030, it is estimated that VMT will reach three- hundred four billion.
“Texas has also experienced a significant increase in commercial activity related to the shipping of goods and services on both state road systems as well as through the Maritime Ports and the Border Ports.
“In 2016 total Texas freight volume was 2.2 billion tons. By 2045, it is estimated that the total freight volume will grow to 4 billion tons. This increase will be fueled by a number of factors including Texas population growth, increased productivity from industry and businesses, and increased shipping through the Panama canal.
“Both the increase in population and the increase in freight volumes will have a direct impact on Texas’ transportation infrastructure. Existing roadways will need to maintained and upgraded, and new routes and roads will need to be developed to meet the dramatic increase in traffic volume and tonnage. These issues factor heavily in the charges that the committee sought to address.”
Morrison’s House Committee on Transportation’s Interim Report to the Texas Legislature is available online at:
House Transportation Committee has major jurisdiction and powers
In addition to taking action on many of the recommendations made by Morrison’s Interim Report to the 86th Texas Legislature, the House Committee on Transportation, under Canales’ leadership, has the following jurisdiction over all matters pertaining to:
• Commercial motor vehicles, both bus and truck, and their control, regulation, licensing, and operation;
• The Texas highway system, including all roads, bridges, and ferries constituting a part of the system;
• The licensing of private passenger vehicles to operate on the roads and highways of the state;
• The regulation and control of traffic on the public highways of the State of Texas;
• Railroads, street railway lines, interurban railway lines, steamship companies, and express companies;
• Airports, air traffic, airlines, and other organizations engaged in transportation by means of aerial flight;
• Water transportation in the State of Texas, and the rivers, harbors, and related facilities used in water transportation and the agencies of government exercising supervision and control thereover; an
• The regulation of metropolitan transit; and
• The regulation of the following state agencies: the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, the Texas Department of Transportation, and the Texas Transportation Commission.
In addition to Canales, his colleagues on the House Committee on Transportation are:
Rep. Diego Bernal
Rep. Yvonne Davis
Rep. Craig Goldman
Rep. Cole Hefner
Rep. Matt Krause
Rep. Ben Leman
Rep. Armando Martinez
Rep. Evelina “Lina” Ortega
Rep. John Raney
Rep. Shawn Thierry
Rep. Ed Thompson
Hundreds of bills are referred to the House Committee on Transportation
During the last regular session of the Texas Legislature, which took place from early January through the end of May 2017, the House Committee on Transportation had 325 bills referred to it, and 166 measures were approved and sent for action by the full House of Representatives.
In addition to legislation affecting the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, the Texas Department of Transportation, and the Texas Transportation Commission, some of the many other measures approved by the House Committee on Transportation in 2017 which became state laws or policies dealt with – but were not limited to – the following matters:
• The allocation categories for state funding of public transportation;
• Automated motor vehicles;
• The inclusion of education and training regarding human trafficking in the curriculum of commercial driver’s license training programs offered by public junior colleges and career schools and colleges and to certain requirements for commercial driver’s licenses;
• Notice provided to persons with disabilities regarding the eligibility of persons with disabilities to use certain public transportation services;
• Three-point seat belts on buses that transport schoolchildren;
• The security of high-speed rail operated by a private entity;
• The use of state money for high-speed rail operated by a private entity;
• Prohibition of certain motor vehicles resembling emergency medical services vehicles and creating a criminal offense;
• The use of a wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle; creating a criminal offense and modifying existing criminal penalties;
• The administration of the Port of Houston Authority;
• Franchises granted by navigation districts;
• Real property acquired by advance acquisition for a transportation facility;
• The powers and duties of navigation districts and port authorities;
• The development of certain local government transportation infrastructure projects and authorizing the issuance of bonds;
• Relating to real property acquired by advance acquisition for a transportation facility;
• The powers and duties of navigation districts and port authorities; and
• The composition of the aviation advisory committee.
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 (TitansoftheTexasLegislature.com).