Featured: Rep. Armando “Mando” Martínez, D-Weslaco, with Gloria Leal, Gloria Leal and Associates, on Tuesday, January 8, 2019, at the Valley lawmaker’s office at the Texas Capitol, during the beginning of the 140-day regular session of the 86th Texas Legislature.
Proposed Rio Grande Valley School of Law, authored by Rep. Martínez, Rep. Guillén, set for House committee hearing on Wednesday
The first of four legislative measures calling for establishing a public law school presence in El Paso County and the Rio Grande Valley is scheduled for a public hearing in Austin on Wednesday, March 13, 2019 before the House Committee on Higher Education.
House Bill 103 by Rep. Armando “Mando” Martínez, D-Weslaco, and Rep. Ryan Guillén, D-Rio Grande City, seeks the creation of the “Rio Grande Valley School of Law”.
That measure is one of seven House bills by separate state representatives which are scheduled for a public hearing on Wednesday, March 13, 2019, beginning at 8 a.m. in Room E1.014 at the State Capitol complex in Austin.
Both a live broadcast and a videotaped broadcast of the entire committee hearing will be available for viewing online at:
Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, is the author of House Bill 138, which would require the Board of Regents for the University of Texas System to establish a “Distance Learning Program”, to be developed and maintained by the UT School of Law at Austin, at a facility owned by The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
Canales’ HB 138, which has been referred to the House Committee on Higher Education, has yet to be scheduled for a public hearing.
Canales’ bill applies to the first academic year of UT School of Law students who wish to begin their legal education in deep South Texas. For the second and third years of law school, those students would have to transfer to Austin.
Canales, in his legislation, states that such as program “must be administered in a manner that is consistent with the accreditation requirements for the law school. The (UT System Board of Regents) shall ensure that at least five students are allowed to participate in the program during each academic year. The law school may allow more than five students to participate in the program during each academic year.”
Also, HB 138 by Canales would require the UT System Board of Regents to “ensure that the distance learning program…begins not later than the 2020 fall semester.”
Meanwhile, two other legislative proposals – Senate Bill 144 by Sen. José Rodríguez, D-El Paso, and HB 327 by Rep. Evelina “Lina” Ortega, D-El Paso – also are awaiting possible public hearings before the Senate Committee on Higher Education and the House Committee on Higher Education, respectively.
Rodríguez and Ortega’s measures are identical.
Ortega’s HB 327 had initially been scheduled to receive a public hearing along with the Martínez/Guillén measure, but her bill has been withdrawn from any consideration, according the history of her measure.
House Bill 103 by Martínez and Guillén, which states the law school would be called the Rio Grande Valley School of Law, would allow any public university system in Texas to establish the law school, and would require “the responsibility for the management of the law school to a general academic teaching institution in the university system.”
HB 103 also proposes the following additional key conditions for the establishment of the Rio Grande Valley School of Law:
• The governing board (Board of Regents) of a university system that intends to establish a law school under this section shall notify the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. If the coordinating board receives notification under this subsection from more than one governing board, the coordinating board shall determine which of those governing boards may establish a law school under this section.
(The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) was created by the Texas Legislature in 1965 to represent the highest authority in the state in matters of public higher education. THECB to engage in negotiated rule-making with institutions of higher education and other affected entities when adopting policies, procedures, or rules relating to certain matters. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board promotes access, affordability, quality, success, and cost efficiency in the state’s institutions of higher education, through Closing the Gaps and its successor plan, resulting in a globally competent workforce that positions Texas as an international leader in an increasingly complex world economy.)
• The coordinating board must base the determination on the need for a law school in a geographic area, potential student demand, available system resources, the feasibility of the specific proposal of each system, and other criteria the coordinating board considers appropriate.
• Before the governing board establishes a law school under this section, the governing board shall request the coordinating board to prepare a feasibility study to determine the actions the system must take to obtain accreditation of the law school. The coordinating board shall deliver a copy of the study to the governing board and to the chair of each legislative standing committee with jurisdiction over higher education.
GOV. ABBOTT APPOINTS FOUR TO UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS SYSTEM BOARD OF REGENTS, INCLUDING NOLAN PÉREZ, M.D., OF HARLINGEN
Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday, March 7, 2019, appointed Nolan Pérez, M.D. to the University of Texas System Board of Regents for a term set to expire on February 1, 2021.
Additionally, the governor appointed Christina Melton Crain, Jodie Lee Jiles, and Kelcy Warren for terms set to expire on February 1, 2025.
Nolan Pérez, M.D. of Harlingen is CEO of Gastroenterology Consultants of South Texas.
Pérez grew up in the Rio Grande Valley and graduated from Port Isabel High School.
He is married to Sandy Pérez and they have 2 children: Nolan age 12 and Natalie age 10.
He is a member of the Texas Medical Association, American Medical Association, American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, and the American Gastroenterologic Association, and is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American College of Gastroenterology.
He has served as a member of the Texas Woman’s University Board of Regents since 2015, and as board chair since 2017.
He is a Trustee for Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District, having first been elected in 2010.
He also serves on the University of Texas Foundation, UT Chancellor’s Council Executive Committee, UT Austin Development Board, UT Rio Grande Valley Development Board Executive Committee, Holdsworth Center Governing Board, Humanities of Texas Board, Texas Lyceum Board of Directors, and Educate Texas Advisory Board.
Additionally, he is a member of the Philosophical Society of Texas, Texas Foundation for Innovative Communities, Lone Star National Bank Board, Sen. John Cornyn’s (R-Texas) Service Academy Nominations Board, and FIRST in Texas Foundation.
Pérez received a Bachelor of Arts from The University of Texas at Austin and a Medical Doctorate from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. He completed residency training in Internal Medicine at the Regional Academic Health Center in Harlingen, and fellowship training in Gastroenterology at Wayne State University/Detroit Medical Center.
After medical school he served in the U.S. Navy as a Medical Corps Officer.
His medical practice, Gastroenterology Consultants of South Texas, PA, is located on Victoria Lane in Harlingen.
Christina Melton Crain of Dallas is an attorney and the founder and President/CEO of Unlocking DOORS.
She is a member of the American Correctional Association and the Texas Corrections Association.
She is President of the Trinity River Authority of Texas Board of Directors, a public member of the Texas Public Transportation Advisory Council, a former chairman of the Texas Board of Criminal Justice and serves as the prisoner representative on The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center Institutional Review Board.
She is a past director of the State Bar of Texas and past president the Dallas Bar Association, the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers and the Dallas Women Lawyers Association.
She is a life member of The University of Texas College of Liberal Arts Advisory Council, a former board member of the Center for Missing/Exploited Children-Texas Region, and a former trustee of the Dallas Bar Foundation.
Crain received a Bachelor of Arts in government from The University of Texas at Austin and a Juris Doctor degree from Oklahoma City University School of Law.
Jodie Lee Jiles of Houston is Director of Business Development for Transwestern.
He is a member of The University of Texas at Austin Development Board, the UT Health Development Board and former board member of the Texas Southern University Foundation.
He served as chairman of the Texas Business Leadership Council and is currently on the Executive Committee. He is former chairman of the Greater Houston Partnership and a lifetime director.
Additionally, he is a former gubernatorial appointee to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and a former director of The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas-Houston Branch.
He is a trustee of the Texas Children’s Hospital and the Baylor College of Medicine where he serves on both Executive Committees.
Currently, he is Chairman of Loving Kids and a former board member of KIPP Academy.
Jiles received a Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting from Texas Southern University and a Master of Professional Accountancy from The University of Texas at Austin.
Kelcy Warren of Dallas is Chairman and CEO of Energy Transfer Partners.
He has received numerous awards for his outstanding career achievements and contributions toward the advancement of the midstream industry.
He is a member of the Parks and Wildlife Commission, and is also active in organizations outside the energy business — he serves on the board of directors of The Klyde Warren Park, The Lamplighter School, and The University of Texas at Arlington.
He also supports a number of children’s charities around the country through Cherokee Crossroads, Inc. Warren received a Bachelor of Science from The University of Texas at Arlington.
These appointments are subject to Senate confirmation.
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).