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Featured: With the City of Houston downtown skyscrapers in the background, crews work at a portion of the Port of Houston, helping that city rank as the the country’s number one region for exports. Energy production and the export of crude oil, along with the increasing global demand for chemicals produced in the region, are major drivers of this success. Photograph Courtesy PORT OF HOUSTON

Featured: With the City of Houston downtown skyscrapers in the background, crews work at a portion of the Port of Houston, helping that city rank as the country’s number one region for exports. Energy production and the export of crude oil, along with the increasing global demand for chemicals produced in the region, are major drivers of this success.

Photograph Courtesy PORT OF HOUSTON


Statewide economic impact of Rep. Canales seen on two measures he successfully carried to help Port of Houston Authority and Houston Ship Channel

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Noting that highways, airways, waterways, and railways are vital to economic prosperity and safety in the Lone Star State, Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, promised in January 2019 that he would be “ready, willing and able” to move forward with major transportation legislation at a statewide level.

Canales, who on Wednesday, January 23, 2019, was appointed by Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, as Chair, House Committee on Transportation, has made good on his pledge.

At last count on Thursday, May 23, 2019, Canales, with help from his fellow 12 state legislators on that panel – “every one of them among the finest people I have ever had the honor to know” – have passed 180 bills for action by the Texas Legislature.

Among the broad powers wielded by the House Committee on Transportation, that legislative group, under Canales’ leadership, 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 Thursday, May 16, 2019 and Friday, May 17, 2019, Canales played major roles in the Texas Legislature’s passage of two bills “which affect and will benefit the public and the leadership of the Port of Houston,” a major economic engine and job creator for all Texas.

Senate Bill 1915, authored by Sen. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, and sponsored by Canales, will help better focus the Houston Port Commission of the Port of Houston Authority on its mission of stewarding the Houston Ship Channel and resolve a potential conflict of interest by creating a separate Board of Pilot Commissioners for Harris County Ports.

The author is the legislator who files a bill and guides it through the legislative process (also called the primary author). The sponsor is the legislator who guides a bill through the legislative process after the bill has passed the originating chamber. The sponsor is a member of the opposite chamber of the one in which the bill was filed.

“SB 1915 simply separates the Houston Port Commission and the Board of Pilot Commissioners to get rid of possible conflicts of interest,” explained Canales, who is a longtime advocate for open government. “Under current law, the same seven members of the Houston Port Commission also serve another governmental role, as the Board of Pilot Commissioners for Harris County Ports. The Board of Pilot Commissioners is principally responsible for regulating pilotage, including recommending licensure of pilots (and revocation of licenses) to the governor and setting the fee rates that licensed pilots can charge for piloting vessels in the Houston Ship Channel.”

SB 1915 was approved on Thursday, May 16, 2019 by the Texas House of Representatives with 136 Yeas, 4 Nays, 3 Present, not voting. The measure now goes to the governor for him to sign the bill into law, not sign the bill, which means it would become law, or veto (kill) the legislation.

Senate Bill 2223, authored by Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, and sponsored by Canales, addresses traffic issues due to exceptionally large ships that require one-way traffic to safely navigate the Houston Ship Channel.

“Recent developments in the shipping industry have resulted in increasingly larger vessels seeking access to the Port of Houston’s container terminals. Unfortunately, these larger vessels cannot safely and efficiently access the Port while maintaining two-way traffic conditions, thereby reducing the Channel to one-way traffic and causing significant delays for all other vessels needing access to the Channel,” Canales said. “SB 2223 seeks to ensure the efficient provision of pilot services and two-way access to the Houston Ship Channel for all users.”

SB 2223 was approved on Friday, May 17, 2019 by the Texas House of Representatives with 139 Yeas, 0 Nays, 3 Present, not voting. There was an amendment added in the House, which required SB 2233 to go back to the Senate, which approved that change on Thursday, May 23, 2o19. The measure now goes to the governor for him to sign the bill into law, not sign the bill, which means it would become law, or veto (kill) the legislation.

SB 1915 and SB 2223 are so important to the economy of the state that the Coalition for a Fair and Open Port, an alliance of some of Texas’ most prominent energy leaders, praised the two measures in April 2019, when it was approved by the Texas Senate.

SB 1915 will “restore good governance to the Port of Houston,” and SB 2223, “will not only protect Texas jobs and economic growth, it will ensure that Texas continues to benefit from the recent shale revolution by allowing the growth of exports in hydrocarbons and petrochemicals to continue without constraint. In addition, the passage of these two bills will provide all stakeholders with the business certainty to both invest in and support the critical efforts to widen the Houston Ship Channel for the benefit of all.”

The Coalition for a Fair and Open Port’s membership features Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Apache Corporation, ConocoPhillips Company, Encana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc., Enterprise Houston Ship Channel L.P., EOG Resources, Inc., Intercontinental Terminals, LLC, Kinder Morgan Inc., Magellan Midstream Partners, L.P., Oxy Energy Services, LLC, SemGroup Corporation; Targa Resources Corp., and Vopak North American Inc.

According to the Port of Houston website:

The Houston region, the country’s number one region for exports, is home to the largest petrochemical manufacturing complex in the Americas. Energy production and the export of crude oil, along with the increasing global demand for chemicals produced in the region, are major drivers of this success.

Largely because of petrochemical activity along the 52-mile ship channel, the nearly 200 private companies that make up the Greater Port of Houston have helped make the port the number one port in foreign waterborne tonnage. Petroleum and petroleum products are leading import and export commodities.

More than 200 million short tons of international cargo were handled in 2018 alone. The economic impact of the greater port nationally includes 3.2 million jobs, $801.9 billion in economic value and more than $38.1 billion in tax revenue.



The University of Texas System Board of Regents has approved the planning process for a new graduate degree program, a Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.), for The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

The approval came during a regular meeting of the Board of Regents on Thursday, May 23. The next step in the approval process is for UTRGV to submit the full degree program proposal to the UT System and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for final approval.

A health-related profession, audiology requires a clinical doctorate and subsequent licensing and certification to provide patient services to persons who exhibit hearing loss, tinnitus, and/or disturbances in balance due to inner ear dysfunction.

Under the guidance of the College of Health Professions, the Au.D. program at UTRGV is expected to build on the strength of the existing speech-language disorders program and respond to the shortage of clinical audiologists in the Rio Grande Valley and Texas.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national employment rate of audiologists is expected to grow much faster than average. Between 2016-2026, an additional 3,000 audiologists will be needed to fill the demand nationwide, which represents a 20% increase in job openings. There are approximately 14,800 audiologists nationwide with a projected need of 17,800 audiologists by 2026.

The four-year full-time curriculum that will consist of 119 hours of course, laboratory, and clinical work will be based on the guidelines of the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

Regents approved acceptance of gifted land from City of Pharr for UTRGV campus expansion, including a sports medicine institute

In other meeting proceedings, the Regents authorized UTRGV to accept a conditional gift of an approximately 10.5-acre tract of land located near the northwest corner of I-69C and Sioux Road in Pharr, from the City of Pharr for future programmed campus expansion, including a sports medicine institute. The Regents also authorized the university to enter into a license agreement, as licensee, with the City of Pharr for use of a to-be-built aquatic center on a tract of land adjacent to the 10.5-acre tract of land.


Among a sea of colorful stoles and the many elaborate hats worn by South Texas College graduates, América Noriega carried a solemn reminder of a promise she made to her brother Kevin Noriega before his passing in 2017.

Holding a photo of her brother as she walked across the stage to receive her bachelor degree in Organizational Leadership on Saturday, May 18, 2019, América said Kevin was a mentor who encouraged her to achieve her goals when he graduated from Southern Nazarene University in Oklahoma.

“I carry a photo of him whenever I receive a major accomplishment because him and I were extremely close. He was my best friend and my motivation,” América said. ‘Whenever I saw him walk across the stage at his own graduation, I remember he always let me know how important it was to keep moving forward.

“Today as I walked the stage, even though he couldn’t be here physically, I just wanted to carry my frame as I walked the stage so he could feel alive with me as I received my diploma,” América said.

América was among the record 3,749 graduates who received their degree in six ceremonies May 17-18. Ceremonies for 1,777 dual credit graduates took place on Friday May 17, and the ceremony for 1,972 traditional graduates took place on Saturday, May 18.

“This is the day we honor you, our graduates. We are here to celebrate your graduation from South Texas College. All of us at STC, the Board of Trustees, our outstanding faculty, staff and administration all join me in extending this welcome,” STC President Dr. Shirley A. Reed told graduates.

“Graduating from a college or university is an honor few receive,” Dr. Reed said. “Many of you are the first in your family to earn a college degree. That dream and the desire to go to college is appreciated by all of us here.

“We were there to support you on your journey to graduation, and we all know that it wasn’t an easy journey. There were lots of trials and tribulations, but you persevered and you are here celebrating your graduation,” Dr. Reed said. “We are very proud of each and every one of you.”

STC awarded 137 bachelor degrees, 803 degrees from the Business, Public Safety, and Technology Division, 1,818 from Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, 543 from the Division of Math and Science, and 448 from Nursing and Allied Health.

Faces in the crowd

Describing himself as the quintessential “go-to guy” for computer related issues, Luis García said South Texas College took his natural ability and refined it into something he could use to market himself to business and industry in the real world.

García said he started at STC in the fall of 2016 and immediately sought out a degree that could supplement his experience in computer networking and PC repair. About halfway through his courses however, he realized that he had the requisites to begin an Associate Degree in Cybersecurity.

While at STC, García said he has received certification in computer network and repair, and is certified by the Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) for installing, maintaining, customizing, and operating personal computers.

“After I graduate, I plan on applying for jobs that are actively looking for cybersecurity professionals, and in order to do that, I have to stand out from the crowd,” García said. “I believe I have the real world experience and the certifications to really make an impact in a big market here in the Valley.”

Alexis Longoria received her Associate of Arts in Teaching on May 18, 2019. After becoming a mother at the age of 19, Alexis says receiving her degree fulfills a promise she made to her family when she vowed to return to college once her son became older.

“South Texas College helped me become the person I am today with their flexible schedules,” Longoria said. “I could even attend classes at 5:30 in the morning before my day started, so it was very convenient. I am happy, and I know I will succeed in life thanks to STC.”

Eddie Torres completed his Bachelor of Applied Technology looks forward to his career working for the Educational Technologies department at South Texas College.

“I have finally finished school and I’m looking forward to a new beginning,” said Torres. “As the first in my family to go to college, just being here was a challenge sometimes because I had no one to instruct me on those important first steps to get me started so that was the hardest part for me.”

After serving in the Army for 21 years, Guadalupe Bravo said he was able to attend South Texas College and receive his Electrician Assistant certification. Wearing a red stole at graduation along with other student veterans, Bravo said he utilized the college’s many resources to help succeed.

“I would encourage other veterans to think about coming to school,” Bravo said. “I will always recommend that veterans take advantage because it has helped me when I left combat.”

About South Texas College

Founded in 1993, South Texas College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and offers more than 120 degree & certificate options, including associate degrees in a variety of liberal art, social science, business, math, science, technology, advanced manufacturing and allied health fields of study. Additionally, South Texas College is the only community college in the State of Texas to offer four baccalaureate degrees. South Texas College has a faculty and staff of more than 2,700 to serve the college’s six campuses, two higher education centers, and one virtual campus.


José Gómez and Melissa Vázquez contributed to this article. Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, who is the Chair of the House Committee on Transportation, 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 (

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