Featured: Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, in this image taken on Wednesday, August 28, 2019, is one of two state senators on the 19-member Texas Legislative Black Caucus in the Texas Legislature. The Texas Legislative Black Caucus (TXLBC) works on priorities important to their constituents, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, who also serves as Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation, has been honored with the President’s Award by the Corpus Christi chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for his legislative achievements in the Texas Legislature on behalf of health care, military veterans, the underprivileged, and transparency in government.
Photograph Courtesy SEN. ROYCE WEST
Corpus Christi NAACP honors Rep. Canales with President’s Award for legislative achievements
Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, has been honored with the President’s Award by the Corpus Christi chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for his legislative achievements in the Texas Legislature on behalf of health care, military veterans, the underprivileged, and transparency in government.
Canales will receive the President’s Award on Saturday, January 18, 2020, when the Corpus Christi NAACP will have their annual Freedom Fund Banquet, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., in the American Bank Center, 1901 North Shoreline Boulevard in Corpus Christi.
Dr. Mark A. Hussey, President, Texas A&M Kingsville, will be the guest speaker for the event.
“Your role as a husband, father of five, attorney and elected official representing District 40 is beyond extraordinary,” stated Terry Mills, President of the Corpus Christi chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, in his letter, dated Wednesday, December 4, 2019, to Canales announcing the honor. “We commend you as a rising star in our nation and a brother to the disenfranchised (vulnerable).”
The Corpus Christi NAACP is a chapter of the NAACP, a national organization whose mission is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination.
“I am truly honored to receive the President’s Award from a chapter of one of the most well-respected and influential organizations in our country. The work of the NAACP is unparalleled in our nation, and many of our country’s most prominent leaders have aligned themselves with the noble vision of the Association,” said Canales.
In addition, the House District 40 legislator, who serves as Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation, was credited with working with fellow South Texas state lawmakers and the Texas Transportation Commission to shape the Unified Transportation Program (UTP) that will result in major state investments in the region.
“Indeed noted as well is your work as Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation supported ports of entry, including our own Port of Corpus Christi,” Mills reported. “You made the announcement that $2.1 billion was headed to South Texas for transportation infrastructure over the next decade. These funds are going to help ensure the prosperity of our region’s residents for the next half-century.”
J. Bruce Bugg, Jr., Chairman of the Texas Transportation Commission, on Thursday, August 29, 2019, described how the Unified Transportation Program will take shape on a statewide level.
“The Unified Transportation Program (UTP) represents our commitment to improving the quality of life for all Texans. The 2020 UTP identifies planned investments totaling $77 billion in infrastructure improvements over the next 10 years that address TxDOT’s (Texas Department of Transportation) strategic goals in the areas of safety, preservation, congestion relief, and connectivity,” Buggs stated. “Consistent with direction from Governor Greg Abbott and our commitment to the Texas Clear Lanes program, we are allocating some $28 billion of this $77 billion to address our most critical congestion improvement needs in the state’s five major metropolitan areas and other congested areas around Texas. Together, we are solving Texas’ most pressing transportation needs.”
Mills reflected that the President’s Award goes to “an individual for their compassionate work for humanity, for the betterment of society and as a pillar for justice and quality. It is with grateful hearts that you have also shown compassion for people of all colors. You have fought the good fight for all people.”
Mills highlighted some of Canales’ other major legislative efforts on behalf of Texans, including the following goals and achievements:
• Health care measures to ensure research for cancer patients;
• Protecting access to Medicaid;
• Equity in the criminal justice system;
• Greater voter participation;
• Immigrants who suffered generational discrimination; and
• The First Step Act, which is the first major reduction in federal drug sentences.
“Receiving the award is incredibly humbling, and I am grateful for those of whom that have fought endlessly to rid our state and our nation of injustices that deface the pillars of our society. Without them, we all may not have the privileges we share and benefit from today,” Canales added. “As Isaac Newton said long ago, ‘If we have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.’”
(Sir Isaac Newton was an English physicist and mathematician most famous for his three basic laws of gravity, was one of the great minds of the 17th century Scientific Revolution. He also developed theories on whit light, light particles, and calculus.
Among the previous recipients of the Corpus Christi NAACP President’s Award are Congressman Al Green, D-Houston; civil rights attorney Daniel Covich of Corpus Christi; housing advocate Mrs. Lena Coleman of Seguin; Sandra Terrell-Davis, Director of Human Resources, Port of Corpus Christi; Larry Elizondo, Sr., a former member of the Corpus Christi City Council and the Board of Trustees, Corpus Christi Independent School District; and Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp.
Canales, a member of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus in the Texas House of Representatives, works well with members of the major organizations and alliances in the Texas Legislature, including the Texas Legislative Black Caucus.
The Mexican American Legislative Caucus (MALC) was founded in 1973 in the Texas House of Representatives by a small group of lawmakers of Mexican American heritage for the purpose of strengthening their numbers and better representing a united Latino constituency across the state. MALC is the oldest and largest Latino legislative caucus in the United States.
In the 1990s, recognizing the growth of the Hispanic population in Texas and anticipating a new ethnic majority, MALC opened membership eligibility to House members of any race or ethnicity who represent majority-Latino constituencies.
As of 2019, MALC had a membership of more than 40 House members from all parts of the state and is the second-largest caucus in the Texas Legislature. MALC members sit on all major House committees in the Texas House of Representatives and work together on matters of consequence to Texas’ large and growing Latino constituency.
The Texas Legislative Black Caucus was formed in 1973 and consisted of eight members.
The organization is committed to addressing the issues African Americans face across Texas.
These founding members were: Rep. Anthony Hall, D-Houston; Rep. Sam Hudson, D-Dallas; Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Dallas; Rep. Mickey Leland, D-Houston; Rep. Paul Ragsdale, D-Dallas; Rep. G.J. Sutton, D-San Antonio; Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston; and Rep. Craig Washington, D-Houston.
The Texas Legislative Black Caucus is currently composed of 17 members of the Texas House of Representatives and two senators of the Texas Senate committed to addressing the issues African Americans face across the State of Texas. Rep. Harold V. Dutton, Jr., D-Houston, currently serves as Chair of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus.
“We are committed to addressing the issues African Americans face across the state of Texas. Our goal at the TXLBC is to implement policies that will provide our communities with resources for economic growth and to act as the liaison between public servants and our constituents, focusing on public education, healthcare, criminal justice reform, and economic empowerment,” Dutton states on the organization’s website. “It is important that we not only continue to educate but motivate Texans to become more engaged at the local, state, and federal level. Now that the 86th Legislative Session (in 2019) ended, we must continue to engage and empower those that push this work forward throughout the state.”
In addition to Dutton, the current members of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus are:
Rep. Alma A. Allen, D-Houston;
Rep. Rhetta Andrews Bowers, D-Garland;
Rep. Sheryl Cole, D-Austin;
Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston;
Rep. Nicole Collier, D-Ft. Worth;
Rep. Yvonne Davis, D-Dallas;
Rep. Joe Deshotel, D-Beaumont;
Rep. Barbar Gervin-Hawkins, D-San Antonio;
Rep. Eric Johnson, D-Dallas;
Rep. Jarvis D. Johnson, D-Houston;
Sen. Boris Miles, D-Houston;
Rep. Ron Reynolds, D-Missouri City;
Rep. Toni Rose, D-Dallas;
Rep. Carl O. Sherman, Sr, D-Dallas;
Rep. Shawn Thierry, D-Houston;
Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston;
Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas; and
Rep. James White, D-Woodville.
New law by Rep. Coleman prevents the sale of certain cough medicine to minors
A new Texas law authored by Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, prohibits businesses from selling certain over-the-counter medicines to minors, according to the House Research Organization, which is the nonpartisan research arm of the Texas House of Representatives.
Supporters say the goal of the legislation, House Bill 1518 (HB 1518) is to prevent teens from using cough medicine as a gateway drug to more dangerous substances.
The Rio Grande Valley state legislative delegation voted for House Bill 1518.
As the author of House Bill 1518, Coleman was the legislator who filed the bill and guided it through the legislative process. The Senate allows multiple primary authors for each bill or resolution. The House of Representatives allows only one primary author, the House member whose signature appears on the original measure and on the copies filed with the chief clerk. Both chambers also have coauthors, and the House of Representatives has joint authors.
House Bill 1518, whose sponsor was Sen Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, prohibits businesses from selling certain over-the-counter medicines to minors.
As the sponsor, Seliger is the legislator who guided the 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.
The measure, which was signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday, May 17, 2019, and went into effect on Sunday, September 1, 2019, prohibits the sale to minors of over-the-counter medicines containing dextromethorphan, a cough suppressant found in drugs like Mucinex, NyQuil, and Robitussin. Supporters cite a study conducted in 2018 by the National Institute on Drug Abuse that found one in 30 teens abuse over-the-counter cough medicine containing dextromethorphan.
Dextromethorphan is considered a safe ingredient when used as directed, but when taken in high doses or abused, it can create a euphoric effect and lead to addiction and harmful side effects like seizures, hallucinations, coma, and death.
House Bill 1518 prohibits a business from dispensing, distributing, or selling dextromethorphan to a customer under 18 years old. Before issuing dextromethorphan over the counter, a business must require identification verifying the customer is at least 18 years old unless it can be reasonably presumed from the customer’s outward appearance that the customer is at least 27 years old.
The new law specifies that it does not require businesses to maintain transaction records or store dextromethorphan in a specific location. It also does not apply to the sale of any product dispensed by a pharmacist according to a prescription issued by a practitioner for a valid medical purpose.
Under the new law, a county or district attorney must issue a warning to a business for a first violation. After a warning, a business is liable to the state for a civil penalty of $150 for the second violation and $250 for each subsequent violation. It is a defense in an action brought under the law that the business made a good faith effort to comply with the law and that the customer presented an apparently valid proof of identification.
Texas joins 18 other states, including California, Florida, and New York, that have passed laws prohibiting the sale of dextromethorphan to minors. Supporters of such legislation say it strengthens the connection between pharmacies and their surrounding communities and increases awareness, particularly among the teen population, of the risks of consuming dextromethorphan in large doses.
Supporters also note that minors will still be able to buy medicine to treat a cough or cold that does not contain dextromethorphan.
Dylan Matthews and Alison Hern contributed to this article. Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, is the Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and 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 that affect the Rio Grande Valley metropolitan region, please log on to Titans of the Texas Legislature (TitansoftheTexasLegislature.com).