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$60,000 state legislative lobbying contract with McGuireWoods Consulting, LLC of Austin set for action on Monday by McAllen City Commission - Titans of the Texas Legislature

Featured, from left: Rep. R.D. “Bobby” Guerra, D-McAllen, and Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission, on Saturday, January 25, 2020, participating in the Texas Citrus Parade of Oranges in Mission. Both lawmakers represent significant portions of the City of McAllen in the Texas Legislature.

Photograph By PETER SALINAS

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$60,000 state legislative lobbying contract with McGuireWoods Consulting, LLC of Austin set for action on Monday by McAllen City Commission

By DAVID A. DÍAZ
[email protected]

McGuireWoods Consulting, LLC, which represents the City of McAllen before the Texas Legislature, the state’s executive branch featuring the governor and lt. governor, and major state agencies, boards, and commissions will be up for a one-year contract renewal before the McAllen City Commission, which begins its meeting at 5 p.m. on Monday, June 22, 2020.

The proposal, which features a set monthly fee of $5,000 (five thousand) per month, if approved by the city’s elected leadership would go into effect on Wednesday, July 1, 2020, and end on Wednesday, June 30, 2021 – a period which includes the 140-day regular session of the upcoming 87th Texas Legislature.

The Texas Legislature returns to work at the Texas Capitol in Austin for its five-month regular session, which begins on Tuesday, January 12, 2021 and ends on Monday, May 31, 2021.

The firm’s proposal, which was submitted by Amber Hausenfluck, Senior Vice President, State Government Relations, is part of the city commission’s meeting that includes a joint session with the McAllen Public Utility Board.

The joint gathering, which is open to the public, will be held in the City Commission Chambers, 3rd Floor of McAllen City Hall, 1300 Houston Avenue. It will also be televised live on the McAllen Cable Network, which is broadcast on Spectrum Channel 1300 within the City of McAllen. 

In addition, viewers may access the live broadcast of the city commission meeting at:

https://www.mcallen.net/departments/media/mcn-1300-live

The videotaped and unedited versions of McAllen City Commission meetings also are available on the Internet at:

https://www.mcallen.net/departments/commission/videos

“MWC (McGuireWoods Consulting, LLC) will provide state government relations services, including but not limited to advice and representation on a variety of legislative, executive branch and agency matters, to the City of McAllen for a fixed monthly fee of $5,000 per month,” Hausenfluck explains in the proposal. “This letter constitutes the proposal of McGuireWoods Consulting, LLC (“MWC”) to serve as your Texas government relations team. The following letter sets forth confirmation, with your approval on behalf of the City of McAllen, of our agreement.”

The proposal does not identify the city’s state legislative agenda by subject, although Mayor Jim Darling, during the city commission public meetings, usually provides detailed updates on what the city leadership is doing on behalf of its constituents in the Texas Legislature and on statewide matters that affect the community.

Rep. R.D. “Bobby” Guerra, D-McAllen,  and Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission, have the majority of McAllen residents in their legislative districts: 69 percent of McAllen residents live in Guerra’s House District 41, while 25 percent are in Muñoz’ House District 36. Rep. Óscar Longoria, Jr., D-La Joya, and Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, have the remainder of McAllen residents in their respective House District 35 and House District 40.

Senate District 20, which is represented by Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, has 90 percent of McAllen’s residents, while Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, has 10 percent of McAllen residents in his Senate District 27.

Founded in 1998, McGuireWoods Consulting LLC is a full-service public affairs firm offering federal, state, and local government relations, infrastructure and economic development, strategic communications, and grassroots mobilization services, according to its website. McGuireWoods Consulting is a subsidiary of the McGuireWoods law firm, and since 2010, it has been ranked in the top 20 among the 1,900 government relations firms in Washington, D.C. by The National Law Journal.

( https://www.mwcllc.com/firm ) 

Hausenfluck, according to the firm’s website, was “born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley”.

Her correspondence to the McAllen City Commission on behalf of McGuireWoods Consulting, LLC, which has an office in Austin, follows:

June 12, 2020

Mr. Roy Rodriguez
City Manager
City of McAllen
1300 Houston Avenue
McAllen, Texas 78501

Dear Mr. Rodriguez:

Thank you for the opportunity to continue representing the City of McAllen. This letter constitutes the proposal of McGuireWoods Consulting, LLC (“MWC”) to serve as your Texas government relations team. The following letter sets forth confirmation, with your approval on behalf of the City of McAllen, of our agreement.

MWC will provide state government relations services, including but not limited to advice and representation on a variety of legislative, executive branch and agency matters, to the City of McAllen for a fixed monthly fee of $5,000 per month. These services will begin July 1, 2020, and will conclude June 30, 2021, unless terminated by either party for any reason upon thirty (30) days’ written notice to the other party’s designated representative.

In addition to the monthly fee, the City of McAllen will be responsible for travel expenses MWC incurs in providing services under this agreement. Any secretarial or other administrative overtime expenses will be included in the fixed rate and will not be charged to the city.

All discussions between representatives of your organization and MWC staff and the nature of our relationship will be kept confidential unless permission is expressly given by you or our representatives to disclose such information. Such confidentiality shall survive the termination or expiration of this agreement.

We will provide a summary bill for the fees. For any bill not paid within sixty (60) days after it is rendered, McGuireWoods Consulting LLC reserves the right to impose a late charge of one-half percent (1.5%) per month from the date it is rendered. All bills will be in a summary form showing in general terms the services rendered.

We wish to reiterate the MWC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of McGuireWoods LLP, a full-service law firm serving clients throughout the United States and around the world (“McGuireWoods law firm”). From time to time various lawyers at the McGuireWoods law firm provide non-legal services to MWC clients, but MWC doesn’t provide legal services or advice, nor does this agreement include the provision of legal services by McGuireWoods law firm or give rise to an attorney-client relationship privilege unless you hire the law firm to provide legal services. If legal services are desired, a separate engagement with the McGuireWoods law firm may be established; it is not necessary for a client to engage the McGuireWoods last firm in order to obtain MWC’s services or vice versa. By executing this agreement, you acknowledge that you are not represented by McGuireWoods law firm and you consentto the McGuireWoods law firm’s representation of other persons and entities on legal matters, including litigation, that may adversely affect your interests, directly or indirectly, but are unrelated to the specific representation you have asked MWC to undertake on your behalf.

MWC’s maximum liability relating to services rendered under this agreement (whether in tort, contract, strict liability, or otherwise) shall be limited to the fees paid to MWC for the portions of its services giving rise to liability. In no event shall MWC be liable for any consequential, special, indirect, incidental, or punitive damages or expenses (including, without limitation, lost profits, opportunity costs, etc.) even if it has been advised of the possible existence of such damages. This revision shall survive the completion of this engagement.

If the foregoing terms are agreeable, please sign below to indicate your approval of the agreement on behalf of the City of McAllen. We look forward to continuing to work with you and the City of McAllen.

Sincerely,

Amber Hausenfluck
McGuireWoods Consulting, LLC

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Also according to McGuireWoods Consulting, LLC, Hausenfluck joined that firm in January 2015. She assists clients with traditional advocacy, lobbying, and government relations services in matters before the Texas Legislature and regulatory agencies.

She most recently worked as deputy legislative director for state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio. 

In her time at the Texas Capitol, Hausenfluck staffed Van de Putte on the State Affairs, Business and Commerce, Education, Transportation, and Intergovernmental Relations committees. 

McGuireWoods Consulting, LLC also states that Hausenfluck played an instrumental role in the state’s passage of the MOVE Act (Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment), as well as laws that expanded the craft beer and distillery markets in Texas. She also has statewide campaign experience, having served on Van de Putte’s campaign for Texas Lieutenant Governor in 2014.

Hausenfluck, who received her undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin and a law degree from St. Mary’s University School of Law, previously served as the director of member services for the Texas Construction Association.

HIDALGO COUNTY COMMISSIONERS COURT MEETINGS NOW BEING BROADCAST ON MCALLEN CABLE NETWORK CHANNEL 1300

In an effort to provide transparency and access, Hidalgo County and the City of McAllen have formed a partnership to bring county government to the citizens of McAllen. As of Friday, June 5, 2020, residents have been able to tune in to the City of McAllen’s MCN1300 to watch commissioners court meetings on their televisions.

“Joining forces with one of the largest cities in our county is a great accomplishment,” said County Judge Richard F. Cortéz. “Our commissioners’ court works hard to make sound decisions for all of our residents and now, with the help of the city, our McAllen residents will be able to see that first hand on their televisions every week.”

The meetings will air on Fridays at 10 a.m. on Spectrum Channel 1300 on the weeks that court is held. 

McAllen residents who are Spectrum cable subscribers may watch the taped rebroadcast of the Commissioners Court meeting, edited for time, on channel MCN Spectrum 1300, starting at 10 a.m. 

Viewers may also view MCN 1300 live-streamed on the City of McAllen website at:

https://www.mcallen.net/departments/media/mcn-1300-live

“MCN 1300 is a great tool for the City of McAllen to get important information to the residents of our community,” said McAllen Mayor Jim Darling. “Being able to air the Hidalgo County Commissioners Court meetings on the channel is just another example of the importance placed on open government by our city and county.”

Currently, Hidalgo County has inter-local agreements with Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District, Weslaco Independent School District, and La Joya Independent School District for the broadcast of Hidalgo County Commissioners Court meetings on their stations. The meetings can be seen Friday’s at 10 a.m. on Channel 17 on the weeks that court is held.

Residents can also watch the live stream of each meeting from their computer or smartphone on the county website at:

https://www.hidalgocounty.us/1939/Commissioners-Court-LIVE

HIDALGO COUNTY JUDGE ORDERS BUSINESSES IN COUNTY TO REQUIRE FACE MASKS OF ALL EMPLOYEES AND CUSTOMERS TO HELP SLOW SPREAD OF COVID-19

In his capacity as the county’s emergency management director, Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortéz on Wednesday, June 17, 2020, signed an order requiring all Hidalgo County businesses to mandate the use of facial coverings by all employees and customers to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The order went into effect at midnight Wednesday, June 17, 2020, but businesses did not have to comply with the order until midnight Friday, June 19, 2020. The order remains in effect until it is modified.

“I am growing more concerned as the number of infections in Hidalgo County continues to rise,” Cortéz said. “Despite abundant publicity that the rate of infection is increasing locally, too many residents appear to be ignoring commonsense preventive measures.”

While Gov. Greg Abbott has restricted local mandates of any type of facial covering on residents of Texas, the governor said this does not apply to businesses. Therefore, Cortéz – upon the advice of his county health authority and health and human services director – directed all businesses in Hidalgo County to develop a “Health and Safety Practices” plan that includes the directive for all people to wear facial coverings while inside covered businesses. 

Failure to abide by this rule could result in a fine of up to $1,000 for the business.

The four-page order was signed by Cortéz late Wednesday, June 17, 2020, one day after Hidalgo County saw its largest single-day increase in new positive cases. 

As of Friday, June 29, 2020, the number of people tested in Hidalgo County for COVID-19 passed the 30,000 mark, and another person had died from complications related to the infectious disease, Cortéz reported. The death came as 109 other residents tested positive for the virus bringing the total number of known cases to 1,556.

The death involved a Pharr man in his 80s with underlying medical conditions.

“We have lost another one of our county residents to this deadly disease. My deepest condolences go out to their family and friends,” Cortéz said. “There are many of us in Hidalgo County who are more vulnerable and susceptible to becoming seriously ill. We need to wear our masks, avoid mass gatherings, wash our hands, and continue to practice social distancing. These steps have proven to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

One hundred-three people remained hospitalized with complications from the virus; 13 of those cases are being treated in intensive care units. Forty-three people were released from isolation on Friday, June 19, 2020, meaning that they have been symptom-free for 10 days, including three days without a fever. There are currently 861 net active cases and 1,137 test results are pending. 

Cortéz’s order continues to strongly recommend that any person over the age of 3 (three) in Hidalgo County wear a facial covering of their mouth and nose. Residents are also strongly encouraged to continue staying at home unless engaged in essential services and employ physical distancing of six feet or more when out in the public.

“Getting beyond this deadly virus will take a collective effort of everyone in Hidalgo County,” Cortéz said. “The single biggest complaint I am hearing these days is that too many people refuse to wear facial coverings. I hope this encourages people to do what we know will work to slow the spread of this disease.”

To view the Order click here.

As of Friday, June 19, 2020, the following statistics had been provided by the Hidalgo County Health Department:

• 19 – New COVID-19 positive cases total in Hidalgo County;
• 1,556 – Total COVID-19 positive cases in Hidalgo County;
• 103 – Number COVID-19 positive cases in hospitals in Hidalgo County:
• 13 – Number of hospitalized patients in Intensive Care Units in hospitals in Hidalgo County;
• 43 – Number released from isolation in Hidalgo County;
• 674 – Total released from isolation in Hidalgo County;
• 12 – Total number of fatalities in Hidalgo County;
• 861 – Net active cases;
• 30,430 – Total number of COVID-19 test administered in Hidalgo County;
• 1,556 – Total number of tests that are positive;
• 27,737 – Total number of tests that are negative; and
• 1,137 – Total number of tests pending results.

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Evana Vleck and Jaclyn Treviño contributed to this article. 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).

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