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Rep. Óscar Longoria seeking reelection to sixth two-year term in the Texas House of Representatives - Óscar Longoria - Titans of the Texas Legislature

FEATURED, FROM LEFT: Medal of Honor recipients Gary Burnell Beikirch, Gary Michael Rose, and Clarence Eugene Sasser – veterans of the Vietnam War – pose with Rep. ÓscarLongoria, D-Mission, in this Spring 2019 image taken in the House of Representatives Chamber at the Texas Capitol.

Photograph By HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHY

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Rep. Óscar Longoria seeking reelection to sixth two-year term in the Texas House of Representatives

By DAVID A. DÍAZ
[email protected]

Rep. Óscar Longoria, D-Mission, one of several candidates for Texas Speaker of the House in 2020, recently announced he will be seeking reelection to his current position as the legislator for Texas House District 35, which encompasses parts of Hidalgo and Cameron Counties.

Rep. Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, wound up securing enough votes from the 150-member House of Representatives in January 2021 to become the 76th Speaker of the House, arguably one of the three most powerful positions in Texas government, along with governor and lt. governor.

https://www.texastribune.org/2021/01/12/dade-phelan-elected-house-speaker/

Although his historic bid for the top leadership position fell short – he would have become the first bilingual Mexican-American Speaker of the House – Longoria, the grandson of Mexican immigrants and the son of a migrant farmworker, pledged to continue working “relentlessly to ensure that Texas is a beacon of cultural and gender equality.”

Gender equality, also known as sexual equality or equality of the sexes – which is also tied to women’s rights – is the state of equal ease of access to resources and opportunities regardless of gender, including economic participation and decision-making; and the state of valuing different behaviors, aspirations and needs equally, regardless of gender.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_equality

“It is a blessing and a true honor to serve the people of House District 35 in the Texas House of Representatives,” said Longoria. “I am humbled that the people of Hidalgo and Cameron Counties have trusted me to be their voice in Austin over the last five legislative sessions and my hope is that I have earned their confidence for another term.”

Longoria’s reelection announcement on Wednesday, October 27, 2021, follows the completion of the 87th Legislative Session as well as the decennial (every 10 years) redistricting process. Required by the United States Constitution, the redistricting process redraws the political boundaries for the State Board of Education, Texas House, Texas Senate, and U.S. Congressional seats.

The new map for House District 35 saw some changes in the communities it covers, though it remains similar to years past.

“While I am sad to lose the communities of Harlingen, Combes, and Palm Valley due to redistricting, I am excited to welcome Donna, San Benito, Los Indios, and Brownsville into House District 35,” said Longoria. “I look forward to forging new relationships with these residents and working with them to improve House District 35. I have already begun to visit these new areas and I want to remind everyone that my District Offices in Peñitas, Edcouch, and La Feria remain open to the public.”

House District 35 encompasses both Hidalgo and Cameron Counties in the Rio Grande Valley and includes the cities/towns of: La Joya, Sullivan City, Peñitas, Alton, Mission, McAllen, Edinburg, Monte Alto, Edcouch, La Villa, Weslaco, Donna, Mercedes, Santa Rosa, Primera, Los Indios, San Benito, La Feria, and Brownsville.

During the 87th Legislative Session, Longoria was appointed to the House County Affairs and Energy Resources Committees, the latter of which oversaw much of the legislation to address Winter Storm Uri and its impact on Texas’ power grid.

This follows previous sessions where Longoria served as Vice-Chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee and as Chairman on the Subcommittee for Articles I, IV, and V.

Longoria has also served as a member of the Legislative Budget Board, which granted him the opportunity to work closely with all state agencies, especially those critical to providing services to Texans statewide.

Longoria’s legislative successes include what he calls “a proven track record of delivering for the Rio Grande Valley”, specifically:

• $68.9 million for the UTRGV Medical School in 2019;
• $15 million in grants for border prosecution;
• $8 million in grants for construction and renovation of local parks;
• $2 million in grants for border zone fire departments;
• $1.9 million in library services for local communities;
• $500,000 for the Texas Transnational Intelligence Center for border security operations; and
• $100,000 for preservation of St. Anthony Cemetery in Peñitas.

“I have had the privilege of serving on vital committees and have used that opportunity to deliver for House District 35 and the rest of the Rio Grande Valley. I look to continue that hard work and success for another term,” Longoria said. “I will work to ensure that our children and communities, not only in the Rio Grande Valley, but also those across the entire State of Texas, enjoy the best quality-of-life for generations to come.”

During the 87th Texas Legislature’s regular session, which took place from Tuesday, January 12, 2021 through Monday, May 31, 2021, key measures carrying Longoria’s name as an author, joint author, coauthor, sponsor, or cosponsor, because state law.

A definition of key legislative terms follow, along with brief summary of some of his successful legislative efforts.

AUTHOR – A legislator who files a bill and guides it through the legislative process (also called the primary author).

BILL — A type of legislative measure that requires passage by both chambers of the legislature and action by the governor in order to become effective. A bill is the primary means used to create and change the laws of the state.

CHAMBER – The place in which the Senate or House of Representatives meets; also, a generic way to refer to a house of the Texas Legislature.

FILE – File is used to refer to a measure that has been introduced into the legislative process and given a number.

JOINT AUTHOR – In the House of Representatives, a joint author is a member authorized by the primary author of a bill or resolution to join in the authorship of the measure and have his or her name shown following the primary author’s name on official printings of the measure, on calendars, and in the journal. The primary author may authorize up to four joint authors.

RESOLUTION – A formal expression of recognition, opinion, or decision, other than a proposed law, that may be offered for approval to one or both chambers of the Texas Legislature by a member of the House of Representatives or Senate.

CONCURRENT RESOLUTION — A type of legislative measure that requires adoption by both chambers of the Texas Legislature and generally requires action by the governor. A concurrent resolution is used to convey the sentiment of the legislature and may offer a commendation, a memorial, a statement of congratulations, a welcome, or a request for action by another governmental entity.

COAUTHOR – A legislator authorized by the primary author of a bill or resolution to join in the authorship of the measure.

SPONSOR — A 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.

COSPONSOR —A legislator who joins with the primary sponsor to guide a bill or resolution through the legislative process in the opposite chamber. A cosponsor must be a member of the opposite chamber from the one in which the measure was filed.

https://tlc.texas.gov/docs/legref/Glossary.pdf

KEY BILLS AUTHORED BY LONGORIA

House Bill 2840 changes the Agriculture Code to exempt grapefruit or oranges that are processed for juice from state citrus fruit maturity standards.

House Bill 2841 changes the Agriculture Code to authorize the Texas Citrus Pest and Disease Management Corporation, Inc., at any time after an assessment of a citrus producer becomes delinquent, to investigate conditions that relate to the producer’s prompt remittance of the assessment.

KEY BILLS JOINT AUTHORED BY LONGORIA

House Bill 632 changes the Education Code to establish the TexNet Technical Advisory Committee within The University of Texas Bureau of Economic Geology for the TexNet seismic monitoring program.

House Bill 2073 changes the Local Government Code to require the governing body of a political subdivision to develop and implement a paid quarantine leave policy for fire fighters, peace officers, detention officers, and emergency medical technicians who are employed by, appointed by, or elected for the political subdivision and ordered to quarantine or isolate due to a possible or known exposure to a communicable disease while on duty.

House Bill 4663 authorizes the Hidalgo County Drainage District Number 1 to sell reclaimed water at wholesale and sell reclaimed water on a retail basis to the extent that the sale does not conflict with a certificate of convenience and necessity.

KEY BILLS COAUTHORED BY LONGORIA

House Bill 5 changes the Government Code to provide for the expansion of broadband Internet service in Texas. The bill establishes the broadband development office within the office of the comptroller of public accounts and tasks the broadband development office with preparing, updating, and publishing a state broadband plan; serving as a repository for information relating to broadband service and digital connectivity in Texas and engaging in community outreach; creating, annually updating, and publishing a broadband development map to classify areas in Texas as eligible for broadband expansion assistance; and establishing a broadband development program to award grants, low?interest loans, and other financial incentives to applicants in the areas classified as eligible for assistance on the map for the purpose of broadband expansion.

House Bill 1900 changes the Government Code, Local Government Code, Tax Code, and Utilities Code to provide for the classification by the criminal justice division of the governor’s office of a municipality with a population of more than 250,000 that adopts a budget that reduces appropriations to its police department year?over?year as a defunding municipality until the funding reductions are reversed, adjusted for inflation.

House Bill 2586 changes the Utilities Code to require the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) to have an independent audit made annually of ERCOT and to publish the results of the audit on the PUC website and submit the results to the state auditor and members of the applicable legislative standing committees.

House Bill 2586 changes the Utilities Code to require the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) to have an independent audit made annually of ERCOT and to publish the results of the audit on the PUC website and submit the results to the state auditor and members of the applicable legislative standing committees.

House Bill 2622, the Second Amendment Sanctuary State Act, changes the Penal Code to prohibit a state agency, a political subdivision, a law enforcement officer, or any other person employed by a state agency or political subdivision from contracting with or in any other manner providing assistance to a federal agency or official with respect to the enforcement of certain federal statutes, orders, rules, or regulations regulating firearms, firearm accessories, or firearm ammunition that do not exist under state law.

House Bill 3924 changes the Insurance Code to authorize a nonprofit agricultural organization or an affiliate of the organization to offer health benefits to members of the organization and their family members.

House Concurrent Resolution 51, calling on Congress to pass the I am Vanessa Guill�n Act, legislation ensuring that necessary changes are made, such as preventing conflicts of interest, requiring independent investigations that are conducted by trained investigators, establishing a confidential reporting option for sexual harassment that can convert to a formal complaint, and directing the Government Accountability Office to evaluate response procedures related to missing service members.

House Joint Resolution 99, proposing a change to the Texas Constitution to authorize the legislature by general law to authorize a county to issue bonds or notes to finance the development or redevelopment of an unproductive, underdeveloped, or blighted area within the county and to pledge for repayment of those bonds or notes increases in property tax revenues imposed on property in the area by the county. This legislation resulted in Proposition 2, which was approved by Texas voters in the November 2021 state constitutional amendments election.

KEY BILLS SPONSORED BY LONGORIA

Senate Bill 538 changes the Government Code to expand the scope of the Department of Information Resources’ (DIR) cooperative contracts purchasing program for information technology commodity items by allowing DIR to offer items in demand by customers beyond state agencies, including but not limited to political subdivisions of Texas and governmental entities of another state.

Senate Bill 1692 changes the Health and Safety Code to authorize a dialysis technician to provide home dialysis care in a nursing facility under the following conditions:

• The technician must be in compliance with all the applicable Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) rules regarding training and competency; and

• The care must be provided under the personal supervision of a registered nurse who is employed by the same entity that employs the technician and has complied with all HHSC rules regarding training and competency of registered nurses who provide care at end stage renal disease facilities.

KEY BILLS COSPONSORED BY LONGORIA

Senate Bill 623, the Vanessa Guillén Act, changes the Code of Criminal Procedure and Government Code to require the Texas Military Department, to the extent state funds are available for the purpose, to establish a state sexual offense prevention and response program and to employ or designate a state sexual offense response coordinator to perform victim advocacy services.

Senate Bill 763 amends the Transportation Code to create an urban air mobility advisory committee to assess current state law and any potential changes that are needed to facilitate the development of urban air mobility operations and infrastructure in Texas.

Senate Bill 827 amends the Insurance Code to cap an insured individual’s co?pay for prescription insulin that is included in their health benefit plan’s formulary at $25 per prescription for a 30-day supply. A health benefit plan must include at least one insulin from each therapeutic class in its formulary.

SOUTH TEXAS COLLEGE BOARD OF TRUSTEES APPROVE ONE-TIME $1,500 TO $2,500 BONUSES FOR EMPLOYEES WHO COMPLETE COVID-19 TRAINING SESSIONS

TheSouth Texas College Board of Trustees on Tuesday, November 23, 2021 approved a one-time stipend for all eligible full-time and part-time employees who undergo Return to Campus Safely COVID-19 Training and Response Strategies.

Trustees approved the use of U.S. Department of Education Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) in the amount of $4.5 million with payouts of $2,500 for full-time employees and $1,500 for part-time employees.

The stipend is also seen as an incentive to retain its 2,167 staff and faculty members in the midst of the so called “Great Resignation” which has left U.S. employers struggling to fill 10 million jobs.

“Together we have overcome incredible challenges and we want to thank every employee that has been part of the effort to help bring us back to a new normal,” said STC Board Chair Rose Benavídez. “These stipends are our way of thanking them and acknowledging their dedication and commitment to our institution and our students.”

Pending completion of the COVID-19 training sessions, employees would receive the stipend in their bank accounts either on December 16, 2021 or January 28, 2022.

“Our employees have been through the most trying two years of their higher education careers. They have remained steadfast in the mission of educating Valley students and helping them advance their academic and technical education goals, despite the many personal and professional hardships that employees have endured,” explained South Texas College President Ricardo J. Solis. “This is our way of expressing our gratitude while promoting COVID-19 campus safety training. The board joins me in recognizing that STC employees are our most valuable assets.”

Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, South Texas College leaders actively developed and delivered online learning, new remote instruction methods, student services, and operations for students as well as safety protocols and pandemic-related policies for both students and staff of the college. In the process, many faculty and staff also incurred work-related expenses.

“This is a team effort. I personally want to thank the administration and the board for their continued support,” said Dr. Sylvia L. Flores who serves as STC Faculty Senate Chair. “There is nothing we can’t do together.”

For the Fall 2021 semester, face-to-face instruction at STC campuses increased from 20 percent to 40 percent. Enrollment for spring is trending upward with STC’s incentive of a free semester – the second free semester offered to Valley students.

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 127 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 five baccalaureate degrees. South Texas College has a faculty and staff of more than 2,700 to serve 30,000 students, on the college’s six campuses, two higher education centers, and one virtual campus.

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Paco Sánchez and José Gómez contributed to this article. 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)

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