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FEATURED: Morgan LaMantia of South Padre Island, an attorney with law offices in Harlingen and McAllen, has been endorsed in her bid for State Senator, District 27 – currently being held by retiring Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville – by the five Democratic state representatives from Hidalgo County.

FEATURED: Morgan LaMantia of South Padre Island, an attorney with law offices in Harlingen and McAllen, has been endorsed in her bid for State Senator, District 27 – currently being held by retiring Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville – by the five Democratic state representatives from Hidalgo County.

Photograph Courtesy Morgan LaMantia Facebook

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Hidalgo County’s five state representatives endorse Morgan LaMantia, a Democrat, to succeed retiring Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville

By DAVID A. DÍAZ
[email protected]

Morgan LaMantia of South Padre Island, an attorney with law offices in Harlingen and McAllen, has been endorsed in her bid for State Senator, District 27 – currently being held by retiring Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville – by the five Democratic state representatives from Hidalgo County.

https://www.morganlamantia.com

Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, Rep. R.D. “Bobby” Guerra, D-McAllen; Rep. Óscar Longoria, D-Mission, Rep. Armando “Mando” Martínez, D-Weslaco and Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission, have thrown their political support behind LaMantia, who is making her first bid for election to the Texas Legislature.

Among the population centers in Senate District 27 are Alamo, Beeville, Brownsville, Combes, Donna, Harlingen, Kingsville, Los Fresnos, Los Indios, Mercedes, Port Aransas, Port Isabel, Progreso, Rancho Viejo, Raymondville, San Benito, San Juan, South Padre Island, Sinton, Taft, and Weslaco.

Early voting for the Democratic Party and Republican Party primary elections begins on Monday, February 14, 2022 and ends on Friday, February 25, 2022.

The primary election date for both political parties is Tuesday, March 1, 2022.

In addition to LaMantia, there are three other candidates on the Democratic Party ballot seeking the nomination:

• Sara Stapleton-Barrera, an attorney from Harlingen.
https://sarastapletonbarrera.org

• Rep. Alex Domínguez, D-Brownsville, an attorney from Brownsville.
https://alexfortexas.com

and

• Salomón Torres, a business owner and consultant from Harlingen.
https://torres4texas.com

There are three candidates on the ballot for the Republican Party nomination for State Senator, District 27:

• Adam Hinojosa, a chief financial officer, no hometown immediately available.
https://electadamhinojosa.com

• Israel Salinas, parks maintenance, no hometown immediate available.
https://www.facebook.com/IsrealSalinasforTexasSenate/

• Former Rep. Raúl Torres, R-Corpus Christi, a certified public accountant from Corpus Christi.
https://electraultorres.com

The endorsements from the Hidalgo County legislators for LaMantia follow:

Rep. Terry Canales

We need legislators who understand the inner-connectedness of our community, and will fight for regional solutions to our transportation and infrastructure challenges. That’s why, after researching all the candidates, I am endorsing Morgan LaMantia for the state senate. Morgan has the skills and the background to lead Texas into the future.

As a businesswoman, Morgan knows first-hand the importance of skilled workforce, and that means investing in our local schools and supporting our higher education institutions, so we can ensure the next generation is ready to enter the workplace.

As an attorney working for her family business, Morgan started a health care initiative that gives their 1,200 employees free access to a doctor and tools to manage chronic diseases like diabetes. In doing so, she lowered health costs and improved the health of their employees. That’s the type of leadership that tells you something about someone’s character.

She doesn’t just talk, she gets things done. And true to her family values, she looks out for her community.

Morgan LaMantia is part of the next generation of leadership ready to lift up South Texas families, and I hope that you will join me in supporting her.

Rep. R.D. “Bobby” Guerra

Morgan Lamantia brings private sector experience tackling health are cost and improving outcomes for their 1,200 employees. Health care affects all of us. I’m proud to support a leader who’s not afraid to take on big challenges and get things done.

Morgan, like me, understands it’s time for the next generation to pick up the mangle and fight for South Texas families. She’s shown her commitment to raise scholarship money for local students, and you can count on her to be a friend to UTRGV and our public schools.

Rep. Óscar Longoria

Morgan, like me, understands it’s time for the next generation to pick up the mantle and fight for South Texas families. She’s shown her commitment to raising scholarship money for local students, and you can count on her to be a friend to UTRGV and our public schools.

Rep. Armando “Mando” Martínez

It’s an honor for me to think about people who can actually move our leadership into the next generation. That is why I’m endorsing Morgan Lamantia for state senator. When you think about the issues that pertain to the Rio Grande Valley – economic development, infrastructure, health care, and education – those are the most serious things that we can be focused on.

I believe as her being the family attorney for her family business, and for generations to come, she is the right choice to catapult us into the next generation to continue lead our state as your senate senator. As your state representative, I am asking you to come out and support Morgan Lamantia as your state senator.

Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr.

Morgan LaMantia is a leader in her family business that supports more than 1,200 jobs. It shows she’s a team player, loyal to her community, and she’s not afraid to fight to protect those who depend on her. As a delegation we’re stronger when we stand together and I’m proud to stand with Morgan.

PILOT PROGRAM TARGETS ELIGIBLE HIDALGO COUNTY HOMEOWNERS WITH HELP ON PAST DUE PROPERTY TAX, MORTGAGE PAYMENTS

Certain Hidalgo County homeowners may soon be eligible for up to $25,000 in past due property taxes and $40,000 in past due mortgage payments under a pilot program targeting people who experienced financial hardships because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Texas Homeowner Assistance Fund Program on Monday, January 10, 2022, began accepting applications for help, Jaime Longoria, Hidalgo County Community Service Agency Executive Director, reported on Friday, January 7, 2022.

Applications are being accepted athttp://www.texashomeownerassistance.com.

A call center will also be available at 833-651-3874.

The program is being piloted in Hidalgo County with the aim of eventually being available in other parts of the state. Money from the American Rescue Plan will be used to provide the help so long as the applicant meets certain criteria.

This includes homeowners with a household income of $79,900 or less and have fallen behind on one or more of the following expenses: property taxes, property insurance, HOA/condo fees, and mortgage payments.

The homeowner must have also experienced a Qualified Financial Hardship after January 21, 2021.

“We recognize the financial challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to our community,” Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortéz said. “That’s why we are delighted to pilot this program targeting our residents who were affected by the pandemic.”

ENRIQUE MÁRQUEZ SELECTED AS CHIEF OF STAFF FOR TEXAS SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE DADE PHELAN

Speaker of the Texas House Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, on Thursday, January 6, 2022, announced a series of changes and a new addition to his senior staff.

The staff changes follow the announcement of the departure of Chief of Staff Julia Rathgeber, who was succeeded by Communications Director Enrique Márquez, effective on Monday January 10, 2022.

“I am thrilled that Enrique Márquez will be stepping into this position in the new year,” Phelan told KDFM TV. “Enrique brings to the role the trust of the Members of the Texas House and my trust in his ability to lead our office.”

Márquez served as the first Chief Program and Services Officer for Texas Health and Human Services, where he led a staff of 35,000 and oversaw the state’s human service programs including Medicaid/CHIP, mental and behavioral health services, and the operation of state hospitals and state supported living centers.

Márquez previously served as an adviser to the Texas Lt. Governor and Speaker of the House, and led communications for Phelan during the 87th Legislative Session.

https://kfdm.com/news/local/house-speaker-phelan-announces-new-chief-of-staff

Veteran Capitol staffer and current Deputy Chief of Staff Mark Bell will be departing the Speaker’s administration to pursue endeavors in the private sector.

“Mark has been an invaluable asset to both the Texas House and my team, bringing decades of experience to the table when helping to craft strategy and usher legislative priorities over the finish line,” said Phelan. “When putting my team together, his experience and knowledge of the most inner workings of the Texas House were a standout attribute, and I want to thank him for continuing his service as part of my administration. I wish him the best in this next chapter.”

The following staff changes are effective immediately:

• Jay Dyer will serve as Deputy Chief of Staff in addition to his current role as Policy Director. Dyer has served in various positions within state government, most recently in the government relations department at the University of Texas at Austin and in the office of Gov. Greg Abbott.

• Kelly Mitchell will serve as Legislative Director in addition to her current role as Executive Director of Speaker Operations. Mitchell originally joined Phelan’s administration from the private sector and previously served as Executive Director of the Texas House Republican Caucus.

• Cait Wittman will serve as Communications Director. Wittman has served in Phelan’s administration since January 2021 and in various communications roles throughout state government, including in the offices of the Speaker and Governor.

• Additionally, effective Tuesday, February 1, 2022, Cassi Pollock will serve as Press Secretary. Pollock joins the Speaker’s administration from The Texas Tribune, where she most recently served as state politics reporter, covering all aspects of state politics, government and public policy.

“As Julia and Mark embark on their next endeavors, the Office of the Speaker begins a new chapter of its own,” Phelan added. “I am confident that each of these individuals is up for the task they’ve been handed, and we all look forward to hitting the ground running in the new year.”

GOV. ABBOTT ANNOUNCES $5 MILLION IN SPACEPORT TRUST FUND GRANT FOR CAMERON COUNTY SPACEPORT DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION

Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday, January 13, 2022 announced Spaceport Trust Fund grant awards of $5 million to the Cameron County Spaceport Development Corporation and $5,000,000 to the Houston Spaceport Development Corporation.

Administered by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and Tourism, the Spaceport Trust Fund is a financial tool to support the development of infrastructure necessary for establishing a spaceport in the state of Texas.

The 87th Legislature appropriated $10 million in funds in fiscal year 2022 to provide grants, disbursed on a cost-reimbursement basis, to help support the creation of quality jobs and attract continuing investments that will strengthen the economic future of the state.

“For decades, Texas has been a trailblazer in space technology and we are proud to help cultivate more innovation and development in this growing industry in Cameron and Harris County,” said Abbott. “This investment in the Cameron County and Houston Spaceport Development Corporations will create even more economic opportunities for Texans across the state and continue our legacy as a leader in space technology.”

Awarded through an application process and disbursed on a cost-reimbursement basis, Spaceport Trust Fund grants are available to any spaceport development corporation which has secured a viable business entity if that entity is capable of launching and landing a reusable launch vehicle or spacecraft and intends to locate its facilities at the development corporation’s planned spaceport in the state.

A reusable launch vehicle is defined as a vehicle intended for repeated use that is either built to operate in or place a payload into space or is a suborbital rocket.

Spaceport Trust Fund

The Spaceport Trust Fund (STF) is a financial tool to support the development of infrastructure necessary or useful for establishing a spaceport in the State of Texas. Fund proceeds are available to any spaceport development corporation which has secured a viable business entity if that entity is capable of launching and landing a reusable launch vehicle or spacecraft and intends to locate its facilities at the development corporation’s planned spaceport in the state.

Who Can Apply?

Spaceport development corporations in the state created under Chapter 507, Local Government Code, which have established a development plan for a spaceport project, demonstrated the financial ability to furnish at least 75 percent of the funding required for the project, and secured a viable business entity with a business plan demonstrating the capability and expertise necessary to launch and land a reusable launch vehicle or spacecraft, and which has committed to locating its facilities at the development corporation’s planned spaceport in the state.

The spaceport or launch operator, if required by federal law, must also have obtained or applied for the appropriate Federal Aviation Administration license or other appropriate authorization.

Type of Incentive

In the form of grants, disbursed on a cost-reimbursement basis, this incentive will pay expenditures for the development of infrastructure necessary or useful for establishing a spaceport. Eligibility Details For full eligibility and program details, please refer to the STF Statute.

Grant criteria are written into individual grant agreements with development corporations receiving an STF award. Please note a reusable launch vehicle is defined as a vehicle intended for repeated use that is either built to operate in or place a payload into space or is a suborbital rocket.

Application

The Texas Economic Development & Tourism Office, as a Trusteed Program within the Office of the Governor, solicits proposals from eligible applicants for spaceport facilities as funds are appropriated from the Texas Legislature. Grant awardees receive a fixed award amount and must submit a budget reflecting planned expenditures up to the award amount.

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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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