FEATURED, FROM LEFT: Corpus Christi Police Chief Mike Markle, Corpus Christi Fire Chief Robert Rocha, and Corpus Christi Port Police Chief Tom Mylett. This image was taken on Wednesday, September 7, 2016 at the Nueces County Courthouse.
Photograph Courtesy CORPUS CHRISTI POLICE DEPARTMENT FACEBOOK
Senate approves first measure by Sen. LaMantia – her legislative resolution honoring renowned retired Corpus Christi Fire Chief Robert Rocha
DAVID A. DÍAZ
Sen. Morgan LaMantia, D-South Padre Island, did not waste any time getting her first Senate approval of legislation carrying her name, using a time-tested strategy for all newcomers to experience and learn first-hand – in a matter of days instead of weeks or longer – how to successfully secure passage of a measure known as a resolution.
Legislation is a proposed or enacted law or group of laws.
New state lawmakers such as LaMantia use resolutions to gain experience and generate positive attention in local, regional and statewide mainstream media and social media – a game plan also effectively used by even the most experienced Texas legislators, such as Sen. Juan Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo/Starr County.
While a bill is the most common type of legislation, the Texas Legislature also uses three types of resolutions, which follow somewhat different processes.
A bill is 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.
Resolutions are used to handle specific activities of the legislature and must be introduced, assigned numbers, and acted on by the legislature. The three types of legislative resolutions are joint resolutions, concurrent resolutions, and simple resolutions. Of these, only concurrent resolutions are subject to veto by the governor.
On Wednesday, January 18, 2023 – about a week after the Texas Legislature returned to work at the Texas Capitol in Austin – LaMantia, along with Hinojosa received unanimous Senate support for Senate Resolution 21, which honored the achievements of renowned Corpus Christi Fire Chief Robert Rocha, who retired on Friday, January 20, 2023.
In doing so, Senate Resolution 21 went into the history books as the first legislative measure approved for LaMantia, a Valley native and attorney who currently heads up data analytics and serves as In-House Counsel for L&F Distributors in McAllen.
Although Senate Resolution 21 is defined as a “simple resolution”, such a measure is anything but common or ordinary, especially to the individuals, organizations, or causes being recognized, advocated, praised, or even opposed.
A simple resolution is the type of legislative measure that is considered only within the chamber (Texas Senate or Texas House of Representatives) in which it is filed.
“Filed” is used to refer to a measure that has been introduced into the legislative process and given a number.
A simple resolution can offer a commendation, a memorial, a statement of congratulations, a welcome, or the views of that chamber. This type of measure is also used to name a mascot, memorialize (petition) the U.S. Congress, adopt or change rules of procedure, initiate a study by a single chamber, and request action by another governmental entity.
In Senate Resolution 21, LaMantia and Hinojosa described Rocha as “an innovative leader (who) has incorporated the use of modern technology, including a drone, to assist with emergency responses; he has displayed expertise and sound judgment in managing the unique challenges of overseeing a major department in a thriving coastal city, and he has always been eager and prepared to assist those in need.”
Hinojosa traveled to Corpus Christi on Friday, January 20, 2023 to present Senate Resolution 21 to Rocha, “recognizing him for his service, commitment, dedication, and leadership of the Corpus Christi Fire Department.
“Chief Rocha retired today after more than 40 years of service including 11 years as chief. I’ve had the honor of working with him since he was named chief. He has worked tirelessly to improve the department, advocate for the needs of firefighters, and take care of the needs of our Coastal Bend communities,” Hinojosa said. “He led his department and our city through challenging times including Hurricane Harvey, the COVID-19 pandemic, and Winter Storm Uri. We are grateful for his service and I wish him a happy and healthy retirement.”
LaMantia, whose Senate District 27 includes 17 percent of Corpus Christi, along with Hinojosa, were authors of Senate Resolution 21, which – among other highlights – commended Rocha for “more than four decades of fire service experience,” praising Rocha for being “highly respected by his colleagues and is well known for his dedication, courage, and superior leadership.”
Hinojosa has 83 percent of Corpus Christi in his Senate District 20.
An author is the legislator who filed the bill and guided it through the legislative process (also called the primary author). The Texas Senate allows multiple primary authors for each bill or resolution.
A 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.
During the 87th Texas Legislature’s regular session in 2021, Hinojosa authored or sponsored 35 legislative resolutions.
Zaffirini, who represents the western portion of the Rio Grande Valley, authored or sponsored 44 legislative resolutions during the 87th Texas Legislature’s regular session in 2021.
As for LaMantia, Senate Resolution 21, as approved by the Texas Senate, reads:
WHEREAS, The Senate of the State of Texas is pleased to recognize Robert Rocha upon the occasion of his retirement as chief of the Corpus Christi Fire Department on January 20, 2023, after 11 years of outstanding leadership; and
WHEREAS, Robert Rocha began his tenure as fire chief with the Corpus Christi Fire Department in 2011; with more than four decades of fire service experience, he is highly respected by his colleagues and is well known for his dedication, courage, and superior leadership; and
WHEREAS, Throughout his distinguished career, Robert has successfully managed the far-reaching responsibilities of a fire chief, and he is admired by citizens throughout the community for his dedication to the safety of the Corpus Christi community; and
WHEREAS, Robert has led the Corpus Christi Fire Department through 11 years of development and challenges, including Hurricane Harvey and the COVID-19 pandemic; he has overseen the management of hundreds of firefighters and the construction of two new fire stations while maintaining the department’s rigorous training requirements, high standards, and diversity; and
WHEREAS, An innovative leader, Robert has incorporated the use of modern technology, including a drone, to assist with emergency responses; he has displayed expertise and sound judgment in managing the unique challenges of overseeing a major department in a thriving coastal city, and he has always been eager and prepared to assist those in need; and
WHEREAS, A man of integrity and strength, Robert Rocha is highly esteemed and admired by his colleagues at the department and by the members of the community, and he will be greatly missed by all at the Corpus Christi Fire Department; now, therefore, be it
WHEREAS, That the Senate of the State of Texas, 88th Legislature, hereby commend Chief Robert Rocha on his exceptional career with the Corpus Christi Fire Department and extend to him best wishes for the retirement years ahead; and, be it further
RESOLVED, That a copy of this Resolution be prepared for him as an expression of esteem from the Texas Senate.
More biographical information on Rocha was provided by Hinojosa’s office.
Those additional highlights include the following summary, which was effective as of Monday, August 1, 2022:
• Rocha has a total of 39 years experience in fire service, having started his career in 1982 with the Kansas City Fire Department and continued during the last 11 years as Fire Chief for the City of Corpus Christi. He currently serves as President of the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association.
• Rocha was responsible for oversight of a major metropolitan fire department with 446 sworn firefighters and 16 civil employees with a $79 million budget as of Fiscal year 2023;
• He brought in millions of dollars in federal and state grant awards to hire personnel, pay for training courses and purchase much-needed equipment;
• Rocha creased the number of ambulance companies for nine to 14;
• He stablished the CCPD Hazardous Materials Team as a FEMA Type 1 Response Team; and
• Rocha served as Chair of the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC).
Additional details on how Texas Legislature and legislative resolutions work, as provided by the Texas Legislative Council, include the following explanations
Joint resolutions are used to propose amendments to the Texas Constitution, ratify proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitution, or request a constitutional convention to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Joint resolutions proposing amendments to the Texas Constitution require a vote of two-thirds of the total membership of each chamber for adoption. Other joint resolutions require a simple majority vote in each chamber for adoption.
A joint resolution follows the same course that a bill follows through both chambers and is like a bill in most respects, except that in the House, the resolution may be adopted on second reading if it receives the required number of votes.
Three readings are required to adopt a joint resolution in the Senate.
Joint resolutions adopted by the legislature are not submitted to the governor for signing but are filed directly with the secretary of state. An amendment to the Texas Constitution proposed by an adopted joint resolution requires approval by Texas voters at a general election. The secretary of state conducts a drawing to determine the order in which the proposed constitutional amendments will appear on the ballot.
A concurrent resolution is used when both chambers have an interest in a particular matter. Such resolutions may originate in either chamber but must be adopted by both.
Concurrent resolutions may be used for matters affecting operations and procedures of the legislature, such as joint sessions or adjournment sine die.
They are also used to petition the U.S. Congress, give directions to a state agency, board, or commission, express the views of the legislature, designate an official state symbol, adopt an official place or date designation, or express congratulations or condolences. Concurrent resolutions must be submitted to the governor for approval, except for those that pertain solely to procedural matters between the two chambers, and they are filed with the secretary of state.
Simple resolutions pertain to matters considered by the originating chamber only.
They are used to adopt or change rules of procedure, name a mascot, express congratulations or condolences, or petition the U.S. Congress. Simple resolutions may also express the views of a single chamber, initiate a study by that chamber, or urge a state agency, board, or commission to take action.
They are not submitted to the governor for signing or filed with the secretary of state.
COVID-19 vaccination gets a boost when people know their neighbors are doing it, reports the University of Texas at Austin
One of the largest international surveys ever conducted shows people are more willing to get a COVID-19 vaccination when they are told about how many other people in their community plan to get one.
The global survey, which appeared in two research papers, one recently published in Nature Human Behavior and another in Nature Communications, showed that people greatly underestimate vaccine acceptance — both worldwide and in their own communities.
“Our study shows that accurate information about what most other people are doing can substantially increase intentions to accept a COVID-19 vaccine,” said Avinash Collis, co-author and assistant professor of information, risk and operations management in the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas. “But once people know that the majority has already received or are going to get the vaccine, they feel safer to get the vaccine.”
Collis and researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Initiative on the Digital Economy fielded a survey of nationally representative samples of Facebook users from July 2020 to March 2021.
Facebook provided the survey sample and placed survey ads in the users’ newsfeeds.
More than 2 million responses in 67 countries make it one of the largest academic social science surveys ever conducted. The survey found that public health campaigns are more convincing when they focus on the percentage of people receiving vaccinations, as opposed to the dangers of refusing vaccination.
The survey also found local health workers are the most trusted source of COVID-19 information, but in most countries, they do not serve as public information sources.
Politicians do and they are the least trusted.
Other academics are now using this data in their own vaccination research — including studies on vaccination campaigns and political trust in Latin America, understanding drivers of vaccine hesitancy in South Asia, and promoting hand-washing in sub-Saharan Africa.
To date, more than 40 peer reviewed papers have been published by other research teams using this data. The research was a joint effort by researchers at UT Austin, MIT’s Initiative on the Digital Economy, the World Health Organization, Johns Hopkins University and Meta.
Read the McCombs Big Ideas story.
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)