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With uncertainties still surrounding proposed $150 million courthouse, Rep. Canales submits questions from citizens to County Judge García

Featured: Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, recites the Pledge of Allegiance on the floor of the Texas House of Representatives at the Texas Capitol in Austin. In an effort to help South Texas residents better understand the pros and cons of building a new Hidalgo County Courthouse, the House District 40 lawmaker has submitted a series of questions, which Canales has received from his legislative constituents, to Hidalgo County Judge Ramón García. García has been the main supporter of a current plan favored by the county judge to build a new courthouse, whose cost could reach $150 million, in downtown Edinburg, next to existing Hidalgo County Courthouse.

Photograph By HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHY

Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, an attorney whose House District 40 features much of Edinburg, including the downtown region, in a January 16, 2018 letter to Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia, has submitted concerns from citizens. “There is little doubt that our current courthouse is not adequate for the actual needs of this community, yet I believe we need to work together to clarify misconceptions that seem to be circulating around the area,” Canales stated in his letter to García. “I have a series of questions that I have been asked by Hidalgo County residents that I would like answered in writing to help my constituents and myself become more comfortable with this project.” Canales said as he receives the responses – on the county judge’s official letterhead – to the specific questions from citizens, he will share those answers in follow-up news releases from his legislative office and postings on social media. “It is much better to get Judge Ramón García on the record on these important questions which continue to be asked by the community, show his answers to the people, and let the chips fall where they may,” Canales said. Canales has been deeply involved in introducing and passing state legislation that benefits Hidalgo County residents and county government, including working with Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and Rep. Armando Martínez, D-Weslaco, as a joint author in 2015 that resulted in the creation of a special fund to pay for construction, renovation, and repairs to the county courthouse. “Every major issue involving Hidalgo County government and services protecting Hidalgo County residents have been shaped and are reviewed by me,” Canales said. “The current and proposed county courthouse are in the heart of my legislative district, so you can bet that I have been very involved in following this very important development.”

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Texas Public Safety Commission “picking youth over experience” in budget-cutting move that will fire 117 veteran DPS troopers, says Rep. Canales

William G. McKinsey, CJIS Biometric Services Section Chief for the FBI, featured right, presents the Biometric Identification Award to, from left, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McGraw, Assistant Director Mike Lesko, Latent Automated Fingerprint Identification System Section Supervisor Jenny Hall, and Latent Prints Section Supervisor Meghan L. Blackburn on July 14, 2017 in Austin. Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, on Monday, January 8, 2018, called on McGraw to work with state lawmakers in order to prevent the planned firing by the Texas Public Safety Commission of 117 commissioned DPS officers in a budget-cutting move. “These 117 officers, who are now slated for downsizings, were all hired as part of the Retire/Rehire Program, which encouraged retired officers to re-enter the Department to help fill the shortage of commissioned officers,” Canales said. “These troopers are some of the most experienced and knowledgeable in Texas, in addition to the fact that they showed an incredible selflessness by coming back to law enforcement when their state needed them. Yet, it now seems that the Department might be forsaking their battle-tested veterans by picking youth over experience.”

Photograph Courtesy FBI

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New state laws will help more military veterans with disabilities, and surviving spouses of first responders who died in the line of duty, to qualify for property tax protections, says Rep. Canales

Featured: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class JoAnn Consiglio, assigned to Navy Officer Recruiting Station Harlingen in Texas, is joined by other sailors of Navy Recruiting District San Antonio and Navy City Outreach Southwest Region, including Lt. Cmdr. Diana Tran-Yu of Navy City, in discussing grassroots perspectives on opportunities, benefits, and careers in the Navy to students during Latina Day on Wednesday, October 4, 2017 at the Hispanic Engineering, Science, and Technology (HESTEC) Week on the Edinburg campus of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

Photograph By BURRELL PARMER

With scores of Texans preparing to pay their 2017 annual home property taxes, Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, is reminding military veterans, and the surviving spouses of first responders who were killed or fatally injured in the line of duty, that there are new laws in place that can help many of them reduce the bills on their primary residence. “Home ownership is a vital part of the American Dream, and I have always supported efforts to provide property tax relief to Texans, such as local property tax freezes for homeowners who are 65-years-of-age or older, and for homeowners who have physical disabilities,” said Canales. “This year, I successfully authored House Bill 217, which provides property tax relief for certain veterans who have a disability, and I voted to place two other measures that protect homeowners on the November 2017 statewide constitutional amendments election ballot, where they were subsequently approved by voters – House Joint Resolution 21 and Senate Joint Resolution 1.” The House Research Organization, which is the nonpartisan research division of the Texas House of Representatives, provides the following background and goals of HB 217, HJR 21, and SJR 1, which became state law in 2017: House Bill (HB) 217 – Canales was the author of HB 217 while Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, sponsored Canales’ bill in the Texas Senate – provides veterans who are disabled, in the instances they were not protected under now-former Texas laws, the ability to defer collection of property taxes or the abatement of a foreclosure/sale of their home due to delinquent property taxes; House Joint Resolution (HJR) 21 –  it was approved by Texas voters as Proposition 1 during November 7, 2017 state constitutional amendment election– fixes a shortcoming in current law that unfairly resulted in increasing the financial burden on a veteran with a partial disability who paid some amount of the cost of a donated home; and Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 1 – it was approved by Texas voters as Proposition 6 during the November 7, 2017 state constitutional amendment election – allows a surviving spouse of a first responder who is killed or fatally injured in the line of duty to receive an exemption from ad valorem taxation from all or part of the market value on the surviving spouse’s residence homestead, as long as the surviving spouse has not remarried since the death of the first responder. According to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Texas offers a variety of partial or total (absolute) exemptions from appraised property values used to determine local property taxes. A partial exemption removes a percentage or a fixed dollar amount of a property’s value from taxation. A total (absolute) exemption excludes the entire property from taxation. Taxing units are mandated by the state to offer certain (mandatory) exemptions and have the option to decide locally on whether or not to offer others (local option). (https://comptroller.texas.gov/taxes/property-tax/exemptions/

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Rep. Canales supports creation of Texas legislative panel to improve governments’ transparency and accountability to citizens

Featured: Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, with his wife, Erica, on Wednesday, October 4, 2017, prior to the House District 40 state legislator addressing the Edinburg Rotary Club on various issues that affect his constituents.

Photograph By ALEX RÍOS

Texans deserve more power to know what their governments are doing, says Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, who has formally asked Speaker of the House Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, to create a special House-Senate legislative panel to improve transparency and accountability to citizens. Canales, the House District 40 state lawmaker from Hidalgo County, during his career in the Texas Legislature has authored, sponsored, and voted for legislation designed to strengthen public knowledge about the actions of local and state governments, before, during, and after such efforts by those public entities take place. “I have a proven track record of fighting for open-government legislation during my five years as a state lawmaker, through carrying measures that bear my name, and through my work in House committees and on the floor of the House of Representatives, where I have always spoken in favor and voted for dozens of measures that protect the people’s right to know about what our local and state governments are doing in our name with our public resources,” said Canales. In general, open-government is a set of beliefs that all government business should be open to regulation and scrutiny by the public. The Texas Public Information Act and the Texas Open Meetings Act are the two most powerful sets of laws in the state regarding public disclosure of actions of local and state governments. During the recently-concluded 85th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature, which was held from January through May 2017, Canales authored one of the few proposals dealing with open government and public information that became state law. As of September 1, 2017, as a result of Canales’ House Bill 214, the Texas Supreme Court and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals – the highest courts in the state – are required to dramatically improve the ability of the public to see what is going on in the two Austin-based powerful trial courts. “Recording and broadcasting courtroom proceedings can promote transparency and allow the public to evaluate the efficacy of the judicial system,” explained Canales. “To increase the public’s access to the judicial branch, H.B. 214 builds upon previous policies by requiring the Texas Supreme Court and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to make video recordings of their oral arguments, and any open meeting the courts have, and publish the recordings on their respective websites.” The Texas Supreme Court is the state’s highest court for civil matters, and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is the state’s highest court for criminal matters.  

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Rep. Muñoz, whose legislation protects children, consumers, crime victims, and public education, to seek fifth term as House District 36 lawmaker

Featured: Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission, in his seat at his desk on the floor of the Texas House of Representatives. 

Photograph by PETER SALINAS

Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission, whose legislation protects children, consumers, crime victims, and public education, will seek a fifth, two-year term as state lawmaker for House District 36, a key South Texas region which includes all or parts of the cities of Hidalgo, Granjeño, McAllen, Mission, Palmview and Pharr. Muñoz, whose achievements have earned him membership to key House legislative panels, including the powerful House Committee on Appropriations, also has used his eight years experience in the Texas Legislature to make improvements on border trade and economic prosperity, educational funding and opportunities for students, teachers and education professionals, while successfully championing a higher quality-of-life and access to health care for his constituents. “There is no substitute for experience in life, and the same goes for the Texas Legislature,” said Muñoz, an attorney by profession. “When it comes to getting results for our area, I have an expert knowledge of the legislative process, so I know how to work with my colleagues and the state leadership, and I am able to get big things done for us in House District 36.” Muñoz and his wife María Elena have three children – Gael Sebastián, Sergio Emiliano, and Caterina Violetta. He is the son of former Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Sr., a local healthcare businessman and Connie Muñoz, a long-time educator from the Mission area. His sister, Marla Muñoz-López, is a healthcare professional. He attributes his success and commitment towards civic duty to the values instilled by his parents and strengthened by his love for his family. In addition to his immediate family and his service in the Texas Legislature, Muñoz is a civil and criminal law attorney and sole principal of the Muñoz Law Firm, serving the South Texas region. He served as a Municipal Judge in Palmview, Texas and is a member of the Hidalgo County Bar Association. Beyond his professional service, Representative Muñoz is a member of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and the Knights of Columbus. He attends both Our Lady of the Guadalupe Catholic Church and St. John of the Field’s Catholic Church. Muñoz has served in the Texas Legislature since 2011 and represents all or parts of the cities of Hidalgo, Granjeño, McAllen, Mission, Palmview and Pharr. His Capitol office is located at CAP 4S.4 in the Texas Capitol, and may be reached at (512) 463-0704. His District Office is located at 121 E. Tom Landry, Mission, and may be reached at (956) 584-8999.

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