Author Archives: Gerry Garcia

86th Legislative Session – Bills that Passed

HB 1 by John Zerwas (R-Fulshear) and Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) is the general appropriations bill. It provides: $250.652 billion in all funds; $118.859 billion in general revenue funds; $6.19 billion in general revenue dedicated funds; $86.439 billion in federal funds; and $39.165 in other funds All Funds Comparison to Previous Sessions: $250.652 billion for the 2020-2021 biennium, compares to: $216.758 billion in the 2018-2019 biennium; $216.399 in the 2016-2017 biennium and $196.9 billion in the 2014-2015 biennium. Budget Highlights: Article I, General Government: $10 million to provide grants to Cultural Arts Districts across the state; $1.9 million to expand the Elections Fraud Unit at the Office of the Attorney General; $3.5 million to expand the Human Trafficking Section at the Office of the Attorney General to handle additional prosecutions; $7.7 million increase in funding for rape crisis centers to expand capacity to every area of the state and handle…

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86th Legislative Session Update #17 – FINAL

The 86th Legislative Session is Over Major Issues – Almost all of the session’s important issues were addressed. Here is a run-down of the major priority issues for Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, and Speaker Dennis Bonnen taken up by the 86th Legislature: Governor Greg Abbott designated 5 issues as emergency items including: School finance reform and increasing teacher pay – passed as HB 3 Increased school safety – passed as SB 11 Greater access to mental health care services – Texas Mental Health Care Consortium passed in SB 11; HB 8 school mental health training and curriculum passed; and HB 19 mental health and substance abuse resources for school districts passed Property tax reform – passed as SB 2 Expanded disaster response and readiness programs – 28 disaster relief and recovery bills passed including HB 5, HB 6, HB 7, and SB 6 (others are listed at…

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86th Legislative Session Update #16

“The world is a stage, but the play is badly cast.”   Oscar Wilde  SENATE: The Senate was in session Monday through Friday of this past week. Last Monday, the Senate passed 6 bills including HB 638 by Representative Giovanni Capriglione (R-Keller) and Senator Beverly Powell (D-Burleson), which would allow high schools to give posthumous diplomas to parents of deceased students at the end of the school year in which a student was expected to graduate; HB 1483 by Representative James Frank (R-Wichita Falls) and Senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock), which would require the Health & Human Services Commission to develop a self-sufficiency pilot program for assisting eligible families to gain permanent self-sufficiency and transition off of state assistance; and HB 2867 by Representative Will Metcalf (R-Conroe) and Senator Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe), which would establish the Sam Houston State University College of Osteopathic Medicine. Last Tuesday, the Senate passed 19 bills including…

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86th Legislative Session Update #15

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face for the first time.”    Mike Tyson SENATE: The Senate was in session Monday through Friday this past week. On Monday, the Senate passed one bill, HB 3 by Dan Huberty (R-Humble) and Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), the public school finance reform bill. Senator Taylor said, “Texas is way behind on school finance and if we want to continue to be the greatest state in the union, we must change. We’ve got to move our school finance system into the 21st century. The Texas Supreme Court ruled that although our system is constitutional, it’s messed up. We need to act now.” After more than one hundred proposed amendments, Senator Taylor closed the proceedings by thanking the Education committee members and the committee staff, and urging lawmakers to pass CSHB 3, “Let’s move Texas well into the 21st century with this vote.”…

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86th Legislative Session Update #14

“You must learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t possibly live long enough to make them all yourself.”   Mark Twain SENATE: The Senate was in session last Monday through Friday. Last Monday, the Senate gave preliminary approval to three bills and passed 37 bills. Last Tuesday, the Senate gave preliminary approval to two bills and passed 18 bills including SB 11 by Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), the School Safety Act. Senator Taylor said, “We know that we cannot prevent every tragedy, and there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution for strengthening school security, but SB 11 provides the framework to empower school districts to do what’s best for them and their students.” SB 11 would: Require the Texas Education Agency to ensure that building standards provide a safe and secure environment. Offer loan repayment assistance to those who serve as school counselors and licensed specialists on school psychology. Offer…

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86th Legislative Session Update #13

“It is all right to be content with what you have, but never with what you are.”    -Unknown SENATE: The Senate was in session last Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Last Monday, the Senate passed 4 bills including SB 2 by Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston), the proposed Texas Property Tax Reform and Relief Act of 2019. Senator Bettencourt said, “This is the day that taxpayers in Texas have long waited for. Our people want real, meaningful property tax relief. That’s what I hear most from my constituents. The goal of SB 2 is to give relief not only to those Texans who own homes or operate businesses but to provide property tax relief for those Texans who have yet to own a home and have yet to start a business. It is for Texans and their businesses that have been feeling the squeeze of rising property taxes. Texas is number 3 in…

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Anzalduas International Bridge Providing Relief to Delayed Travelers

As long lines begin to form at Anzalduas International Bridge, McAllen Bridge System employees are doing what they can to provide relief to road-weary travelers, including offering water and shuttle rides to those who may need to use the restroom facilities.   “CBP is doing a great job of trying to process the vehicles as efficiently and safely as possible, but there are times when the traffic does begin to back up,” said Rigo Villarreal, Superintendent of the McAllen Bridge System, which includes Anzalduas and the Mcallen-Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridges. “During those long wait times, employees are out along the line, passing out water bottles to customers.”   Also on hand are police officers from the City of Mission Police Department who are assisting bridge staff with providing any support and work to vehicles that may be overheating or need some temporary servicing.   According to Villarreal, on average, the Anzalduas…

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86TH LEGISLATIVE SESSION UPDATE #12

     “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did.”    – Mark Twain Last week in the Texas Legislature. SENATE: The Senate was in session last Monday through Thursday. Last Thursday, they had their first Local & Uncontested calendar. Last Monday, the Senate gave preliminary approval to two bills and passed 9 bills including: SB 27 by Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) allowing recovery of attorneys fees in frivolous regulatory proceedings. SB 244 by Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) allowing school districts and charters to appoint school marshals. SB 254 by Jose Rodriguez (D-El Paso) allowing courts to appoint a receiver for a property in violation of a municipal ordinance. (additional information is in the Property section) SB 289 by Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D-Brownsville) requiring state and federal agencies to cooperate to secure reimbursement for housing needs in a disaster…

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86th Legislative Session Update #11

“Man has 12 billion brain cells, just to give you an idea of the unemployment situation.” STATEWIDE: Hurricane Harvey/Disaster Preparedness: Passed the Senate: SB 6 by Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) would direct the Texas Department of Emergency Management at the Department of Public Safety to develop a model guide based on best practices to help local officials respond in the aftermath of a natural disaster. The committee substitute and two-floor amendments were adopted and it passed the Senate unanimously. SB 7 by Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) would establish the Texas Infrastructure Resiliency Fund for flood mitigation projects identified by regional flood planning. The committee substitute and three-floor amendments were adopted and it passed the Senate unanimously. SB 8 by Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) would require the Water Development Board to facilitate creation of a statewide flood plan with local officials and stakeholders developing regional priorities. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed…

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86th Legislative Session Update #10

“There are always many choices, many paths to take, one is easy. And its only reward is that it’s easy.” Bill Filing Deadline – The deadline for legislators to file bills to be considered by the Texas Senate and House this session was 6:00 p.m. on Friday, March 8, 2019. The filing deadline does not apply to local bills, concurrent resolutions or simple resolutions. A total of 4,773 HB’s/HJR’s and 2,508 SB’s/SJR’s were filed for a total of 7,281 bills. 2,830 were filed in the last week. That compares to: 2019 bills filed by the deadline – 7,281 (up 627 over 2017) 2017 bills filed by the deadline – 6,654 2015 bills filed by the deadline – 6,107 2013 bills filed by the deadline – 5,665 2011 bills filed by the deadline – 5,672 2009 bills filed by the deadline – 7,136 This past Thursday, the Senate State Affairs Committee…

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86th Legislative Session Update #9

“Not the cry, but the flight of the wild duck leads the flock to follow.” Chinese Proverb The Texas Legislature was in session this past week. Here are some key happenings: Supplemental Appropriations – On Thursday, Governor Greg Abbott designated supplemental appropriations as an emergency item. His specific designation says, “Legislation relating to making supplemental appropriations and reductions in appropriations and giving direction including direction regarding reimbursement adjustment authority regarding appropriations.” SENATE: The Senate was in session this past Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. On Wednesday, they recessed until Thursday for first reading and referral of bills to committees. On Monday, the Senate unanimously approved SB 3 by Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), which would provide a permanent $5,000 annual salary increase for classroom teachers. A Senate floor amendment added librarians. Senator Nelson said, “It has been a decade since teachers received a small raise from the state. It’s…

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McAllen Medical Center Becomes First and Only Level II Trauma Center in the Upper Valley

This impressive accomplishment demonstrates South Texas Health System’s ongoing commitment to ensure quality care is available for patients with life-threatening injuries or illnesses in the Rio Grande Valley. McAllen Medical Center, part of the South Texas Health System (STHS), is the first hospital in Hidalgo County designated as a Level II Trauma Center with 24/7 board-certified trauma surgeons immediately available to serve the Rio Grande Valley. The designation by the Texas Department of State Health Services was achieved following program verification by the American College of Surgeons and required that McAllen Medical Center meet the essential criteria that demonstrate trauma care capability and institutional performance. The Texas Department of State Health Services Trauma Designation Rules classifies both Levels I and II Centers as Major Trauma Centers since patient care delivery requirements are the same for both. We are proud to be designated as the first and only Level II Trauma…

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Upcoming Fusing Workshop at McAllen Stained Glass

Make a beautiful and functional work of art in just one session! We will guide you through the process and provide all the materials and tools needed for your special work of art. These pieces will be fired and picked up later. 16+ yrs. old. Prior glass cutting experience is not necessary. Advance registration required.  Space is limited. For your safety, closed-toe shoes are required in the classroom.   HANDKERCHIEF VOTIVE  WORKSHOP Tuesday, March 19, 2019 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM Class Fee:  $25   REGISTER FOR HANDKERCHIEF VOTIVE HERE   WILDFLOWER WORKSHOP Monday, March 25, 2019 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM Class Fee:  $75 and $125   REGISTER FOR WILDFLOWER HERE SERVING TRAY WORKSHOP Tuesday, March 26, 2019 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM Class Fee:  $70   REGISTER FOR SERVING TRAY WORKSHOP HERE MCALLEN STAINED GLASS     800 N. MAIN ST. STE. 400, MCALLEN, TX 78501   956.687.8682

86th Legislative Session Update #8

 “I dreamed a thousand new paths. I woke and walked my old one.” Chinese Proverb SENATE: The Senate was in session Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week conducting routine business. On Wednesday, they recessed until Friday for first reading and referral of bills to committees. On Wednesday, the Senate adopted SR 300, which increased the Senate Higher Education Committee from seven to nine members. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick named Senators Pete Flores (R-Pleasanton) and Jose Menendez (D-San Antonio) to the two new slots on the committee.   BUDGET: House Appropriations Committee: Subcommittee on Articles I, IV & V (General Government, Judiciary, and Public Safety & Criminal Justice) met on Monday to discuss budget recommendations for Article I and Article V agencies; and on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss Article I, IV, and V agencies. Subcommittee on Article II (Health & Human Services) met on Tuesday to discuss budget items…

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