By Thursday afternoon the Rio Grande Valley’s eight state legislators learned their committee assignments for the 87th Legislative Session of the Texas House of Representatives.
In an unprecedented year of upheaval from the coronavirus pandemic and the once-in-a-decade redistricting process, the announcement of committee assignments ushers in the ability for committees to consider bills filed by Texas’ representatives.
As of Friday, legislators from across the state had filed more 1,600 bills.
Here’s a look where the Valley’s legislators landed:
TERRY CANALES, D-EDINBURG
For the second session in a row, Canales will chair the Transportation Committee. The representative is the first Latino to be appointed to the position as well as the first legislator from the Valley in more than 50 years to hold the position.
In a statement, Canales said he is honored to again chair this committee.
“One of the most important facts that I have learned over the last two years as Chairman was that Texas must better prioritize transportation infrastructure to be ready for the year 2050 when the state’s population is forecasted to be around 47 million. We cannot solve all of our infrastructure issues quickly, but I will continue to use my time and resources to ensure Texas is adequately preparing for the future,” Canales said.
He was also appointed to the International Relations & Economic Development Committee.
ALEX DOMINGUEZ, D-BROWNSVILLE
Dominguez, who is on his second legislative session, was appointed as vice-chair to two committees as well as receiving a spot on the powerful Appropriations Committee, which considers bills related to the state’s budget.
“It is a great honor to represent the Valley delegation on the Appropriations Committee working with Chairman Greg Bonnen. This is a great opportunity to work with different cities, regions, and agencies to prepare for our current and future budgetary needs. I am committed to work to preserve critical funding for public education, infrastructure, and public health in the state,’ Dominguez said in a statement.
He was also appointed to serve as vice chairman on the Environmental Regulation and Local and Consent Calendars committees.
R.D. “BOBBY” GUERRA, D-MCALLEN
Guerra landed appointments on three committees, including the influential Ways & Means Committee, which handles tax-related matters.
He also received an appointment as vice-chair to the Public Health Committee, as well as an appointment to the Local and Consent Calendars Committee.
“I’m honored that Speaker Phelan has put his trust in me to serve as Vice Chair of the Public Health Committee, in addition to serving on Ways and Means and the Local and Consent Calendar committees. I look forward to working with my colleagues to protect public education funding, advocate for Medicaid expansion, and provide COVID-19 recovery,” Guerra said in a statement posted to Facebook.
RYAN GUILLEN, D-RIO GRANDE CITY
Guillen picked up four appointments, including chairman of the Resolutions Calendar Committee, which handles business related to congratulatory or memorial resolutions.
He was also appointed to the Agriculture and Livestock, Licensing and Administrative Procedures and Redistricting committees.
Guillen is the only Valley legislator represented on the Redistricting Committee.
He said in a Facebook post that he is proud to have been appointed to a leadership position.
“Committee assignments for the 87th Legislature were released today, and I’m proud to announce that for the fourth straight Speaker Administration, I’ve been appointed to a leadership position,” Guillen wrote.
Last year, Guillen was vice-chair of the Ways & Means Committee.
“A special thank you to our new Speaker, Dade Phelan. I am truly humbled by his confidence in me and I look forward to continuing working with him on making Texas and even greater place to live, work, and raise a family,” Guillen said.
OSCAR LONGORIA, D-MISSION
He received two appointments this year, to the County Affairs and Energy Resources committees.
Longoria said he is honored to serve on the committees.
“The energy industry is invaluable to our state’s economy and contributes heavily to public education and transportation funding. Additionally, we’ve seen the importance of counties during the COVID-19 pandemic and I look forwarding to supporting Hidalgo and Cameron Counties in committee this session so that they can best serve Valley residents,” Longoria said in a statement.
In the last session, Longoria served in the notable position as vice-chair of the Appropriations Committee.
During his State of the State address last week, Gov. Greg Abbott thanked Longoria for his service in that position.
“To say the least, we must balance the state budget without increasing taxes. I want to thank Sens. Nelson and Hinojosa, as well as Reps. Capriglione and Longoria for their financial stewardship this last year to put Texas in a position to achieve those goals,” Abbott said.
EDDIE LUCIO III, D-BROWNSVILLE
Lucio was appointed to the Natural Resources and State Affairs committees.
In a statement posted to Facebook, he said he is looking forward to serving on the committees.
“Speaker Phelan has announced committee assignments for the 87th Legislative Session and I am honored to be appointed to the State Affairs and Natural Resources Committees! Thank you Speaker Phelan for the opportunity to serve on these committees and I’m looking forward to the great work we’ll do throughout the session,” Lucio said.
ARMANDO “MANDO” MARTINEZ, D-WESLACO
He received appointments to the Culture, Recreation and Tourism Committee and the Transportation Committee.
In a statement posted to Facebook, Martinez said he looks forward to continuing ongoing projects in the Rio Grande Valley.
“Thank you to Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan for allowing me to serve on the Committee on Transportation and Committee on Culture, Recreation and Tourism. I am extremely passionate about transportation and have served on this committee for several legislative sessions. I look forward to continuing ongoing projects in the Rio Grande Valley and serving our great State of Texas on these two committees,” Martinez said.
SERGIO MUÑOZ, D-PALMVIEW
He received appointments to the Higher Education and Pensions, Investments and Financial Services committees.
Muñoz, like his colleagues, thanked the speaker for the appointments and said the assignments place him in a position to continue to serve the state of Texas.
He also said ensuring that children have access to higher education has always been one of his top priorities as a state representative.
“I have worked alongside UTRGV and South Texas College to advocate on behalf of our students. Together we have scored big wins such as the creation of the UTRGV School of Medicine as well as increasing the number of Bachelor degree programs at South Texas College. A seat on the Committee on Higher Education means that we will continue to further build upon these tremendous accomplishments,” Muñoz said in a statement.
As for the Pensions, Investments and Financial Services Committee, he says the assignment will allow him to fight on behalf of retired teachers and first responders.
“A seat on the Pensions, Investments, and Financial Services Committee gives me the opportunity to continue my work fighting on behalf of our retired teachers and first responders. This committee has broad jurisdiction over state and local pension systems, teacher retirement, banks, credit unions, and lenders,” Muñoz said.