3 Valley legislators survive far-right push to ban Dems from committee chairs posts

State Reps. Terry Canales, Oscar Longoria and Bobby Guerra

The Rio Grande Valley legislative delegation has received its committee assignments.

And three Valley representatives are included in Speaker Dade Phelan’s nine Democratic appointments across the state as committee chairs.

Phelan had been under pressure from a staunch Republican wing of the Texas GOP to ban Democrats from serving as chairs in any of the state’s 34 committees, the Dallas Morning News reported.

During the last legislative session, Democrats held 13 committee chair positions.

The Valley’s legislators who received committee chair appointments include state Reps. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, R.D. “Bobby” Guerra, D-McAllen, and Oscar Longoria, D-Mission.

Canales announced that he was reappointed by Texas Speaker of the House Dade Phelan to the powerful Texas House Committee on Transportation.

In a news release, his office said he is the only one of five members in the Texas Legislature’s history to serve three sessions as the chair. He was first appointed in that role in 2008 and is the first Latino to hold that position, as well as the first in the Rio Grande Valley in more than 50 years, according to a news release.

The House Committee on Transportation is in charge of overseeing critical infrastructure development in the state, which includes roads, railways and ports.

“The Speaker has the foresight to recognize that institutional knowledge improves our ability to govern, exercise oversight, and create impactful policy changes,” Canales said in the release. “It is undebatable that transportation infrastructure requires long-range planning and vision. To be appointed as Chairman for a third consecutive session is both an honor and a responsibility.”

Canales noted that supply chain issues have highlighted the impact transportation infrastructure has on every industry and he said he will work tirelessly to ensure it is prepared for the future.

Canales was also appointed to the Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety.

“Thank you Speaker Phelan for these important committee appointments and for recognizing the importance of the Rio Grande Valley by giving our region’s legislators key appointments in the Texas House of Representatives,” Canales said. “It is an honor to serve on these committees in the 88th Session of the Texas Legislature and continue my work to help create a more prosperous future for my constituents.”

Guerra also received a committee chair appointment.

Phelan appointed him as chair of the Resolutions Calendar Committee. He was also appointed as vice chair of Environmental Regulation and as a senior member of the Energy Committee, according to a news release.

“I am honored to earn a Chairmanship this legislative session. As Chair of the Resolutions Committee, I have the distinct privilege of assuring remarkable Texans and Texas institutions are properly recognized by the Texas Legislature,” he said in the release. “I look forward to working with my committee colleagues on some of our state’s most pressing environmental and energy sector issues, such as promoting geothermal energy production.”

Longoria also received an appointment as a chair. Phelan appointed him as chair of the Business and Industry Committee. Texas is the nation’s leader when it comes to our economy, and the work that will be done in the Business and Industry Committee will directly impact families and communities in the Rio Grande Valley and across the state,” Longoria said.

“This chairmanship ensures that the Valley has a strong voice that will defend and promote the business industry in Texas.”

He was also appointed to General Investigating and Public Education.

State Rep. Sergio Muñoz Jr., D-Palmview, said in a release that he was appointed to serve as a member of the House Committee on Defense & Veterans’ Affairs and the Committee on Ways & Means.

“I am eager to start learning and addressing the various issues in these committees. I will aim to support policies that safeguard taxpayer pocketbooks and secure taxpayer interests,” he said in a release. “Similarly, improving veteran services is essential and I will prioritize ensuring that veterans have access to their healthcare needs.”

Elsewhere in the Valley, Erin Gamez, D-Brownsville, was appointed to the Natural Resources and Transportation committees while Armando “Mando” Martinez, D-Weslaco, was appointed to the Culture, Recreation and Tourism, and Appropriation committees.

Rep. Ryan Guillen, R-Rio Grande City, was appointed as chair of Homeland Security and Public Safety and was also appointed to the State Affairs committee while Janie Lopez, R-San Benito, was appointed to Environmental Regulation and Juvenile Justice and Family Issues.

To find a comprehensive list of bills filed — and the status of those bills — visit MyRGV.com and click the 88th Texas Legislative Session tab, which has an interactive spreadsheet and a comprehensive list of AIM Media Texas’ legislative coverage.