State Rep. Janie Lopez to give legislative update in Harlingen

Janie Lopez

HARLINGEN — After two months as the new House District 37’s first representative, state Rep. Janie Lopez is returning to her home base to update residents on her work pushing a series of legislative priorities, from proposed tax cuts to school safety measures and job creation along with health care and election reform.

At 8 a.m. Sunday, Lopez is set to update residents on proposals, including her plans to boost student access to counseling services, streamline South Texas truck cargo and expand the Iwo Jima Monument and Museum, at a town hall meeting at the Harlingen Area Chamber of Commerce.

“I have been working closely with our elected officials and constituents discussing and creating solutions to the problems in South Texas,” Lopez stated. “A lot has happened since the 88th legislative session began on Jan. 10, but there is much more to be done. We have already made great strides towards a greater Texas in connecting constituents with agencies to address their issues, filing bills and requesting funds for Valley infrastructure.”

After serving two years as the San Benito school board’s vice president, Lopez made Texas history, becoming the first Republican Hispanic woman to win a state House seat in South Texas with a victory in last November’s election, in which she won 14,451 votes to defeat Harlingen businessman Luis Villarreal, who drew 13,685 votes.

“I am ecstatic to represent House District 37 in the Texas House of Representatives,” Lopez stated.

Pushing her legislation

So far, Lopez has introduced legislation including a transportation bill aimed at helping prevent fines, allowing trucks carrying heavy cargo better access to South Texas roadways.

To upgrade water and drainage systems, she’s proposing to allow the Texas Economic Development Board increase bonds to help low-income areas.

Another bill calls for setting up a task force to analyze the flood infrastructure fund’s financial aide package aimed at upgrading artificial drainage systems.

In legislation aimed at helping public school students, Lopez is proposing funding school districts with high dropout rates to help lower the ratio of students to counselors.

Meanwhile, Lopez has introduced a bill aimed at allowing the Texas Historical Commission to enter into a contract to help renovate and expand the Iwo Jima Monument and Museum.

As part of the bill, the Harlingen attraction’s revenue would help fund its operation and maintenance costs while helping to preserve military documents and relics.

Supporting Abbott’s requests

During the legislative session, Lopez is also supporting Gov. Greg Abbott’s emergency requests including a proposal to cut taxes based on the state’s historical budget surplus.

“Texans pay some of the nation’s highest property taxes and so cutting property taxes this session is a bipartisan issue that the legislation will work together to resolve,” a press release states.

Lopez is also backing Abbott’s call for a “mandatory minimum jail sentence of at least 10 years for anyone caught smuggling illegal immigrants in the United States or here in Texas.”

During the session, Lopez is also pushing to bolster school safety, supporting Abbott’s call for “increased funding for technology that would keep our schools safe as well as increased funding for mental health resources.”

Backing Phelan’s priorities

Meanwhile, Lopez is also supporting House Speaker Dade Phelan’s legislative priorities, including a bill opening a funding stream for community colleges’ work in helping residents earn associate degrees while bolstering non-credit workforce education programs offering credentials projected to become requirements in more than 60 percent of jobs within the next 10 years.

In a push to boost health care access, House Bill 1 would set aside $331 million to contract state hospital beds while expanding community impatient capacity, with $60 million earmarked for mental health grant programs and $55.5 million to fund crisis services, such as crisis stabilization units and youth mobile crisis outreach teams.

As part of the priorities, House Bill 5 is aimed at “attracting large-scale, capital-intensive projects related to the manufacturing, national security and energy infrastructure industries,” a press release states.

The so-called Texas Jobs and Security Act would also “provide taxpayers with transparency on how state incentive dollars are being used as well as the number of jobs created across the state and the full economic impact as a result of these incentives.”

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