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As one of Hidalgo County’s newest state representatives, Oscar Longoria (District 35), is already actively engaged in legislative issues important to South Texas.
State Representative District 35 was created last year during the re-districting process. The district covers a broad, mostly rural, area stretching from La Joya in Western Hidalgo County, swinging north around Mission, McAllen and Edinburg, then dipping south and taking in a slice of northern Weslaco and Harlingen. Local cities included in the new district are La Joya, Sullivan, Peñitas and just a small part of far northwest McAllen.
Longoria has been preparing for the 140-day legislative session, which started Jan. 8, talking about the issues with constituents. He explained, secondary education funding is one of the most important topics. Faced with huge funding shortfalls in Texas due to the recession, cuts were made in education funding during the previous legislative session two years ago. But Longoria hopes to restore as much funding as possible.
School security is another item that the state rep believes should be addressed.
“There has been talk of a bill to approve basically having an employee of the school with a firearm to increase safety,” Longoria said. “We need to be very careful on the choices we make with an armed officer or employee of the school district, there has to be research done before we make a decision like that. Anything that is going to be brought in, like this issue, needs to be thought out.”
A new opportunity in higher education to be addressed in this session is the partnering of the University of Texas-Pan American and the University of Texas at Brownsville to create aValley medical school. This is still very much in the early stages of planning.
“The medical school came to the forefront…there is still a lot of work,” Longoria said. “We need to go ahead and choose where it will be placed.”
He added Brownsville is also in need of a new campus site, so this will be a good time to address all concerns of UT administration.
When representing South Texas, there is always the issue of border security, and this issue seems to grow more important every year. Longoria says he hopes to push for more funds to increase pay of Texas Department of Public Safety officers, who assist the U.S. Border Patrol with border crime.
“I want to push for DPS to get a pay increase…they are all really well trained,” Longoria said. “What is happening is the bigger cities are picking them up. We need to put in some funding to keep them on board.”
As state representative of District 35, Longoria has to represent cities that are on opposite sides of the Rio Grande Valley. Each side, though facing similar issues, also has different priorities and goals for growth.
Calendar for the 83rd Session of the Texas Legislature
Tuesday, January 8, 2013 (1st day) - 83rd Legislature convenes at noon [Government Code, Sec. 301.001]
Friday, March 8, 2013 (60th day) - Deadline for filing bills and joint resolutions other than local bills, emergency appropriations, and bills that have been declared an emergency by the governor [House Rule 8, Sec. 8; Senate Rules 7.07(b) and 10.01]
Monday, May 27, 2013 (140th day) - Last day of 83rd Regular Session; corrections only in house and senate [Sec. 24(b), Art. III, Texas Constitution]
Session Ends (Sine Die)
Sunday, June 16, 2013 (20th day following final adjournment) - Last day governor can sign or veto bills passed during the regular legislative session [Sec. 14, Art. IV, Texas Constitution]
Monday, August 26, 2013 (91st day following final adjournment) - Date that bills without specific effective dates (that could not be effective immediately) become law [Sec. 39, Art. III, Texas Constitution]
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.