SINE DIE: LOOKING BACK AT A SUCCESSFUL SESSION
AUSTIN — Today is Sine Die for the 83rd Texas Legislative Regular Session. Sine Die is the last day of the Regular Session of the Texas Legislature that meets for 140 days every odd-numbered year.
Senator Hinojosa issued the following statement:
"I am proud of what we accomplished this session for South Texas and the entire State. We had important legislative victories and crafted a balanced budget.
We passed Senate Bill 24, which has been my priority and at the forefront of my legislative agenda all session long. SB 24 merges UT-Pan American and UT-Brownsville and creates a free standing medical school. There will be more jobs, lower poverty levels, higher educational levels, more healthcare services, more doctors, more access to those doctors and more resources to serve the unique and critical needs of the people of the Valley.
The legislature approved and the Governor already signed into law my SB 466 which will expedite the development and construction of highways and other transportation infrastructure projects by reducing the amount of time it currently takes for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to obtain approval of environmental documents required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other federal laws. A strong, robust transportation network is necessary for Texas to continue to lead the nation in the creation of jobs while at the same time delivering over $1 billion in trade per day that crosses into our state from Mexico.
This session I passed SB 1238 to improve the duties of the Forensic Science Commission by allowing the Commission to proactively investigate the use of Forensic Science in Texas for educational purposes and develop a report to recommend best practices for their use. This bill will help build trust and credibility in our criminal justice system by basing certain evidentiary findings on proper science and excluding "junk science."
As a priority for my "jobs agenda" I filed and sponsored SB 1084 and HB 1982, respectively. This legislation is about creating opportunity for Texans in blighted communities through the creation of new jobs and new investment. The Texas Enterprise Zone Program has been one of the most effective economic development programs with the best return on investment for the State. Just in the past ten years, the Enterprise Zone Program has directly created over 50,000 jobs and helped retain over 160,000 jobs. HB 1982 as amended makes changes to the Texas Enterprise Zone Program to maximize the job creation potential of the program.
The budget we passed was balanced. We increased access and funding to services needed by our most vulnerable populations, the young, elderly, sick, and poor. We invested in infrastructure and human capital. The budget is within all constitutional spending and debt limits.
I am particularly proud of the investments we made in public education including $3.4 billion added to formula funding to phase out Target Revenue hold harmless and significantly improve equity. We appropriated $724.6 million in all funds for Texas Grants to help students pay for college, an increase of $145 million from two years ago. The budget includes more than $289 million in all funds for mental health, substance abuse, and behavioral health services and $71.3 million for the Texas Women's Health Program."
Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa proudly represents the counties of Nueces, Jim Wells, Brooks, and Hidalgo (part). Senator Hinojosa serves as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Intergovernmental Relations, Vice-Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, and is a member of the Senate Committees on Natural Resources, Criminal Justice, Agriculture, Rural Affairs and Homeland Security as well as the Legislative Budget Board (LBB).