Tuesday, June 5, 2007

most of the legislation the delegation had very little to do with improving the area they represent

— The Coastal Bend's legislative delegation went to Austin with a wish list that included better access to children's health care and an engineering school for Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

For the most part, the delegation thinks its efforts were successful, with more kids eligible for the state's Children's Health Insurance Program, money for area universities, a revamped Texas Youth Commission and several other key measures. A rule to record the Legislature's final votes during the session also passed, and voters will see the issue on November ballots.

"Obviously I think the delegation was very successful," said freshman Rep. Solomon Ortiz Jr., D-Corpus Christi. "We all talked and debated each issue that faced the Corpus Christi area. It helped not only that we got along on a professional level and that we get along on a personal level."

Issues where the group fell short, it says, include not driving down windstorm insurance rates for the coastal region or bringing an engineering school to Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

The effort to bring the engineering school had widespread support from the Corpus Christi business community but faced opposition from the system's nearest campus in Kingsville, which also has an engineering school. The bill was halted in committee, but the delegation intends to revive it in the next session, Ortiz said.

"It is obviously going to take more than one session. On a personal level, I have talked to the higher ed committee and had a positive response. We will push hard again next session."

Ortiz and Rep. Juan Garcia, D-Corpus Christi, Rep. Abel Herrero, D-Robstown, and veteran Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, each had individual successes.

Among other legislation, Hinojosa made state and national headlines as the author of sweeping reforms for the embattled Texas Youth Commission, the state's juvenile justice system that has been rocked by a sexual abuse scandal. He also tacked an amendment to a House bill renaming the Crosstown Expressway to honor local civil rights icon Dr. Hector P. Garcia after a measure to create a state holiday in the doctor's honor was killed.

Herrero and Ortiz were proponents for the Children's Health Insurance Program, which provides low cost insurance to working class families and expect the program to cover 127,000 new children after this session, after a series of enrollment changes made it more accessible.

Herrero said he was most proud of the defeat of Senate Bill 101, a higher education measure that would have eliminated a state law that admits students in the top 10 percent of their graduating class to any Texas university. Proponents of the bill argued it places a burden on flagship universities, such as the University of Texas at Austin.

The rule makes a high-quality college experience more available to students including minorities who might not get it otherwise, Herrero said.

In his first term, Garcia successfully pushed for the recording of the final votes lawmakers made on legislation and led the effort to protect funding for the Defense Economic Adjustment Assistance Grant program, which could bring millions of dollars to the Coastal Bend for redevelopment of Naval Station Ingleside.

The state budget passed by the Legislature includes $5 million for the program, a state grant system designed to help defense-dependent communities successfully transition through the job losses and other dislocations caused by the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure.

"It's going to have a big impact on the transition," Garcia said.

Ortiz helped pass a juvenile open records bill that allows parents access to their children's criminal records and removed legislation that would have allowed County Court at Law Judge James Klager to name his own successor to the bench.

Other area legislators, including Juan Escobar, D-Kingsville, and Yvonne Gonzalez Toureilles, D-Alice, each said they made solid strides for their districts. The most notable are aimed at regulating uranium mines, which are becoming increasingly prevalent in both lawmakers' districts.

Gonzalez Toureilles successfully pushed through a pair of uranium bills.

"They specify that with exploration mining, the jurisdiction is with the Railroad Commission," she said.

With an hour remaining before a legislative deadline, the House and Senate agreed to a final draft of Senate Bill 1604, a bill reforming procedures related to uranium mining. The bill includes an amendment by Escobar to preserve the procedure of contested case hearings for uranium mining permits.

The bill will affect operations in Kleberg County in several ways. The Escobar amendment clarifies the requirements that uranium mining operations have sufficient bonds to plug defunct wells and restore nearby groundwater before receiving permits for new activities. It allows public hearings under certain circumstances when changes are sought to existing mining permits.

Escobar's Chief of Staff Fred Cantu said the representative also was integral in securing $7.2 million in new money for the Texas A&M University System Health Science Center-Irma Rangel School of Pharmacy in Kingsville.

Where bills stand

HB 3556

Goal: To create a Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi engineering school

Authors: Ortiz, Herrero and Garcia.

Status: Left in committee

HB 3535

Goal: To create a holiday honoring the late civil rights icon Dr. Hector P. Garcia

Authors: Garcia, Herrero, Ortiz, Escobar, Gonzalez Toureilles

Status: Left in committee

HB 3837

Goal: To regulate in situ uranium mining

Author: Gonzales Toureilles

Status: Sent to governor for signature

HB 2801

Goal: To record and publish record votes

Author: Garcia

Status: left pending

HJR 19

Goal: Legislation to put a measure to record and publish all final passage votes by the Texas Legislature on the November statewide ballot as a constitutional amendment.

Co-authors: Garcia and Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas

Status: Passed

HB 4107

Goal: To create a Nueces County magistrate court

Authors: Herrero, Ortiz and Garcia

Status: Sent to governor for signature

HB 2622

Goal: To provide insurance benefits to the Regional Transportation Authority board of directors.

Author: Ortiz

Status: Sent to governor for signature.

HB 53

Goal: An amendment to a house bill renaming the Crosstown Expressway the Dr. Hector P. Garcia Memorial Highway.

Author: Hinojosa

Status: Passed

Post Your Comments

Posted by truthincc on June 3, 2007 at 10:06 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Ortiz feels like the session was successful. I guess if you consider doing absolutely nothing as being a success he is right. The delegation as a whole did little for us with most of the legislation they were involved having very little to improving the area they represent.

Posted by intheknow on June 3, 2007 at 11:11 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The fact that Gene seamen is gone in its self is a success!

1 comment:

Kenedeno Media said...

Here are some comments from the Article: Ortiz Tidies Up After Another Gaffe?

I say GAFF

Post Your Comments

Posted by no on June 6, 2007 at 7:42 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Ortiz is such a joke! Guess he finnally learned that it's the public he should listen to, not the puppet-master. Oh well, hopefully he's a one-term wonder....sure definitely seems to be on track to be one.

Posted by guest on June 6, 2007 at 8:07 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Makes you wonder if something spooked then into backing out on the bill, time will tell. Looking forward to the Caller Times in keeping us informed.

Posted by stff on June 6, 2007 at 8:48 a.m. (Suggest removal)

He's your boy Caller Times. You endorsed him. But like you always endorse his daddy after it's been revealed he's been involved in funny stuff, you'll continue to endorse Jr. The editorial board's interest is preserving the Democrat Party in Nueces County, not open and honest government as it likes everyone to believe.

Posted by mychbelle on June 6, 2007 at 8:56 a.m. (Suggest removal)

This is what happens when registered voters make uneducated decisions and vote for a name rather than considering a candidate's true qualifications for the job in which he seeks. Now we're stuck with an imbecile representative who can't even pretend to know what he's doing. He rode his father's coattails all the way to the statehouse and now we're paying for it. We can only hope and pray that he'll do relatively little damage the rest of his term in office, and maybe more intelligent voters'll stand up next time.

Posted by truthincc on June 6, 2007 at 9:17 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The next election will be the true test as it will speak a great deal about the voters if they vote to send him back.

Posted by mondosurf77 on June 6, 2007 at 9:23 a.m. (Suggest removal)

At least he is backing off these pieces of legislation when the public expresses that they do not approve of them. I'd rather have an official who does that than the smartest man/woman in the world that does not listen to the people. Overall, it would be nice to have an intelligent, experienced person who listens to the people...but you are only limited to the candidates that run for office, right?

Posted by cwaller on June 6, 2007 at 9:34 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Hey, the boy backed off the legislation, which makes him look silly, but shows that he will change when there is public disapproval. At least the guy listens to the public and acts on it.

Posted by mike.carter on June 6, 2007 at 10:06 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Good for Rep. Ortiz. He makes a mistake and admits it and does something about it. Wish we could say the same for the President of the United States.

Posted by df61743 on June 6, 2007 at 11:20 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The jerks that sent him up there are the same jerks that kept sending his useless daddy back, and they will send him back again. Apparently they aren't smart enough to read about what he's doing. The name is all they need to know!

Posted by dthompson on June 6, 2007 at 11:31 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The CCCT seems to only report the 'bad' things that Rep. Ortiz is doing. If and when they ever post anything good he's done, it's a small blurp on a back page. The CCCT receives the same press releases that Ortiz's constituents and supporters are able to receive. If the Caller Times were to report on all of his accomplishments within his first 6 months in office then they'd really be keeping us informed.

Posted by browardjoe on June 6, 2007 at 11:39 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Its a joke and he is a joke of a legislator. There are state reps that go decades without screw ups like this and he did this in his first session. Unbelievable. His father can do this stuff and never get called on it and this newspaper continues to endorse him...another joke. Anyone ever figure out that there has been a senior congressman, a county judge, a county commissioner, and now a state rep hail from Robstown since 1982 and it still looks like a third world country over there? When our citizens are going to wake up is beyond me. Hes trying to do 'under the table,' shoddy deals like his dad, but thank goodness he is too stupid to even pull them off.

Posted by usaf7191 on June 6, 2007 at 11:45 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Mr. Carter,

It appears to me that Representative Ortiz did not admit to making a mistake until after the public raised and eyebrow or two about his actions. Both this time and also when he accepted a bill from his uncle and submitted it without even reading it to the legislature for consideration.

Who in his right mind would introduce a bill giving (tax dollar paid)benefits to people who volunteered to be RTA Board Members.

Last time I checked Volunteer meant to perform or offer to perform a service of one's own free will without expecting to be compensated.

Posted by marybelltx on June 6, 2007 at 2:23 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Someone should look into other deals that the RTA has done?

I read that they each have a personal expense accounts for travel to conventions and other "informational" seminars. Is that "on the job training" or "vacation time" at taxpayer expense?

What is really going on at the RTA that the public is unaware of?

Let's get some true volunteers who believe in public service at the RTA.

I remember that political ad portraying Ortiz Jr. as a puppet. At the time I thought it to be very mean spirited, however now one has to wonder just how many strings really tied to Jr.? I'm very disappointed.


Posted by nick.wetegrove on June 6, 2007 at 2:57 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The real joke is the Caller-Times. Had the newspaper had any interest in reporting the real news they would have noted the needle exchange legislation that Rep. Ortiz got passed that will protect our police officers from contracting HIV. Also, don't worry about mentioning his work on the CHIP bill to get thousands of more Texas children insured.

Posted by marybelltx on June 6, 2007 at 3:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The bill you are referring to is only one of 13 bills that died. Only 3 bills were passed by Representative Ortiz in 5 months. The RTA bill, a county pay raise bill, and a access to records bill. My niece showed me how to find this information and she is 16.

I would think that you would take the time to check your facts. Let me assist you in your endeavor to educate yourself.


Posted by nick.wetegrove on June 6, 2007 at 5:25 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Thank you for your kind offering. As you are probably unfamiliar with the true workings of the legislative process let me assist you. The Republican opposition to any form of needle exchange bill was very intense this legislative session. Had you investigated further you would have noticed that HB 1846 was referred to the Public Health Committee which is chaired by Rep. Diane Delisi, who was a 2001 Texas Eagle Forum Freedom and Family Award winner. Additional inquiry would have led you to realize that the Eagle Forum is a group affiliated with Phyllis Schlafly, a woman that wrote a book against the Equal Rights Amendment, and encourages "conservative participation in public policy". Certainly Rep. Delisi could not go back to her constituents and tell them she voted for a bill that would give intravenous drug users access to needles. That certainly does not sound deserving of the Freedom and Family Award. But wait -- Rep. Delisi never had a chance to vote on the bill because as chair of the committee she ultimately decides which bills her committee will hear and she did not want to hear this one. Maybe your niece should have informed you of that. Furthermore, a true detective like yourself I am sure would have watched the debate on SB 10, you would have noticed that it was amended to create a pilot needle exchange program in Bexar county. Rep. Ortiz and his staff's work towards this compromise is also something else you won't read in the Caller. The other bill I assume you are cross referencing with me is HB 710. Rep. Ortiz filed this bill in conjunction with at least 15 other members. Despite opposition, this bill passed in a different form (HB 109 I believe) and as a result 127,000 more children are now insured. Next time you should probably consult someone other than your niece or your government textbook. Maybe then you would realize there are dozens of different ways for great ideas like this from Rep. Ortiz to make it into law. That is what it's all about right? Helping the people of Texas. Good job Rep. Ortiz.

Best wishes during your endeavor to educate yourself on the realities of politics and government.

Posted by raquel.premier on June 6, 2007 at 6:02 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I think Rep.Ortiz, is doing a fantasic job....There will be tons of issues that we the public will not agree on, we don't realize that he has given alot of his time and energy for the citizens here and has given up more than he will probably ever gain... He has accomplished alot and I am an glad he represents CC...Once again we are talking about people in corpus that dont get involved and are the first to have a negative comment...

Keep up the good work Rep.Ortiz!!!

Posted by marybelltx on June 6, 2007 at 7:09 p.m. (Suggest removal)

That was a round about way of saying that he had a bill which became and amendment of which he doesn't even have his name on but it supposably was passed in to law BY HIM? 18 amendments and I didn't see Ortiz listed.


The statement was that "needle exchange legislation that Rep. Ortiz got passed " where does it say he passed it?

I never read that he was an author or co-author in the house.

And where did protection of law enforcement come into play? Was that just your interpretation?

I applaud anyone who is a public servant including teachers but don't make a statement that something was accomplished or passed when it simply is not the case. 3 bills were passed by Ortiz the RTA, the County, the notification bill

If you can provide the link where it shows where he provided that amendment we would certainly like to read that. And will gladly admit that I made a mistake. I'm only a teacher but research is not that difficult.

Posted by el_longhorn on June 6, 2007 at 7:42 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Hey marybelltx, Ortiz is a CO-AUTHOR of HB 109, the CHIP bill that restores health insurance to thousands of kids in Texas and that you like so much. In addition to his 3 bills, Ortiz also passed 3 amendments and sponsored one senate bill...pretty good for a freshman who is in the minority party and voted against Speaker Craddick! Look it all up. Compare his accomplishments to any freshman Democrat. He did very well.

On needle exchange, why don't you ask the ACLU or the Coastal Bend AIDS Foundation what they think about Ortiz's efforts on legalizing needle exchange programs? By the way, law enforcement supports needle exchange because they don't want to get stuck with a dirty needle when patting someone down.

Posted by miguelmba1 on June 7, 2007 at 1:17 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Another example of the corrupt politics of Nueces County. We need to cut the Puppet's strings!

Posted by marybelltx on June 7, 2007 at 1:31 a.m. (Suggest removal)

My issue is not with Ortiz but with the RTA.

If I was Ortiz my concern is who is hurting him and/or who is helping him. The people who put him in this position must have another motive. No idiot would not think of what the fallout would be. RIGHT?

TO me Ortiz Jr. is the victim of people may have intentionally manipulated him in order to put him in that position to be at the minimum vulnerable to defeat in the upcoming election.

Since you are primarily concerned with Ortiz and cannot see beyond that. Answer a question for me



Why wouldn't he pass a county bill to another member of the delegation to avoid the perception of impropriety.

I guess he would rather do it "in" the taxpayers "face" than try and hide it.

To my little people aka "the minority"

When did it become about the one and not the many?

Politics is about building bridges and helping the people who deserve helped and truly deserve help.

It was said earlier that Rep. Oriz made a mistake and he corrected it. And for that I understand. I feel that the Caller deserves the same respect in that it endorsed the Congressman's son and in MY opionion the CALLER should be extended the same courtesy and rescind it's endorsement of Ortiz, Jr. for... well doing absolutely nothing.


Why cant the Caller tell us what these RTA people really do and what the qualifications are?

I would like to have a travel expense account, a title, be able to vote on millions of dollars of taxpayer money and NOT HAVE TO BE ELECTED. Wait it's "our" tax money they are spending.


Jaime Kenedenos message to the Vatican: Apologize & Do the right thing!