SB 98 - authorizes the creation of a medical school in the Rio Grande Valley. The passage of the legislation will transform the Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC) into a four-year, stand alone medical school. The RAHC currently has a medical education and research component in Harlingen and Edinburg. Funding for the facility will begin in 2015 to give the University of Texas System some time to move forward with the development and planning for the state’s newest health science center.
SB 689 - Known as the social networking bill, will compile online identifiers, email addresses and cell phone numbers of registered sex offenders.
SB 254 - will provide a tax exemption for gasoline and diesel fuel sold to volunteer fire departments. It would allow an eligible volunteer fire department, that had paid the motor fuel tax on the purchase of gasoline or diesel fuel, to file a claim with the Comptroller’s Office for a refund of the tax.
HCR 5 - Rep. Aaron Peña, with the aid of local veterans, successfully secured the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor to Edinburg‘s Pedro Cano.
By the numbers:
Highlights of state’s $182.3 billion budget included:
• an increase of $1.9 billion for public education
• $1.2 billion increase for higher education
• $2 billion in bonds for new roads
• $450 million in bonds for cancer research
• $208 million increase to help people with mental disabilities live in community settings rather than in institutions.
The budget also included a 7 to 8 percent pay raise for correctional workers and law enforcement officers and a one-time $800 payment for other state employees. Texas public school teachers will also receive an $800 pay raise.
An estimated 40,000 small businesses in Texas will receive a tax break as the legislature raised the franchise tax exemption from $300,000 to $1 million.
$6.5 million for the Regional Academic Health Center in South Texas and $1 million for cancer treatment sponsored by The University of Texas-Medical Branch and Renaissance Hospital.
$20 million for Boll Weevil Eradication Programs targeting several regions, including the Lower Rio Grande Valley ;
$3 million for a statewide rollout of the Texas AIM program, designed by Boys & Girls Clubs to decrease dropouts among minority at-risk youth;
$1 million for Texas A&M Health Science Center in McAllen to establish a state-of-the-science laboratory with expert staff who can provide early warning of bio-security threats to Texas ;
$1 million to operate the Rio Grande Valley Border Security & Technology Training Center ; and
$1 million increase for Alzheimer’s research in Texas , one of the largest public health challenges facing our state and nation.