Adriana Acosta

for the RGV Business Journal

McALLEN - The McAllen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has announced their Legislative Priorities for 2009 which will be forwarded to elected officials in Austin and Washington D.C. Findings are scheduled to be presented to the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate in early 2009.

Among those Legislative priorities included education, the environment, healthcare, the economy and international immigration.

Israel Rocha, assistant director for governmental affairs for MHCC explained the ten key legislative issues last week.

Rocha said the McAllen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce will support the strengthening, expansion and completion of Interstate 69. Delaying the completion will jeopardize manufacturing, trade and foreign export/import industries.

“One of our top priorities for the MHCC is to make highway 281 and highway 77 into Interstate 69. We feel that is a critical point in the community. It’s an idea which time has come, for being the largest area in the U.S. without a connection to dive to an interstate system,” he said.

He said having this interstate completed would be an economic success, and having stability is also important for the evacuation of the community, should there be an emergency where people would have to evaluate.

Rocha said they also support college affordability and lending opportunities for Valley students which will allow them to secure a college education. Also, the support for new degree programs, doctoral degrees and research opportunities at all levels in local universities.

The MHCC will support DREAM ACT, which will allow undocumented students that graduate from local high schools to attend college at the in-state tuition costs.

Cynthia M. Sakulenzki, president and CEO of the McAllen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce said they want to apply for a grant that will allow them to have a computer lab and will allow people who don’t have Internet access come to their office and teach them how to use them.

The support to explore new ways to make business profitability and environmental sustainability is one of the key legislative issues that are being supported as well.

“We want to be bold and aggressive and really push forward on how to we can research our environment sustainability and business success,” Rocha said.

The MHCC plans to hold a community policy forum in the weeks ahead. “We will invite members from every sector of the community to come in and present their views on needed policy reforms at the local, state and federal level,” Sakulenzki.