Local, state leaders discuss issues tackled during legislative session
Local and state leaders met on South Padre Island Thursday to discuss issues tackled during the state's legislative session that will directly affect the Rio Grande Valley.
Nearly a month after the 2017 legislative session ended in Austin, Lucio and state senator Jose Rodriguez of El Paso gave an update to local stakeholders of the Texas Border Coalition about border region issues including immigration, border security, transportation, education and workforce development, health, economic development and trade.
"It was one of the toughest I've been involved in,” said State Representative Eddie Lucio III, D-Brownsville. “Sanctuary city bill, other very socially impactful bills. There's also an effort to take control of local matters, or local jurisdictional authority."
Lucio said recent efforts in state government to implement tax reform would limit local municipalities’ ability to generate revenue from property taxes.
"The unfortunate thing about that is it doesn't affect the state's budget,” Lucio said. “So, we're passing laws that really don't affect our ability to maintain our operations, but we do so for other jurisdictions, without any say from them really. They don't have a vote in that matter."
Aside from approving a multi-billion dollar state budget, lawmakers also passed the controversial Senate Bill 4, which Lucio III considers unconstitutional.
"That bill turned into honoring federal detainers, once a person gets arrested who is being processed at a police station, to I can stop you for any reason and then keep you as long as I want, because there's no limitations on time or anything," said Lucio.
On the other hand, as local law enforcement battle the public's perception of SB 4, McAllen Police Chief Victor Rodriguez, Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office Division Chief Joel Rivera, and San Benito Police Chief Michael Galvan assured the Texas Border Coalition that the legislation will not affect the Valley.
"I think it's a piece of legislation that doesn't impact the way we operate,” McAllen Police Chief Victor Rodriguez said. “So, we don't expect Senate Bill 4 to change how we work."
Lucio and state senator Jose Rodriguez added that they are working with local municipalities to join in on the current lawsuit against SB 4.
The coalition's mission during Thursday's meeting was to make legislative recommendations to help the Texas border region grow and prosper economically.
A special session will be held on July 18, when lawmakers will review 20 items on call, including the bathroom bill.