Local leaders in Austin last week to talk Legislature

AUSTIN — Unity was on display when local leaders ventured to the Texas State Capitol in Austin for the second Harlingen-San Benito Day on Tuesday, March 7.

This time accompanied by the Town of Combes and a delegation from the Brownsville Chamber of Commerce, the Harlingen Chamber organized meetings with officials from various state organizations including the Office of the Governor, Texas Higher Education Agency, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Texas Comptroller’s Office and Texas Secretary of State Rolando B. Pablos.

Leadership Harlingen Class XXXI state government session day coincided with Harlingen-San Benito Day at the Capitol.

“The greatest benefit of our biennial visit to Austin was taking our Harlingen Leadership Class to learn more about Texas,” said Harlingen Chamber of Commerce Governmental Affairs Officer and COO of Valley Baptist Health System, Daniel Listi. “I believe that the exposure that they received to our great state’s Legislature was unmeasurable and unforgettable.”

There was more Listi hoped for those in Leadership Harlingen.

“We hope that they learn more about how our state governs itself, and we hope that as leaders, they remain engaged in our community vision for business development.”

A meeting led by Rep. Eddie Lucio III took place on Tuesday afternoon where community leaders met with Texas House Speaker Joe Straus to advocate and discuss key issues relative to chamber membership, the cities of Harlingen and San Benito and Cameron County.

Leaders asked Speaker Straus for his support of the two cities’ legislative agenda so that both cities and the region can continue to prosper economically.

The first-ever Cameron County Reception was held on Tuesday evening at the Austin Club where Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott was the keynote speaker.

Approximately 100 people representing 20 legislative offices and officials were present including Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., Representatives Rene Oliveira, Eddie Lucio III and Oscar Longoria.

Other key city and county leaders and officials in attendance include: Combes Mayor Mark Sanchez, Harlingen City Manager Dan Serna, Harlingen City Commissioners Mike Mezmar, Victor Leal, Rick Uribe and Ruben De La Rosa. San Benito City Commissioner Tony Gonzales and City Manager Manuel De La Rosa also attended the event.

Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño, Cameron County Commissioners Sofia Benavides and Gus Ruiz, County Administrator David Garcia and Deputy Administrator Xavier Villarreal attended the Cameron County Reception.

City leaders from both communities were recognized on the House Floor by Representatives Oscar Longoria and Eddie Lucio III on Wednesday, March 8.

“I’m pleased with the turnout we received both at the reception and our Capitol visit,” said Chris Gonzales, President & CEO of the Harlingen Area Chamber of Commerce. “It gave us a great opportunity to advocate for our members and cities in terms of promoting our businesses and ensuring future economic prosperity,”

Harlingen-San Benito Day at the Capitol sponsors include: Harlingen Medical Center, Valley Baptist Health System, United Capital Financial Life Management, Valley International Airport, Harlingen EDC, City of Harlingen, City of San Benito, Town of Combes, Texans for Lawsuit Reform, IBC Bank, Brownsville Chamber of Commerce, Valley International Airport, Shepard Walton King Insurance Group, TSTC, AEP Texas and City of Harlingen Legislative Consultants Terral Smith and William Yarnell.