Aaron Peña

Aaron Peña

name= Aaron Peña, Jr.

caption= Texas State Representative Aaron Peña
office=Texas House Member
term_start= January 14, 2003
predecessor= Chuy Hinojosa
birth_date= June 8, 1959
birth_place= Austin, Texas
family= Monica Peña(Wife), Adrienne, Aaron, John Austin, Anthony (Children)
party= Democrat
religion= Catholic

Aaron Peña, Jr. (born June 8, 1959) is a member of the Texas House of Representatives. Representative Peña represents a district in Hidalgo County in Deep South Texas. In November 2002, he was first elected to the Texas House of Representatives as a Democrat. He was recently elected to his 4th term in office. Representative Peña is an attorney with the law firm of [http://www.rcclaw.com Rodriguez, Colvin, Chaney, and Saenz.] He is married to Monica (Solis) and is the father to five children.

Early life and career

Aaron Peña, Jr was born in Austin, Texas, to Lionel Aron Peña and Sylvia Alamia. The Peña family originated from the Edinburg and Elsa communities. His parents had moved to Austin so that his father could attend The University of Texas Law School. Peña's mother worked at the Capitol as a secretary to help support the family. Peña spent the first few years of his life in a wooden home on the banks of [http://www.sbs.utexas.edu/resource/2006/WallerCreek/History.htm Waller Creek] two blocks from the Capitol. After two years, the family moved to the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas and settled in the city of Edinburg. "Little A" is the nickname given to Aaron as a young child. In 1977, he graduated from Edinburg High School. Thereafter, Peña attended Pan American University before heading back to Austin where he received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas in May of 1984.

Peña grew up in Edinburg and graduated in 1977 from Edinburg High School. Like his father before him, Peña studied to be a lawyer, receiving his Juris Doctor in May 1987 from Texas Southern University in Houston. Peña immediately returned to his hometown in Edinburg to raise his family and to practice law. In May 1988, he was licensed to practice law by the State Bar of Texas. In December 1995, Peña became board certified by the State Bar of Texas in the area of Labor and Employment Law. Peña enjoyed a celebrated career as one of the more accomplished employment trial attorneys in the state, later serving on the State Bar of Texas’s governing board for Labor and Employment attorneys. After 17 years of working almost exclusively as a plaintiff's lawyer, Peña in April 2005 began work exclusively as a civil defense lawyer. In both capacities, Texas Monthly twice recognized Peña as a " [http://www.superlawyers.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=4&Itemid=37| Super Lawyer] ."

State Legislature

Representative Peña was first elected in 2002 shortly after the death of his 16 year old son, due to a drug overdose. He is currently on his third term. Early in his legislative career, Peña was selected to serve on the Appropriations Committee. Peña is currently Chairman of House Committee of Criminal Jurisprudence. As a legislator, Peña is a strong advocate for education. Examples of his commitment include legislation that aims for increases in public school teacher pay. He also works to assist in the growth of the University of Texas-Pan American. Most recently, Peña sponsored legislation to authorize construction of a Student Wellness and Recreation Center and a Fine Arts Academic and Performance Complex.

At his arrival to the Texas Legislature, Peña pioneered the use of an internet journal to bring Texas government closer to his constituents. His internet journal, [http://www.acapitolblog "A Capitol Blog"] , has had numerous features in national magazines and newspapers. In 2006 [http://www.capitolinside.com Capitol Inside] named the Representative's website, [http://www.aaronpena.com aaronpena.com] , one of the Top 5 in the state. The National Conference of State Legislatures and the Council of State Governments have invited Peña to present seminars at annual meetings to highlight his approach to communicating with constituents.

The Representative was a member of the so-called "Killer D's", a group of Texas House Democrats who left the state of Texas for Ardmore, Oklahoma during the week of May 12, 2003 and busted a quorum in the House. The Killer D's left to prevent House consideration of the redistricting legislation.

Peña also discusses legislative matters as a frequent guest and political analyst on TV and talk radio, serving as a regular guest of [http://valleynewsline.tv/index.php Valley Newsline] and the [http://www.kurv.com/index.php Davis Rankin Show.]

Legislative achievements

A state operated drug treatment center in South Texas was one of the primary objectives Peña sought to achieve when he initially ran for public office. In 2007, the representative secured funding to bring a drug treatment facility to his home town of Edinburg, Texas.

The University of Texas - Pan American has seen continued growth in part because of the successful legislative projects championed by the representative. These include a $40 Million dollar Fine Arts Center, a $25 Million dollar Student Wellness Center, $5 Million additional dollars for the Regional Academic Health Center at UT - Pan American, as well as continued growth in the university's operating budget.

An increase in state funding for local parks in South Texas has always been a priority. In 2007, the representative secured significant increases in parks funding for his community. Of particular interest was the development of the Will Looney Memorial Park at the Museum of South Texas History.

The Children's Health Insurance Program could see 127,000 additional children brought to the program in 2007 as a result of legislation (HB 109) championed by Rep. Peña.

After repeated attempts, Peña successfully passed legislation granting the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor to Edinburg hero Freddy Gonzalez in 2007.

Passed legislation strengthening the laws protecting children from Internet predators.

Noteworthy speeches and appearances

* August 19, 2006: Peña gave the Commencement Speech [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1887661010712171298&q=aaron+pena (see video,] [http://www.utpa.edu/graduation/visitors/penas.html text] ) at The University of Texas–Pan American.

* Peña's final argument speeches from his work as a trial attorney are published in [http://www.ziplink.net/users/bbarton/cata.htm Million Dollar Arguments] for sale to attorneys around the country.

* May 28, 2004: Peña appeared on [http://www.pbs.org/now/printable/transcript322_full_print.html NOW] with Bill Moyers to discuss migrant farmworkers from South Texas.

* Peña was elected and served as a national delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 2004 (Boston) and 2008 (Denver). Peña also served on the national Democratic Party's platform committee that drafted the national platform adopted at the 2000 (Los Angeles) Democratic National Convention.

Committee assignments

Representative Peña has proven able to gain committee status in the three sessions that he has worked, holding on to his preference for the House Committee for Criminal Jurisprudence. He was appointed Chairman of that committee in his third term. Below is a list of Peña's committee assignments in the 78th, 79th, and 80th Texas Legislative Sessions.

78th Session
* Criminal Jurisprudence
* Pensions & Investments
* Sex Offenders Statutes (select committee)

79th Session
* Criminal Jurisprudence - Chairman of Budget & Oversight
* Appropriations
**Subcommittee on Criminal Justice
**Subcommittee on Government Efficiency & Operations
* Binational Alcohol and Substance Abuse Committee
* House Administration
* Interim Committee on Power of Eminent Domain

80th Session
* Chairman of Criminal Jurisprudence
* Ways & Means
* Joint Select Committee on the Texas Youth Commission

Awards and honors

* "Texas District and County Attorneys Association (TDCAA)" Law & Order Award in recognition of service to the Texas criminal justice system during the Regular 80th Session. As Chairman of the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence, he exhibited a respect for the victims of crime while maintaining a balanced approach for a fair and effective criminal justice system.
* " [http://www.texasrealtors.com Texas Association of Realtors] " Honor Roll for his work protecting private property rights in the 80th Legislative Session. Peña championed legislation reducing property taxes and worked to protect South Texas ranch lands and private property owners from the excesses of eminent domain.
* " [http://www.capitolinside.com Capitol Inside] " Top Negotiator The non-partisan news site, Capitol Inside, identified Representative Peña as a top House negotiator of the 80th Legislative Session. Peña was named to more conference committees than any other member of the Texas House of Representatives. As a result, the Valley representative mediated many of the important pieces of legislation of that session, according to the news site.
* " [http://www.thln.org/ The Texas Humane Legislation Network] " The Texas Animal Humanitarian Award The non-profit organization that speaks on behalf of animal welfare agencies in Texas awarded Rep. Peña their highest award for his efforts to address the growing problems of animal cruelty, dog fighting, and the criminal activity surrounding these events. As Chairman of the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence, his leadership, as noted by the President of the organization, was crucial to making the legislative session "a landmark year for the animals of Texas."2005
* The Century Council's State Legislative Award The Century Council is an advocacy group promoting responsible alcohol use. Rep. Peña received the award for his "outstanding commitment to fight drunk-driving and underage drinking". Each December, the Representative makes considerable effort to participate in "National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month".

A history of service

*Representative Peña's great uncle, Juan Alamia, served as a Rough Rider with President Theodore Roosevelt in the Spanish-American War.

*Early Rio Grande Valley pioneers Jose Roman Alamia and Olivia Vela Alamia are the representative's great grandparents. Alamia served as Hidalgo County's first tax assessor and collector and participated in the development of Hidalgo County. On [http://www.legis.state.tx.us/tlodocs/782/billtext/html/HR00197F.htm October 14, 1908] , Alamia along with other elected officials on horseback forcibly moved the [http://www.texasescapes.com/SouthTexasTowns/HidalgoTexas/Hidalgo-Texas-1886-Hidalgo-County-Courthouse.htm county seat] from the City of Hidalgo by placing the county records on four wagons pulled by mule teams to an undeveloped parcel of land now known as Edinburg. Edinburg has since been the capitol of county government for Hidalgo County. [ [http://www.mcallen.lib.tx.us/books/nickle/nic_pla.txt The Nickel Plated Highway to Hell] . Ruth Griffin Spence. 17. ]

*Jose Roman Alamia, Jr. was elected Hidalgo County District Attorney in 1950 and later served as the District Judge of the 92nd District Court of Hidalgo County. In 1972, he served as the Administrative Judge of the 5th Judicial District, which covers most of South Texas.

*Lionel Aron Peña, the representative's father, served as an Edinburg City Commissioner and City Attorney in the early seventies.

Election history


Election box begin no party
title = Primary Election 2008: HD 40
Election box candidate no party
candidate = Aaron Peña
votes = 9,839
percentage = 52.90
change = 19.23
Election box candidate no party
candidate = Eddie Saenz
votes = 8,761
percentage = 47.10
change = 87.56


Election box begin no party
title = General Election 2006: HD 40
Election box candidate no party
candidate = Aaron Peña
votes = 8,252
percentage = 100
change = .89
Election box candidate no party
candidate = no opponent
votes = 0
percentage = 0
change =


Election box begin no party
title = Primary 2004: HD 40
Election box candidate no party
candidate = Aaron Peña
votes = 8,179
percentage = 63.64
change = 14.32
Election box candidate no party
candidate = Eddie Saenz
votes = 4,671
percentage = 36.35
change =


Election box begin no party
title = Primary 2002: HD 40
Election box candidate no party
candidate = Aaron Peña
votes = 7,154
percentage = 56.11
change =
Election box candidate no party
candidate = Eddy Gonzalez
votes = 5,595
percentage = 43.88
change =


External links

* [http://www.house.state.tx.us/members/dist40/pena.htm House Website]
* [http://www.aaronpena.com aaronpena.com]
* [http://www.acapitolblog.com acapitolblog.com]
* [http://www.youtube.com/aaronpena Pena's Youtube Channel]

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