Austin -- People in the Rio Grande Valley have a new way to learn about legislation to create a new university in South Texas. Representative René O. Oliveira has produced a 12-minute video detailing House Bill 1000 and the timeline for transitioning The University of Texas—Pan American, The University of Texas at Brownsville, and the Regional Academic Health Center into a new university with a medical school.
“While the bill is administratively reorganizes our two universities, their campuses, and the RAHC, people have many questions about how things will work. Those questions run the gamut from who will decide the name to when can students enroll in the medical school,” Oliveira said. “I want to try to answer those questions, and reach as many people as we can. So, we produced a web video to try to reach more people.”
The video can be accessed on the Texas House of Representatives website at: http://www.house.state.tx.us/members/member-page/?district=37#member-media and clicking on the “A New University for South Texas Slide Show” link. It will play automatically.
On Wednesday, Rep. Oliveira explained the bill for a total of almost 45 minutes before the House Higher Education Committee. He was joined by other members of the Valley legislative delegation for the hearing which lasted 2 1/2 hours. Like many Valley residents, committee members wanted to know many intricate details of how the bill would work and how it would transform higher education in the Valley.
“People want to know why we need to make create a new university, and what the benefits of that change will be. Fully explaining all the advantages, how the transition will work, and what needs to happen to create the medical school, takes a bit of time,” Oliveira said. “The Valley media has done a great job explaining the big picture, but many people want to know more details. Hopefully, the video will give them an easy way to get those details.”
Oliveira added that the legal formality of bills often makes it difficult for people to easily understand what is being done. While bill text, analysis, and fiscal notes are available online, sifting through the information can be time consuming process.
"With the new university bill, I feel the need to translate all the legal complexities into something anyone can understand if they will take just a few minutes to study it. Only a few people who work with legislation all the time can do that," said Oliveira. "The Internet offers the opportunity talk with those who are most interested in the bill and explain it in detail. Hopefully, we've created something that people can watch at their convenience, and can easily get more information than they would have otherwise."
Oliveira said producing the video took 25 to 30 man hours over about 3 weeks. While he knew he was going further than most, he felt the importance of the bill to the Valley deserved going the extra mile.
“This is not something we can do for every bill because we are a legislative office, not a video production company. The new university bill, however, means so much to the Valley’s educational community, our economic development, and our health care system, that I thought it deserved an extra effort,” said Oliveira. “I’m eager to see how well received the video is, so we can determine how we can improve our communications in the future.”
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