Fighter (n.) One who works tirelessly for a goal or objective.
Born in McAllen, Texas in Hidalgo County, Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa was the eldest of eight children born to Juan de Dios and Esperanza Hinojosa. He attended Mission ISD schools as a child and worked as a farm worker during his teen years. He led the Mission Eagles football team as their quarterback, and after graduating, Hinojosa volunteered to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps.
In Vietnam, Hinojosa served as a squad leader from 1966 to 1968 before returning home to continue his education. Hinojosa graduated with honors from the University of Texas-Pan American with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He completed his legal studies at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
After returning to South Texas, Hinojosa served as staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society of Nueces County and later as an Assistant Attorney General for the Texas Attorney General’s Office. In 1980, Hinojosa opened his private legal practice in McAllen, where he continues to represent clients in both civil and criminal matters.
Hinojosa was first elected to office in 1981, serving in the Texas House until January 1991, and again from 1997 to January 2002. During his tenure in the Texas House, Hinojosa passed landmark legislation including the establishment of the Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC) which promotes physician training on the Texas/Mexico Border. As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence, Senator Hinojosa sponsored the Texas Fair Defense Act, reforming procedures for providing court-appointed defense counsel to indigent defendants, and he sponsored DNA legislation that has resulted in freeing many wrongly convicted citizens.
Senator Hinojosa is currently the Vice-Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and he holds seats on the Senate Committees on Criminal Justice, Jurisprudence, Natural Resources & Economic Development, Transportation, Border Security, Texas Ports, Special Committee to Protect All Texans, and the Health and Human Services Transition Legislative Oversight Committee.
Senator Hinojosa is honored to serve the people of Senate District 20 and is running again to finish the work he started when he was first elected. He has dedicated his legislative service to advocating for fully funding public education, increasing access to affordable health care for everyone, especially the most vulnerable, investing in transportation and drainage infrastructure, creating high paying jobs, and improving the quality of life for our South Texas families.
Senator Hinojosa is proud to say that funding for public education is the highest it has been since he was first elected to the Texas Senate. Schools in South Texas, even with a high percentage of minority and socioeconomically disadvantaged students, are outperforming other regions of the state. This past session the Legislature kept its promise to protecting investments made by HB 3 during the 2019 legislative session by fully funding public education and protecting the salary increases to teachers and school employees.
As the lead author of Senate Bill 24 in 2013, which created the UTRGV School of Medicine, Senator Hinojosa couldn’t be prouder of the positive impact it has had in South Texas. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, the medical school was already increasing the number of specialized doctors in the region, conducting research in diabetes and cervical cancer, and opening clinics in medically underserved areas of the community. Having this asset in our region saved lives when the pandemic hit the Rio Grande Valley. This was an important first step, and Senator Hinojosa is working to build upon it by bringing a cancer treatment center to South Texas, which will save even more lives in our community.
In 2009, working with the business community and university leadership, Senator Hinojosa secured $2 million in state funds for A&M Corpus Christi to establish a mechanical engineering program, which was expanded to include an electrical engineering program in 2015. Since then, the Legislature has provided nearly $30 million in additional dollars for engineering at A&M Corpus Christi. In 2019, Senator Hinojosa also secured $2.3 million in new funding to establish the Civil & Industrial Engineering Program. Increasing the number of engineers in the region is something he takes seriously and will continue to push for more resources to accomplish this goal. Just as important are the investments the Legislature has made to the Lone Star Unmanned Aircraft System (LSUAS) Center. Since 2015, nearly $28 million in state funds have been appropriated to this center including an additional $3 million this past session to enhance LSUAS’s ability to provide statewide service by supporting critical emergency response and disaster relief demands.
Infrastructure has been another priority of Senator Hinojosa. The reconstruction of the US 281 Pharr Interchange is underway; the Bicentennial reconstruction in McAllen is complete; the funding to bring US 281 in Hidalgo County and Brooks County to interstate standards is already in the TxDOT Unified Transportation Program; and the Premont bypass is under construction in Jim Wells County. However, the Harbor Bridge Project is not yet complete. Senator Hinojosa worked for almost ten years to get the funding for this $1 billion project. His goal is to see this bridge connect Nueces and San Patricio County over the Port of Corpus Christi. He also worked to ensure the Hidalgo County Regional Mobility Authority received the funding and approval to move forward with the SH 365 project.
To address drainage issues, Senator Hinojosa has worked for years with the Hidalgo County Drainage District No. 1 to secure more than $50 million from the Texas Water Development Board and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to reduce frequent flooding problems and accommodate the area’s rapid urbanization and future economic development. He has worked with our local leaders to secure these funds from several sources including the state budget, RESTORE funds, and most recently from the Flood Infrastructure Fund (FIF). He has also worked with Nueces County leadership to provide safe and clean drinking water to residents in colonias. Furthermore, Senator Hinojosa is proud to have worked with and supported the collaboration between the Nueces County Drainage District No. 2 and Nueces County to obtain $2.7 million from FIF for the Nueces County Regional Drainage Master Plan project. With all these projects in motion, flood relief is on the way.
Job creation and economic development have also been a priority for Senator Hinojosa. He has worked tirelessly to support our maritime ports and international ports of entry. The Port of Corpus Christi is an economic driver not only for the region but for the State of Texas. He has advocated for and secured funding from the Texas Port Access Improvement Grant Program to improve connectivity. Senator Hinojosa also led the fight in securing funds for our international ports of entry from TxDOT. With these funds, the Anzalduas bridge will be expanded, and the Pharr International Bridge has been able to make improvements to their facilities to expedite the flow of goods and people across the bridge. These investments create jobs and help our local economies.
While the past two years have presented us with many challenges, Senator Hinojosa has worked alongside our public officials and our community leaders to ensure the needs of our families are met. Prior to the 2021 legislative session, as member of Governor Abbott’s budget leadership team for COVID funding, Senator Hinojosa was in constant communication with our state agencies and advocated to secure the necessary healthcare workers, equipment, and resources needed to address the coronavirus pandemic challenges in South Texas. This past session, he worked with his colleagues to enact policies that will help us not just return to normal but emerge stronger than before.
Also, this past session as vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Jurisprudence, Senator Hinojosa had the opportunity to work with members of the committee to address the serious shortfalls Winter Storm Uri presented us in February of 2022. Several of the significant structural reforms to ERCOT and the Public Utility Commission were discussed and passed out of this committee. Senator Hinojosa supported legislation to make sure Texans and our state are bettered prepared for another winter storm and the changes the Legislature made will help our electric grid be better prepared for another storm.
Senator Hinojosa has received the prestigious honor of being named “Top Ten Best Legislators” for Texas Monthly magazine three times and named “Top Ten Legislator” by Capitol Inside three times. He has also received the Quinta Mazatlan Legacy Award, the Champion of Infrastructure Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies of Texas, the Gold Star Award from the Texas State Aquarium, the Pharr Mayor Leo “Polo” Palacios Award for Service, Leadership, and Pride, and the Champion of Transparency Award from the Texas Press Association, among many other awards and recognitions.
Senator Hinojosa lives and works in McAllen when he is not serving South Texas in Austin. He enjoys spending time with his three children and two grandchildren.