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Representative Aaron Peña is currently serving his fourth term in the
Texas House of Representatives, and represents District 40 in Hidalgo
County, Texas. He presently serves on three house committees: Vice
Chairman of Elections; Ways and Means; and Redistricting.
Born in Austin on June 8th, 1959, Peña spent the first few years of his
life in a home on the banks of Waller Creek (near what is currently
Centennial Park), two blocks from the Capitol. His parents moved from
Edinburg 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. After two years, the family moved back to the
Rio Grande Valley in South Texas and settled in Edinburg, where
Representative Peña still resides.
After graduating from Edinburg High School in 1977, he attended the
University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA) before returning to his
birthplace where he earned a B.A. from the University of Texas at
Austin. Following in his father’s footsteps, Peña went on to receive his
Juris Doctor in May 1987 from Texas Southern University in Houston,
Peña was licensed to practice law by 1988, and in 1995 he became board
certified by the State Bar of Texas in the area of Labor and Employment
Law. He has served on the State Bar of Texas’ governing board for Labor
and Employment attorneys. In April of 2005, after 17 years of working
almost exclusively as a plaintiff's attorney, Peña began work as a civil
defense lawyer. In both capacities, he was recognized by Texas Monthly
as a 'Super Lawyer.'
First elected in 2002, Peña has always been a strong advocate for
education. This includes his commitment to increases in public school
teacher pay, as well as his consistent involvement in the expansion 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
UTPA. In addition to his support of education, Representative Peña is
also known for his championship of veterans and his involvement in
drug-abuse treatment and prevention.
In his tenure, Peña's achievements have included, but are not limited
In the 81st Legislative Session Peña's primary priorities center
around on education including the development of a medical school in
South Texas along with addressing the rise of criminal enterprises
and the violence associated with it along the Texas-Mexico border.
- Securing funding to bring a drug treatment facility to Edinburg,
- Bringing a $40 Million dollar Fine Arts Center, a $25 Million
dollar Student Wellness Center and $5 Million in additional funding
for the Regional Academic Health Center at the University of
- 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 which surrounds the new
Boys and Girls Club facility located in his home district.
- 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.
ALUMNI Legacy of Excellence Archives