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TMSL Alumni > A Legacy of Excellence

Aaron Peña

Aaron Pena - State RepresentativeRepresentative 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, Texas.

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 to:

  • Securing funding to bring a drug treatment facility to Edinburg, Texas.
  • 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 Texas-Pan American.
  • 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.
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.

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