REPRESENTATIVE IRMA RANGEL
First elected in 1976, Representative Rangel served her South Texas district for 26 years. As the first female Mexican American legislator and first and only woman to serve as Chair of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, she paved the way for others to follow. A champion of minority and student issues in Texas, Representative Rangel fought for her constituents leaving her mark on the history of this great state.
During her first legislative session, Representative Rangel passed legislation creating educational and training opportunities for single mothers in need of better paying jobs. In 1993, she secured $460 million for South Texas with the South Texas Border Initiative. In her last legislative session, Representative Rangel passed a bill creating South Texas’ first professional school—the school of pharmacy at Texas A&M University-Kingsville.
In 1995, House Speaker James E. “Pete” Laney appointed Representative Rangel Chair of the Texas House Committee on Higher Education. As the first Mexican American to head the committee, Representative Rangel led the charge to ensure educational opportunities for all children. Representative Rangel joint-authored and sponsored legislation creating the TEXAS Grant I and Grant II Programs, which have allocated millions of dollars in financial support to low-income students. In response to the Hopwood v. Texas decision, which ended affirmative action at all state colleges and universities, Representative Rangel pioneered landmark legislation in 1997 that is now receiving national attention. The passage of House Bill 588 requires state colleges and universities to automatically admit all students who graduate in the top 10 percent of their high school class.