Friday, May 3, 2013

House Bill 3241

Today, I passed House Bill 3241,which provides the state with additional tools to address the crime of human trafficking.

According to a report published by the Human Trafficking Prevention Task force just a few years ago, 1 out of every 5 victims of trafficking are trafficked on Interstate 10.

Criminal enterprises are taking advantage of the large number of major national highways that run through our state. While Texas has been at the forefront of fighting trafficking by increasing penalties for traffickers and focusing on the resources for the victims of this heinous crime, this is not enough. We need the tools to go after the money these criminal enterprises are making from this crime.

House Bill 3241 would allow the attorney general to bring a civil suit in the name of the state against a person or enterprise for the offense of racketeering related to human trafficking. The attorney general is required to provide notice to the prosecutors with jurisdiction. The bill further requires coordination and cooperation with local prosecutors as to not interfere with any ongoing investigations or prosecutions.

House Bill 3241 allows for prosecutors to abate the suit if it is determined and provides an 80/20 split with 80% going to the state, with first $10 million going to Crime Victim Compensation Fund. The final 20% would be distributed on a pro rata basis to law enforcement and attorneys that help with the suit.

We must punish those that engage in human trafficking and exploit these men, woman, and children, by hitting them where it hurts most, their pocket books.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Equal Pay for Women!

I'm excited to announce the passage of House Bill 950. This legislation is a step in the right direction toward Equal Pay for Women. I am proud to have been a part of this important legislation and I look forward to future advances in this area. This is a great article about the Bill.  

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

House Bill 949

I coauthor House Bill 949 with Representative Smithee. This legislation eliminates inconsistencies among insurers by transferring insurance coverage from a previous vehicle to a newly acquired vehicle. Currently, when a consumer purchases a... new or used vehicle, auto insurance providers are not required to extend standard coverage for a new vehicle during the policy term, although such coverage may exist. Unfortunately, the consumer may be unaware and incorrectly assume that their newly acquired vehicle is covered by a transfer from their pre-existing policy.

Under House Bill 949, the consumer has 20 days from the purchase date to notify the insurance provider of the new vehicle in order to receive coverage. This bill protects consumers by eliminating inconsistences among insurance providers that may cause confusion for vehicle owners about the insurance coverage for their newly acquired personal vehicle. You can follow this legislation here.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Texas Needs House Bill 2914

Here is an article that is a great example of situations that can be avoided through the passage of House Bill 2914, which reduces penalties for the possession of less than 0.02 grams of a controlled substance. The article discusses a recent decision of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to reverse the convictions of several inmates, based on findings that the results of thousands of drug tests may have been fabricated. This legislation will reduce the amount of felony convictions resulting from the possession of small amounts of controlled substances, thereby reducing the negative effects which result from occurrences such as the one illustrated in this article.      

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Texas Public School Legislation

Yesterday the Texas House voted on House Bill 5, which is legislation concerning public school accountability. Some of the major topics that were covered include student assessments and high school graduation programs.  This legislation is very important to the future of the State of Texas and I enjoyed the spirited debate. A few issues that were brought up include questions regarding the efficiency of the current student assessment program. In large part, this debate was hinged on the question of whether the testing requirements should be increased, decreased, or remain the same. There were also questions as to how these assessments are to be administered. Another large part of this discussion concerned school curriculum, including what courses students should be required to take, and how the advanced placement curriculum is to be administered. These are critical questions that need to be addressed as we decide the future of the Texas public education system. House Bill 5 was voted out of the House and will now continue through the legislative process. Check here for more information on this legislation.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Human Trafficking Legislation!

Here is an article discussing House Bill 8 pertaining to human trafficking. House Bill 8 is in line with recommendations proposed in the 2012 Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force Report. The Bill resolves conflicting protective order statutes; adds trafficking of persons and compelling prostitution to the list of offenses ineligible for parole; adds sex trafficking of a minor and compelling prostitution to the list of offenses ineligible for community supervision; includes trafficking of persons in the list of crimes eligible to receive reimbursement for relocation expenses under the Crime Victims Compensation Act; and enhances certain penalties for trafficking related offenses.

In addition, I have filed House Bill 1272, which continues the Attorney General's Human Trafficking Task Force for another two years. The Task Force's main objectives will be to focus on awareness and education by creating initiatives to educate doctors, nurses, EMS professionals, teachers, school counselors and administrators. Making these professionals more knowledgeable about how to identify and deal with this issue is paramount to successfully combating this horrendous crime.

 More information on this legislation can be found here.    

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Texas State of the Judiciary 2013

Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson addressed the Texas legislature yesterday in his state of the judiciary speech. Some topics covered include legal aide funding and indigent defense. Chief Justice Jefferson said "We must do more to keep the courthouse doors open for all our neighbors" as he urged the legislature to provide additional funding for legal aide. This session I have filed House Bill 1445  which addresses this issue by increasing the amount of money contributed to basic legal services to the indigent. I am glad that our Chief Justice referenced this bill in his state of the judiciary speech.   His concern about this important issue is shown by his willingness to work on improving the Texas Legal Aide system. I am proud to have Chief Justice Jefferson and countless others as partners as we work towards a Texas legal system that is accessible to all.