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. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Congress Passes Renewal of the Violence Against Women Act!

The U.S. Congress finally passed the U.S. Senate's version of a bill to renew the Violence Against Women Act. The Act provides support for organizations that serve domestic violence victims. The Act also strengthens sentences for stalking under Federal Law. This legislation and others like it are important in the ongoing fight against violence against women in America. More information about this legislation can be found here.