There are only seven weeks left of the 85th Texas Legislature and less than four weeks remain for House Committees to take up and consider House bills. This week, I will be laying out three important pieces of legislation: House Bill 3972 to protect senior citizens from financial exploitation, House Bill 1489 to freeze the pay of state agency heads who fail to meet contracting goals with women and minority-owned businesses, and House Bill 2480 to combat involuntary displacement in gentrifying areas of West Dallas and South Dallas.
Here are some updates from last week and key information to keep you informed on what is happening in the Legislature.
Texas House Budget Debate
After several hours of debate, the Texas House voted on the state's proposed 2018-19 budget. With over 400 proposed amendments, Democrats managed to increase funding for Texas' Child Protective Services and prevent funding for private school vouchers.
Princeton University's Students and Alumni of Color Symposium
This past weekend, I returned to the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs to speak at the 21st Annual Students and Alumni of Color Symposium. I had an excellent discussion with Ben Jealous, former president and CEO of the NAACP, on social justice in the current political climate.
Layout of House Bill 2480
Today, I will layout House Bill 2480, a bill that would protect West Dallas and South Dallas residents from involuntary displacement due to gentrification. If you would like to help pass this important piece of legislation, please call the members of the House Committee on Urban Affairs and urge them to support House Bill 2480. The contact information for committee members can be found here. If you would like to tune in to watch the hearing, click here.
Legislation Guide for 85th Texas Legislature
Below are some of the bills I am currently working through the legislative process:
HB 225 - Employment Nondiscrimination Act
This bill would prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression in the State of Texas.
HB 245 - Police Shooting Reporting Penalty
This bill would enforce a law I passed last session requiring law enforcement agencies to report officer-involved shootings. It would create a civil penalty for law enforcement agencies that fail to comply with the reporting requirements.
HB 260 - Discharged Inmates Voter Registration
This bill would require Texas prisons to provide voter registration forms to prisoners upon release.
HB 290 - Pay Equity
This bill would prohibit pay discrimination for comparable work based on gender and would prohibit an employer from requiring an applicant to provide her salary history.
HB 469, Same-Day Voter Registration
This bill would allow for same-day voter registration at polls in the State of Texas.
HB 471 - Prized-Linked Savings Programs
This bill would encourage saving by allowing banks and credit unions to offer prize-linked savings account programs in which a person could win prizes, including cash, by opening a savings account and making deposits into it.
HB 671 - Restoring the Capital Access Fund
This bill would direct 10% of the funds in the Texas Enterprise Fund to be used for the Capital Access Program, a program designed to help small and historically underutilized businesses.
HB 673 - Texas Open Justice Data Portal
This bill would authorize the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) to create a data portal to house the state's criminal justice data. It would also authorize the OAG to create an interactive website to allow the public to view the data.
HB 674 - Pre-K Suspension Ban
This bill would ban the suspension of pre-kindergarten students in the State of Texas.
HB 773 - Aiding State Agency Planning for Natural Disasters
This bill would require state agencies to include in their strategic plans information on changes in weather, water availability, and climate variability.
HB 774 - Tickets, Not Jail, for Misdemeanors
This bill would prevent arrests for “fine only” offenses and require officers to disclose when a crime is only punishable by a fine.
HB 1215 - Ending Prison-Based Gerrymandering
This bill would stop the practice of counting incarcerated persons according to where they are incarcerated for purposes of redistricting and would instead include them in the population of where they last resided prior to being incarcerated.
HB 1218 - Help, Not Jail, for Prostitution
This bill would help prostitutes break the cycle of incarceration and re-enter society by delaying a felony conviction for prostitution and encouraging participation in prostitution diversion programs.
HB 1489 - HUB State Agency Pay Freeze
This bill would freeze the pay of state agency heads who miss their Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) contracting goals.
HB 1981 - Ban the Box
This bill would remove the criminal history “box” from initial job applications and extend “fair chance” hiring protections to individuals seeking employment with state or local government entities, government contractors, and those applying for occupational licenses.
HB 2282 - Full-Day, Formula Funded Pre-K
This bill would fund high-quality, full-day prekindergarten through the existing school finance formula. In order to be eligible for the funding, pre-K programs would be required to adopt national best practices for improving educational outcomes.
HB 2480 - Anti-Displacement Bill for West Dallas and South Dallas
This bill would combat involuntary displacement in gentrifying areas of West Dallas and South Dallas through the implementation of a variety of tools to ensure long-term affordability and equitable redevelopment.
HB 3972 - Elder Financial Abuse
This bill would protect senior citizens from financial exploitation by requiring broker-dealers and investment advisers who suspect that an elderly client is being financially abused to report it to the State Securities Board and Adult Protective Services.
Stay tuned for more updates next week!