Conversation about the 84th Texas Legislature

The Dallas Examiner | 1/12/2015, 4:33 p.m.
The Texas Legislature meets every other year. This month the 84th Texas legislative session will start Tuesday and will be ...
The Dallas Examiner Logo Photo by Robyn H. Jimenez

The Dallas Examiner

The Texas Legislature meets every other year. This month the 84th Texas legislative session will start Tuesday and will be in session for 140 days, unless a special session is called by the governor to extend the session.

On Monday night, The Dallas Examiner hosted a Community Conversation at the African American Museum auditorium. The conversation was on the upcoming legislative session, what bills have been filed, what the community can do to exercise our voice.

The Conversation was moderated by Casey Thomas, chair of the Social Action Committee of the NAACP and columnist for The Dallas Examiner.

The audience consisted of a mixture of generations, the millennials and experienced … like Charles O’Neal, former CEO of the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce, who currently works for the Texas Association of African American Chambers of Commerce and works in Austin with state agencies and legislators to improve business opportunities for African American businesses in Texas.

Additionally, Matt Houston, current chairman of the Black Chamber, was in attendance and lent insight into what Black businesses need to do to be successful today.

The young audience can be attributed to social media and special interest of millennials such as Mercedes Fulbright and Arielle Clarkson to get younger people involved – they are our future. There were many college students in attendance because they have not gone back to their perspective colleges and universities. Many of them are working on graduate degrees. They are interested in the legislative process and we can expect them to be more active this year.

State Sen. Royce West and state Rep. Roberto Alonzo attended the Community Conversation.

West was first elected to the Texas Senate in November 1992. Since taking office he has represented the 23rd Senatorial District on behalf of the citizens of Dallas County in the Texas Legislature. He is chairman of the Senate Committee on Jurisprudence and is a member of Senate committees on Education, Finance, Health and Human Services, Higher Education and Intergovernmental Relations.

In November, West filed 12 pieces of legislation to address setting a higher minimum wage than the federal minimum wage; payday lending, in order to prevent the cycle of debt; the providing and enforcing the use of body-worn cameras by police officers, to provide a technology-based account in the event of an altercation; compensation for those wrongfully convicted before the legislation regarding DNA passed in 2001; prohibiting the purchase of a firearm for those who cannot legally purchase one on their own; early release after a Board of Pardons and Paroles review for seriously ill prisoners whose condition prevents them from being a threat to society; issuance of more accurate and up-to-date information regarding criminal history; the disposition of a judicial “set-aside,” a dismissal, to be sealed from public disclosure; creating a bipartisan commission to handle congressional redistricting.

Alonzo was first elected to the Texas State House of Representatives in November 1992 and has served for eight terms. He serves as vice chair of the pensions committee and serves on the House Administration, Calendars, Higher Education and Human Trafficking committees. He has filed bills for the 84th legislative session relating to registration of voters at polling places, coverage of certain health benefit plans of mammograms performed by certain health care providers, establishment of veteran resource centers at certain institutions of higher education, pretrial hearings in criminal cases and relating to prohibitions of certain insurance discrimination.