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Highlights of the 84th Texas Legislative Session

Special to The Dallas Examiner | 6/8/2015, 3:12 a.m.
As the 84th Texas Legislative Session came to its official end on June 1, state Rep. Eric Johnson, and Sen. ...

HB 2573 creates the offense of “notario fraud” under the DTPA. It allows city and district attorneys to prosecute these types of cases under the DTPA without prior approval from the Attorney General’s office, while allowing 75 percent of the monetary penalties to be distributed to the local jurisdiction prosecuting the case.

Reporting officer-related shootings

Despite intense media coverage of officer-involved shootings, there is no single source for accurate statistical information on these incidents. Even FBI Director James Comey has said that “because [officer-involved shooting] reporting is voluntary, our data is incomplete and therefore, in the aggregate, unreliable.” This information gap prevents policymakers and researchers from adequately studying the issue, allowing the conversation on this topic to be driven more by speculation and personal biases than facts.

HB 1036 requires Texas law enforcement agencies to submit a report containing basic demographic information on shootings involving peace officers to the Office of the Texas Attorney General within 30 days of the incident. The OAG would then be required to report this information on their website within five days and to compile an annual report.

West also shared some of the high-profile issues that he expressed will show how Texas would align its policies with its resources.

There are two areas of state governance that consume the largest portions of the tax dollars that come to Austin: public education and Health and Human Services. That causes them also to be the most contentious, although debate over tax cuts, and open and campus carry rose to the same levels of philosophical discord, according to West. Yet, he felt there were many accomplishments that would benefit Texas citizen. Those he highlighted are as follows:

Body Cameras for Police

Authored by West, he stated that his goals for this legislative session was to pass a bill to provide body-worn cameras for use by law enforcement. It is done. With the passage of SB158/HB455, “the Body Camera Bill” on May 25, the state has allocated $10 million to help fund a grant program to be administered out of the governor’s office to help local police and sheriff’s departments purchase body worn cameras. Just as important as the funding, SB158 also establishes statewide policy on the use of this tool that also provides greater transparency to the public.

On Monday, he stated he was optimistic that Gov. Greg Abbott will give his stamp of approval on the bill.

“With the passage of the bill from both chambers now complete the next big step for SB158 is its approval by the governor. SB158 has been a collaborative effort and we have continued to rely on the input and energy of the many stakeholders who have helped us to craft what for now, might be the most comprehensive body camera legislation in the nation,” West said in a statement released to the press.

West worked with Senate leaders, the Lt. Gov., House leadership and the office of the Governor to secure $10 million in state funding for the matching grant program.