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Committee on State Affairs - 87th R.S. (2021)
Elections Enforcement: Evaluate the impact that the Court of Criminal Appeals' ruling in Stephens v. State will have on criminal prosecution in Texas. Additionally, study ways in which the Secretary of State's office can respond promptly to reports of Election Code violations. Review the process by which the Secretary of State receives and reports election results, including any internal processes to verify the results reported by county elections administrators. Make recommendations to improve the accuracy and timeliness of election results reported by the Secretary of State on the day of an election. Make recommendations that will allow consistent enforcement of election laws across the state.
Elections Administration: Study how the allocation of polling locations are determined for early voting and election day for counties with and without county-wide voting and report whether current law provides for an equitable distribution. Study the protocols and scheduling of proper maintenance and calibration of election equipment and recommend what is required for maximum efficiency, accuracy, and security. Study the history of a holiday falling within the early voting period and recommend methods to ensure that early voting always has the required number of days and every qualified voter has the opportunity to vote. Study and recommend whether the state should shorten the primary election runoff period in Texas in order to allow voters to know who their candidate is sooner—while remaining in compliance with the federal MOVE Act. Make recommendations to ensure it is easy to vote and hard to cheat.
Protecting the Unborn: Monitor the impact of SB 8 87th R.S., The Texas Heartbeat Act, and the expanded funding for alternatives to abortion programs passed by the 87th Legislature. Study alternatives to abortion programs' effectiveness in meeting the needs of pregnant and post-partum women and recommend how the Legislature should strengthen the program. Recommend ways to provide additional alternatives to abortion and comprehensive informed consent resources to mothers who are expecting.
Human Trafficking: Examine opportunities and make recommendations to reduce the profitability of and demand for human trafficking in Texas. Determine ways to increase public awareness of the proliferation of human trafficking, as well as resources for victims and survivors. Monitor the implementation of HB 1540 87th R.S., and examine changes in arrest rates, judicial dispositions, and sentencing amongst offenders due to provisions of the legislation. Examine opportunities for attorneys to combat human trafficking in their local communities, including use of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act, to generate revenue for local law enforcement officials combatting human trafficking. Make any other recommendations to further prevent human trafficking.
Public Safety: Study the impact of how the internal policies of some district and county attorneys' offices to not prosecute certain crimes impact the further occurrence of those crimes and public safety. Examine the methods by which the Texas Legislature may prohibit policies of disregarding duly passed laws and not prosecuting certain crimes. Examine the authority and limits of the Office of the Attorney General to take action in place of a district or county attorney's office that has a policy to disregard the prosecution of certain crimes. Make recommendations to prevent policies of not prosecuting certain crimes to ensure that public safety is maintained. Examine case loads of judges in Texas' largest three counties with a focus on courts who do not hear or seldom hear cases to ensure a fair and equitable division of workload amongst Texas judges. Review pretrial service and bonding practices in Harris and Travis counties. Examine the practice of judges releasing violent and/or habitual offenders pre-trial and the correlating negative impacts on community safety. Monitor the impact of SB 23 87th R.S., the Stop Local Police Defunding bill, to ensure that counties are not reducing the budgets of law enforcement divisions and that effective and efficient enforcement mechanisms are in place. Make recommendations to further close any loopholes in the law.
Privacy and Transparency: Review the current state laws that protect and secure individuals' biometric identifiers. Explore ways to protect against the use of biometric identifiers for unintended purposes without an individual's consent and make recommendations to the Senate. Study websites that closely resemble government websites or fraudulently represent companies that they are not, including websites that use names of state agencies or licenses. Make recommendations to ensure that Texans' are not mislead, taken advantage, or defrauded, especially when they try to seek assistance from a state website.
Investment Practices: Study the investment practices of financial services firms and how those practices affect the state’s public pensions. Make recommendations to ensure the state’s public pension funds are not being invested to further political or social causes.
Senators Bettencourt and Kolkhorst appointed by Lieutenant Governor to replace departing Senators Nelson and Powell, 5/10/2022.
Press release, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, 5/10/2022.
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