AUSTIN – On Monday, State Representative Chris Turner (101- Grand Prairie) pre-filed five pieces of legislation in advance of the 84th Legislative Session. The measures target a wide range of issues, including instituting a ban on "double dipping," ensuring bars carry liability insurance, providing additional aid to veterans in need, cracking down on unsolicited calls by high-interest lenders, and protecting Texans from discrimination based on sexual orientation.
"The first bills I filed address issues impacting the people of my district and our state," said Turner. "The ban on double dipping and the requirement for bar owners to have liability insurance gained traction last session and I look forward to continuing to work with concerned citizens and stakeholders to get these and other measures passed and signed into law."
"Legislation helping veterans and their families has been a top priority during my terms in office. It's an honor to file HB 410, a measure that could positively impact thousands of veterans and their families who are in acute need of services, like counseling for PTSD or transportation to VA hospitals across the state," said Turner.
"Many of my constituents are solicited by credit access businesses offering loans that seem too good to be true. In reality, these loans come with a high price tag and people often get locked into a cycle of debt that's hard to break," said Turner. "HB 411 would help make sure these companies aren't targeting as many vulnerable individuals."
"I filed HB 412, because it's time that we end discrimination based on sexual orientation. This measure will prohibit state contractors from using sexual orientation as a reason to deny employment or to fire someone and will send a strong message that this type of discrimination will not be tolerated in our state or by our state government," said Turner.
The Five Bills Turner Filed Include:
Ban on Double Dipping: HB 408
The first bill Turner filed, HB 408, would ban the practice of "double dipping" by state elected officials. If passed, it would bar certain officials from collecting a salary and state pension at the same time, if their retirement payments are triggered as a result of their service as an elected official. This issue received a great deal of attention during the 2012 Presidential election, when it came to light that due to a loophole in state statute, elected officials are able to use time served in office to collect both a state pension and a state salary at the same time.
Require Bars to Have Liability Insurance: HB 409
In Texas, businesses that hold alcoholic beverage permits are not required to purchase liability insurance to cover damages that might arise as a result of drunk driving or other alcohol-related incidents. As has occurred throughout the state, if a bar owner is found responsible for over-serving a customer, but is unable to pay for the resulting damages, the case oftentimes goes unresolved. Requiring bar owners to purchase liability insurance would ensure that damages will be covered and that businesses are not in danger of closure or bankruptcy.
Help to Our Veterans and their Families: HB 410
This bill would guarantee $5 million in funding for veterans services by transferring unclaimed prize money from the Texas Lottery Commission to the Permanent Fund for Veterans Assistance, which aids Texas veterans and their families by providing grants to non-profits who help with services including, counseling for PTSD and traumatic brain injury, transportation to VA medical facilities, housing assistance, and family and child counseling.
Prevent Credit Access Businesses from Soliciting by Phone: HB 411
To curb the use of short-term, high interest loans, this measure would prohibit credit access businesses from contacting new customers unsolicited via phone to offer their products. Many consumers who are solicited are lured into taking these types of loans, which ultimately lead to a long and expensive cycle they are unable to break.
Prohibit Discrimination by State Contractors: HB 412
This bill would prohibit contractors hired by state agencies from denying employment or firing an individual based on his or her sexual orientation. It would also require contractors to adopt a policy prohibiting this sort of discrimination. The measure also creates a penalty for those in non-compliance.
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