Austin, TX - This past week in the Texas Legislature proved to be energetic and productive. Monday, the we heard our first bill on the House Floor, House Bill (H.B.) 10, relating to certain criminal and civil consequences of trafficking of persons, compelling prostitution, and certain other related criminal offenses and the prevention and compensation of those offenses. This legislation was the result of the work by my colleagues and I on the Select Committee on Human Trafficking this past summer. I was proud to cast a vote in favor of this bill. It is crucial that we help secure our borders and protect the vulnerable children who have been found in these situations.
One of the issues that was brought to my attention before the 84th session began was the use of hyperbaric oxygen chambers to assist with mental rehabilitation for veterans, which is why I authored H.B. 390. Early Tuesday morning, I helped Representative Rick Miller present his version of the bill, H.B. 175, to the Committee on Public Health, on which he serves. Hyperbaric oxygen chambers have been shown to drastically improve the quality of life in veterans with traumatic brain injuries. Brave men and women serve for their nation's liberty and deserve the best treatment available when they return home. I fully support our military and our veterans.
Tuesday was a very productive day for 2nd Amendment rights for Texans. The House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety heard testimony on H.B. 910, which I joint-authored. H.B. 910 provides law abiding citizens that hold a concealed handgun license the choice to carry concealed or unconcealed. Chairman Larry Phillips was gracious to extend an invitation to me to be present as a joint author of this bill. Along with H.B. 910, the Senate passed Senate Bill 17, the companion to H.B. 910. After lengthy debate an open carry bill has passed out of the Senate Chamber of the Texas Legislature.
Also on Tuesday, I presented H.B. 1050, which relates to the liability of food donors. H.B. 1050 would remove the ability to take legal action against food donors if the food is in good condition and wholesome when it is donated. Donors who go out of their way to provide for the needy should not have to face lawsuit abuse when performing charitable deeds.
Wednesday, the Texas House continued its aggressive legislative border security agenda with H.B. 11, relating to the powers and duties of the Texas Department of Public Safety and the investigation, prosecution, punishment, and prevention of certain offenses on the Texas border. This bill is a comprehensive measure to secure our state's border and establish penalties for offense violations. I was honored to vote in favor of this bill because I believe that this piece of legislation will be a driving force in keeping the people and communities of Southeast Texas safe in order to secure and expand individual liberty.
On the same day H.B. 11 was debated, the House Committee on Juvenile Justice and Family Matters took up legislation dealing with adoption, child support, and other family issues. I am proud to say that members of the Alabama-Coushatta Indian Tribe of Texas came to testify in favor of H.B. 825, relating to procedures for identifying any Native American heritage of children in certain hearings in suits affecting the parent-child relationship. It is great to see strong members of the Southeast Texas communities coming to their State Capitol and advocating for issues that are important to their community.
Thursday, the House convened for a third reading and final vote on H.B. 11; which passed by an outstanding majority. Now the Senate will consider the bill before being sent to the Governor’s desk for approval.
Following adjournment, I had two committee meetings. The first was the Select Committee on Emerging Issues in Texas Law Enforcement, which heard bills on police training and issues relating to arrest and transfer of prisoners.
The second was the State & Federal Power & Responsibility Committee meeting to lay out H.B. 1109, which relates to the adoption of the Compact for a Balanced Budget. Federal spending has gone off the rails and it can and will have very adverse effects on every Texan if it not controlled. H.B. 1109 amends government code to enact the Compact for a Balanced Budget and to enter the State of Texas into the compact with all other member states. This way is an alternative way to amend the Federal Constitution and pass a balanced budget. For the sake of our future generations, the states need to take a stand and tell the Federal Government that uncontrolled overspending is going to run this great nation into the ground.
In addition to legislation, I was able to visit with constituents from the district. It was my pleasure to see David and Barbara Caruthers from Livingston and their son Jaden. Constituents are always welcome in their State Capitol and it is always an honor to visit with them in my office.
The House stands adjourned until Monday at 2 p.m.
Saul L. Mendoza
State Representative James White
P.O. Box 395,