FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 04/06/2015
Juvenile Justice Committee Hears Raise the Age Legislation; House Passes Budget
Austin, TX - Monday I had the honor of serving as acting Speaker of the House. It was a prestigious honor to preside over my fellow representatives. In my time serving as Speaker, we passed congratulatory and memorial resolutions to recognize Texans across the state.
Tuesday, the House worked late into the night and early morning to pass a fiscally conservative budget for the 2016-2017 fiscal biennium. With the final passage of the proposed budget, the State of Texas remains two billion dollars below the spending cap and will not have to tap into the 11 billion dollars currently in the rainy day fund. I was pleased to work with my colleagues to pass this bill, the only piece of legislation that we are constitutionally required to pass. There was plenty of debate on House Bill 1 and the amendments proposed by various members. I was honored to work and pass HB 1 for the people of Southeast Texas.
Wednesday, the Texas House of Representatives took up House Bill 2, which would address $1 billion in State needs and adds an additional $503 million for the 2015 fiscal year, which ends in August. It was an honor to work with my colleagues from across the state on addressing the State's fiscal needs and look forward to working together with the Senate to get final passage.
Also on Wednesday, the House Committee on Juvenile Justice and Family Issues met and discussed the issues of raising the age of juvenile offenders who are 17 years of age and are currently tried as adults. This is a hot-button issue that has arisen due to the federal and state agencies creating a grey zone on the management of these 17 year olds.
On Thursday, the House Committee on Corrections heard various legislation reforming criminal justice in the State of Texas. The bills ranged from reforming databases and records to changes in the operations of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
I also had the honor to meet with some constituents such as Superintendent Glen Connor from Woodville Independent School District and Superintendent Brad McEachern from Warren Independent School District. Jim Koca with the Escapees RV Club also visited me in Austin. I had very productive conversations with these folks and look forward to visiting with many other constituents throughout the session.
In addition, this past week, District Attorney Lee Hon of Polk County, successfully found a guilty verdict to Ledys Geovanny Alvaranga-Sarmiento of Honduras on the charge of Human Trafficking. Alvaranga-Sarmiento was sentenced to 30 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and a $10,000 fine. This was the first trial of its kind in Polk County and I commend D.A. Hon on his effort and diligence in this case. With human trafficking becoming an forefront issue in the 84th legislature, I am proud to see the Department of Public Safety and our local district attorneys facing this issue head on.
The House stands adjourned until Monday at 2 p.m.