FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 11/09/2020
STATE REPRESENTATIVE TONI ROSE FILES FOCUSED, IMPACTFUL SLATE OF BILLS AHEAD OF 87TH LEGISLATIVE SESSION
Mental Health, Maternal Mortality, and Officer Discretion in Making Arrests Top Legislative Agenda as Representative Rose Prepares for her 5th Legislative Session
AUSTIN, TX – Today, State Representative Toni Rose (110) introduced six proposals focused on social justice and human services on the first day of bill filing, marking the unofficial beginning of the upcoming 87th Legislative Session. Amongst her top priorities are two flagship bills, addressing maternal mortality and severe mental illness.
Maternal mortality is one of the most preventable forms of death for women. The most common causes of maternal mortality are severe infection, heart issues after childbirth, high blood pressure during pregnancy, and drug overdoses due to postpartum depression within the first year. These highly treatable ailments result in death for women who lack proper healthcare attention. With House Bill 133, Representative Rose seeks to extend Medicaid coverage for pregnant women from 60 days to 12 months. “In maternity wards we pay close vigil over our newborn children only to ignore the health needs of their mothers once they leave the hospital. Caring for new mothers who fall into the health coverage gap, we can eradicate a great number of unnecessary deaths,” said Representative Rose.
House Bill 140 creates an exemption to the death penalty for defendants suffering from a severe mental illness (SMI) at the time of a capital offense. The exemption would occur on a case by case basis and those convicted would be held accountable for their actions, facing life without parole, while saving taxpayers an estimated $2.5 million per case.
Representative Rose rounds out her initial slate of Health and Human Services priorities with House Bill 155 which establishes an Office of Minority Statistics and Engagement to address the disproportionate utilization of child protective and welfare services as it relates to children of color.
Representative Rose also filed legislation addressing a number of pressing social justice concerns. The prone position is a law enforcement restraint that concentrates pressure on a person’s chest or neck while the person is placed on their stomach or back. The prone restraint cuts air flow to the lungs, has been frequently documented as causing sudden death by asphyxiation, and was banned from use by the state of Texas with public school students following a nation-wide legislative trend. Representative Rose will work to ban the use of the prone position, and other high-risk chokeholds, by law enforcement across the state with House Bill 346.
Representative Rose will also work to grant law enforcement officers discretionary power in making arrests by removing the requirement to arrest for every violation, particularly in the case of low-level offenses. Currently, officers are legally unable to make independent decisions that factor complications such as public safety. “Our law enforcement responders deserve flexibility in determining which situations warrant arrest based on real time circumstances. For the safety of our officers and the community, certainly not every mental health disturbance or youthful indigestion requires an arrest or police chase,” stated Representative Rose. “House Bill 345 will serve as a gateway to building trust between our officers and the community as we all continue to work through criminal justice reforms in our country,” Representative Rose said.
Finally, Representative Rose filed House Bill 193 to destroy juvenile court records for underage victims of sex trafficking, freeing victims of the consequences and stigma that persist with the retention of such records.
Elected in 2012, Representative Toni Rose represents District 110, which includes diverse communities including Oak Cliff, Highland Hills, Pleasant Grove, Balch Springs and Mesquite. Representative Rose serves as a member of the House Committee on Calendars, Human Services, and Redistricting as well as Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Articles VI, VII, & VIII which manages state budget considerations on the issues of Natural Resources, Business & Economic Development, and Business Regulation.