Policing, Post Offices and Preschool: Obscure Legislation Introduced by Texas Lawmakers

WASHINGTON — Discussions of health care, Russia, and President Donald Trump have dominated the media and the nation’s Capitol for months. But that’s not all that’s been going on in Washington.Here are some interesting but overlooked bills that Texas lawmakers have introduced in the House and Senate this year.No More Tulias: Drug Enforcement Evidentiary Standards Improvement Act of 2017Using Texas as an example for the rest of the nation, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, again introduced legislation to increase the evidence required for conviction on a drug offense and change the allocation of funds from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program.The Byrne program funds regional anti-drug task forces that have a history of racial profiling and corruption. The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas identified 17 scandals in Texas, including a notable case in Tulia.In response, Texas state legislators passed laws requiring the testimony of undercover informants to be corroborated. Lee’s bill would require all states to pass these laws before they can receive grants from the Byrne program.Lee introduced the legislation in 2005 and six more times, in each subsequent Congress, but it has stalled in subcommittees.“The congresswoman continues to stand behind it,” said Rucks Russell, her communications director. “She believes in it very strongly, and she’ll continue to introduce it as long as it takes.”Kari’s Law Act of 2017After Kari Hunt was stabbed in her hotel room in Marshall, her 9-year-old daughter tried to call 911 for help. But her call didn’t go through because guests had to dial “9” before making outgoing calls — including to 911.Hunt’s tragic death inspired Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, and Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz to reintroduce the Kari’s Law Act of 2017. The House passed a nearly identical bill last year that stalled in a Senate committee. This year’s version passed the House in January and is again awaiting Senate approval.  Continue reading...

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