News

Capitol Update: Help for Law Enforcement and the Rural Jobs Act

April 20, 2019

This week we passed the 100 day point of the 86th Legislative Session. From here on in, it is a mad dash until May 27th when the Legislature adjourns “sine die” or without a day. The days, hearings and debates get longer as more and more legislation comes before the House. In fact, Wednesday this week, the House conducted its normal debate, finishing around 6:00pm at which time the House State Affairs Committee began a hearing on many important bills, which lasted until almost 7:00am on Thursday morning, hearing from over 400 witnesses.

This week the House passed many important pieces of legislation. One of those is HB 8, which will work to end the back log of rape kits in Texas. There are currently thousands of untested rape kits sitting on laboratory shelves, leaving victims to suffer and predators to roam our streets. In addition to the $38 million proposed in the House budget to increase laboratory capacity, HB will gives victims additional rights and increase the statute of limitations for cases in which the rape kit has not been tested. These are important changes to fix the current system to make sure that victims are given closure and the guilty are brought to justice.

The House also passed HB 14 to address our critical shortage of law enforcement officers. HB 14 will provide student loan repayment assistance for law enforcement officers. The assistance is for up to $4,000 per year for up to 5 years. Hopefully this will incentivize more young people to enter the law enforcement field, which is currently facing a critical shortage of applicants, with the potential to affect public safety in the years to come.

The House also passed several bills that will work to improve the mental health services available in our schools. This legislation aims to prevent tragedies like we experienced in the Santa Fe school shooting last year. There were several amendments to these bills to work to reduce the overall cost to the state and improve the consent and privacy of those students receiving help under this legislation. I look forward to continuing the work that the House has begun to help those with mental health crises and helping to protect our students.

This week the House also passed HB 1000, the Rural Jobs Act that I authored. I am looking forward to working with our Senate colleagues to finish the work on this important economic development tool for rural areas. I look forward to continuing to update you on the progress of HB 1000 and seeing the growth that this will bring to rural Texas.

If you have any questions about legislation that has already passed or which is still pending, please make sure to reach out. I can be reached at district9.paddie@house.texas.gov or 512-463-0556 (Austin office) or 903-935-1141 (Marshall office).