(Austin, TX) State Representative James White is appreciative of the constructive partnerships made with state senators to pass meaningful bills and is thankful for Governor Greg Abbott’s support in signing 16 pieces of legislation that Rep. White authored and sponsored during the 85th Legislative Session. Additionally, he is grateful for the filing of another bill to be enacted into law without a signature, putting the final tally of 17 enacted pieces of legislation.
Throughout the legislative session, Rep. White has worked on conservative legislation that increases our local prosperity, maintains safe communities, improves our local public schools, and protects our Texas borders. This session State Rep. White infused Southeast Texas conservative values in policies that deal with supporting our Texas military veterans, improving our criminal justice and juvenile justice systems, reforming the foster care system, strengthening public education, upholding the Constitution, and valuing our local communities and governments.
House Bill 2790 makes sure that state money that has been appropriated to apprenticeship training programs goes straight to those programs or through a public school institution, such as a high school or a community college, if the apprenticeship program coordinators choose to partner in such a fashion. Apprenticeship programs are an extremely effective method of combining on-the-job-training with classroom education to give students the hands-on experience and training they need to be successful in their trade. Some who choose apprenticeship programs to further their career may even make more money upon completion than those who obtain a four-year degree. This is due to high demand and the technical skills needed to perform these essential jobs.
Military & National Defense:
Senate Bill 102 restructures the titles of general officers within the Texas Military Department. Last session, the legislature created new general officer positions within the Texas National Guard. However, the federal National Guard Bureau failed to recognize one of the positions. This bill clarifies the titles and duties of the assistant adjutant general for homeland security and duties of the assistant adjutant general for domestic operations. Rep. White is proud to have partnered with Senator Bob Hall in passing this legislation.
House Concurrent Resolution 45 urges Congress to honor native Texan, Doris “Dorie” Miller, with the Medal of Honor. During the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Petty Officer Miller was an unlikely hero; a mess attendant, second class, from Waco whose race precluded him from serving in a combat assignment. But when the Japanese hit the USS West Virginia at Pearl Harbor, he manned a machine gun he had not been trained on and ended up pulling the ship’s captain and many others to shelter. His acts of courage earned him the Navy Cross, the Navy’s second-highest honor. In addition to the Navy Cross, he was also entitled numerous other awards, including a Purple Heart, but for decades admirers have believed Miller deserved the top award: the Medal of Honor. Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson is currently leading the charge in Washington D.C. to honor this Texans and Rep. White is proud to lend his support.
HB 91 requires any state agency that issues occupational licenses to review their current guidelines about criminal records and make recommendations on whether those requirements should be retained, modified, or repealed. If you do the crime, you must do the time. Moreover, it is important that people have a chance to make an honest living after paying their debt to society.
HB 104 provides notification and protection to victims that have experienced traumatic events at the hand of violent offenders. This bill addresses the unfortunate fact that not all defendants are rehabilitated during their time imprisoned and may revert to violent behavior once released. If the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) receives notification of an indictment of a defendant, the department must notify each victim, guardian of the victim, or close relative of the deceased victim, for which the State of Texas previously convicted the defendant. TDCJ will only provide those notifications for victims who choose to opt-in.
HB 553 establishes a task force charged with identifying ways to strengthen existing programs and create new opportunities to provide education and technical skills training to people confined in Texas prisons. Formerly incarcerated individuals face many problems when reintegrating into the community. Many of these individuals do not have a traditional resume or a legitimate employment history, which creates a significant barrier in applying for jobs. If an inmate has the opportunity to earn academic and occupational credentials, he or she will be more likely to find a job upon release and contribute to our local prosperity. Therefore, it is in the best interest of public safety to offer a wide range of opportunities in the prison system for inmates to do gainful work, earn industry certified skills, obtain diplomas, and other marketable skills.
HB 3069 grants our veterans the eligibility to participate in a veterans treatment court program and for a nondisclosure order to be issued for certain participants who successfully complete the program. This program is similar to that which already exists for other courts which also allow for discretionary pre-adjudications. We owe it to our service men and women to make sure that they are being given the same due process as everyone else, as well as the same arsenal to combat recidivism that those who get involved in drugs and prostitution currently receive.
HB 3147 entitles a person to obtain the expunction of any information that identifies the person contained in records and files relating to the person’s arrest if the person was arrested solely as a result of identifying information that was inaccurate due to a clerical error or mistaken identity.
Juvenile Justice & Foster Care:
HB 1204 creates a constructive and collaborative process for children that get involved in criminal behavior. This process will insure that the appropriate responses from criminal punishment, to mental health, to child protective services, to education are included in rehabilitating children under 12 years of age. Failing to implement effective responses to delinquent behavior to young children can lead to poor performance in school, strain our child protective services system, and increase the odds that a child will get involved in the adult criminal justice system. We need efficient, smart, and tough approaches to juvenile delinquent behavior. Additionally, this bill served as vehicle for passing the language from another one of Rep. White’s bills, HB 2907, which tasks the Office of Court Administration to research if adjudicating juveniles charged with fine-only offenses in the juvenile justice system, rather than the adult criminal justice system, would be more just and efficient.
HB 3705 permits juvenile justice agencies to jointly create and maintain a juvenile justice information system. Currently, 250 Texas counties and the Texas Juvenile Justice Department are using the Juvenile Case Management System (JCMS), which provides users with access to real-time information regarding children within the juvenile justice system. The bill addresses system uses that may exceed the current authority given in state statute and permits the use of the system by private juvenile facilities, which makes information sharing more efficient.
SB 1304 provides for protection and appropriate dissemination of juvenile records. Unlike adult offenders, youth in the juvenile justice system have an expectation that they will participate in rehabilitative programs and services and remain free of the trace of criminality. Despite the confidentiality protections afforded under state law, juvenile offenders are nevertheless haunted by the long-term unintended consequences of delinquency history. This legislation was drafted through the Juvenile Records Advisory Committee which Rep. White established in the 84th Legislative Session under HB 431. Rep. White was proud to work with State Senator Charles Perry in passing SB 1304 which was the companion to his HB 2863.
HB 1521 addresses concerns of agencies who handle youth in both the foster care and juvenile justice systems not communicating. The bill allows for the sharing of information between the Department of Family & Protective Services (DFPS) and the Texas Department of Juvenile Justice (TJJD). Ultimately, the goal is to exercise good stewardship of taxpayer monies by reducing the possibility of bureaucracy and duplication and providing the best services to families with multi-system youth in need of rehabilitative services. Even though HB 1521 passed with language from Senator John Whitmire’s SB 1857, the original language of the bill also passed as an amendment in Representative Gene Wu’s foster care omnibus, HB 7, which Rep. White co-authored.
HB 2904 builds on HB 1521 and asks the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), the DFPS, the Department of State Health Services (DSHS), and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to coordinate services administered to our Texas children. There are too many instances in which efforts are being duplicated by state agencies that can become counterproductive in the child’s rehabilitation. The bill facilitates multi-agency needs and promotes transparency and coordination between all parties.
HB 928 tasks DFPS and community resource groups to help foster children obtain scholarship monies that the state has set aside for them while also assisting them in applying for other scholarships, visiting institutions, and submitting admissions applications.
HB 3338 further continues providing foster children with the tools they need to succeed when aging out of the system by having DFPS and the Department of Public Safety (DPS) create procedures for providing a form of identification. Making sure that these kids who are aging out of the foster system have proper identification documentation ensures that they will be better prepared to make their way through the world as adults, and that they will have the necessary documentation to find employment, housing, and seek out higher education should they choose.
HB 2788 fixes the selection of commissioners to the emergency service district in Tyler and Hardin counties. Currently, Hardin county is tasked with appointing all commissioners from both counties; 3 from Hardin county and 2 from Tyler county. As Tyler county should have a say on who represents them in their emergency service district, the legislation allows for each respective county to appoint their allocated commissioners. The bill was filed per the request of resolutions passed by Tyler and Hardin counties.
HCR 27 designates Spurger, TX, as the Knife Capital of Texas for the next 10 years. In recent years, the town of Spurger has become a state and national center for knives and knife enthusiasts, thanks in large parts to the efforts of Texas Knives and Collectables, a local company. This unique enterprise has also become a destination for visitors to Spurger from across the state and nation by staging the annual Case Historian and Ambassador Tour, which includes knife exhibits, a fast-draw competition, and an Old West Show performed by living history re-enactors.
“This has been a difficult session due to budgetary restraints and many pieces of legislation did not make it to the Governor’s desk. I am pleased that I was able to get these items through both chambers and signed before the June 18th deadline. I knew coming into this session that it would be an uphill climb but knew that my priorities were foster care reform and school finance reform. My colleagues and I were able to pass meaningful reforms for foster care and I look forward to seeing their implementation,” said Rep. White. “The Legislature will return to Austin on July 18th to tackle those conservative issues that did not pass during the regular session. I intend to once again focus on conservative oriented school finance and property tax reform to provide Texans much needed relief, protects our rural schools from destructive policies, and enhances our local prosperity and property rights.”
All documents pertaining to these bills as well as any other legislation from this session can be found on the Texas Legislature online website: http://www.legis.texas.gov/Members/MemberInfo.aspx?Leg=85&Chamber=H&Code=A2030.
P.O. Box 395,