AUSTIN -- The state agency charged with incarcerating juvenile offenders would undergo dramatic changes under a bill approved by the Senate on Wednesday.
The Texas Youth Commission would be merged with the Juvenile Probation Commission to create the Texas Juvenile Justice Department. The new agency would look at treatment and probation options before recommending incarceration, and it would strive to keep juvenile offenders close to home and family.
The current TYC population is around 1,400, but bill author Senator John Whitmire of Houston expects that number to drop as the new agency deemphasizes incarceration.
Another bill passed by the Senate Wednesday would expand the number of charter schools in Texas. SB 127 by Houston Senator Dan Patrick would permit 10 new charter schools to be formed each year. It would permit the formation of two charter schools devoted to special needs education per year, and gives the state the power to close charters for financial insolvency or poor academic performance.
The Senate also approved a bill on Wednesday that could bring more nuclear waste to a new storage site slated to open in the next year. The site, located in remote Andrews County on the Texas border with New Mexico, is already approved to accept low-level radioactive waste from Texas and its partner in the endeavor, Vermont. This waste includes things like water filters used at nuclear plants, disposable clothing used by workers, and factory parts.
SB 1504, by Amarillo Senator Kel Seliger, would permit the site to accept waste from other states, but would preserve a certain amount of space for Vermont. It would also set limits on the amount of waste that other states can store at the Texas site. Seliger said the bill would bring a lot of money to Texas, as well as Andrews county, as states deal to store their radioactive waste here.
All three bills now head to the House for consideration.