Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa filed seven bills on the first day of the 86th Texas Legislature pre-filing period. Senator Hinojosa's early round of bills focuses on veterans, economic development, criminal justice, and medical education. The 86th Texas Legislature will convene January 8, 2019.
Senator Hinojosa issued a statement on each of the seven bills pre-filed today:
1. Senate Bill 128 - Relating to the eligibility for release on parole of certain inmates convicted of the offense of continuous trafficking of persons.
Human trafficking is a serious issue affecting Texas, with Houston as a leading hub. Under current law, a person convicted of continuous sexual abuse of a child and aggravated sexual assault is not eligible for release on parole. However, a person convicted of continuous trafficking of a child is eligible for parole. SB 128 protects our children by preventing a person convicted of continuous trafficking of a child from being eligible for parole.
2. Senate Bill 129 - Relating to eligibility for the exemption from ad valorem taxation of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of certain first responders.
Current law entitles the surviving spouse of a first responder who was killed or fatally injured in the line of duty to a property tax exemption. The exemption is available for all surviving spouses, regardless of the date of the first responder's death, so long as he or she was married to the first responder at the time and has not since remarried. SB 129 will expand the definition of a first responder to include Special Investigators, a Customs and Border Protection Officer or Border Patrol Agent of U.S. Customs and Border Protection or an Immigration Enforcement Agent or Deportation Officer of the Department of Homeland Security. With property taxes on the rise across Texas, SB 129 will ensure that families of fallen first responders are not forced to sell their homes due to this sudden property tax burden, especially after the sacrifices made by these families.
3. Senate Bill 130 - Relating to the use of hypnotically induced testimony in a criminal trial.
Currently, most states do not allow hypnosis-influenced testimony to be admitted into evidence at all. However, Texas and some states allow court testimony by witnesses who previously were hypnotized to enhance their memories. SB 130 amends the Code of Criminal Procedure to end the use of hypnotically induced testimony in a criminal trial. The use of hypnosis will still be allowed as an investigate tool.
4. Senate Bill 131- Relating to the creation of an open burn pit registry for certain services members and veterans.
Our goal is to create a Texas Open Burn Pit Registry to help service members, veterans, medical providers, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs determine the effects of exposure to open air burn pits and prevents medical misdiagnoses that often lead to denials of benefits and financial hardship. Much like the Agent Orange and Gulf War registries, the registry will serve as a critical tool in examining this new type of toxic exposure by collecting valuable data regarding the effects of exposure to chemicals while serving in foreign lands. Further, this registry will serve as a resource to veterans and their families by providing information regarding available programs and an opportunity for outreach.
5. Senate Bill 132 - Relating to operation of the Texas leverage fund program administered by the Texas Economic Development Bank.
The Texas Leverage Fund, administered by the Office of the Governor's Economic Development and Tourism Office, issues loans to Economic Development Corporations to finance eligible projects. The program is set to expire if not continued in statute. SB 132 will continue the fund and establish the Texas Leverage Fund as a trust fund held outside the state treasury by the Comptroller, who would act as a trustee. The fund would consist of proceeds from issuance of bonds, loan payments and origination fees, investment earnings, and any other money received by the Texas Economic Development Bank.
6. Senate Bill 133 - Relating to designating May 18 as School Shooting Victims Remembrance Day
This legislation will designate May 18th as the date to honor the memory of teachers and students who have lost their lives in school shootings. On May 18, 2018, a school shooting occurred at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas. Eight students and two teachers were fatally shot and thirteen others were wounded. While we work on a plan to keep our students safe, we must always remember and honor the students and teachers who have lost their lives in school shootings.
7. Senate Bill 134 - Relating to the participation of the medical school at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in the Joint Admission Medical Program.
SB 134 adds the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine to the Joint Admissions Medical Program to help with recruiting and retaining highly qualified, economically disadvantaged Texas resident students pursuing a medical education. Texas students admitted to this program are guaranteed admission to one of the state's medical schools, financial and academic support to help them get there, and access to resources that allow them to excel.
Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa proudly represents the counties of Nueces, Jim Wells, Brooks, and Hidalgo (part). Senator Hinojosa currently serves as Vice-Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, and serves on the Senate Committees on Natural Resources & Economic Development; Transportation; Agriculture, Water & Rural Affairs.