Excessive force by police, Medicaid expansion, television crews: Bills filed by Inner Loop-area state legislators

Bills targeting excessive force by police have been filed in Texas’ 87th legislative session, along with a host of others. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Bills targeting excessive force by police have been filed in Texas’ 87th legislative session, along with a host of others. (Courtesy Fotolia)

Bills targeting excessive force by police have been filed in Texas’ 87th legislative session, along with a host of others. (Courtesy Fotolia)

Local legislators have been able to file bills for Texas' 87th legislative session since Nov. 9, and several bills of note have already been filed in the state House and Senate by legislators representing Bellaire, Meyerland and West University Place. Though the 87th Legislature convened Jan. 12, bills can be filed until March 12, according to the Texas Legislature Online.

The regular legislative session ends May 31.

Here are some of the bills filed by local representatives.

Rep. Shawn Thierry, District 146

  • House Bill 146: This bill would continue Medicaid eligibility for pregnant women for a period of at least 12 months following the date a woman delivers or experiences an involuntary miscarriage.

  • HB 209: This bill would establish a franchise tax credit for entities that open a grocery store or healthy corner store in a food desert. A food desert is defined as an area that has limited access to healthy food retailers and is located in a low-income or high-poverty area.

  • HB 211: This bill would impose taxes on the sales of e-cigarette vapor products, with proceeds benefiting the state’s child health plan program. Taxes would equal $0.05 for each milliliter or fractional part of a milliliter of vapor product stored, used or otherwise consumed.

  • HB 219: This bill would abolish Confederate Heroes Day, which was established in 1973 and is observed on Jan. 19.

Rep. Garnet Coleman, District 147

  • HB 710: This bill would allow the speaker of the house or lieutenant governor to request that any proposed bill provide a detailed assessment of its effect on childhood racial disparities.

Rep. Gene Wu, District 137

  • HB 491: This bill would increase the statute of limitations for aggravated assault from two to three years.

  • HB 492: This bill would prohibit police officers from executing “no-knock entries” when issuing a warrant without first giving notice of the officer’s authority or purpose before entering as well as prohibiting judges from issuing warrants that allow no-knock entries.

  • HB 498: This bill would reduce the penalty for possession of 1 ounce or less of marijuana from a Class B misdemeanor down to a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500 with no jail time. Possession of more than 1 ounce of marijuana would still be considered a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail, a fine of as much as $2,000 or both.

  • HB 1194: Filed Jan. 19, this bill would require a school district or open-enrollment charter school to report data regarding restraints administered to, complaints filed against, citations issued to and arrests made of students.

Sen. Borris Miles, District 13

Miles filed several bills related to law enforcement and excessive force, a full list which can be found here. All are related, however, to the following bill:

  • Senate Bill 68: This bill would require a police officer to intervene and make a report when another officer uses excessive force against a person suspected of committing an offense if “an ordinary, prudent peace officer would intervene under the same or similar circumstances.”

  • SB 172: This bill would require the secretary of state to implement a program to allow a person who has a valid Texas driver’s license or personal identification card to complete a voter registration application over the internet from the official website of the state and the websites of the secretary of state, Texas Department of Public Safety and counties participating in the program.

  • SB 174: This bill would institute curriculum and instructional materials and training materials related to social injustice and civil rights concepts in public schools.

Sen. John Whitmire, District 15

  • SB 223: This bill would prohibit law enforcement departments from contracting with television crews to create reality shows while police officers are acting in the line of duty.

Sen. Joan Huffman, District 17

  • SB 313: Filed Jan. 11, this bill would exempt the sale, storage, use or other consumption of firearm safety equipment from sales and use tax. Firearm safety equipment is defined as a gun lock box, gun safe, a barrel lock, a trigger lock or other item to ensure the safe handling or storage of a firearm.

  • SB 316: Filed Jan. 11, this bill would set new requirements for human trafficking awareness and prevention in commercial lodging establishments, authorizing a civil penalty.

  • SB 321: Filed Jan. 12, this bill would raise the state’s annual contribution to the Employees Retirement System of Texas from 7.4% to 9.5% of the total contribution of all members of the retirement system for that year.

  • Senate Joint Resolution 22: Filed Jan. 12, this joint resolution would prohibit the use of state funds to pay for the obligations of a local public retirement system.

By Hunter Marrow
Hunter Marrow came to Community Impact Newspaper in January 2020. Before that, Hunter covered local news in Ontario, OR for three years, covering municipal issues, crime, and education across Malheur County and across the border into Idaho.