Each session of the Texas Legislature has its own vibe, but I generally think it is broken up into thirds. The first third of session is composed of getting organized, adopting rules and conducting ceremonial activities. The middle third is a heavy focus on hearing bills in committee, taking witness testimony and some limited floor activity. The final third of session is where the heavy floor debate really happens. Right now we are nearing the end of the middle and approaching the beginning of the end. That may sound ominous, but we are on the cusp of the busiest and most exciting time of session. As of today there are just 42 days left until the final gavel falls.
Last week the Texas House passed a conservative budget by a vote of 129-18. The budget is balanced and contains no new taxes. The Senate previously passed their version of the budget, now the differences will be worked out by a yet to be appointed conference committee. By the end of session the budgets of the House and Senate will match and we will send the bill to Governor Abbott for his review and eventual approval.
What is Rep. Dale working on?
This session I filed 36 bills. You can find a full list of the bills I filed at the following link: Rep. Dale Bills
We are making progress moving our legislation. Here is where the bills stand so far:
36 – Bills filed
22 – Bills that received hearings in committee
11 – Bills voted out of committee
2 – Bills in Calendars awaiting floor action
1 – Bills passed the House
Exploitation of children online
According to the Office of the Texas Attorney General they receive reports every day from the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children about predators obtaining inappropriate pictures of victims and blackmailing these children. This new form of exploitation is called “sextortion”. Believe it or not, this blackmail and extortion is not illegal and thus very hard to prosecute. In response I filed HB 2974 to make this modern form of extortion via electronic means a state jail felony. Follow this link to read a recent story by the Hill Country News about this legislation. Rep. Tony Dale files sextortion bill: Hill Country News
Inappropriate Student/Teacher Relationships
Texas has a growing epidemic of educators preying on children by having inappropriate relationships. It seems like we read reports weekly of another teacher arrested for such an offense. Sadly Williamson County has not been immune to this problem. To combat this problem and prevent such incidents from being swept under the rug I filed HB 218. HB 218 is the most comprehensive house bill to address this serious problem. We recently had a hearing on the bill in the Public Education Committee. HB 218 is similar to SB 7 by Senator Paul Bettencort (R-Harris County). Soon we will debate SB 7 on the House floor and I am encouraged that my colleagues in the House will support strong policies to punish the perpetrators of these crimes.
Here is a link to a recent Austin American-Statesman article about this legislation: Austin American-Statesman Article
Visitors at the Capitol
We are blessed to have the Capitol so close to southwestern Williamson County. As a result we see lots of friends and constituents on an almost daily basis. Recently I’ve had the chance to meet with the following local residents and leaders:
Cedar Park Councilman Jon Lux
Cedar Park Councilman Lyle Grimes
PEC Board President Emily Pataki
PEC Board candidate Eric Stratton
Holy Family Catholic School 2nd grade class
Round Rock ISD PTA members
Cedar Park Mayor Matt Powell
Texas Retired Teachers of Williamson County
Williamson County Board of Realtors
Republican Precinct Chair Nicole Williams
Cedar Park Councilman Stephen Thomas
State Republican Executive Committeeman Mike McCloskey
Sheriff Robert Chody
Constable, Precinct 1, Vinnie Cherrone
Cedar Park Chamber of Commerce Leadership Class of 2017
Jon Lamb, co-owner of Red Horn Coffee House & Brewing Company