Gov. Greg Abbott on Sept. 12 released the Texas Safety Action Report, a document that details what Texas and Texans are doing to prevent mass shootings.
The report elaborates on executive orders Abbott issued a week earlier to coordinate state and local expertise and resources and “identify any shortcomings in our current systems and explore ways to prevent these horrific tragedies from taking place.”
Abbott said strategies laid out in the report result from meetings with law enforcement officials; community, business and faith leaders; technology experts; counselors; advocates; lawmakers and survivors of mass shootings.
“We must act with resolve in response to the despicable acts of violence we have witnessed in Texas,” said Abbott. “Solving the problems that have led to these horrific events will take more than governmental action. The complete solution will require more than what is outlined in this paper. It will require parents, families, churches, law enforcement, community groups, schools and others working together to fortify the social fabric of our society. Texans are at our best when we are tested. Together, we will transcend this test and forge an even better future for our state.”
Here are some of the actions recommended in the report:
—Refresh training for all licensed peace officers on the procedures and criteria for “emergency detention” of individuals who pose a danger to others or themselves;
—Educate physicians and behavioral health professionals about the law concerning disclosure of confidential information to law enforcement;
—Accelerate the development and implementation of the Texas Department of Public Safety safe firearm storage campaign, supported by a recent $1 million appropriation;
—Expedite the reporting of criminal convictions to the Texas Department of Public Safety;
—Prohibit straw purchases of firearms under state law;
—Enact laws that crack down on criminals who try to illegally buy or possess guns;
—Require courts to inform convicted criminals, both orally and in writing, that they may no longer possess firearms; and
—Encourage social media companies to report suspicious activity to law enforcement.
Select panels appointed
House Speaker Dennis Bonnen on Sept. 4 appointed 13 members of the Texas House of Representatives to serve on the newly formed House Select Committee on Mass Violence Prevention and Community Safety. The committee was formed in response to the mass shootings that occurred in El Paso on Aug. 3 and in Midland and Odessa on Aug. 29.
Bonnen said the panel will study and recommend legislative solutions and other measures to help prevent mass violence and improve community safety.The panel is to deliver a report to the speaker in early December.
Appointees include: Chair Drew Darby, R-San Angelo; Vice Chair Poncho Nevárez, D-Eagle Pass; César Blanco, D-El Paso; Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake; Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth; Barbara Gervin-Hawkins, D-San Antonio; Julie Johnson, D-Carrollton; Brooks Landgraf, R-Odessa; Mike Lang, R-Granbury; Joe Moody, D-El Paso; Geanie Morrison, R-Victoria; Four Price, R-Amarillo; and Armando Walle, D-Houston.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the Texas Senate, on Sept. 4 named the Senate Select Committee on Mass Violence Prevention and Community Safety.
Patrick tasked the senate panel with studying issues in response to the recent mass shootings and previous mass shootings in Santa Fe, Sutherland Springs and Dallas.
Leading the senate panel will be Chair Joan Huffman, R-Houston, and Vice Chair Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo. Other members include Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels; Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills; Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound; Charles Perry, R-Lubbock; Jose Rodriguez, D-El Paso; Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood; and John Whitmire, D-Houston.
Revenue is distributed
Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar on Sept. 11 announced he would send cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose taxing districts $801.5 million in local sales tax allocations for September.
The amount is 8.5 percent more than reported for the month of September 2018.
Allocations are based on sales made in July by businesses that report tax monthly.
AGs target tech giant
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Sept. 9 announced he is leading a coalition of 50 attorneys general in a multistate, bipartisan investigation of California-based technology company Google LLC’s business practices in accordance with state and federal antitrust laws.
According to a news release posted by Paxton’s office, the coalition plans to investigate Google’s “overarching control of online advertising markets and search traffic that may have led to anticompetitive behavior that harms consumers.”
Paxton said legal experts from each state would work in cooperation with federal authorities to assess competitive conditions for online services and ensure that Americans have access to free digital markets.
By Ed Sterling • Member Services Director, Texas Press Association