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Senate Committee on State Affairs - 86th R.S. (2019)

Committee Members
Joan Huffman, Chair
Bryan Hughes, Chair
Bryan Hughes, Vice Chair
Brian Birdwell
Brandon Creighton
Pat Fallon
Bob Hall
Joan Huffman
Eddie Lucio
Jane Nelson
Judith Zaffirini
Charges
• Human Trafficking: Examine opportunities and make recommendations to reduce the profitability of and demand for human trafficking in Texas. Determine ways to increase public awareness on the proliferation of human trafficking, as well as resources for victims and survivors. Review the interaction between local, state, and federal agencies in responding to and prosecuting human trafficking and sex trafficking offenses in Texas' five most populous counties. Make recommendations to ensure law enforcement agencies and prosecutors have the tools necessary to promptly and thoroughly respond to these crimes.
• Elections: Study the integrity and security of voter registration rolls, voting machines, and voter qualification procedures to reduce election fraud in Texas. Specifically, study and make recommendations to: 1) ensure counties are accurately verifying voter eligibility after voter registration; 2) improve training requirements for mail-in ballot signature verification committees; 3) ensure every voter has access to a polling station, particularly in counties that have adopted countywide polling; 4) allow the voter registrar, county clerk, and Secretary of State to suspend an unqualified voter's registration or remove an ineligible voter from a list of registered voters; and 5) ensure compliance with laws that prohibit school trustees and employees from improperly using public funds to advocate for or against any candidate, measure, or political party.
• Conscience Protections for Professionals: Assess current legal protections in Texas law for professionals and students studying to pursue a professional license that have an conscience-based objection that could interfere with a professional service. Evaluate any discrimination by state agencies against an applicant for or holder of an occupational license based on a sincerely held religious belief. Make recommendations to protect Texas professionals with conscience objections.
• Private Personal Data: Study how state agencies sell or otherwise distribute the personal data of Texas residents and recommend whether additional measures are needed to prevent the unwanted disclosure of personal information.
• Taxpayer Lobbying: Study how governmental entities use public funds for political lobbying purposes. Examine what types of governmental entities use public funds for lobbying purposes. Make recommendations to protect taxpayers from paying for lobbyists who may not represent the taxpayers’ interests.
• Second Amendment: Examine Second Amendment legislation passed since the 84th Legislative Session including open carry, campus carry, and lowering the license to carry fee. Determine the impact these laws have made on furthering and protecting Second Amendment rights. Make recommendations that may further protect and enhance Texans' Second Amendment right to bear arms.
• Personal Property Protections: Examine prosecution rates for thefts involving property valued under $1,000. Make recommendations to ensure law enforcement agencies and prosecutors have the tools necessary to thoroughly protect Texans' personal property from theft.
• Lobbying Loopholes: Review current lobby laws and examine exceptions that allow certain individuals to avoid registration as lobbyists. Consider whether the exceptions are fair, transparent, and promote the public's trust in their elected officials and governmental institutions. Propose whether these exceptions should be limited or removed so that all people engaging in lobbying must report their lobbying activities.
• Monitoring: Monitor the implementation of legislation addressed by the Senate Committee on State Affairs passed by the 86th Legislature, as well as relevant agencies and programs under the committee's jurisdiction. Specifically, make recommendations for any legislation needed to improve, enhance, or complete implementation of the following:

  • SB 22, 86th Legislature, Regular Session, relating to prohibiting certain transactions between a governmental entity and an abortion provider; and

  • SB 39, 86th Legislature, Regular Session, relating to the imposition of fines, fees, and court costs in criminal courts.

Note:
Senator Hughes appointed Chair effective 10/1/2019, to replace Senator Huffman, who was appointed to chair the Senate Select Committee on Mass Violence Prevention and Community Safety. Hughes served as Vice Chair from 1/18/2019-10/1/2019.
Press release, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, 9/4/2019.

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