Tag Archives: State News

State Representative Ed Thompson Appointed to the House Select Committee on State Real Property Data Collection, Reporting and Assessment

PRESS RELEASE

ed-thompson_2_jpg_800x1000_q100Speaker of the House Joe Straus (R – San Antonio) announced committee assignments for a new House Select Committee, pursuant to House Bill 3750, appointing State Representative Ed Thompson to the House Select Committee on State Real Property Data Collection, Reporting and Assessment.

“Transparency is of the utmost importance when determining what works best for Texas. I am proud to serve on this committee to ensure that real property is properly identified, maintained, and replaced if necessary to remain a fiscally responsible state,” Thompson stated.

The House Select Committee on State Real Property Data Collection, Reporting and Assessment Committee Chairman is Rep. Ron Simmons (R – Carrollton). This committee will address concerns related to property that the state owns and what the property may be worth. The State Office of Risk Management will also conduct an interim study on insurable state assets, using information provided by the Legislative Budget Board (LBB). The LBB will collaborate with entities such as the Comptroller’s Office, the General Land Office, and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to ensure that information collected is accurate.

Thompson closed by adding, “I am looking forward to serving on this great committee during the interim, working with my colleagues to ensure that Texas remains the number one state in which to live and do business.”

TxDOT Launches TexasClearLanes.com to Keep Texans Informed on Efforts to Address Congestion

PRESS RELEASE

AUSTIN – The Texas Department of Transportation today unveiled TexasClearLanes.com as a tool to keep Texans informed of the agency’s efforts to address traffic congestion. The website comes at a time when the agency is most focused on improving travel times for drivers as the state’s population continues to boom.

“Today, as part of the long-term Unified Transportation Program (UTP), we approved $1.3 billion to deliver critical road projects in the major metropolitan areas with populations over 1 million where drivers are experiencing the most gridlock,” said Texas Transportation Commissioner J. Bruce Bugg, Jr., who was selected by the commission to lead the state’s congestion-reduction effort. “We are committed to bringing these projects online expeditiously to make travel for Texans more efficient.”

In addition to details about major road projects across the state, TexasClearLanes.com also will provide visitors with in-depth information on congestion across the state; advice on how they can get involved and do their part to reduce congestion; and examples of what Texas companies and state agencies are doing to improve mobility.

“Texas voters have told us that transportation is an essential priority and TexasClearLanes.com is a one-stop shop to share information on how TxDOT and local partners are further addressing congestion,” said Bob Kaufman, TxDOT director of Communications and Customer Service.

Two Letter License Plate Auction – Ends February 25, 2016

PRESS RELEASE

PlatesMy Plates has opened their latest online auction, making available 20 new official Texas license plate messages. All of the plate messages are truly unique and far different from the every-day general issue random license plate messages. The plate messages being auctioned all feature only two letters.

With only two letters, all are easy to remember! There is a great selection on offer like repeating letter messages including JJ & QQ, plus abbreviations like FB for Facebook or TV for television.

Other notable messages include: ET, AV, BE, DQ, HY, I.E, LV, NA, SP & UC.

The winning bidders will own each plate for 5 years, with first dibs on renewing it at the state’s everyday pricing. That means once the message is won at auction, it could be gone forever!

Auction Details:

My Plates 2-LETTER Plate Auction dates:

  • Begin Bid Date: Monday, 02-15-16 at 8:00 am
  • End Bid Date: Thursday, 02-25-16 at 8:00 pm

Unlike other Texas license plates, plates sold by My Plates at auction are legally transferable. The plate owner then has the right to sell the plate message to another person with the same ongoing rights or gift it to a family member or friend. Transferability also means these plates could make great investments. A participant who won three of the plates in Round One of the Two-Letter Auction held in January, including one message for which he paid $3100 for, stated “The Two-Letter plates do present an intriguing investment. I plan to hold on to the plates, and at a later time re-sell for a profit”.

As to what these plates will go for, Texans should register at www.myplates.com/auction to find out. In a 2015 auction, the two-character plate message F1 went for $4,300, whereas SA sold for only $750.

AlamoMy Plates is also releasing for auction the one, and only, plate message ALAMO. The auction for ALAMO will open February 23, 2016 at 8am and close on March 6th at 8pm. Proceeds from the auction sale will benefit both the Alamo Endowment Fund and the state General Revenue Fund, therefore benefitting this cherished shrine of Texas liberty, and all the citizens of the State of Texas.

To find out more information about the plate auctions, simply visit My Plates home page or visit www.myplates.com/auction.

Texas Secretary of State provides voter resources

PRESS RELEASE

logo_votetexasVoting season in Texas starts Tuesday (Feb. 16), and Texas Secretary of State Carlos Cascos wants registered voters to be prepared as they head to the polls.

All registered voters are eligible to vote early. Early voting ends Feb. 26.

This year, Texas could play an important role in nominating presidential candidates on March 1 as a Super Tuesday state. A record 14.2 million voters are registered in Texas.

The Texas Secretary of State’s office provides several resources for voters.

VoteTexas.gov contains all voting information, such as when, where and how to vote, and what rights voters have. It also has information on the seven forms of approved photo ID voters must bring to the polls with them.

Vote Texas’ Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/txsecretary), Twitter (@VoteTexas) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/votetexas/) accounts will be frequently updated. Additionally, Texans are encouraged to Tweet any questions they have to @VoteTexas, and they will receive a quick response.

1-800-252-VOTE puts Texans in touch with voting experts in the Office of the Texas Secretary of State to answer any questions they have.

There’s no excuse NOT to vote this season!

Texas Attorney General, Harris County and City of Houston crack down on synthetic marijuana

PRESS RELEASE

Synthetic marijuana is a designer drug, often manufactured overseas, that is marketed as a “safe” and “legal” alternative to marijuana. Synthetic marijuana is not marijuana at all, but a dried, leafy substance that is sprayed with powerful, added-in hallucinogenic chemicals that are dangerous and highly addictive to the user.  The added chemicals are intended to mimic the biological effects of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive ingredient, in marijuana. The street name varies, but this class of synthetic drugs is known as Kush or K2.

Synthetic cannabinoids have been linked to severe paranoia, psychotic episodes, violent delusions, kidney damage, suicidal thoughts, and self-mutilation. According to the DEA, it is the second-most abused substance by high school seniors, and overdoses of the drug are increasing in Texas.

The Texas Attorney General’s Office, Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan and the City of Houston obtained a temporary restraining order (TRO), issued by Judge Jaclanel McFarland, stopping Brothers Market and Meat Mart, and Fantasy Smoking and Accessories, two Houston businesses and their owners, from selling the highly addictive and dangerous synthetic drugs on Friday (Jan. 29). The lawsuit was also filed as part of the joint operation with the Harris County Attorney’s Office, the City of Houston, the Houston Police Department (HPD) and the Houston Forensic Science Center. Several undercover investigations by the HPD Narcotics Division uncovered and ultimately led to the seizure of dangerous synthetic drugs at both places of business.

“Today’s joint operation shows the commitment of state, county and city authorities to form a united front to fight this growing threat to our youth,” said Attorney General Ken Paxton. “The illegal marketing and sale of powerful and deadly drugs, to children and adults alike, must be put to a stop. My office will continue working with local authorities across Texas to clearly send the message that businesses who choose to sell these substances will pay the price.”

“Kush may sound like an innocuous substance but it is extremely dangerous,” said County Attorney Ryan. “Ingesting these substances can cause paranoia, psychotic episodes, hallucinations and suicidal thoughts. People who have ingested Kush have suffered paralysis, brain damage, heart attacks and even death.”

Houston Police officers found packages of K2 at the stores during several inspections and undercover operations. Under Texas law, it is a crime to deliver or possess a synthetic cannabinoid. The synthetic cannabinoid found by HPD at the stores is a Schedule I controlled substance (the most dangerous).

The stores are also being sued under the Deceptive Trade Practices Act, alleging that the defendants have engaged in false, deceptive and misleading acts and practices in the course of trade and commerce since they are clearly misleading consumers that these products are safe and legal. The stores are also being sued as common nuisances under Texas law.

“I applaud the work of the government agencies and law enforcement to stop the sale of this product,” said County Attorney Ryan, “especially because unscrupulous people are marketing Kush to our children with colorful packaging covered with cartoon characters. This is unconscionable and must be stopped.”

The court has scheduled another hearing on these cases for February 12 at 9:00 a.m. The two lawsuits, filed separately in Harris County district court by the Texas Attorney General’s Office, the Harris County Attorney’s Office, and the City of Houston, name the following defendants: Fantasy Smoking and Accessories a/k/a Sheer Fantasy, Inc., located at 1340 Westheimer, Houston, Texas, and its owners Glen Cohen, and Judy Cohen; and Brothers Market and Meat Mart, located at 3134 E. Crosstimbers Street, and its owners Ali Jaber Faiz, Omar Jaber, Sawsan Mahmoud Jaber, Mohamed Jaber, Nemeh Jaber and Louis Poutous.

At the Fantasy Smoking and Accessories location, HPD officers seized 77 pounds of synthetic drugs along with other controlled substances. Officers later determined the drugs were being ordered by the storeowner, Glen Cohen, and were delivered in a trash bag and packaged individually by store employees. The Houston Forensic Science Center identified the substance as the synthetic cannabinoid XLR11.

At the Brothers Market and Meat Mart store, according to investigators, synthetic drugs were sold in packages deceivingly labeled as “potpourri” or “strawberry.” HPD officers seized forty packages, labeled with a list of misleading ingredients. Lab results confirmed the products contained AB-CHMINACA and XLR11, both highly addictive and highly dangerous, and listed as Schedule 1 controlled substances by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and Texas Department of State Health Services.

The lawsuits allege violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, as well as common nuisance statutes under Texas law. The state, county, and city intend to seek a permanent injunction and civil penalties against both businesses.

To view the filings against defendants, please visit: https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/files/epress/Fantasy_Smoke_-_File_Stamped_Copy.pdf and https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/files/epress/Brothers_File_Stamped_Copy.pdf.

To view the temporary restraining orders, please visit: https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/files/epress/brothers_meat_market_tro2016-01-29-125306.pdf and https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/files/epress/fantasy_tro2016-01-29-125946.pdf.

 

What Citizens Need to Know about Open Carry

By Cpl. Bryan Proctor, Cleburne Police Department, Cleburne, Texas

The Texas Concealed Handgun Law passed in 1996. As of December 31, 2014 there were 825,957 active license holders in Texas.

Prior to January 1, 2016, all license holders were Concealed Handgun License Holders (CHL), meaning handguns must be carried in a concealed manner. After December 31, 2015 the Concealed Handgun License is changing to the License to Carry (LTC), meaning license holders may carry concealed or unconcealed (Open Carry). If a licensee is openly carrying a handgun, the handgun MUST be secured in a belt or shoulder holster.

Effective January 1, 2016, the Texas Penal Code, Chapter 46 will be amended. HB 910, passed by the 84th Texas Legislature, will allow persons licensed to carry a handgun, under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Texas Government Code, to openly carry a handgun in the same places that allow the licensed carrying of a concealed handgun with some exceptions, provided the handgun is carried in a shoulder or belt holster. That means that Texas license holders can carry openly or concealed in any place not expressly prohibited by law. License holders may be subject to criminal charges for carrying a handgun in plain view unless carried in a shoulder or belt holster.

Examples of belt and shoulder holsters

Generally, What Places Can a License Holder NOT Carry a Handgun?

  • The physical premises of a school or educational institution, any grounds or building on which an activity sponsored by a school or educational institution is being conducted. Includes school bus, or school passenger transportation.
  • The premises of a government court or court offices utilized by the court.
  • A secured area of an airport
  • Open Carry Only – Anywhere there is a 30.07 sign posted
  • Concealed Carry Only – Anywhere there is a 30.06 sign posted
3006

30.06 Sign

A 30.06 sign prohibits concealed carry by a license holder onto the premises of an establishment posting the sign. The sign must meet the following standards:

 

  • 1-inch block lettering
  • Alternate, contrasting colors
  • Exact wording specified in code
  • English and Spanish
  • Posted prominently at every entrance of the premises
3007

30.07 Sign

A 30.07 sign prohibits unconcealed carry by a license holder onto the premises of an establishment posting the sign. The sign must meet the same standards as a 30.06 sign.

 

In a nutshell: Those persons that are licensed to carry a concealed handgun, may carry that handgun openly in a belt or shoulder holster starting January 1, 2016.

Can law enforcement stop and request license? Yes

  • Currently there is case law on both sides of the issue and the legislature chose not to address it. Future case law will address any issues arising from law enforcement.

Do I call 911 if I see someone with a handgun? It depends…

  • Does the person have it unholstered?
  • Is the person intoxicated?
  • Can you articulate the person is acting in a threatening manner?
  • Is the person violating the law in some way?
  • If in doubt, call 911 and give details. Police will respond if necessary.

For more information, visit http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/rsd/chl/legal/n

***

Thank you to Cpl. Proctor for sharing this information. He is the Problem Solving Team Supervisor and head of the Sex Offender Compliance Unit in Cleburne, TX. He is also a firearms training instructor in North Texas.

Open Carry law goes into effect January 1

 

CHLChanges

CHL and LTC license examples (TX DPS)

House Bill 910, which goes into effect on January 1, changes some laws in Texas relating to openly carrying a holstered handgun.  

The Bill, “Authorizes individuals to obtain a license to openly carry a handgun in the same places that allow the licensed carrying of a concealed handgun with some exceptions, “according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Any person openly carrying a handgun must hold a valid Concealed Handgun License (CHL). No additional license, training or fee will be required to open carry; however, training for new CHL applicants will be updated to reflect the new training requirements related to the use of restraint holsters and methods to ensure the secure carrying of openly carried handguns. The new curriculum will be required for all classes beginning January 1. Some forms and training materials will be updated to reference License to Carry (LTC) instead of Concealed Handgun License (CHL).

The exceptions referenced in the Bill reference certain locations. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, “Open carry is not permitted by a license holder regardless of whether the handgun is holstered: On the premises of an institution of higher education or private or independent institution of higher education; on any public or private driveway, street, sidewalk or walkway, parking lot, parking garage or other parking area of an institution of higher education or private or independent institution of higher education; or by an individual who is acting as a personal protection officer under Chapter 1702, Occupations Code  and is not wearing a uniform.”

To read House Bill 910 or to learn more about it, visit http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/rsd/chl/legal/newlegislation.htm.

ED THOMPSON FILES FOR THIRD TERM TO REPRESENT DISTRICT 29

On Nov. 14, State Representative Ed Thompson filed as a candidate for re-election to the House of Representatives for Texas House District 29 in Brazoria County.  Thompson was elected in 2012 and is now in his second term representing the area that that includes the cities of Pearland, Alvin, Hillcrest, Manvel, Rosharon, Iowa Colony, Brookside Village, and Liverpool in Northeast Brazoria County.

One of the most conservative leaders in the Texas House, he has received several awards for his voting record, including the following awards in 2015 alone: Effective Conservative Lawmaker by the Conservative Roundtable of Texas, Fighter for Free Enterprise by the Texas Association of Business, 100% Rating by Texas Right to Life, and Courageous Conservative by the Texas Conservative Coalition.

Ever since Thompson’s first term, his priorities have remained the same: to keep taxes low, return funds to Texas education, and solve long-term water and transportation needs faced by the State of Texas. Thompson has presented a number of crucial pieces of legislation on issues including libraries, recycling, veterans’ affairs, school finance, election laws, and public safety. He has been a member of the House Environmental Regulation Committee since 2013 and is currently the Vice Chairman of the House Land and Resource Management Committee.

“It is my sincere hope that the voters of District 29 send me back to Austin for a third term so I can build on the important work of helping the schools, businesses, industries, and families who make up the District 29 community,” said Thompson. “It has truly been an honor to serve the people of District 29 over the past two terms.”

Ed Thompson is an insurance agent in Pearland and has been a small businessman there since 1982. He is very active in the community, serving as Mayor Pro-Tem of Pearland, President of the Pearland Economic Development Corporation, Chairman of the Pearland Chamber of Commerce, and on the Board of Trustees for Pearland ISD. A graduate of the University of Houston, Ed and his wife Freddie are members of Sagemont Church.

TxDoT Asking Texans to #EndTheStreak

proxyThe Texas Department of Transportation (TXDot) has released a new campaign hashtag (# on Twitter) to raise awareness of critical information about our roadways in the state of Texas.

November 7, 2015 marked the grim milestone that Texas has gone 15 years straight with daily deaths on the roadways. You read that correctly, at least one person has died every single day since November 7, 2000.

TxDot seeks to raise awareness to end this tragic trend by creating the #EndTheStreakTX campaign. Through the campaign, TxDot wants to not only raise awareness but also educate drivers on the importance of staying alert and paying attention. Through the campaign, anyone who utilizes social media can change their profile pictures to the black image available for download at the links listed on the TxDot website at http://www.txdot.gov/.

Drivers should follow these few safety tips while behind the wheel:

  • Click It or Ticket: Buckling up is one of the best bets to prevent serious injury or death in the event of an accident.
  • Never Drink and Drive: Drunk driving kills. Please get a sober ride home with a friend, family member, Uber, taxi, or even catch a pedicab. Either way, TxDot asks that you designate a driver before taking a sip.
  • Pay Attention: Please put your phones away and avoid any other distractions. If needed, silence your phone to ensure that a text message ding doesn’t make you want to pick it up.
  • Drive the Speed Limit: Follow the posted speed limits and adjust your speed when weather or conditions warrant a slower speed.

Ultimately, the key to driving safely is the drivers themselves. YOU can help #EndTheStreakTX.

Rep. Thompson Addresses Interim Charges for the House Committees on Environmental Regulation and Land & Resource Management

PRESS RELEASE

AUSTIN, Texas — Representative Ed Thompson is eager to begin working on the interim charges that House Speaker Joe Straus released earlier today. “It has been an honor to serve as Vice Chairman for the Land and Resource Management Committee this past session and on the Environmental Regulation Committee for the past two sessions,” Thompson said. “I enjoyed working with my colleagues on these committees, and am eager to address our interim charges prior to the next Legislative Session in 2017.”

Speaker Straus released the following charges for the House Environmental Regulation Committee:

  1. Review the varied regulatory schemes for household hazardous waste disposal and recommend if more uniform guidelines could improve legal disposal habits. Determine any opportunities or incentives for consumers and retailers that would promote proper hazardous waste disposal in a cost-effective manner.
  2. Review the compliance practices of surface water management entities with state rules regarding the aesthetic condition of waterways and the prevention or removal of human-made floating trash and debris. Provide recommendations on how state and local authorities could coordinate to better achieve these goals.
  3. Monitor initiatives at the local level to regulate environmental issues. Consider if legislative changes are needed to resolve ambiguous regulations regarding the priority of state or local authority.
  4. Study the effectiveness of current state programs to address scrap tire management and disposal methods, including the incidence of scrap tires and rubber debris on roadways and in watercourses. Include analysis of disposal fee collection and management as well as local funding allocations. Provide incentive or enforcement recommendations for ongoing clean-up efforts, abatement of identified tire dump sites, and means of ensuring accurate record keeping and reporting.
  5. Conduct legislative oversight and monitoring of the agencies and programs under the committee’s jurisdiction and the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 84th Legislature. In conducting this oversight, the committee should:
    1. consider any reforms to state agencies to make them more responsive to Texas taxpayers and citizens;
    2. identify issues regarding the agency or its governance that may be appropriate to investigate, improve, remedy, or eliminate;
    3. determine whether an agency is operating in a transparent and efficient manner;
    4. identify opportunities to streamline programs and services while maintaining the mission of the agency and its programs; and
    5. monitor implementation of major environmental regulation legislation passed by the 84th Legislature, including recent reforms that provide for streamlined environmental permitting.

Additionally, Speaker Straus released the following charges for the House Land and Resource Management Committee:

  1. Study state preparedness and response to natural disasters including but not limited to: an evaluation of risks to the state, emergency planning efforts, first response efforts, coordination between the General Land Office, the State Emergency Operation Center, and other state, local, and federal resources. Make appropriate recommendations to ensure Texas has the proper programs, resources, and personnel in place to respond to natural disasters.
  2. Examine the rate of erosion along Texas’s coast and the effects of coastal erosion on public beaches, natural resources, coastal development, public infrastructure, and public and private property. Analyze current programs related to coastal erosion and examine their effectiveness. Make appropriate recommendations.
  3. Study the effectiveness of the implementation of SB 695 (84R) and examine the feasibility and desirability of creating and maintaining a coastal barrier system.
  4. Examine current regulatory authority available to municipalities in their extraterritorial jurisdiction. Study current annexation policies in Texas. Make necessary legislative recommendations to ensure a proper balance between development, municipal regulations, and the needs of citizens in Texas.
  5. Conduct legislative oversight and monitoring of the agencies and programs under the committee’s jurisdiction and the implementing of relevant legislation passed by the 84th Legislature, and specifically:
    1. consider any reforms to state agencies to make them more responsive to Texas taxpayers and citizens;
    2. identify issues regarding the agency or its governance that may be appropriate to investigate, improve, remedy, or eliminate;
    3. determine whether an agency is operating in a transparent and efficient manner; and
    4. identify opportunities to streamline programs and services while maintaining the mission of the agency and its programs.

“These interim charges are critical to District 29 and to the entire state,” Thompson stated. “I look forward to continuing the important work we accomplished last session, investigating each of these charges with my colleagues, and working with constituents and stakeholders to recommend any necessary legislative changes for the 84th Legislature that meets in 2017.”