The Speaker of the Texas House has released interim charges which are committee research assignments to be completed prior to the next legislative session. The primary election is over and legislative committees have begun meeting. One of the interim charges assigned to The House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety which I vice-chair is to assess the level of preparedness among critical infrastructure entities. This is the most important charge assigned to the committee.
We have seen the federal government seek more cooperation between the various federal agencies in regards to homeland security and the state of Texas is looking to further the relationships between the state entities, and local emergency response teams. Many of these critical infrastructures are secured by private security officers. As the state reviews the preparedness levels, we must take into account not just the law enforcement officers but also those private security officers who are already on the scene.
Last year, the West Fertilizer Company plant explosion occurred in West, Texas, killing 15 and wounding more than 200 others. There was also the bombing at
the Boston Marathon. Also, a little over a year ago, snipers attacked a power station in San Jose, Calif. It wasn’t until almost a year later that the public began finding out about the attack; was it terrorism, was it an elaborate and well planned out act of vandalism, or was it a test run for something larger?
Texas needs to make sure that the security officers, first responders, and the government’s response can handle any type of situation, from a refinery explosion,
to a fertilizer plant explosion to acts of terrorism in the quickest and most efficient way possible. Another priority of mine is my membership on the joint interim committee studying human trafficking.
Smuggling and trafficking are separate crimes; smuggling is a crime against a country’s borders, whereas human trafficking is a crime against a person. Human trafficking is modern-day slavery and although it has the word ‘trafficking’ does not always mean the person is being transported. According to the Department of Justice, more than 80% of suspected human tracking instances were classified as sex trafficking; a majority of the remainder was labor trafficking.
As a coauthor of legislation passed in 2011 creating the committee to study human trafficking and as a joint author in 2013 renewing the committee, I am pleased to have been reassigned to this committee. Being a border state, Texas has been a focal point of this heinous crime. The committee is charged with
studying ways to combat human trafficking and identifying services available for the victims in Texas including best practices for public-private partnerships
providing services to those affected. The committee, prior to the start of the next legislative session will draft a report and offer recommendations to the
The sex trafficking of children is reason enough for the Texas Legislature and the Texas Department of Public Safety to spare no expense of manpower or
monies to protect our innocent children from these predators. I have made the passing of legislation to give our Texas peace officers the enforcement tools
they need a priority.