In the wake of recent shootings in El Paso, Midland, and Odessa, Texas political leaders announced a set of executive orders meant to reduce the risk of further violence and the formation of two bipartisan legislative committees to study and recommend potential new policy solutions. Outside Austin, twenty-six candidates in total have filed to run in the three special elections set to be held on November 5th.
Governor Abbott Announces Eight Executive Orders. On Thursday, Governor Greg Abbott announced a package of eight executive orders meant to strengthen reporting channels and prevent further violence. “Texas must achieve several objectives to better protect our communities and our residents from mass shootings” said Governor Abbott. “One of those objectives is to marshal law enforcement resources to stop violent criminals before they commit mass murders. But more must be done. I will continue to work expeditiously with the legislature on laws to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals, while safeguarding the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding Texans.”
Governor Abbott issued the following orders:
- Order No. 1: Within thirty days of this order, the Texas Department of Public Safety shall develop standardized intake questions that can be used by all Texas law-enforcement agencies to better identify whether a person calling the agency has information that should be reported to the Texas Suspicious Activity Reporting Network.
- Order No. 2: Within thirty days of this order, the Department of Public Safety shall develop clear guidance, based on the appropriate legal standard, for when and how Texas law-enforcement agencies should submit Suspicious Activity Reports.
- Order No. 3: Within sixty days of this order, the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement shall make training available to educate all law- enforcement officers regarding the standards that will be developed pursuant to Order No. 1 and Order No. 2.
- Order No. 4: The Department of Public Safety shall create and conduct an initiative to raise public awareness and understanding of how Suspicious Activity Reports are used by law-enforcement agencies to identify potential mass shooters or terroristic threats, so that the general public and friends, family members, coworkers, neighbors, and classmates will be more likely to report information about potential gunmen.
- Order No. 5: The Department of Public Safety shall work with the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board on ways to better inform schools, students, staff, and families about the importance of Suspicious Activity Reports and how to initiate that process.
- Order No. 6: The Department of Public Safety shall work with local law enforcement, mental-health professionals, school districts, and others to create multidisciplinary threat assessment teams for each of its regions, and when appropriate shall coordinate with federal partners.
- Order No. 7: The Department of Public Safety, as well as the Office of the Governor, shall use all available resources to increase staff at all fusion centers in Texas for the purpose of better collecting and responding to Suspicious Activity Reports, and better monitoring and analyzing social media and other online forums, for potential threats.
- Order No. 8: Beginning January 1, 2020, all future grant awards from the Office of the Governor to counties shall require a commitment that the county will report at least 90 percent of convictions within seven business days to the Criminal Justice Information System at the Department of Public Safety. By January 1, 2021, such reporting must take place within five business days.
House and Senate Special Committees on Gun Violence. House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick on Tuesday announced the forming of two committees to study and recommend solutions to gun violence. In a joint statement, they said: “Each committee will be tasked with examining a comprehensive cross section of policy-related charges.” The House Select Committee on Mass Violence Prevention and Community Safety will be comprised of the following 13 members:
- Drew Darby (Chair) (R-San Angelo)
- Poncho Nevárez (Vice-Chair) (D-Eagle Pass)
- César Blanco (D-El Paso)
- Giovanni Capriglione (R-Southlake)
- Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth)
- Barbara Gervins-Hawkins (D-San Antonio)
- Julie Johnson (D-Carrolton)
- Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa)
- Mike Lang (R-Granbury)
- Joe Moody (D-El Paso)
- Geanie Morrison (R-Victoria)
- Four Price (R-Amarillo)
- Armando Walle (D-Houston)
Lt. Governor Patrick named the following members to the Senate Special Committee:
- Joan Huffman (Chair)
- Judith Zaffirini (Vice-Chair)
- 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)
- John Whitmire (D-Houston)
Candidates Set for Three Special Elections. Wednesday was the last day to file to stand as a candidate in the special elections set for November 5th for House Districts 28, 100, and 148. Early voting starts on October 21st.
In HD-28, one Democrat and six Republicans have filed to run for the seat soon to be vacated by Rep. John Zerwas (R-Richmond). Democrat Elizabeth Markowitz, a Katy schoolteacher and former candidate for the State Board of Education, will run in the general against one of the following Republican Candidates:
- Anna Allred, a Houston anesthesiologist from the same doctor group as Zerwas
- Gary Gates, a Rosenberg businessman who has unsuccessfully run for several other offices, most recently railroad commissioner in 2016
- Gary J. Hale, a Katy business owner who has his own intelligence firm and is a retired intelligence official with the Drug Enforcement Administration
- Tricia Krenek, a Katy attorney and former member of the Fulshear City Council
- Sarah Laningham, a Richmond woman who works in sales and unsuccessfully ran for House District 14 in 2018
- Clinton D. Purnell, a Katy man who works in logistics and customs compliance
In House District 100, five Democrats are running to replace former Rep. Eric Johnson (D-Dallas) who vacated the seat after winning the Dallas mayoral race.
- James Armstrong III (D)
- Lorraine Birabil (D)
- Daniel Davis Clayton (D)
- Sandra Crenshaw (D)
- Paul K. Stafford (D)
In House District 148, 11 Democrats, two Republicans, and one independent have filed to succeed Rep. Jessica Farrar (D-Houston):
- Rob Block (D)
- Kendra Yarbrough Camarena (D)
- Chris Carmona (I)
- Carol Denson (D)
- Anna Eastman (D)
- Adrian Garcia (D)
- Terah Isaacson (D)
- Michele Leal (D)
- Ryan McConnico (R)
- Mia Mundy (D)
- Luis La Rotta (R)
- Penny “Morales” Shaw (D)
- Alva Trevino (D)
- Chris Watt (D)
For more information on the Texas Legislature, visit https://capitol.texas.gov/