As I write this column, our national leaders are considering different proposals to secure the border and address our broken immigration system. While it remains to be seen what results, if any, will materialize, it seems timely to remind everyone that the Texas Legislature has appropriated over $1.6 billion over the last two sessions to help provide the critical resources needed to maintain our security at the border. It is my hope that our elected officials in Washington, D.C. will rise to the occasion and do their part to craft an effective and sustainable solution.
In that regard, I thought it would be an appropriate time to explore a committee at the state level that most intimately deals with issues relating to this topic — The House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety.
House Interim Charge: Homeland Security and Public Safety
The House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety is comprised of nine members and has jurisdiction over a wide array of policy areas ranging from law enforcement to disaster response. The committee also has purview over nine state agencies such as the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Division of Emergency Management, to name a few.
As I’m sure you can imagine, the Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety will spend a lot of time this interim evaluating our response to Hurricane Harvey from an emergency preparedness perspective. Included in this evaluation will be the coordination between municipalities, counties, and state agencies. With hurricane season upon us, the seamless cooperation between state and local governments will be a critical component to the mitigation of damage in affected areas.
The committee has also been tasked with examining the DPS operations near Texas-Mexico border on organized crime. More specifically, the committee will review human trafficking convictions, collaborations with federal authorities and prosecutors, and other relevant crime statistics. Given the state’s significant investment in border security over the last several sessions, ensuring the efficient use of your taxpayer dollars is a very important part of this committee’s interim work.
The committee has also been charged with evaluating opportunities for the Department of Public Safety to expedite the driver license renewal process. I was very pleased to see this charge assigned to the committee, as the reduction of state operations in my district has resulted in quite a burden for folks seeking to obtain or renew necessary documents.
The mobile office has one last stop in the month of June and looks forward to seeing you in San Augustine on June 27th at the San Augustine County Courthouse from 9:00-11:00am. Please be advised that during the month of July, the mobile office will suspend the regular Wednesday schedule. For any questions you may have, or issues you need help resolving, please reach out to our District Director, Linda Parker. Our district office may be reached at (936) 634-2762 Monday-Friday from 8:00am-5:00pm. We will make every effort to facilitate meetings and respond to your needs.