Chis Turner Passes Tenant Protection Bill

Measure creates notification process between utilities, landlords, tenants, and municipalities in the event of an electric or gas utility disconnect

AUSTIN − Representative Chris Turner (HD 101, Arlington/Grand Prairie) announced today that the Texas House of Representatives has given final approval to HB 1772, which would establish an important process of notification between utility service providers, municipalities, landlords, and tenants in the event of an electric or gas utility disconnection. HB 1772 deals specifically with nonsubmetered master metered multifamily properties. These are “all bills paid” properties which do not have individual meters assigned to each unit. Bills for utilities such as gas and electricity are generally paid directly by the landlord, using funds built into the tenants’ rent.

“This consumer protection measure empowers tenants by ensuring they have advanced notice if gas or electric service is about to be disconnected through no fault of their own,” said Turner. “This type of situation has occurred all too often in Arlington and elsewhere: the landlord doesn’t pay the utility bill, tenants are left high and dry, and cities are faced with a potential public health crisis because they have citizens who are displaced or suffering from heat or cold exposure,” Turner continued.

“HB 1772 addresses this problem by giving both tenants and cities advanced warning so that both can plan accordingly,” Turner said. “I appreciate the City of Arlington’s leadership in crafting this measure, along with the other stakeholders who have helped in this process.”

HB 1772 received strong support from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, which sent out e-mails and encouraged members to contact legislators in support of the bill.

“This advanced notice of disconnection is critical,” said Mireya Zapata, Association Vice President of Activism with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. “Without prior notice, many people, including those living with MS and other chronic illnesses, may not be able to make alternate living arrangements before utilities are disconnected.”

HB 1772 was joint-authored by Reps. Rafael Anchia of Dallas and Sylvester Turner of Houston. Now that it has passed the House unanimously, it heads to the Senate where Senator Wendy Davis of Fort Worth has filed companion legislation.

 

Chris Turner Passes Bill Critical To Law Enforcement Efforts On Local Waterways

Turner’s bill will help local law enforcement officers better patrol Texas waterways

AUSTIN − State Representative Chris Turner (HD 101 – Grand Prairie) announced today that the Texas House of Representatives has passed HB 1222, a bill which allows citations issued on Texas waterways by municipal law enforcement officers to be heard in municipal court. Currently, these citations can only be brought before justice and county courts. State Senator Royce West has filed an identical bill in the Senate (SB 501).

“This bill was an issue brought to me by the City of Grand Prairie before the legislative session even started,” said Turner. “HB 1222 is a product of local and state governments working together on legislation that benefits everyone in this state. With warm weather quickly approaching, giving our law enforcement officers every possible resource to keep Texans safe on our lakes and rivers is critical.”

HB 1222 amends the Texas Water Safety Act by adding municipal courts as a venue where water safety violation cases can be heard. Despite the fact that violations and offenses committed under the Texas Water Safety Act can only be heard before a justice or county court, enforcement responsibility is still shared by Texas Parks and Wildlife Game Wardens and other state, county or municipal peace officers who are certified as a marine safety enforcement officer.

By adding municipal courts to the list of allowable venues, HB 1222 would create a system for policing waterways that more closely resembles traffic enforcement on roads and highways. This issue is important to Grand Prairie because the city’s police force serves as the primary law enforcement agency for Joe Pool Lake in areas within the city limits.

Currently, municipal police officers who patrol Joe Pool Lake must rely upon a separate paper ticket writing system in order to refer the violation to justice or county court. HB 1222 would make this process more efficient and ultimately, enhance public safety.

 

Public Safety

Chris believes we must do everything possible to keep our families and children safe from the threat of sexual predators.

As state representative, Chris tightened registration requirements to make sure sex offenders living in our neighborhoods can be tracked. Some offenders claim to be homeless in order to evade registration requirements, but Chris’s law requires them to register with their local law enforcement agency every two weeks.

Chris also authored and passed out of the House legislation requiring computer technicians to report the discovery of child pornography to law enforcement. Even though this measure had strong support from law enforcement, it died it the Senate. Chris is going to re-file this important piece of legislation.

Deeply moved by the tragic case of Abdallah Khader, a 2-year old Arlington boy who was critically injured by a drunk driver and is in a permanent vegetative state, Chris authored legislation that eventually became known as “Abdallah’s Law.”

The law increases penalties on repeat drunk drivers, like the man who critically injured Abdallah. The legislation ensures that previous convictions in other states will be taken into account when prosecuting drunk driving cases in Texas. Chris will continue to work on legislation that decreases the occurrence of alcohol-related accidents.

Abdallah case highlights battle for tougher DWI laws

by JIM DOUGLAS | WFAA-TV | April 23, 2010

ARLINGTON – A repeat drunk driver, John Patrick Barton had three prior convictions and now faces murder charges.

However, his is not the only face that has sparked outrage over the state’s drunk driving laws. Stewart Richardson had seven previous convictions before his alleged eighth left an Arlington child in a vegetative state. If convicted, Richardson’s sentence cannot exceed 20 years, no matter how many convictions.

Now, there is a push to change that.

State Rep. Chris Turner is leading the effort for tougher DWI laws, which would be called Abdallah’s Law, named after three-year-old Abdallah Khader.

While the law wouldn’t help Abdallah, it could help other victims and maybe get more drunks off the roads.

Steroids now help keep Abdallah alive in a permanent vegetative state. Abdallah can’t move, but his story has moved a lot of people. About 10,000 people have signed up on the Facebook page “Pray for Abdallah.” People are outraged by the long DWI history of Richardson, the driver who crushed the Khader family’s car, leaving Abdallah in his current state.

“A person with seven DWIs before, I thought it was obvious to put this man in jail for life,” said Loubna Elharazin, Abdallah’s mother.

Prior to the crash with the Khader family,  the DWIs were in other states. Unless Texas prosecutors convince an appeals court otherwise, the most Richardson faces if convicted is 20 years.

“I think the time is right for the legislature to act on this, and really, really get aggressive with drunk driving,” Turner said.

Turner, who met with Abdallah’s family, wants laws tightened to make sure all out-of-state DWIs carry their full weight in Texas courts. Turner also wants tougher penalties for intoxication assault when the results are catastrophic.

“Obviously, that type of catastrophic injury is far different than breaking a leg, breaking an arm, that sort of thing,” he said.

Change in DWI cases is something Abdallah’s mother hopes will save lives.

“No law that’s going to get passed will take this pain away,” she said. “It’s not going to change anything, but it will protect other people.”

Khader turns four next week. His family will throw him a party, but just like his third birthday, he’ll never know it.

Texas is the worst state for drunk driving deaths. In the state of Texas, there were 1,292 alcohol-related deaths in 2007. Twenty-one percent of were in North Texas, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Saturday, dozens of members of “Abdallah’s Army,” as they call themselves, will don their bright yellow T-shirts and take part in the annual Walk Like MADD, sponsored by MADD. Thousands are expected to take part in the walk, which begins at 8:30 a.m.

Chris Turner: Legislative Highlights (81st Legislature)

Giving Back to Texas  Veterans and Their Families

  • capitol1Because of his work on issues affecting veterans and their families, Turner was named the bi-partisan Legislative Veteran’s Caucus “Freshman of the Year.”
  • Given the “Leadership Award” by the Texas Veterans Commission.
  • Turner authored H.B. 1299 which will create one scratch off lottery ticket to provide an estimated $8 million annually for critical and emergency aid to Texas veterans through the Fund for Veterans Assistance. The bill passed the House and was ultimately amended to a Texas Veterans Commission bill.
  • Turner authored H.B. 1636 which ensures that all state employees who are called to active military duty are able to continue to accrue their vacation and sick time and do not lose these benefits because they were deployed. The bill was the House companion to Senator John Carona’s S.B. 833, which Turner sponsored.
  • Turner authored and passed H.B. 3951 requires state colleges and universities ensure a professional in their financial aid office is familiar with and trained on the major educational benefits available to veterans.
  • Turner authored H.B. 3952 extending the Hazelwood Act to the spouses of Texas military members who are killed in the line of duty or left completely disabled. Turner amended the measure to S.B. 93.
  • Turner added an amendment to H.B. 1935 which establishes the Jobs and Education for Texans Grant Program. The amendment will ensure that those organizations that have programs benefiting veterans will be given priority in the grants awarding process.

Fighting for Consumers and Small Business

  • For his efforts on behalf of consumers, Turner was named “Freshman of the Year” by the non-partisan pro-consumer organization, Texas Watch.
  • Turner authored H.B. 995 which passed the House Committee on State Affairs unanimously (15-0) and was later amended onto another House Bill. The legislation will require retail electric providers to give their customers at least 30 days written notice that their fixed price electric contract is expiring.
  • For his efforts on behalf of consumers, Turner was named “Freshman of the Year” by the non-partisan pro-consumer organization, Texas Watch.
  • Turner filed several pieces of legislation protecting homeowners from unfair practices by the insurance industry.

Improving Our Public Schools & Helping Texas Universities  Excel

  • Turner co-authored H.B. 3646, which will provide an additional $1.9 billion in school funding and increase the equity among school districts.
  • Turner co-authored H.B. 51, the “Tier One” bill, which opens the door for “emerging research universities,” such as the University of Texas at Arlington, to become a “Top Tier” research university.

Shielding Our Families from Sexual Predators

  • Turner authored H.B. 2396 will require sex offenders who claim to be homeless to register with their local law enforcement agency every 2 weeks. The bill was combined with an identical piece of legislation during the committee process and was signed into law by Governor Perry.
  • Turner authored and passed out of the House legislation requiring computer technicians to report the discovery of child pornography to law enforcement.  This measure had strong support from law enforcement, but unfortunately the bill died in the Senate.

Supporting Texas Businesses and Cutting Taxes

  • H.B. 1637 made improvements to the shared work unemployment compensation program, making it possible for many of our large manufacturers and other employers who operate on swing shifts to take advantage of this state program. Turner passed this bill on the first day the House considered legislation.
  • Turner co-authored H.B. 4765 which will exempt small businesses with less than $1 million of revenue from paying Texas franchise taxes.
  • Turner co-authored H.B. 831 which would exempt Chambers of Commerce from paying ad valorem taxes on property they owned and used for their primary functions.

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