First bills

Last week, I filed my first pieces of legislation ahead of the 86th Legislative Session. These measures will address several critical areas, including predatory lending, child safety, campus sexual assault, ethics reform, and consumer tax savings. Here’s a quick snapshot of the first five bills I have filed:

Phone HB 447 would prohibit payday and auto-title lenders from making unsolicited calls to Texans on the state’s “Do Not Call” list. Current law has a loophole that allows predatory lenders to be exempt from the list’s requirements and, as a result, they have carte blanche to call Texans to push their harmful predatory loan products. As you may know, this is a largely unregulated industry in Texas, resulting in the highest interest rates and fees in the nation and many of our neighbors becoming trapped in a cycle of debt.
Baby Currently, 12 states, including Oklahoma, Nebraska and South Carolina, have updated their child restraint laws to require children under age two remain in a rear-facing car seat while riding in a vehicle. The measure I filed, HB 448, is based on American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) recommendations and will better protect our youngest Texans when riding in a vehicle and may well save lives and prevent serious injuries.
Notation HB 449 would help ensure that students who are facing expulsion or suspension due to a code of conduct violation, including sexual assault, may not withdraw and transfer to a different institution of Higher Education during the adjudication process without the new institution being made aware of a possible violation. By adding a notation on a student’s transcript, a university where a student applies will have all the pertinent information.
Magnifying glass HB 450 would provide additional transparency by requiring elected officials’ personal financial statements (PFS) be posted online for members of the public to easily access. Currently, in order to obtain this information, a member of the public must contact the Texas Ethics Commissions and submit a written request. This measure would make the information — which includes a candidate or elected official’s sources of income — publicly available via the internet.
Light bulb HB 451 would add LED light bulbs to the list of tax-free items during the ENERGY STAR® Sales Tax Holiday. Although ENERGY STAR® LED light bulbs use 70 to 90 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs, they are not currently included on the list of tax-free items.
These bills are just the start.  We are working on several additional bills that we will be filing in the weeks ahead. As we approach the 86th Legislature and throughout our 140-day session, I will continue to keep you updated.In the meantime, let me know what you’d like to see addressed. Email me at chris.turner@house.texas.gov.

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