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.