In anticipation of the 88th Legislature, which will convene next month, Dallas area representatives and senators have begun to file bills dealing with a wide array of topics, including therapy dogs, baby diapers, conversion therapy, and genital mutilation.
Representative Carl Sherman Sr. (HD 109) has proposed legislation that would authorize the use of “therapy or facility dogs for certain criminal proceedings” during the “testimony of [a] child or person with a disability.”
On the other side of the county, Representative Jessica Gonzalez (HD 104) filed a slate of bills seeking to introduce reforms to the election process by allowing online applications for early voting ballots and requiring joint primaries.
Representative Terry Meza (HD 105) has filed many bills on various topics, including requiring documentation and background checks for private firearm transfers, enhancing the definition of school bullying and harassment, and the “prohibition of coverage of conversion therapy” by healthcare insurance companies.
Representative Toni Rose (HD 110) submitted legislation stipulating that someone “who at the time of the commission of a capital offense was a person with severe mental illness may not be sentenced to death.”
Rose also pre-filed a bill that would make “sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression” a protected class in cases under the Texas Penal Code.
Representative Rhetta Andrews Bowers (HD 113) filed, among a handful of assorted items, a bill that would ensure schools “may not discriminate against a hair texture or protective hairstyle commonly or historically associated with race.”
The lone Dallas County Republican in the House to have filed legislation, Representative Angie Chen Button (HD 112), authored a bill that would require the creation of a publicly accessible database of all protests brought before the appraisal review board. With home appraisals at historic highs, an open record of prior protests could potentially help increase transparency.
The other Republican, Representative Morgan Meyer, has not pre-filed any bills.
Neither the veteran Representative Rafael Anchia (HD 103) nor the freshman Representative Venton Jones (HD 100) has filed any legislation in anticipation of the 88th session. Both men, however, featured prominently in the local campaign for Dallas voters to approve Prop A.
In the upper chamber, Dallas County is represented by four senators — two Republicans and two Democrats.
A bill Hall co-authored with Senators Donna Campbell and Charles Perry would prohibit all “genital mutilation” unless the procedure is “necessary for the person’s physical health,” “male circumcision,” or “performed on an intersex person” as statutorily defined.
Additionally, the three senators co-filed legislation seeking to keep nearly all types of “gender transitioning or gender reassignment procedures” from being performed on children. The bill would punish anyone performing such surgeries by revoking the doctor’s medical license and certification.
On the other side of the aisle, Democrat Senator Nathan Johnson (SD 16) filed a litany of legislation to permit drugs that would induce an abortion, decriminalize a “pregnant individual” aborting the unborn, and remove “gender-specific terminology” from laws discussing marriage.
Johnson also submitted legislation that seeks to allow the legislature to be convened at the petition of “two-thirds of members of each house … for the purpose of responding to a fiscal crisis, war, natural disaster, or emergency.”
Currently, only the governor has the authority to call a special session of the legislature.
The south Dallas stalwart Senator Royce West (SD 23), who has been a member of the Senate since 1993, has filed a bill to limit who can issue a “no-knock warrant.” In addition, the bill requires that “each peace officer executing the warrant be in uniform or otherwise clearly identifiable as a peace officer.”
Additionally, West is seeking to pass a bill stipulating that law enforcement officers responding to incidents at schools “may not restrain or use a chemical irritant spray on a student 10 years of age or younger unless the student poses a serious risk of harm.”
The 88th session of the Texas Legislature will begin on January 10, 2023.