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Committee studies anti-gang bill

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 (Austin) The Senate Transportation and Homeland Security considered a number of bills Wednesday aimed at curbing the growing gang problem in Texas.  All the bills were authored by committee Chairman John Carona of Dallas, who wants harsher punishments and more tools for law enforcement to combat gangs and organized crime. "The negative impacts of criminal gang activity on communities warrants strong deterrents against gang violence," he said.

          The bills taken together would attack gang crime on a number of fronts.  One bill would suspend  the driver's licenses of those convicted of gang or organized crime, and would impose a state jail felony for driving without a license if convicted under the statute.  Another would mandate intervention programs for juveniles convicted of gang activity, and would help those kids get gang tattoos removed.  One bill would give judges discretion to sentence multiple gang-crime adult offenders to consecutive sentences.  Other bills considered would allow the state to seize property used in gang or organized crime and prohibit gang members on probation from having contact with other gang members.

          All the bills heard Wednesday were rolled into Senate Bill 11, an omnibus gang crime bill.  SB 11 will also include several other gang-related bills in other committees, such as bills dealing with graffiti, prepaid mobile phones, and gun trafficking. Carona said the reason for using two vehicles for these gang crime bills was to afford them the best chance of moving through the legislative process.

          The Senate approved a bill Wednesday that would give more freedom for Texans to keep guns in their cars.  Current law allows employers' to prohibit employees from keeping a gun in their vehicles on the employers parking lot, which Katy Senator Glenn Hegar thinks violates their Second Amendment rights.  His bill, SB 730, would allow an employee to keep a gun, locked up and out of sight, in a car despite an employers' mandate.  The Senate also gave final approval to a bill that limits the number of students in an incoming freshman class admitted under the top-ten percent rule to 60 percent.  The bill was amended to include a program to give scholarships to students that graduate in the top ten percent of their class that demonstrate financial need.  The measure now heads over to the House for further consideration.

          The Senate will reconvene Thursday, March 26 at 10 a.m.  


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Nelson Propane

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