Issues Facing the 79th Legislature
(Austin) - The Governor's Office of Texas Homeland Security (THS) addresses border issues related to homeland security and coordinates with federal agencies on homeland security programs. The United States Visitor and Immigration Status Indicator Technology (USVISIT) program, a federal initiative, has generated controversy and raised concerns among the mayors of Brownsville, Laredo, and El Paso, along with residents, business owners, and civic leaders in those communities.
To alleviate the problems of congestion, the downturn in tourism, and a loss of commercial revenue associated with increased border security checks, the time limit for visitors was recently increased from 72 hours to 30 days, but the 25-mile limit for international visitors under the US-VISIT program remained the same. Border officials at Senate International Relations and Trade Committee (IRT) meetings voiced the need for parity so that travelers, personal and commercial, from Mexico are treated similarly to those who enter the United States from Canada. While federal funds for the United States Border Patrol and inspection personnel, including customs officers, have been added, the 79th Texas Legislature may face funding issues related to the implementation of federal mandates associated with border security.
Various state agencies, including the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), face increased costs related to homeland security and other federal mandates.
The legislature may address issues related to the use and distribution of federal funds and the development of a tracking system to ensure appropriate allocation and efficient use of such funds. The legislature may also consider improvements in federal, state, and local shared communication networks that allow early detection and reporting of homeland security incidents, as well as new technologies and the costs to implement a statewide communication network.
This article is taken from the Senate Research Center publication entitled "Issues Facing the 79th Legislature," and more issues from the report will be highlighted in future Capitol Updates. To view the entire report, please go to www.senate.state.tx.us or call my office to receive a hard copy.
To contact Sen. Deuell about the legislative process, contact the Capitol Office at (512) 463-0556 or mail to Sen. Bob Deuell, Texas Senate, P.O. Box 12068, Austin, TX 78711. The website for the Texas Senate is www.Senate.state.tx.us. The e-mail address for Sen. Deuell is: email@example.com.