Uresti pre-files Kristy Appleby, texting ban bills
Sen. Carlos Uresti, moving forward with several of his top priorities for the 82nd Texas Legislature, Monday pre-filed the Kristy Appleby protective order bill and legislation that would impose a statewide ban on texting while driving.
Monday is the first day that state lawmakers can pre-file legislation for the next session, which convenes Jan. 11.
"These issues are important to the people of Texas, so it was important to me to get them in the legislative pipeline as soon as possible," Uresti said. "I'll be filing other high priority bills between now and the end of the year. When the session begins, we'll be ready to roll."
The Appleby bill was spurred by the Feb. 10, 2009, slaying of Kristy Appleby in San Antonio. The 32-year-old Appleby had sought a protective order against the woman who was charged in her death after a prior attack, but it was denied because they were not involved in a relationship. Appleby had dated the woman's ex-husband.
The new law would allow third-party protective orders to be obtained by people at risk for domestic violence who are not involved in an intimate relationship with their abuser.
"Under this bill, anyone endangered by a broken or dysfunctional relationship will receive the full protection of the law," Uresti said.
Uresti filed another bill that would ban texting while driving in Texas, which would join some two dozen other states that have enacted such a law.
According to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, 5,500 traffic deaths nationwide last year were caused by distracted driving, which includes texting other cell phone technologies.
"Studies have found that texting can impair a driver as much as being drunk, so an outright ban just makes common sense," Uresti said.
Uresti also pre-filed bills that would:
Allow large municipal water utilities more flexibility in funding low-income affordability programs. The San Antonio Water System, for example, could support its donation-funded AGUA program with general revenues. Programs such as AGUA assist low-income customers who have been threatened with service disconnection because of non-payment of their bills. Current law allows only gas and electric utilities to fund such programs from general revenues.
Create a more efficient and effective extended outpatient commitment process for mental health services. It would allow a judge to authorize extended services to a patient who has received at least 60 days of court-ordered inpatient mental health services within the preceding 24 months. Current law requires 60 consecutive days for such authorization.
Senator Uresti represents Senate District 19, a 55,000 square mile area extending from the city of San Antonio in Bexar County to the Lower Valley of El Paso County and including approximately 750,000 people. It is the largest legislative district in the nation.