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October 2, 1997     (512) 463-0300
Photo: Senator Royce West leads the Senate Interim Committee on Gangs and Juvenile Justice in discussing issues involving Texas youth.
Senator Royce West of Dallas leads the Senate Interim Committee on Gangs and Juvenile Justice in discussing issues involving Texas youth.

The Texas State Senate News

AUSTIN - Three senators will serve on the Edwards Aquifer Legislative Oversight Committee. Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock appointed Senators Frank Madla of San Antonio and Troy Fraser of Horseshoe Bay to join Ken Armbrister of Victoria, a current member being appointed to another term, to the committee. Members will be responsible for evaluating state and local efforts that comply with legislation that established the Edwards Aquifer Authority in 1993. The senators will join three House members in the study.

Texas senators are attempting to curb an increasing problem among Texas youth - gang-related violence. On Thursday, October 2, the Senate Interim Committee on Gangs and Juvenile Justice met in an organizational meeting to discuss the committee's charges, adopt rules, and hear invited testimony regarding several issues. Leading the members was Senator Royce West of Dallas as chair who stated that he is taking a very personal interest in the issue and its progress. During the 75th Legislative Session, West sponsored key pieces of legislation affecting Texas youth such as the zero tolerance bill which inflicted stiffer penalties on juveniles who commit crimes. Also serving on the committee are Senators Mike Moncrief of Fort Worth, Chris Harris of Arlington, Jon Lindsay of Houston, and Robert Duncan of Lubbock.

It has been reported that Texas has over 3200 gangs with over 145,000 juveniles affiliated with a gang of some type. Recent surveys of law enforcement agencies in large cities show major increases of gangs and gang-related violence. West intends to take a radical approach to remedying these problems by traveling all over the state talking one on one to gang members, family members and those who deal with gangs on a daily basis. He also urged members of the judiciary, law enforcement agencies, counselors and family members that deal with gang members to come forward and make recommendations to the committee members.

The following is a tentative schedule of public hearings the committee will be holding during the Interim:

November 6, 1997 - Dallas, Texas
December 11, 1997 - Houston, Texas
January 29, 1998 - Lubbock, Texas
February 26, 1998 - El Paso, Texas
March 26, 1998 - San Antonio, Texas
July 9, 1998 - Austin, Texas
August - Austin, Texas
September - FINAL REPORT - Austin, Texas