News Release from the office of State Senator Judith Zaffirini

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 12, 2007
Contact:Nick Almanza
(512) 463-0121

Senate Criminal Justice Committee Approves Zaffirini's Bills Protecting Texans From Sexual Offenses

(AUSTIN) -- The Senate Criminal Justice Committee Wednesday (April 11) recommended passage of Senate Bill 120 by Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, and House Bill 76 by Rep. Elliott Naishtat, D-Austin, and Zaffirini, which would strengthen laws to prevent sexual offenses, including the online solicitation of a minor, and require state law enforcement agencies to collect pertinent information from victims of sexual assault.

HB 76 by Naishtat and Zaffirini would require the Department of Public Safety's (DPS) Bureau of Identification and Records to collect comprehensive information regarding sexual assault for the purposes of statewide statistical reporting. Current law requires DPS to collect data regarding family violence offenses, but not for sexual assault offenses, and does not require local law enforcement agencies to report sexual assault statistics to DPS for statewide data collection. HB 76 changes that.

"The Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA) reports that 13 percent of Texans are sexually assaulted during their lifetime, but only 18 percent of those assaults are reported," Senator Zaffirini said. "This bill would increase required reporting to enhance agencies' ability to prevent sexual offenses."

SB 120 by Zaffirini would help protect children from internet predators by establishing a clearinghouse of educational resources related to on-line safety at the Texas School Safety Center and directing school districts to update their discipline management program to prevent the use of the internet for sexual solicitation.

These bills build on Senator Zaffirini's legislation that protect persons and families from sexual offenses and sexual exploitation. Last month the Senate unanimously passed SB 6 by Zaffirini, which would protect Texas children and families from sexual communication and solicitation via the internet.

"As legislators we have an obligation to protect persons, families and communities from sexual crimes," Senator Zaffirini said. "These bills greatly would improve procedures for preventing and prosecuting sexual offenses. I look forward to passing these bills."

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