Today, the Senate passed legislation which would create an repository at the Department of Public Safety to compile traffic stop data as relates to race. Earlier this session, Dallas Senator Royce West held a press conference to discuss the findings of a recently released state-sponsored study on racial profiling and traffic stops in Texas. That study showed that African-Americans and Hispanics are more likely to be asked to consent to a search of their vehicle during a routine traffic stop.
Senate Bill 1503, by West, would create the Statewide Repository for Data Related to Civil Justice in order to gather and analyze data relating to the incidence and prevalence of racial profiling in Texas. Each year, all law enforcement agencies would be required to submit a yearly report on the number of traffic stops and how the stops are divided along racial lines. The cost of this institute would be covered by a 15-cent increase on all traffic tickets.
Senator Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio sponsored a bill today that would require the Texas Department of Transportation to add hydrogen-powered vehicles to its fleet. SB 1548 would create the Texas Hydrogen Transportation Corridor that consists of hydrogen refueling stations in San Antonio, Houston, Austin and Dallas, located in proximity to either I-35 or I-10. It would also require that TxDOT use four vehicles with hydrogen-operated internal combustion engines, and three with hydrogen-operated fuel cells. This legislation is in line with TxDOT's policy of using certain vehicles with alternative fuel sources, a majority of which are propane fueled.
Police officers in Texas would have additional training on how to handle the arrest of a foreign national if a bill sponsored by Houston Senator Rodney Ellis becomes law. The 1963 Vienna Convention requires that any foreign national arrested must be informed of the right to contact his or her embassy or consulate. SB 603, by Ellis, would mandate that all police officers in the state be trained to inform foreign nationals of that right if arrested. Ellis called this bill a "step in the right direction" toward Texas meeting all of the conditions of the Vienna Convention.
The Senate will reconvene Tuesday, May 17 at 8 a.m. for the consideration of the local and uncontested calendar, and will meet in regular session at 11 a.m.