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Published on August 11, 2011,

The Texas Legislative Council is a nonpartisan legislative agency that provides bill drafting, computing, research, publishing, and document distribution services to the Texas Legislature and the other legislative agencies. The council also serves as an information resource for state agencies, the citizens of Texas, and others as time and resources allow.

The Texas Legislative Council has produced an analysis of each proposed amendment which will be on the November 8,2011 ballot.

Read about the Proposed Amendments »

 
Published on June 8, 2011,

Over the many years I spent with the Houston Police Department, several of them were in the Office of the Inspector General. While working this assignment, I witnessed and investigated many acts of barratry. Many of these were lawyers or non-lawyers hired as agents for a lawyer pursuing potential clients because of an event they overheard on a police scanner or from information relayed from within the dispatch call center. Barratry, also known as ambulance chasing, was a topic I pursued since taking office.

After presenting a barratry bill during my freshman term in office, the bill did not pass but was considered as an interim charge. The committee determined that barratry was a serious problem occurring statewide. Senator Duncan and I teamed up to pass Senate Bill 1716. Senate Bill 1716 allows a client who was solicited unlawfully to void the contract with the lawyer and recover any actual damages, fees, and expenses. In addition, a person who was solicited but did not sign a contract may recover a civil penalty of $10,000. The bill also gives an innocent lawyer a safe harbor. I am pleased that this legislation passed because it will prevent unscrupulous lawyers and their agents from preying on those negatively affected by unpredictable event.

Read the bill and bill history »

 
Published on May 28, 2011,

This session had many bills addressing gang activity stemming from the southern border. I authored two pieces of legislation which became law addressing homeland security issues.

As the Chair of the Law Enforcement Subcommittee, I met with the Department of Public Safety and toured the border to speak with those officers combating illegal immigration and drug smuggling. I was shown videos of drug smugglers deploying spike stripes against pursuing officers endangering not only the officers but everyone else on the road. I took this information and passed legislation enhancing evading arrest penalties if a caltrop or a spike strip is deployed against a pursing law enforcement vehicle.

Cartels and Gangs smuggle billions of dollars in cash and assets across our border and according to state law, the seized assets go into the General Revenue. The Department of Public Safety (DPS) actually spends more money than they receive in the seizures under current law. The result is the DPS contacts the federal government to do the seizure, which takes much of that money out of the state.

I authored legislation, which passed, to incentivize DPS seizures along our border which will keep 100% of the seized assets within the state, granting 40% of those seizures to the DPS to further fund their anti-smuggling operations.

During the Special Session, we passed a measure requiring proof of citizenship or legal residency status to obtain a driver’s license.

In addition, the budget includes a significant increase in border security in the next biennium by as much as $100 million. This includes an increase for the Department of Public Safety of about $70 million.

Read the Spike Strip bill and bill history »
Read the Asset Forfeiture bill and bill history »

 
Published on May 25, 2011,

*Will Be Proposed Amendment Number 1 on the ballot November 8, 2011*

With only ten minutes remaining in the Texas House for consideration of non-local Senate Bills, Speaker Straus recognized Representative Bonnen for an important motion.

“I make the motion to move to suspend all necessary rules to take up and consider Senate Bill 516. Senate Bill 516 is Representative Fletcher’s bill, and it is appropriate to get this done tonight. It’s to support our veterans who have given so much to us, so I move to suspend all necessary rules to pull this bill up,” Representative Bonnen motioned.

Read Rep. Fletcher’s News Release from the State Office »

 
Published on February 16, 2011,

Current Texas Tax Code regarding the business franchise tax references the 1987 Standard Industrial Classification Manual published by the Federal Office of Management and Budget. The problem with this publication is that it was published in 1987 and by the Federal Government, over a decade prior to the business margins tax being implemented in the state of Texas. This publication was never intended to be used in such a way.

The state provides different methods to calculate the business margins tax based upon the classification. Service Industries use one method, retail another, and other trades a third. Although the manual accurately classifies the industries, for purposes of using it to steer taxing policy is not efficient or fair.

Independently owned auto repair shops in Texas are taxed at the service industry rate which is twice as much as dealerships who too have a garage and do auto work. This is because a dealership is classified as retail according to the manual. Independent auto repair shops have a much higher cost of goods sold as a barber shop who is also considered a service industry. Auto dealerships, Wal-Mart, Sears, and Firestone also fall into the retail category creating an unfair tax advantage over the independently owned auto repair shops who must charge higher prices to help offset their increased taxes.

Representative Fletcher has been approached by multiple owners of auto repair shops and expressed their concern over these unfair tax advantages that big businesses inadvertently have over their smaller competition.

Fletcher drafted House Bill 429 to reclassify auto repair shops as retail trade for purposes of the franchise tax. This will ultimately result in a lower cost to car owners seeking auto repairs and a more level playing field among businesses engaged in the same activity.

The Houston Chronicle ran a story about this bill on February 6, 2011
HOUSTON CHRONICLE: Quirk in state tax law favors large businesses »

 
Published on January 27, 2011,

AUSTIN – Representative Fletcher released the following statement on House Bill 95: “When one of our brave soldiers becomes 100% disabled, the family of that soldier has to make career decisions. Far too often the spouses of these soldiers forgo career opportunities and many reduce work hours, affecting their income and retirement. The best care that can be given is from the one you’ve exchanged vows with,”[ …]

Read Rep. Fletcher’s News Release from the State Office »