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.