Landgraf seeks stronger punishment for assaults on pregnant women

AUSTIN — State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) filed legislation making it a felony to assault a pregnant woman in Texas.

House Bill 902, authored by Landgraf, makes it a third degree felony for assaulting a pregnant woman if the actor knew or should have known the woman was pregnant at the time of the assault. A third degree felony is punishable by between two and ten years in prison.

"This bill is a clear statement that when a pregnant woman is assaulted, both the mother and the unborn child are victims, and a more severe punishment for the attacker is justified,” Landgraf said.

Currently, the assault of a pregnant woman is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in county jail. However, there have been several instances where the assault itself warranted an increased penalty, or where a longer sentence could have prevented additional assaults. HB 902 seeks to ensure that the punishment fits the crime by increasing the penalty for knowingly assaulting a pregnant woman.

"I want to make sure we protect both the pregnant mother and her child, as well as creating a greater deterrent for assaults of this kind," Landgraf added.

The 86th Texas legislative session is underway and will run through May 27, 2019.

Landgraf urges Congress for Medicaid block grant

AUSTIN — State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) filed legislation urging congress to establish a Medicaid block grant program in Texas.

House Concurrent Resolution 29, authored by Landgraf, petitions the state's congressional delegation to pursue block grant legislation in Washington, D.C. to allow Texas to administer its own health care for the poor.

"Medicaid costs in Texas have grown exponentially in recent years and are crowding out room in our state budget for other essential services such as education, higher education, and transportation," Landgraf said. "A Medicaid block grant would give Texas the flexibility to better fund those things while still keeping our commitment to the most vulnerable of all Texans."

The Medicaid program is unsustainable financially for the state as Medicaid spending in Texas is experiencing steady, long-term growth. In 2001, Medicaid consumed 20% of the All Funds budget but now accounts for nearly 30% of the 2018-19 budget. Because Medicaid is a federally mandated program the state of Texas has no power to amend the mandatory benefit and eligibility requirements of the program.

"I believe Texas can administer the Medicaid program more efficiently, while also giving us greater certainty in the budget from year to year," Landgraf added.

The 86th Texas legislative session is underway and will run through May 27, 2019.

Landgraf seeks to reduce overpass strikes & save taxpayers' money

AUSTIN — State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) filed legislation aimed at reducing the number of overpass strikes due to over-height semi-trucks by holding those drivers or their employers liable for the costly damage.

House Bill 799, authored by Landgraf, seeks to hold the owner of the vehicle strictly liable for any damage to a bridge or overpass caused by the height of the vehicle. The driver of the over-height vehicle could also be charged with a misdemeanor crime punishable by a fine not to exceed the cost of the damages.

"Like so many West Texans, I'm frustrated with how frequently overpasses in the Permian Basin are being struck by oversized loads," Landgraf said. "These bridge strikes compromise highway safety, cause traffic congestion and cost taxpayers up to millions of dollars in repairs."

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, in 2018, there were at least 82 overpass strikes across the state. Meanwhile, over the five previous years from 2013 and 2017,  there averaged just 31 overpass strikes a year. The cost of repairs for the 2018 damages alone exceeds more than $20 million, but less than $3.6 million of that has been collected from the drivers and companies responsible.

"I'm determined to reduce the number of these collisions and hold the vehicle owners strictly liable for the cost of the repairs so that taxpayers aren't stuck footing the bill," Landgraf added.

The 86th Texas legislative session is underway and will run through May 27, 2019.

Landgraf combats child trafficking at the border

AUSTIN — State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) filed legislation that would criminalize, under state law, misrepresenting a child as a family member at a border crossing.

House Bill 888, authored by Landgraf, seeks to combat human trafficking by making it a Class B misdemeanor to knowingly misrepresent a minor as a family member to a peace officer or federal special investigator at a port of entry. This is already a criminal offense on the federal level. If passed, this bill would give local and state law enforcement an additional tool in Texas.

“We must continue our efforts to secure our border and combat human trafficking, and this bill provides reinforcements in that fight," Landgraf said. “I appreciate that the idea for this bill was brought forth by a constituent from Odessa who put a great deal of research into helping craft this bill."

According to the Texas Attorney General, there are more than 75,000 minors in Texas who are currently victims of sex trafficking. The AG’s office reports these child victims are often tricked and coerced by their captors, being told, for example, they are going to Disney World. Therefore, when the opportunity arises for a child to speak up to authorities at a port of entry, they remain silent as their captor tells the customs officer the child is their son or daughter.

The 86th Texas legislative session is underway and will run through May 27, 2019.

Landgraf appointed vice chair of transportation committee

AUSTIN — State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) was appointed by Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen to serve as Vice Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and also as a member of the House Committee on Business and Industry.

The House Committee on Transportation is responsible for oversight of the critical infrastructure development for the state including state highways. The committee also has jurisdiction over the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, the Texas Department of Transportation and the Texas Transportation Commission.

"An increase in oil and gas production is always a good thing for Texas, but with it comes a significant increase in traffic on Permian Basin highways creating challenges to local infrastructure," Landgraf said. "I will continue to take the lead to improve safety on our highways and keep West Texas open for business."

Landgraf was also appointed to the House Committee on Business and Industry, which is responsible for oversight of industry and manufacturing and has jurisdiction over the State Office of Risk Management, the Risk Management Board, the Division of Worker's Compensation of the Texas Department of Insurance, and others.

"I asked for these posts because I believe I can utilize them to better serve the people of the Permian Basin and Texas. Now that committees have been assigned, I'll be rolling up my sleeves and getting to work," Landgraf said.

The 86th Texas legislative session is underway and will run through May 27, 2019.

Landgraf wants STAAR test eliminated

AUSTIN — State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) has filed legislation to effectively repeal the STAAR test by eliminating the requirement to use public school assessment instruments as a criterion for promotion or graduation or to make certain accountability determinations.

House Bill 736, authored by Landgraf, seeks to eliminate current testing systems, like the STAAR test, from being used as high-stakes, one-sized-fits-all substitutes for real accountability measures.

"The state's attempt to ensure academic readiness and hold school districts accountable for student achievement through standardized state-wide testing has failed," Landgraf said.

A state-wide assessment instrument places too great of a burden on our students and teachers. Teachers are forced to "teach to the test" so that the largest number of students can achieve scores that meet the minimum level of satisfaction. This destroys any opportunity for teachers to come up with creative ways for students to learn, and limits the amount of time and attention teachers can pay to specific students. Rather than looking at the work a student has done over a semester or school year, the test looks at one day. Rather than assessing growth of students with special needs or the level of intelligence of the most gifted and talented students, the test is designed to assess the average student's understanding of basic curriculum.  

"In my view, we should value teaching over testing,” Landgraf said. “This bill will allow us to get back to the basics of education so that Texas students are prepared for college, the workforce or the military when they graduate.”

The 86th Texas legislative session is underway and will run through May 27, 2019.

Landgraf takes aim at "Robin Hood"

AUSTIN — State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) has filed legislation to repeal the "Robin Hood" public school finance scheme.

House Bill 712, authored by Landgraf, offers a full repeal of recapture provisions, otherwise known as "Robin Hood,” which send a portion of funds from so-called property wealthy school districts to other school districts across the state.

"Over the years, the Robin Hood system has placed a disproportionately large burden on taxpayers in the oil patch to fund public schools in other parts of Texas," Landgraf said.  “But our students and teachers here in the Permian Basin also pay a high price for this scheme.”

Tremendous growth in oil and gas production has led to many school districts in the Permian Basin to be deemed "property wealthy" and are under the undue burden of the Robin Hood law.

Most Permian Basin school districts are currently experiencing some of the highest population growth rates in the nation, leading to large classroom sizes and widespread teacher shortages. The result is that West Texas schools have money forced out of their budgets at a time when its needed most for their teachers and students. Landgraf’s bill would eliminate this objectionable practice.

"This new downside of recapture only adds to the argument that the state must repeal Robin Hood and replace it with a better plan to provide adequate funding for Texas public schools," Landgraf said.  "An increase in funding for each student in Texas is something that our state must do in order to prepare our students for the next generation of high-paying jobs that will allow Texas to remain prosperous."

The 86th Texas legislative session is underway and will run through May 27, 2019.

Landgraf sworn in again to Texas House of Representatives

AUSTIN — State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) took the oath of office to serve again when the Texas House of Representatives convened to begin the 86th Texas Legislative Session on Tuesday.

"It's an honor to have the opportunity to serve the people of Andrews, Ector, Ward, and Winkler counties," Landgraf said. "As I prepared for the next legislative session I traveled all over West Texas to hear directly from the people I represent and the issues they want me to address."

In the coming months the Texas Legislature will deliberate countless policy issues affecting the state and Landgraf has outlined his legislative priorities: adopt a conservative, balanced state budget; repair the method to finance schools in a way that eliminates “Robin Hood” and genuinely lowers property taxes; improve education by properly paying teachers and ending STAAR testing as the means of measuring accountability and achievement; build safer roads for the Permian Basin; and pass Monica’s Law to help prevent domestic violence.

"There's a lot of work to do in a short period of time, but I'm hitting the ground running on the first day to continue to make West Texas the best place to live, raise a family, and grow a business," Landgraf said.

The 86th Texas Legislative session convened on Tuesday, January 8th and will meet for 140 days.

Landgraf re-files "Monica's Law" to prevent domestic violence

AUSTIN — Thursday, State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) filed legislation aimed at preventing domestic violence. House Bill 629, "Monica's Law," as Landgraf has dubbed it, would create an online, searchable and public database listing protective orders issued by Texas courts as a result of domestic violence. Landgraf filed "Monica's Law" during the last legislative session, was passed by the Texas House, but was stalled in the Texas Senate.

Monica Deming, the inspiration behind the legislation, was murdered on November 29, 2015 in an act of domestic violence. Monica, a 32 year-old mother, was shot and killed in her Odessa home by an abusive ex-boyfriend. Two protective orders for domestic violence had previously been issued against him, but he was easily able to keep them secret.

Landgraf began crafting this legislation after being approached by Monica’s father, Jon Nielsen, a former Odessa police officer. Nielsen pleaded that, had a database been available, he and Monica would have been able to know that her abuser had a history of domestic violence.

“'Monica’s Law' cannot go back and save her life, or take away her family’s grief, but it can help prevent others from entering into tragically abusive relationships that can lead to physical violence, and worse, death,” Landgraf said. “That's why I used every legislative tool available to get Monica's law passed out of the Texas House last session and will do so again this session.”

"Monica’s Law" establishes a statewide registry where certain redacted information can be accessed by the public, but also one where law enforcement and the courts have access to all of the information provided by protective-order applicants. Information is only available after due process has been given to the abuser in a judicial proceeding.

Landgraf announces 2018 town hall schedule

ODESSA — State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) continues his tradition of hosting town halls throughout the four counties he serves in the Texas House of Representatives. During these events, State Rep. Landgraf will provide a brief legislative update and complimentary food. He encourages his fellow West Texans to attend, ask questions and share their views.
State Rep. Landgraf announces the following town halls:

West Odessa
Monday, September 24, 2018 | 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Kellus Turner Community Center | 2262 West Sycamore Drive

Tuesday, September 25, 2018 | 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Ward County Event Center | 1525 East Monahans Parkway

Monday, October 8, 2018 | 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Andrews Business & Technology Center | 201 NW Avenue D

Monday, October 15, 2018 | 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Winkler County Community Center | 118 North Poplar

Monday, October 22, 2018 | 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
UT Permian Basin Library - Room LL.001 | 4901 East University Boulevard