March 31, 2009

From the Desk of Rep. Allen Vaught

Part Two: Bills Filed for the 81st Legislative Session

This article is the second part of a three part series detailing the bills I filed for the 81st legislative session. In this article I will discuss some of the public safety and criminal justice bills filed in response to local constituents and at the request of the Dallas District Attorney’s office and Children’s Medical Center in Dallas.

The Booster Seat Bill

In the Fall of 2007, I did an externship at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas to view their emergency and trauma centers. It was then I learned of a dangerous flaw in current state law concerning the use child safety seats, often referred to as booster seats. Car crashes are the leading cause of injury and death to children. In car crashes, children ages 4 to 8 restrained by an adult seat belt are likely to suffer severe head, spinal cord and internal organ injuries. Booster seats reduce the risk of these injuries by 59%. Texas has one of the weakest laws in the country and most children outgrow the current requirement of 36” before their 4th birthday. However, the national standard and what most experts recommend is that children be restrained until they are 4’9” or until their 8th birthday. Texas is one of only six states which does not have this requirement in law.

I filed House Bill (HB) 528 to correct this flaw. There is an educational phase-in period and violations will not be handed out until September 2010. Violations come with a $25 fine that then goes back into a child safety seat program focused on education and providing seats to low income families. This bill was voted out of the Criminal Jurisprudence committee and will hopefully soon make it to the House floor for a vote.

“Eric’s Law”

I am sure many of you heard about an accident at White Rock Lake last year where an uninsured driver with a suspended driver’s license hit three runners after a local marathon. While all three pedestrians spent time in the hospital with serious injuries and are still recovering, the driver was only given two citations and to this day has not paid her fines. It is hard to believe that someone could do that much physical and emotional damage and not pay a cent.

Shortly thereafter I visited with my neighbor who was a victim of the accident. I did some research in the Penal Code, found the misdemeanors to be inadequate, and decided to file a bill that would try and bring some justice to future victims of similar crimes. HB 2012 would make it a third degree felony if a person drove without a valid license, without valid insurance, and caused or was at fault in an accident that resulted in serious bodily injury or death. If this bill passes, it will be known as “Eric’s Law,” in honor of my neighbor and the two other victims who are still struggling everyday. The proposed legislation is currently in the Transportation Committee waiting to be scheduled for a public hearing.

DNA Legislation

Several months ago, I met with the Dallas District Attorney’s office to discuss possible legislation for the 81st session. In 1996, with the certainty brought about by DNA testing, the legislature removed the statute of limitations for sexual assault cases in which a suspect’s DNA was found. However, many who were victimized before 1996 never saw justice or got closure because the statute of limitations had expired on their rape cases. With the advancements in DNA, it is now possible for police to link certain cold cases from prior to 1996 to DNA already on file. The Dallas Police Department has already been using advanced science and DNA to solve these crimes; however, the DA’s office requested legislation that would note that link in a person’s criminal history.

I filed HB 2932 that will require a new type of notation in pre-existing criminal histories for clear connections between DNA evidence from older, unsolved sexual assaults and current samples on file with the Department of Public Safety. My hope is that this legislation gives both closure and justice to those rape victims whose cold cases can no longer be prosecuted.

I welcome your thoughts and ideas regarding the bills I have filed for the 81st legislative session. Keep in mind that these are the bills as introduced and that details are subject to change as part of the legislative process. Please email my office at with the subject line 81st Legislative Session Bills.

As always, please feel free to contact my office at (214) 370-8305 with any questions regarding these or other state issues. I look forward to hearing from you.

April Audelia Library Update

To: LH Area HOAs
From: John Gould, Audelia Friends President
Re: April Library Update 2009
Audelia Library Friends Website…

See details below for information about:
Lynn Moore, new branch manager
New Audelia Library Friends Website
Earth Day
April Book Sale
Early Voting
Large Multi-Children’s Event
AARP Driver Safety Program
Basic Computer 1-Hour Course
For more events scheduled, check our website calendar.

Lynn Moore started last week as the new manager at both the Audelia and Skillman Branches. Lynn has 20 years experience in the Dallas Library System with positions at several different branches and at the Central library. She is a graduate of UT and has a Masters of Library Science from North Texas . We are looking forward to working with Lynn . She is replacing John Elfers who retired after 30 years with DPL.
The big news is that we now have an Audelia Friends website up and running thanks to Ed Ferguson. Ed volunteered to serve as our webmaster. When you have time please log on to It is easy to navigate to find information in any of four areas: Audelia Branch Library; Audelia Friends; Adult Programs; and Children’s Programs. Scroll down the Home Page to see a monthly calendar of activities that can be viewed chronologically or by individual category preference. If you click on any of the calendar dates more details about the events pop up. The website is available to anyone looking for up-to-date information about the library and activities. Our library is a great community resource for information whether its books, computer technology, AV media, reading or studying areas, job search, or public meetings.
The April Exhibit Case in the lobby features Puppets. An eye-catching display of puppets put together by Sue Willman, a Friends volunteer. This is a prelude to the Sunday, April 26th 1:00 to 4:30 pm program sponsored by the Texas Lone Star Puppetry Club. That afternoon there will be a workshop for children on puppet-making and a puppet show. In May the exhibit case in the lobby will feature patriotic memorabilia. If you have uniforms and photos you think may be of interest, please contact Sue Willman. She can be reached at
On Thursday, April 23rd, 3:30 to 6:00 pm an Earth Day Event for children will be sponsored by LH 4-H Club and Dallas Future Organic Farmers of America . For more details contact Friends volunteer Janice Fowler at
Our Sunday afternoon Book Sale on March 15th brought in $115.25 and many people went away happy with the books and AVs they were able to purchase at reasonable prices. Children’s books are always in demand. Any good used books may be deposited in the white plastic tub under the Friends exhibit table near the entrance. Our next book sale will be Sunday afternoon. April 19th, from 2:00 to 4:00.
When you check our Friends website calendar, note that Early Voting starts on Monday, April 27th in the Audelia Library auditorium.
A large Multi-Children’s Program is scheduled for Sunday, May 17th with Clifford, the Big Red Dog. There will be a Special Story Time, Crafts, and a lion hunt through the library with “Lyndale the Literary Lion”. TV and print media coverage is planned. Volunteers will be needed to help direct children and their parents to different events. If you are interested in volunteering please contact Carole Dengle, Children’s Librarian, at
An AARP Driver Safety Course will be held on Monday, April 20, 12:30 to 4:30. Register with librarian.
A One-Hour Basic Computer Course is scheduled for Saturday, April 18th, 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. Limited to 4 adults. Register with librarian.
Our Annual Friends Membership mail campaign is still underway. If you didn’t receive a letter or renewal form for some reason, you can find a form either at our Friends Exhibit Table or go to our website. Click on, Audelia Friends, and you’ll find a membership form that can be downloaded and printed out. Your continued support is important.
Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions.