FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 23, 2007
Austin, TX -- The Texas Senate today (Monday) passed Senate Bill 120 by Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, which would help protect children from online solicitation and exploitation by establishing a clearinghouse of educational resources related to Internet safety at the Texas School Safety Center. The bill also would direct school districts to update their discipline management programs to prevent the use of the Internet for sexual solicitation and would increase the penalty for an adult convicted of online sexual solicitation of a minor.
"Children are especially vulnerable to victimization over the Internet," Senator Zaffirini said. "More and more children are using the Internet on a daily basis, which provides offenders with easy and anonymous means to find and exploit them. SB 120 addresses this growing problem by increasing the educational resources regarding online solicitation that are available to families and schools and by providing school districts with programs designed to combat and prevent online solicitation of minors."
SB 120 works in conjunction with Zaffirini's SB 6, which the Senator passed in March. SB 6 increases the penalty for sexually explicit on-line communications with a minor who is from 14 to 16 years old from a state jail felony to a third degree felony and increases the penalty for on-line sexual solicitation of a minor who is from 14 to 16 years old from a third degree felony to a second degree felony.
SB 6 also will require internet service providers (ISP) to respond immediately to subpoenas, search warrants or other court orders during an emergency; will allow prosecutors to seek consecutive prison sentences for the online solicitation of a minor; direct the Crime Stoppers Advisory Council to use state rewards programs to emphasize reporting and apprehending predators and criminals; and create a clearinghouse of ISP contact information in the Attorney General's office so prosecutors can access important information necessary to prevent online predatory behavior.
The bills must be passed by the House of Representatives before they can be sent to Governor Rick Perry for final approval. The continued progress of these and all bills authored by Senator Zaffirini can be monitored via the internet at www.zaffirini.senate.state.tx.us or by contacting the Texas Legislative Reference Library's toll free in-state hotline, 1-877-824-7038.