October 12, 2021
Unanimous Call for More Criminal Courts
- Commissioner Garcia presented a resolution to Commissioners that called on Governor Abbott to allow for the Legislature to immediately create more criminal district courts for Harris County. Felonies can only be heard by criminal district courts, and Harris County currently has a serious backlog of criminal cases caused by Hurricane Harvey and the COVID-19 pandemic. More felony courts will enable cases to be heard quickly. The resolution passed unanimously.
- Additionally, Commissioner Garcia passed a motion to create a task force to examine space for criminal justice proceedings. Hurricane Harvey damaged the Criminal Justice Center, and not all facilities are online. Under the Commissioner’s motion, all actors will be at the table determining how best to find workable space.
Biggest Texas Purchaser of Renewable Energy
- The Court approved two agreements with energy firms to purchase renewable energy to power county facilities and develop a comprehensive energy strategy to reduce the County’s overall energy use. Commissioner Garcia led this effort to reimagine how Harris County purchases energy. Chosen through a competitive bid process, Energy Edge will procure renewable energy from utility-scale wind and solar farms, and Tradition Energy will develop an energy strategy that evaluates behind-the-meter solutions such as rooftop solar, battery storage and other energy efficient initiatives. With this increase over current 256,000,000 kwh annually, Harris County will be largest county purchaser of renewable energy in Texas!
Sexual Assault Response Team
- At Tuesday's Court, Harris County instructed the Justice Administration Department to work with the Houston Area Women's Center, Houston Police Department, Harris County Sheriff's Office, District Attorney's Office, and the Institute of Forensic Sciences to identify officers for appointment to the County's inaugural Sexual Assault Response Team at the upcoming Court meeting on November 9.
- The Sexual Assault Response Team will meet regularly and establish the County's written response protocol to enhance a holistic, trauma- informed response that will work to improve how all County entities serve victims of sexual violence.
U-VISA Certification Model Policy
- The Commissioners Court unanimously approved the U-VISA Certification Policy, offered by the Justice Administration Department, to be Harris County’s model policy, a guide for local law enforcement.
- The U-VISA Certification is a step in an immigration process that confers a path to residency for victims of crime in the United States. Victims will be encouraged to talk to law enforcement about crimes against them, instead of staying silent due to fear of deportation.
Fund Transfer to Trauma and Resilience Center
- Commissioner’s Court unanimously passed Commissioner Garcia’s request to transfer of funds to UT Health Houston Trauma and Resilience Center to provide psychotherapy of COVID-related trauma to domestic violence victims and first responders.
- The Trauma and Resilience Center (TRC) provides gold standard, evidence-based psychotherapy via home-based telemedicine to survivors of extreme trauma. TRC helps the worst of the worst trauma cases and has created specialty tracks and funding for Veterans and their families, elder abuse and first responders.
- TRC needed to establish funding for domestic and family violence survivors and for first responders because the need is great and exacerbated by COVID-19 stresses. In the past year, requests for TRC services increased over 300%.
In Recognition to Hispanic Heritage Month
- Commissioners Court recognizes Luz Lopez for her hard work in the Cloverleaf Community. A Northshore High School graduate, she is a business owner and strong advocate for the Cloverleaf community.
- Commissioners Court recognized Ornaldo Ybarra, a City of Pasadena native and Councilmember. Councilmember. Ornaldo has served 11 years in city council, fought for just redistricting and brought major improvements to his neglected Hispanic district.
The Honorable Frances Tarlton "Sissy" Farenthold
- For all her contributions to the State of Texas, Commissioners Court recognized The Honorable Frances Tarlton "Sissy" Farenthold.