HB 861

84(R) - 2015
House Criminal Jurisprudence
House Criminal Jurisprudence
Criminal Justice

Vote Recommendation

  • Neutral
  • Neutral
  • Neutral
  • Positive
  • Neutral


Tony Dale


Rafael Anchia
Cindy Burkett
Marsha Farney
John Frullo
Rick Galindo
Donna Howard
Mark Keough
Phil King
Lyle Larson
Jeff Leach
Eddie Lucio III
Will Metcalf
Joe Moody
Geanie Morrison
Chris Paddie
Tan Parker
Gilbert Pena
Four Price
Eddie Rodriguez
J.D. Sheffield
Ron Simmons
Jason Villalba
James White

Bill Caption

Relating to the prosecution of the offense of online solicitation of a minor.

Fiscal Notes

No significant fiscal implication to the State or local government is anticipated.

Bill Analysis

HB 861 updates the statute on the offense of online solicitation to reflect a recent decision by a court of criminal appeals. The opinion of the court was that “Section 33.021(b) of the Texas Penal Code, which deals with the purported intent of those involved in online solicitation of minors, is overbroad because it prohibits a wide array of constitutionally protected speech and is not narrowly drawn to achieve only the legitimate objective of protecting children from sexual abuse. We need not, therefore, address whether the provision is also unconstitutionally vague or violates the Dormant Commerce Clause.”

Vote Recommendation Notes

HB 861 removes unconstitutional language from the Penal Code. We appreciate the legislature for addressing the previous action of the Texas Legislature. This bill seeks to support free speech -- one of our essential liberties.

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, appointed by Ronald Reagan, said the “first amendment freedoms are most in danger when the government seeks to control thought or to justify its laws for that impermissible end. The right to think is the beginning of freedom, and speech must be protected from the government because speech is the beginning of thought"(source).

Even abhorrent thoughts should be protected as free speech. Encouraging individuals to deem what sort of free speech is acceptable is supporting someone else to be seen as capable of controlling someone else's thoughts. Despite the objectionable nature of certain words, we must attempt to preserve the liberty of the first amendment. We support this bill for preserving limited government.

Organizations Supporting

Houston Police Department
Texas Municipal Police Association