Texas House passes bills related to mental health, cybercrime

Texas House passes bill on mental health treatment

AUSTIN - The membership of the Texas House of Representatives has said mental health is a priority for them this session and a bill tentatively passed Wednesday was just one piece of legislation proving that.

The House passed House Bill 13 by Representative Four Price (R-Amarillo). The bill creates a $10 million per year matching grant program to support community mental health services and treatments. Both governmental entities and non-profits can apply for the grants. 

HB13 requires 25 percent of the total grant funds be awarded to communities with no more than 250,000 people. Five percent is for communities with no more than 125,000. The other 70 percent of the funds can go to any sized community and any money left over at the end of the year can be awarded to any sized community. 

The House will take a final vote on the bill Thursday. Members will also take a final vote on House Bill 9 which expands what is considered to be cybercrime.

HB 9 creates a criminal offense for electronic data tampering, specifically malware and ransomware.

"According to the FBI, ransomware attacks cost victims a total of 209-million dollars in the first three months of 2016," said the bill's author, Representative Giovanni Capriglione (R-Southlake).

The House also gave final approval to a bill from Representative Donna Howard (D-Austin) that will create a database to track rape kits. House Bill 281 also requires the database be tied into a national database, alerting officers to repeat offenders. 

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