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In the Meantime

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst released more interim charges he wants Senate committees to consider before the upper chamber gavels in January 2013. And it should be a surprise to few that there's a sustained focus on the Texas-Mexico border.

Lt. Governor David Dewhurst (l), talks with Sen. Dan Patrick on the floor of the Texas Senate on April 18, 2011.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst released more interim charges he wants Senate committees to consider before the upper chamber gavels in January 2013. And it should be a surprise to few that there's a sustained focus on the Texas-Mexico border.

Emphasizing the need to stop “deadly spillover violence” from Mexico, Dewhurst charged the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee with studying the effect of border violence and trafficking on the state’s economy, including the “infringement on property rights.” Dewhurst, who is running for U.S. Senate, pointedly added that Texas is filling in the holes the federal government has left open, a common Republican theme as he and the GOP party continue to assail the Obama administration over what they deem lax border-security policies.

"Washington has failed to live up to their Constitutional duty to secure our borders, but Texas has done our part," Dewhurst said in a statement. "Since 2006, the Texas Legislature has dedicated over $400 million to improve border security, including additional Department of Public Safety officers, helicopters and patrol vehicles."

The lieutenant governor also wants the Veteran Affairs and Military Installations Committee to join the transportation committee and examine how the state’s military forces – the national, state and air guards – can further their roles in statewide security.

Money laundering will also get a closer look, as the Criminal Justice Committee has been charged with reviewing existing laws to determine how to best to beef up local, state and federal statutes to combat the crime, and how best to enforce criminal actions against launderers. Dewhurst would also like the committee to team up with a joint interim committee on human trafficking to monitor how laws relating to the crime are being implemented.

Senators on the interim committee have also been asked to take a closer look at what services the local, state and federal governments make available for victims of the crime; to review procedures and services available to youths who have fallen victim to traffickers; and to take a closer look at the appropriate criminal penalties associated with the crime of prostitution.

The Senate committees have not scheduled any meetings so far. 

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