Governor Abbott Signs SB 344 Into Law

May 22, 2015 | Austin, Texas | Legislative - Signature Statement

Governor Greg Abbott today signed Senate Bill 344 (Huffman, R-Houston; Dale, R-Cedar Park) to take effect September 1, 2015. SB 344 makes online solicitation of a minor a punishable offense. Governor Abbott issued the following statement upon signing the bill:

“It is regrettable that this bill is necessary. In 2013, the Court of Criminal Appeals barred the State from prosecuting a public school choir teacher named John Christopher Lo for sending sexually explicit text messages to a 15-year-old former student. In doing so, the Court inexplicably held that the First Amendment protects Lo’s sexually explicit communications to a minor. The Court of Criminal Appeals was wrong on the law, and its decision has dangerous consequences for Texas children. Under our current court system, however, this bill is all that the Court of Criminal Appeals ruling enables the Legislature to do to protect our children from dangerous predators. This law will, however, provide law enforcement and prosecutors more tools to combat online predators.”