First responder advocates push for workers’ compensation reforms

By: Natalie Martinez

ABILENE, Texas – Advocates for wounded officers are traveling across Texas to share their battles with workers’ compensation and lobby for two bills currently in the Texas Legislature.

House bills 1688 and 1689 were filed earlier this month by Texas Rep. Dustin Burrows—H.B. 1688 would provide law enforcement with a liaison within the Texas Department of Workers’ Compensation agency and H.B. 1689 would allow law enforcement to take legal action, if necessary, against TDWC.

Mary Duncan, a wife of a wounded officer, has had several meetings with Rep. Burrows and local law enforcement agencies to help get the bills off the ground. She said one of the difficulties with workers’ compensation is the wait.

Her husband, Tommy Duncan, was injured in the line of duty in 1977 while serving the Olney Police Department. She said he was shot in the face with a shotgun and nearly lost his vision.

She said officers need to wait till the agency gave them approval to see the doctor she said or whether or not they can have a procedure.

“It not only hurts that officer, it hurts the family, it hurts their children, it hurts everyone,” Duncan said.

For Jacob Flores, a medically retired Lubbock police officer, TDWC wouldn’t cover his medication. He was injured in the line of duty three years ago during what became his last foot chase.

“You just want to go out there and do what’s good for the community, and being injured is in the back of the mind,” Flores said.

His department was notified of an Amber Alert — Flores encountered the suspect’s vehicle when he got off work and started chasing. Flores broke his tibia after taking a wrong step while running.

Flores’ injury was so severe he almost lost his foot and his body began to form blood clots. He needed blood thinners, but workers’ compensation wouldn’t cover the expense of $800 per month.

“I kept thinking, why was this medication being denied?” he said. “Why was the cost of it of any importance to my health?”

Flores also had to undergo physical therapy, and he needed more than the amount of sessions covered by workers’ comp. So he paid out of pocket, and he still pays for items related to his injury out of pocket to this day. Flores said if it wasn’t for physicians helping walk him through the process of working with workers compensation, he wouldn’t be where he is today.

Duncan said the Peace Officers Angels Foundation helps officers in situations like Flores’ but they are the only group in the state that does so.

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South Plains Food Bank to Launch ‘Feed Our Kids. Fuel Our Future’ Campaign

By: News Release & Posted By Staff | [email protected]

LUBBOCK, TX (NEWS RELEASE) – A new campaign is set to launch at the South Plains Food Bank. The “Feed Our Kids. Fuel Our Future.” campaign will initiate a new strategy to combat childhood hunger across the South Plains.  Through fundraising for the campaign, the Food Bank hopes to establish 10 new Kids Cafe sites, distribute 500 more snack packs for school holidays, and prepare 500 more Kids Cafe meals each day. They hope to accomplish these goals over the next five years.

The campaign also seeks to raise $500,000  for Children’s Feeding Programs, and inspire 200 people across the area to commit to become “Child Hunger Advocates” through monthly donations of $30 or more.

According to Feeding America, almost 30,000 children are food-insecure across the South Plains Food Bank’s 20 county service area. That means 1 in 4 children across the South Plains are at risk of going to bed hungry, and that number moves up to 1 in 3 across their rural communities.

State Representative Dustin Burrows understands the need for children to receive adequate nutrition and hopes the community will rally to help the Food Bank achieve their goals with this campaign.
“Children are our most vulnerable population,” Burrows says. “If they don’t have proper and adequate nutrition, they cannot focus and learn and often act out and are disruptive. Children are our future, and while providing adequate nutrition won’t solve all of the world’s problems, it’s a great start to set our children up for success in society.”

Burrows will be advocating for the community to support the Food Bank to ensure children across his district receive proper nutrition.

Someone else who knows the importance of nutrition is Avery McDonald, a student at Kingdom Prep Academy who has raised funds for the Food Bank in the past. She is hoping to motivate students to become more involved in their community.

“I like to sell some of my extra toys and clothes and donate the money to the Food Bank to help kids who might be hungry,” Avery says. “I’m excited because we thought up this idea to get more kids involved by dedicating their birthdays to the Food Bank.”

Individuals can sign up online at to dedicate their birthday to the Food Bank. Both money and food donations will be counted towards the goal of the campaign.

With help from the Food Bank’s supporters, like Dustin Burrows and Avery, CEO David Weaver hopes to generate greater awareness about the issue of childhood hunger across the South Plains.
“We are excited for the potential results the success of this campaign will yield,” Weaver says. “We are also thrilled to provide ways for children to take an active role to help their peers in need. Through this campaign, we are fueling the future by helping children realize they can make a difference in our community and by making sure more children receive the nutrition they need to succeed.”

Donations towards the “Feed Our Children. Fuel Our Future.” campaign can be made online at

(News release from the South Plains Food Bank)

Lubbock Chamber in Austin for Lubbock Day at the State Capitol

AUSTIN, TX (KCBD) –The Lubbock Chamber of Commerce is in Austin for Lubbock Day at the State Capitol, giving the Lubbock community a spotlight at the State Capitol and the opportunity to meet legislators and discuss issues important to the Lubbock area economy.

Every two years the Chamber plans a trip for the Lubbock community and business leaders to go to Austin to meet with legislators. This year, approximately 130 people are expected to attend, including the Chamber’s Leadership Lubbock participants as well as many Chamber members.

The Lubbock Chamber of Commerce represents more than 2,000 businesses and over 79,000 employees on the South Plains which account for more than $2 billion in annual household earnings in Lubbock and West Texas.

The Chamber has twice earned the distinguished 5-Star Accreditation from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and is a two-time Chamber of the Year recognized by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives.

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‘Lubbock Day’ Gives City a Voice at the State Capitol

By: Rachel Glaser

AUSTIN, TX – The City of Lubbock stepped into the state’s spotlight in honor of ‘Lubbock Day’ at the Texas Capitol Monday.

More than 100 people made the nearly 400-mile trip from Lubbock to Austin for ‘Lubbock Day,’ a time for business and community leaders to bring local issues and concerns to the attention of lawmakers.

The opportunity comes once every two years, when Texas lawmakers go into session, to ensure the city and the people who call Lubbock home, have voice at the Capitol, now and in the future.

Three state lawmakers who represent Lubbock met with business and community leaders Wednesday morning.

Many business and community leaders from Lubbock voiced concerns about the same “major issue,” the need for state funding to help pay for the new Texas Tech veterinary school.

State Rep. John Frullo, R-Lubbock, asked the crowd how many believe state support for the veterinary school school is important and every hand in the room went up in the air.

“We are working on that,” Frullo said, “and there is a real need that’s not being met by other vet schools.”

Frullo, along with State Rep. Dustin Burrows and State Sen. Charles Perry, vowed to carve out a place for Lubbock in the State Capitol, to address the issues that are most important to the city and the people who call Lubbock home.

“The High Plains of Texas is different, our situation is different,” said Steve Verett, Executive Vice President for Plains Cotton Growers, Inc.

“Certainly there’s always concerns about education and healthcare, all the things that are important to all Texans but may have a unique application to the rural areas and places like Lubbock,” Verett said.

While pushing local issues onto the statewide stage, ‘Lubbock Day’ is also about selling state government to the city’s next generation.

“Citizens have to understand the role that they play because so often people complain about government and the decisions that are made but they are not part of the process,” said Cory Powell, Chairman Elect of the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s a good way to remind the citizens of our communities, the important role they play in government,” Powell said.

Rep. Burrows, R-Lubbock, first visited the Capitol with his Leadership Lubbock class more than a decade ago.

Former State Sen. Robert Duncan inspired Burrows to get involved in policy decision making. Now in his second term in the Texas House, Rep. Burrows hopes to encourage others to get involved in state politics.

“Whether it’s serving on boards or running for state office, it’s just important for good people from Lubbock to be active in their community and have their voice heard,” Burrows said.

Burrows declared Wednesday ‘Lubbock Day’ in the Texas House. “It’s an honor to introduce my neighbors, friends and proud citizens of my hometown, the City of Lubbock,” said Burrows.

Sen. Perry read the proclamation in the State Senate to recognize Lubbock, the city he’s called home for the past 35 years.

Our View: Burrows’ bills to help injured officers need to be passed

Lubbock Avalanche Journal

State Rep. Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock, recently filed legislation designed to provide assistance to law enforcement officers in the state who are injured in the line of duty. Burrows’ two bills are designed to provide injured lawmen with a liaison to help them negotiate medical coverage with the state’s workers’ compensation program.

It’s not that injured law enforcement officers aren’t covered by workers’ comp, but dealing with the program without some knowledgeable assistance can leave them and their families with the arduous task of obtaining needed medical care and medications. Many people have experienced difficulties in dealing with insurance companies, and negotiating with a government agency can make it even tougher. Burrows’ bills are aimed at alleviating the stress of wading through what can be a mountain of red tape and paperwork.

Burrows’ action has drawn the support of lawmen and their families, who have their own war stories about dealing with workers’ compensation. Among those supporting Burrows is the Peace Officers Angels Foundation, an advocacy group headed in this area by Mary Duncan, who has worked for the cause as the spouse of an injured officer.

Some local and area law enforcement officers and their families have described the problems they have encountered in trying to get their medical claims accepted. The process has often left them with more questions than answers as to why in some cases medical care and medications have been denied. That has heaped even more stress upon them as they continue to deal with their physical problems.

One of the more disheartening cases involved Amarillo police officer Justin Scherlen, who was severely injured in a traffic accident while on duty in 2015. Scherlen underwent multiple surgeries and procedures, then developed an infection that required a specific medication that cost $15,000 for a 30-day supply. Workers’ comp would not approve the high-priced drug, and Scherlen eventually died from complications of his injuries.

Scherlen’s wife, Jessica, said the family had a caseworker helping them with the workers’ comp process and was appreciative of her efforts, but she was unable to wade through all the red tape. The news of Burrows’ bills gave Jessica Scherlen, as well as other injured officers and their families, hope that something could be put in place to help future victims.

We applaud Burrows for recognizing that something has to be done in this regard. After all, our law enforcement officers on all levels put their lives on the line every day in making the world in which we live a safer place. We owe them more than any sort of compensation that can be directed toward them.

Our question is why hasn’t something like Burrows’ legislation been addressed before. This legislation will go a long way toward easing the stress and concerns officers and their families encounter in dealing with government red tape. We regard Burrows’ bills as no-brainers and urge the Legislature to act on this immediately. After all, we owe it to our law enforcement community.

Read more here:

Burrows considering reform to body-worn camera law

KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) – A recent KCBD investigation has caught the attention of a state lawmaker.

Earlier this month, we requested the body-worn camera video of a Lubbock police officer attempting to stop a vehicle by shooting out its tires.

That request was denied due to a recent state law that places restrictions on the release of body-worn camera video.

Now, District 83 State Representative Dustin Burrows is looking into it.

“Did you see our recent story and our interview with Chief Stevens about the body-worn camera law?” we asked Burrows.

“I did, great story. Certainly the police chief raised some very legitimate concerns,” Burrows said.

Lubbock Police Chief Greg Stevens spoke at a news conference following an evening where officers fired their weapons in two separate incidents.

One of those was caught on camera.

When asked if the department would release that video, the chief said the body-worn camera law was precarious.

“I would rather put out video than not so let me do some research and make sure I don’t run afoul of state law,” he said.

As the KCBD Investigative Team reported earlier this month, Chief Stevens said he checked with the city attorney, and according to the recent state law, they would not be able to release the video.

“I think the public’s need to know is a very important consideration,” Burrows said.

“I think more times, probably most times, than not it’s going to show we have great law enforcement, really solid. We don’t need to have a cloud of doubt lingering because that video is being withheld,” Burrows said.

“It’s my goal to release video anytime we can. That is how you build transparency,” Stevens said.

Senator Charles Perry said this topic has come up recently in senate hearings.

“I think given enough time and enough vetting and enough discussion through the legislative process, you are going to see those windows of opportunity to have those body cams and that footage and stuff more available and more transparent,” Perry said.

He said it has really become an awareness item in the last 12 months.

While Perry believes the video might become more accessible, he has some concerns.

“I am a huge advocate of a criminal justice system that is fair and equitable for all and in that process, if you are starting to release stuff really before it was vetted or the narrative if you will, can be developed as to what really went down here, you may do a disservice to either side of that,” Perry said.

It is something Burrows said he is going to look into.

“I do want to talk to the district attorney’s office and the attorney general’s office about that. I heard pretty clearly on your story that more times than not, the police chief wants to release this ahead of time, and I think their interests need to be taken into consideration,” Burrows said.

Burrows said one of his main concerns is the privacy of the individuals captured in the video who are not law enforcement officers.

“We are seeing if there is a way their faces can be blurred out,” Burrows said.

Burrows said as it reads right now, the law appears to be pretty vague.

“We are taking a hard look at it and trying to think through some of the logistics of what needs to be done,” Burrows said.

Copyright 2017 KCBD. All rights reserved.

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Burrows introduces bills aimed at fiscal accountability, transparency in government

Fiscal accountability and transparency in government is the goal of a trio of bills introduced by Lubbock State Rep. Dustin Burrows.

In a statement Burrows said, “legislators and state agencies ought to be judged by how well they meet legitimate objectives.”

One of the bills directs every state agency that makes legislative appropriations requests to prepare reports identifying contingency plans for 1 percent, 5 percent, and 10 percent spending cuts.

Another addresses transparency and accountability by state agencies and government leaders about their requests for universities to conduct studies for them.

The third calls for the legislative budget board to be subject to sunset review. and tasks the state comptroller with reviewing the accuracy of the board’s analysis of costs associated with proposed legislation.

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Child Protection Advocates: Focus on Prevention

Child Protective Services advocates and the commissioner that heads the agency think they have come up with one solution for the problems that are plaguing Texas. Their solution is to focus on prevention programs, including home visits.

By: Lana Shadwick

Advocates say that budget cuts are not the answer and that federal funding is limited. KXAN in Austin reported that a spokesperson for TexProtects, Lee Nichols, said a prevention driven program “protects children and changes lives and it keeps them from ever going into the legal system, saves money on special education, all kinds of things across the board.”

Counties in the state bear the burden to provide funds for lawyers who represent parents once they get caught up in the system, as well as paying for regional offices and caseworkers and lawyers who represent the state agency.

Breitbart Texas reported that Texas Governor Greg Abbott named CPS reform one of his four emergency priorities for the 2017 Texas legislative session.

According to spokesman Patrick Crimmins, Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) Commissioner Hank Whitman has named prevention as “one of the points in his 10-point plan.”

In Commissioner Whitman’s letter to Governor Abbott dated July 5, 2016 he wrote:

The single best way to protect a young child from abuse or neglect is to provide young parents with the tools and resources to build a safe, healthy household – and avoid CPS involvement. Prevention is key, and our Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) programs must be expanded and strengthened. PEI programs are community-based and targeted to families most at risk. These programs are taking hold in communities and we are working hard to divert families from the child welfare system.

Texas State Representative Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock) told Breitbart Texas, “I support policies and initiatives to keep children with their parents and out of the child welfare system. Programs designed to accomplish this will have an opportunity to make their case for funding during the appropriations process, and, we must carefully consider these requests.” Rep. Burrows served on the Texas House Committee on County Affairs last session and was a part of the legislative team that traveled the state studying the problems in the foster care and child protection system. He heard from child abuse and neglect experts in the various regions.

The Legislative Appropriations Request (LAR) from the DFPS describes the state agency’s request for additional funding. In early October when DFPS was suffering from more bad press after media reports were blasting the agency for failing to timely follow-up on abuse and neglect reports, Breitbart Texas reported about the LAR requests by the agency.

The agency’s LAR for fiscal years 2018-2019 includes the following “EXCEPTIONAL ITEM REQUESTS.” As can be seen by the administrator’s statement in this LAR, DFPS is requesting funding “above the FY 2018-19 baseline request for six exceptional items totaling $498.1 million general revenue ($534.0 million All Funds).”

The LAR “Administrator Statement” provides, “New staffing requests total 1,823.4 FTEs in FY 2018 and 1,943.0 FTEs in FY 2019. This request builds on recent improvements and aligns with the ambitious goals in my 10-point plan. To be successful, this agency must have the resources to fortify and improve the child welfare system and provide young parents with resources to build safe and healthy homes.”

The exceptional items are grouped within eight goals:

  1. Increase Funding to Meet the Needs of the Growing Number of Vulnerable Children, Adults, and Their Families
  2. Increase Staff Resources to Achieve Better Outcomes for Vulnerable Children, Adults, and Their Families
  3. Enhance CPS Investigation Capacity to Improve Caseworker Decision Making
  4. Strengthen and Expand High Quality Capacity and Systems in the Foster Care System
  5. Increase Safety, Permanency, & Well-Being for Children & Youth through Sustaining CPS Transformation and Engaging Community Partners
  6. Expand and Strengthen Community-Based Prevention and Early Intervention Programs
  7. PLACEHOLDER: Further Improve High Quality Care for Children in Foster and Kinship Care
  8. PLACEHOLDER: Increase Funding to Retain a High Performing Workforce

Crimmins pointed to exception item #6. It totals $26.7 million (GR and all funds) and “supports the new strategy for PEI to focus on research and evaluation, data-driven decision-making, and expansion of evidence-based practices, improving contracting processes and contractor effectiveness, and more effective outreach to families and improved communication with community partners and stakeholders.”

He says the request would:

  1. Enhance PEI’s ability to conduct research, evaluation, and quality monitoring/reporting to inform programming;
  2. Ensure efficient and effective execution, management, and monitoring of contracts in an increasingly transparent and collaborative manner;
  3. Grow the state’s ability to proactively address child maltreatment and provide independent reviews, coordinate data and research with other state agencies, the health care industry, and national organizations, and provide training to agency staff – $1.4 million GR ($1.5 million all funds) and 9.4 FTEs by FY 2019;
  4. Grow public awareness campaigns to influence attitudes, beliefs and behaviors related to parenting and child safety – $2.9 million GR and all funds and 7.1 FTEs by FY 2019;
  5. Expand PEI services – $22.3 million GR and all funds and 4.1 FTEs by 2019;
  6. Shift contracting for STAR (Services to At-Risk Youth) to offer contractor flexibility to provide services beyond crisis intervention to families with children 6-17 years of age;
  7. Expand eligibility for evidence-based home visiting to a broader set of CPS high-risk families with very young children through Project HIP (Helping through Intervention & Prevention);
  8. Pilot a regional lead agency model to allow more community ownership over finding solutions to local issues;
  9. Increase the CYD (Community Youth Development) program by 10 percent;
  10. Increase HOPES (Healthy Outcomes Through Prevention and Early Support) and Texas’ home visiting programs by 10 percent;
  11. Expand eligibility to include families determined by CPS’s structured decision-making tool to be high-risk to and be served through voluntary, evidence-based home visiting services and also allowing families meeting the original program eligibility to be served when the child is under five rather than under two years of age through Project HIP.

Crimmins added in his email to Breitbart Texas that the agency “will continue to share information and answer questions about the tremendous value of prevention programs” as this legislative session progresses.

“If we invest in these programs properly then all of these problems with too high of case load at CPS will change,” Nichols was reported by KXAN to say. “If there are fewer kids going into CPS then those problems come down and less money needs to be spent.”

Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as a prosecutor and associate judge in Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2.

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Rep. Dustin Burrows introduces 3 bills focused on taxpayers’ dollars

By: Amber Stegall

(KCBD) – District 83 Representative Dustin Burrows introduced three bills Monday focused on “effective stewardship of taxpayers’ dollars.”

“Our state government – legislators and our state agencies – ought to be judged by how well we meet legitimate objectives. These bills encourage proper budget planning and accountability. Like Texas families, our government entities must live within their means, and avoid surprises that affect financial solvency,” said Burrows.

HB-1839 directs every state agency that makes legislative appropriations requests to prepare detailed reports identifying measures they will take to reduce expenditures from general revenue by 1%, 5% and 10%. A companion bill in the Texas Senate (SB-135), offered by Senator Van Taylor addresses agency spending as well. “The Senate bill establishes a level of taxpayer protection by requiring that agencies plan for spending cuts to meet the state’s fiscal needs or save taxpayers’ dollars. Rather than treat taxpayers as a bottomless well from which government can grow, this bill instructs state agencies to routinely evaluate ways to lower their burden on Texas taxpayers,” said Senator Taylor in a recent statement on SB-135.

HB-1840 addresses transparency and accountability among state agencies and state government officials when requesting studies be completed by the state’s institutions of higher education.  At the request of state agencies and all three branches of the state government, Texas taxpayers foot the bill for numerous studies – often conducted with little or no legislative oversight. “Our universities produce first class work, but the taxpayer needs to know who is requesting the studies, why, and at what cost,” said Burrows.

HB-1841 calls for the Legislative Budget Board (LBB) to be subject to sunset review and directs the Comptroller of Public Accounts to review the accuracy of LBB’s fiscal notes – notes which can directly lead to the passage of – or the death of – proposed legislation. “Transparency is key to the operation of each and every state agency — and the LBB is a lynch pin in the legislative process. HB-1841 opens for public review LBB’s critical function,” said Burrows.

Copyright 2017 KCBD. All rights reserved.

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Representative Dustin Burrows Confident In Sanctuary Cities Legislation [INTERVIEW]

Monday on The Chad Hasty Show Texas House District 83 Representative Dustin Burrows joined the show to talk about news from the 85th Texas Legislature.

Burrows and Hasty discussed many items, including committee assignments and priorities for the Texas House of Representatives, including Child Protective Services reforms, the state’s budget, and the “sanctuary cities” bill.

“I feel reasonably confident we’re going to pass the sanctuary cities bill in the Texas House,” Burrows said.

Listen to the entire interview with Representative Dustin Burrows in the video above.

The Chad Hasty Show airs weekday mornings live, from 8:30 AM to 11:00 AM on News/Talk 95.1 Fm and 790 AM, KFYO, online at, and on the freeRadioPup app. Follow Chad on Twitter via @ChadHastyRadio & KFYO Radio at@KFYO!

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