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Texas Matters: Sex Trafficking Hotels, Dark Money In Texas Supreme Court Elections And Solar Energy

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A woman who says she was first sex-trafficked at the age of 4 has filed a lawsuit against three north Texas hotel chains. Her suit claims the businesses were complicit by "enjoying the profit from rooms rented for explicit purposes."

Sex trafficking is a 100 billion dollar enterprise and it’s is growing. Over a five-year period, cases of sex trafficking reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline in Texas have more than doubled.

Watch dogs say legal businesses are profiting from sex trafficking. Experts say more than 60 percent of sex trafficking occurs in hotels and eight out of ten arrests for sex trafficking happens in or around hotels.

Monica Cooper is an attorney at the Lanier Law Firm which has filed a law on behalf of an unnamed woman who said she was the victim of sex trafficking starting at the age of 4. The lawsuit is against well known hotel chains and alleges the hotel employees knew about on going sex trafficking activities that happened on site. They did nothing to stop the illegal activity and also profited from it.

The hotel chains named in the suit have issued statements that say they follow the law and that they condemn human trafficking. The hotels are in support of industry efforts to fight sex trafficking while raising awareness of this inhumane and horrific crime. And that they provide information and training for their staff on how to recognize and report sex trafficking.

Dark $$$ in TX Supreme Court Races

In the coming 2020 election most news coverage will be focused on top of the ticket races – like president and senator and swing congressional districts around Texas. There won’t be a lot of attention paid to some of the elections for high court seats in Texas and that’s unfortunate because what happens on the Texas Supreme Court will have a direct impact on the lives of all Texans.  Most voters likely won’t know the candidates by name – but there will be a lot of money flowing into those races.

A new report by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law finds that special interest groups are taking a special interest in campaigns for State Supreme Court Judgeships and they are spending big money.

Douglas Keith is a council at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. He is the lead  author of the report “The Politics of Judicial Elections: 2017-2018 – How Dark Money, Interest Groups and Big Donors Shape State High Courts.” 

Texas' Coming Solar Decade

At the close of the decade it’s worth noting one area of significant growth in Texas has been in renewable energy. Texas has been a leader in wind energy production and is gaining ground in solar. Much of the leadership has come from Texas cities. Seven Texas mayors have joined a list of 300 U.S. mayors that have signed a letter released this week by Environment Texas Research and Policy Center that calls for more solar power.

Jen Schmerling is the deputy director of Environment Texas. She points out that Texas solar capacity has increased 339 fold in the last decade and it’s expected to see massive exponential growth in the 2020’s.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi