CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Texas State Legislature recently passed two proposals penned by State Representative Todd Hunter; one of them being the Je’Sani Smith Act.
The Je’Sani Smith Act is named after a King High School student who drowned at a local beach in 2019.
House Bill 3807, the Je’Sani Smith Act, would require cities, counties, and the Parks and Wildlife Department to add signs and lifeguards by each pier, jetty, or other structure that extends into the Gulf of Mexico on public beaches. House Concurrent Resolution 46 would designate April as “Beach Safety and Rip Current Awareness Month” in Texas.
“I’m happy, but at the same time, it’s bittersweet, because it doesn’t bring my son back. But, it certainly aims at preventing tragedies like Je’Sani,” said Kiwanna Denson, Smith’s mother.
Denson said she has been trying to get this proposal passed for more than two years, and has worked closely with Rep. Hunter to get it written and proposed.
“It was worked out quite a bit with a lot of governmental entities. It went through a lot of steps, everybody had input,” Hunter said.
Hunter said if the proposals are passed, the state government would work with local governments to implement the changes. Denson hopes, if the proposal is passed by Governor Greg Abbott, that other states will follow Texas, and create their own laws.
“There is a lot more work to be done, we hope other states will model what the state of Texas is doing, if it passes. We would be the model for other states to do the same thing, to improve their safety on their public beaches,” she said.
Hunter expects the proposal to hit Governor Abbott’s desk sometime in June. If passed, the Je’Sani Smith Act would affect beaches from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and “Beach Safety and Rip Current Awareness Month” would be every April for the next ten years.