Dawnna Dukes is an eighth term member of the Texas House of Representatives and a third generation native of District 46, which comprises inner-city East Austin and Northeast Travis County. Rep. Dukes currently serves as a respected member of the Appropriations Committee, the Stimulus Subcommittee on Appropriations, member of the Health and Human services subcommittee on Appropriations, as well as a member of the Culture, Recreation and Tourism Committee. In addition, she has served as a member of the Joint Task Force on the Use of Sales Tax on Sporting Goods and a member of the Medicaid Reform Legislative Oversight Committee.
As an active member of the Texas House of Representatives, Representative Dukes has led the fight to: improve public and higher education by requiring school districts to inform parents of uncertified instructors teaching in the classroom; increase funding for early childhood education; and promote dropout prevention programs as well as an across the board pay raise for every full-time teacher, counselor and school nurse. She has also fought to make college more accessible to low income students by co-sponsoring the 100 million dollar TEXAS Grant Program.
In her commitment to increase school safety and build safer neighborhoods, Representative Dukes created tougher penalties against gang recruitment and activity; expanded the “gun free school zones” provision and protected a child’s right to due process under the law by requiring that proper counsel be provided to youth during law enforcement interrogations. She also strengthened protective orders to ensure that victims of child, spousal, adult and elder abuse receive greater protection. In 2003 Dukes passed legislation increasing the rights of minors by allowing them access to emergency shelters to protect the physical health and safety of the minor. Due to her consistent crusade for the equality of all people, she was named the 1999 Outstanding Human Rights Advocate by the Human Rights Campaign. In 2007, Dukes passed land mark legislative to prevent teen dating violence, requiring all school districts in Texas to include a teen dating violence identification and education program into their campus safety programs.
In 2003, Representative Dukes was instrumental in crafting the two year budget for the Department of Human Services totaling $9.12 billion and the two year budget for the Interagency Council on Early Childhood Intervention totaling $249 million, preserving funding to ensure that Texans with disabilities and the aging population would continue to have access to vital health care services and their long term care needs would be met. In 2005, Representative Dukes was active in crafting the two year budget for the Department of Family and Protective Services totaling $2.09 billion, including Child Protective Services Reform and restoring the funding for prevention programs for at risk youth. She also passed an Appropriations rider directing the state to apply for a Woman’s Medicaid Waiver that expands physical exams, health care screenings and family planning services for low-income women. In 2007, Dukes who serves on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services worked to restore the $82 million dollars needed to fund CHIP legislation, HB 109 which she joint authored with Rep. Turner and $90 million to increase innovative measures to protect children under the Department of Family and Protective Services. In addition, as Chair of the Subcommittee on Specials Issues, Rep. Dukes engineered an across the board pay raise for all state employees and targeted pay raises for DPS, TABC and Criminal Justice divisions that were 15% below competitive market pay grades.
Representative Dukes has systematically challenged state leadership to address environmental racism by preventing the development of undesirable industry in neighborhoods, has worked to reduce air pollution from Texas industries, and has strengthened State oversight of municipal landfills. Due to her innovative guidance and strong efforts to protect the environment, the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club presented Representative Dukes with the “New Leadership for the Environment” award in 1995.
In 1999, Representative Dukes engineered comprehensive legislation to improve the State’s Historically Underutilized Business program that leveled the playing field for women and minority owned businesses in the competition and the awarding of state contracts. She received national recognition in 1999 for her legislative efforts to promote the increased participation of women and minority owned businesses in Texas by being named State Legislator of the Year by the National Association of Small Disadvantaged Businesses. In 2002, Representative Dukes was presented with the YWCA Woman of the Year award for her dedication and work in public policy and government services.
In 2007, Representative Dukes was the prime architect of legislation that will bring Texas into the forefront of the competitive Film Industry. HB 1634 by Dukes created the Texas Film Incentive program which provides an incentive to a project that produces at least 80% of it work and hires at least 70% of its workforce from Texas. Film Incentive legislation will not only benefit the Austin Film Studios presently located at Robert Mueller in District 46 but also the planned $2.5 billion Villa Muse studio development to be located in District 46.
Representative Dukes has traveled extensively as an ambassador for the State of Texas and the United States. In 1995, Dukes was one of eight legislators chosen from the United States to be part of the 1995 American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL) delegation to Taiwan. She was also selected by ACYPL and an ancillary group, the Atlantic Association of Young Political Leaders (AAYPL), to represent the United States in a conference on the future of NATO in the 21st century with Canadian and European counterparts in Brussels, Belgium. During her second term, Dukes was among four individuals nationwide to be selected by the Japan Society to become a 1997 Local Public Policy Fellow. For two months, Dukes traveled through Japan to research and write about women-owned business, and race and gender relations in Japan.
Representative Dukes is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a B.S. in Psychology. She is the owner of DM Dukes and Associates, Inc., a consulting firm; a member of the Links, Inc.-Austin Chapter and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.-Beta Psi Omega Graduate Chapter.