Tuesday, May 01, 2007

House names conference committee members on Jessica's Law

Quorum Report says the House rejected Senate amendments to Jessica's Law (HB 8) and sent the bill to conference committee. House conferees are: Reps. Debbie Riddle (R-Tomball), Dan Gattis (R-Georgetown), Aaron Pena (D-Edinburg), Jerry Madden (R-Richardson) and Joe Deshotel (D-Beaumont). That's a diverse group, and it's diffiucult to predict their collective positions.

My druthers: An intractable disagreement among conference committee members that delays and ultimately kills the bill. Even better, it dies because of Lt. Governor Dewhurst's hard-line stance regarding high first offense penalties and death penalty provisions that could threaten lives of victims.

But as the Rolling Stones remind us in every "final" concert tour: You can't always get what you want. If Dewhurst appoints conference committe member who're willing to compromise, the bill's denouement could become an almost routine affair. If Dewhurst packs Senate conferees with hard liners, I wouldn't be surprised to see HB 8 run into major trouble in the home stretch, despite how far and fast it's gone so far.

The clock is ticking - just 27 calendar days left - and there really isn't much time to overcome concerted opposition, especially given what Patti Hart described on BurkaBlog as "inch deep" support in the Senate. I think we'll probably see some compromise report come out of the conference committee, but unless it' substantially cleaned up from its current status, I wonder if one chamber or the other might not rebel at least enough to overcome this junky piece of legislative flotsam.


Patrick Timmons said...

Kill this bill. It's an awful mistake. After Tulia, TYC, the Dallas Drug Busts, inhumane conditions in the prison system, how can Texas legislators have any faith in using the criminal law to craft social policy?

Oh, I forgot myself, Jessica's Bill is all just grandstanding anyway, right?

Let's hope that there are cooler heads in the Senate that will prevail. There's no hope with Aaron Pena and the others on the House Committee. Debbie Riddle has a tenuous grasp over reality. What did she say in 2003 about school teachers and hell again?

JT Barrie said...

Hey, I've got a law that I would support: a two year waiting period for laws meant to use the criminal justice system to respond to a specific tragic event. Call it a "cooling off" period. Impose criminal fines upon legisliars for even proposing such legislation prior to the end of this period.