Bill sponsor Rep. Debbie Riddle thinks:
A) HB 8 will "send a message, loud and clear, to child predators" that will prevent their heinous acts,
B) "People who commit this kind of crime do not go around with the same rational reasoning process as you do." "They did not think about it," she said in response to criticisms that giving the death penalty to child molesters made them more likely to kill their victims.
So which is it? Will repeat child molesters learn of HB 8, quaver in their shoes, and change their dastardly ways, or will they not even be aware of the new law and disregard it entirely without drawing the obvious, rational conclusion under the law that they're better off if they murder the witness to the crime, in this case the child victim?
All this came out in debate over Rep. Harold Dutton's amendment to change the maximum penalty to Life Without Parole. What do you think? Would child molesters change their behavior in response to the law, or are they oblivious? I don't think it can be both.
I'm glad to see at least one pro-life member speaking up, btw. Will Hartnett, the Republican Chair of the House Judiciary Committee's questions to Dutton sounded supportive of the LWOP option.
UPDATE: ... And now we wait ... on FOUR points of order as of 3:49 p.m..
NUTHER UPDATE: At 3:57 Rep. Senfronia Thompson brought ANOTHER point of order, so now five by my count. Opponents really came loaded for bear today. And still, we wait some more.
Two points of order were ruled on in the end. The motion to table on Dutton's amendment passed 88-49.
Death penalty for child molesters it its, then, I guess.
FINAL UPDATE (7:10 p.m.): I had to leave for a meeting and returned a little after 7 p.m. to find HB 8 postponed until Monday. I wonder what the hell happened? Apparently a cadre of Republican reps delayed the legislation against the bill sponsor's wishes. Reports the Quorum Report:
The Lege is a weird place. Could this be a Sex Offender Switcheroo? Maybe at least they'll fix some of the bill's most obvious problems. More on this, I guess, on Monday.
Citing the need to get input from local prosecutors, Reps. Dan Gattis, John Smithee, Jerry Madden and others moved to postpone debate until Monday afternoon. Questions raised today ranged from definitions of what acts would be subject to the bill to concerns that the bill could lead more sexual predators to kill their victims. Those arguing for the delay said they supported the legislation but wanted aspects of the bill clarified.
That set them at odds with bill author Rep. Debbie Riddle and Rep. Linda Harper-Brown who said they were worried that any delay would help those trying to kill the bill.
The motion prevailed 131-10.
POSTSCRIPT: Vince also liveblogged the debate at Capitol Annex. The Texas Observer blog has more, Billy Clyde was impressed by John Smittee, and here's some some of the MSM coverage from the Houston Chronicle, the Dallas News, and Austin's KVUE. I predict this bill will pass, but it needs serious amending.
POST-POSTSCRIPT: The ten 'nay' votes on the motion to postpone were: Crabb(R); Guillen(D); Harless(R); Harper-Brown(R); Laubenberg(R); Macias(R); Phillips(R); Raymond(D); Riddle(R); and Talton(R).
In all, 70 Republicans and 61 Democrats voted to postpone the bill.