Friday, May 03, 2013

Good House bills deserve floor votes as session's end draws near

There's very little time left for bills in the Texas House of Representatives to receive votes on the House floor before deadlines next week close off their chances to become law. There are several bills presently sitting in the Calendars Committee that I'm especially hopeful may make it onto the list to receive votes before the bell tolls on hundreds of House bills next week:
  • HB 1608 by Hughes requiring government to obtain a warrant to obtain personal cell phone data,
  • HB 1096 by Canales requiring law enforcement to record custodial interrogations for the most serious offenses, and 
  • HB 104 by Gonzales abolishing the Driver Responsibility Surcharge for two years while the Legislature and stakeholders look for alternative trauma hospital funding.
Hughes' bill has broad bipartisan support from 108 House members, including eleven members of the Calendars Committee; if that level of support can't secure a floor vote I don't know what it will take. Canales' legislation is a key priority of my employers at the Innocence Project of Texas and one of the last few recommendations of the Timothy Cole Advisory Panel on Wrongful Convictions that the Legislature has yet to implement. And Gonzales' bill is a bipartisan effort to correct what's arguably the worst public-policy error by the Texas Legislature in the 21st century (which is saying something) - repealing a statute which even the original bill authors agree was a mistake that needs to be eliminated. (See more on HB 104 from Paul Kennedy.)

All of these bills deserve a place on one of the final calendars of the session when the House can approve House bills.

Relatedly, Grits had earlier recommended several additional bills for House floor votes and I'm pleased to see one of them, HB 990 by Thompson, which would authorize creation of a state sentencing commission, was placed on Saturday's calendar. (There are also a number of prefiled amendments aimed at the TDCJ Sunset bill which will be heard that day.) A pair of drug-reform bills Grits favors, though, CSHB 184 and HB 2914, continue to linger in the Calendars Committee and deserve floor votes. And I'd like to see the House vote on HB 1790 by Longoria which would provide positive incentives for probationers to succeed in addition to merely threatening revocation for failure. There's still time left to pass substantive criminal-justice reform legislation this session, but not much.

UPDATE (5/4): HB 1790 has been posted for a vote on Tuesday's House floor calendar, as has HB 912, known universally as "the drone bill." There are two more calendars yet to be published on which the other bills could still be added.


Anonymous said...

I see that you deleted a comment.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Yes, off topic, race baiting rants are unwelcome. If you have something to say about the subject of the post, feel free.

Anonymous said...

Do you have any predictions on SB 1448?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Don't know what's going on with that, 11:55.

Anonymous said...

Grits.... educate me on something. If a bill is filed in the senate and makes it out of committee, and there is an identical bill filed in the house that made it out of committee and has been referred to the calendar committee:

(1) Does the senate typically defer to the house vote before it votes?

(2) If the bill made it out of both committees, does history reveal that these types of bills get passed?

(3) Hinojosa was the original author of the bill (it's SB 1448 that I asked about earlier), does he have a pretty good history of getting things pushed through?

Even though this bill seems minor, it would help me tremendously to see it pass along with HB 104. I am short on staff and I have many, many fine quality candidates that I would have hired if I didn't have past history's of the candidates pop up when I ran that CRC. I mean, these were misdemeanors (like P.I.)that resulted in many very qualified and highly educated candidates to be turned away. I've never followed bills before so any comment you have would be appreciated. Thank you.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Hinojosa is pretty good at passing his bills, but either the HB or the SB would need to make it all the way through both chambers. If the HB is still in Calendars, the SB has teh better chance. But for some reason Chuy pulled the bill of the intent calendar, which could indicate he doesn't have the votes.

Neither chamber defers to the other. They basically in many ways are competitors.

Anonymous said...

Grits, in addition to your call to action recommendation and with about one day left, I'm asking everyone to consider taking time to call & email their respective reps (again) asking them to pass HB 1096, HB 1790 & (your bill goes here). One voter suggested we close with, "... please understand that, failure to sign on to common sense bills with the taxpayers' best interest in mind vs. PACs', will be met with brooms."

Those that already did are asked to rinse & repeat (or get a few others to) as your fellow taxpayers' thank you for participating in a tired old game that pits us (voters’) against them. Them being - the state's legalized bribery associations aka: large campaign donors’ / PACs.

Anonymous said...

Grits, do happen to knopw the deadline dates of the two other calendars? You or anyone happen to know the names of the 11 members of the Calendars Committee and what their function is? Why 11 and do they make more money being on it?

Would it be wrong to assume they are the final decision makers in this game of thrones.

Anonymous said...

Unless I'm missing something, Representative Toth along with the majority of the Texas House destroyed the entire purpose of HB 990 with his amendment. Please see

Grits, it appears to me that he completely changed the purpose of the bill away from the penal and criminal code and narrowed its focus drastically. Basically we are left with nothing. I can't see what the amendment passed by, but it's pretty sad that our Representatives won't let the penal code be studied after 2 decades. Anyone else have any thoughts?