Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Bill restructuring task forces moves on

Man alive! HB 1239 by Hodge/Hinojosa, which would force the restructuring of Texas' drug task force system, passed favorably out of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee today in the same form in which the legislation passed the House. At the hearing yesterday evening, Hinojosa said he was negotiating with the Governor's office over amendments that might allow the bill to escape a possible veto, but if such changes are made, they'll likely happen now on the Senate floor.

The bill requires task forces to enter into formal interlocal agreements governed by stricter statutory requirements than at present, and would only allow arrests outside of officers' jurisdictions for low-level crimes in the presence of an officer from the local area. In the House, task force officials said those requirements amounted to abolishing the task forces. If so, that'd be fine with me. But on paper, at least, it would allow them to exist in a modified form. The more task forces that choose not to comply with the stricter rules, the more money is freed up for items like drug courts, treatment programs and probation services which may also be funded by the same federal grant program.

The Senate Committee also approved HB 1759 by Keel/Whitmire, which would allow probation in state jail felony cases.

In other task force related news, word comes that the civil rights trial related to task force misconduct in Hearne, TX has been postponed until May 23. It was supposed to begin next week.

The fallout from the Tulia saga is not over yet. Stay tuned.

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