Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Committee process starting to crank up at Texas Lege

I noticed several criminal justice related committees have posted their first hearings, starting first thing tomorrow morning:
  • House Law Enforcement, Organizational meeting, Monday, 2-12
And starting at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow (Wednesday, 2-7), the Transportation and Homeland Security Committee, chaired by John Carona in the Senate, will actually begin hearing bills, including a piece of legislation I've supported, SB 112, that would disallow peace officers from confiscating weapons without cause during a disaster, as happened during Katrina in New Orleans. Frank Corte is carrying the companion bill, HB 258, in the House.

There's another piece of legislation up in the Transportation and Homeland Security Committee tomorrow that I'm much less fond of: SB 153 by Wentworth that would create a new crime if the adult in the passenger seat with an temporary license holder is intoxicated, asleep, or "is engaged in an activity that prevents the person from observing and responding to the actions of the operator." The first two, maybe - but that last clause is far too sweeping and could encompass activities as mundane as speaking on a cell phone, or even looking out for traffic instead of watching the "actions of the operator."

Texas has enough petty crimes on the books. We need fewer, not more of them. I'm sure there's some terrible story about an auto accident that will be told at the hearing, and no doubt the family, whoever it is, experienced a terrible tragedy. But that's what the civil courts are for - the criminal courts shouldn't be involved when the full extent of criminal intent is sleeping or talking on a cell phone.

You can watch all committee hearings for both the Texas House and Senate online, btw, either in real time or archived later, at your convenience.

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