Sunday, March 04, 2007

Floor substitute out for Jessica's Law (HB 8)

Capitol Annex apparently has the goods on tomorrow's House floor substitute for Texas' version of "Jessica's Law" (HB 8). It looks a lot different from the original, and yet, much the same. See his blog analysis and the now-74-page draft of the bill. Talk about laws and sausages! This, my friends, is why we have a committee process. Sigh. But that's just spilled milk now. We'll see if this 74 pages is what we get, or if there are additional amendments tomorrow afternoon on the House floor.

I still question the fiscal note for HB 8, which I have argued was signficantly lowballed. It turns out I'm not the only one. Steve Hall at the Stand Down blog had this analysis comparing HB 8's fiscal note to the costs assigned to similar versions of "Jessica's Law" in other states:
Another indication of the express track of the legislation was its fiscal note. The Legislative Budget Board, which prepares fiscal notes for all legislation getting a hearing, judged the bill to have, "No significant fiscal implication to the state for the first five years following passage of the bill.," and "No significant fiscal implication to units of local government is anticipated."

Florida passed similar legislation in 2005 (the first Jessica's Law to pass), and HB 1877's analysis showed a significant cost.

The department estimates the cost for FY 2005-06 to be $2.5 million. The cost increases to $6.9 million in the second year and to $13.4 million in the third year.

Last year, the Tennessee legislature considered a Jessica's Law proposal. The fiscal note for companion bills SB 2490 and HB 2924 was similar, projected to be in excess of $14 million dollars per year. Colleagues have related that the costs associated with the bill was one reason Tennessee legislators rejected the bill.

Some questioned why the LBB had come up with such a different answer in a state with a larger population and the most active death row in America.
I don't suppose we'll get to see a fiscal note on the substitute version of the bill before tomorrow's vote. But since the first one ignored most of the costs, maybe it's just as well. We'll see what happens Monday. UPDATE: Emily Ramshaw at the Dallas News this morning (3/5) also questions HB 8's cost estimates.




Anonymous said...

Just one note - That 74 pages is really something like 8 pages. The rest is just conforming amendments repeating the same thing over and over again.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Ah - when I clicked through and saw 74 pages, I couldn't bring myself to look at it and just linked to Vince's analysis! At this point it's in God's hands and the Texas House's, which is to say, hovering somewhere between heaven and hell.

I'll give 'em this - at least in the end it didn't sail through without anybody really vetting the thing, which is what it looked like would happen for a minute there.

That said, if Vince's analyis covered all the bases, I'll bet there is still more floor action to come, or at least I'd hope so. Where are the innocence precautions to make sure you're not exposing the wrong people to these astronomical sentences? That part, apparently, we leave only to God.