Monday, June 04, 2007

The Grits for Breakfast 2007 Liberty Index

Here's a first stab at compiling an analysis for key votes in the 80th Texas Legislature, starting with the House of Representatives, which I've collectively dubbed the "Grits for Breakfast 2007 Liberty Index."

Creating a voting chart like this is tricky business, and vote counts are easy to misread or misuse. Such indices suffer from several shortcomings - e.g., we can only know their votes when a) they were allowed to vote by leadership and circumstances and b) when record votes were taken. Members never got an opportunity to vote on whether Texas should create an Innocence Commission, for example, or open up records related to police misconduct. We can only analyze votes taken.

In addition, many bills good and bad pass with overwhelming majorities when not every member agrees with every jot and tittle. Thus it would be easy to compile a longer list that included all the TYC bills, for example, that would improve members' scores because everyone voted for them. Or I could have included multiple criminal penalty increases (enhancements), in which case everyone would have received a lower score. I excluded such votes as non-instructive regarding ideological divisions in the House.

Instead I tried to pick votes that focused on significant bills, that covered an array of criminal justice topics and that would hightlight the unusual left-right coalitions that develop in criminal justice politics, which divides members along ideological rather than partisan grounds.

Finally, vote analyses are most useful for members who don't primarily focus on the issue area - for members on criminal justice related committees their record there would be more indicative of their views. I didn't choose votes to make any one person look good or bad - some people I've criticized have high scores, and one or two I've praised have low ones. I just picked votes that met the above criteria and let the chips fall where they may.

With all those caveats, here is the first ever, 2007 Grits for Breakfast Liberty Index, an analysis of votes by members of the Texas House of Representatives on the key criminal justice and civil liberties issues facing the state.

To avoid confusion about procedural votes, the votes are labeled G for Good, B for Bad, and NV for not voting whether the person was absent, excused, or chairing the meeting. The Speaker Tom Craddick never votes.

Here's the Index to Bills:

HB 855 by Delisi: Would have expanded police authority to arrest Texans for failing to identify themselves when they'd committed no other crime. Good vote is against. This bill died on the House floor.
HB 2699 by Turner: Would have created oversight mechanisms for failing county jails to prevent health and safety violations. Good vote was for. This bill died on the House floor.
HB 1678 by Madden: A primary piece of the Whitmire/Madden probation reform package to strengthen supervision, reduce probation officer caseloads and also lengths of probation terms. Good vote is for. This bill is on the Governor's desk.
SB 10 Amdt by McLendon: This amendment by McLendon allows a needle exchange to operate in Bexar County. Good vote was for. This bill is on the Governor's desk.
HB 770 by Dutton: This bill would have notified ex-offenders when they became eligible to vote. A good vote was for. It passed the Legislature and was vetoed by the Governor.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Does anyone but me see we need a different Governor? He does not care about Texans, only about his own political future.

How could he announce he was attending the Bilderberg meeting? This is not the first one he has attended either. You can look this up by putting Bilderberg in your search engine and it will pull up the years from 1991 to the present and who was in attendance. Only big money and leaders of countries are invited and these people make the rules as to what happens in our country. To read this is mind boggling!

If someone ever needed to be impeach, it is Mr. Goodhair Perry. He is not in office for the good of Texas but his own personal gain. What a dismal future with him in charge.