Saturday, April 27, 2013

Medical examiner issues dominate early criminal justice bills sent to Perry's desk

Not too many criminal-justice related bills of significance have finally passed yet and gone to the governor but here are three senate bills that came through  the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee then out of Calendars remarkably quickly. They've all been approved by the lower chamber and are or soon will be on their way to Rick Perry's desk for final approval or veto:

SB 336 by Rodriguez/Moody on qualifications as a medical examiner, allowing a physician certified to practice in another state and who has applied for licensure in Texas to work as a M.E. with a provisional license. I don't care that much but it reads like a post hoc justification for a hire already made.

SB 387 by Nichols/Clardy would exempt a county from participation in an otherwise mandatory collections program "if the county has a population of 50,000 or more due to the inmate population of a correctional facility within its borders." This would only effect Anderson, Cherokee, and eventually Rusk counties, according to the bill analysis. One notices inmates count when legislators want them to and not when they don't. For example, one suspects those counties don't mind disproportionate representation in the state capitol because of prisoners counted in their number.

SB 457 by Rodriguez/Márquez makes autopsy photos closed records with two exceptions, according to the bill analysis: (1) under a subpoena or authority of other law; or (2) if the photograph or x-ray is of the body of a person who died while in the custody of law enforcement.

Let's hope the Calendars Committee expedites these bills just as promptly.

All that stands between the senate bills above and becoming Texas law is the Governor's signature so anyone with a dog in one of these fights, be sure to let him know if you like 'em, love 'em, or hate 'em.

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