Wednesday, May 29, 2013

43% of House bills voted out of committee never heard on floor

Grits lamented previously that a great deal of Texas' criminal-justice reform agenda died this year in the House Calendars Committee (a procedural committee that schedules bills for floor votes, or doesn't) and apparently those bills weren't alone. The full Texas House of Representatives approved just 57% of legislation voted out of committee this session, according to data from the Legislative Reference Library. Bills that made it out of committee in the Senate had a 90% chance of passing out of that chamber.

It wasn't that the House was voting down bills, for the most part, the difference was by design. Often during the heart of the session, particularly during the crucial month of April, the lower chamber would hear excruciatingly short floor calendars as hundreds of bills backed up  in the Calendars Committee. By the time the deadlines rolled around, Grits wondered why they were still bothering to hold committee meetings. There were more bills backed up in Calendars already than could possibly be heard in the homestretch in May.

Much of this was about the establishment Rs and the Dems aiming to control the Tea Party contingent, which appears ready to embrace more aggressive criminal-justice reforms than their more moderate Republican predecessors. But that can't go on forever. "Do nothing unless you have to" can't be a long-term strategy for governance, even if it appeared to be the mantra of this year's House leadership. Those guys were elected too, in the districts the centrist Rs drew for them two years ago, no less. Sooner or later you've got to let them vote on bills.


PDiddie said...

And THAT's how you get to eat a fat steak at III Forks on the lobbyists' dime--err, $22,000 tab.

Anonymous said...

They were horrible and it calls for attention at the polls. Just stupid, and we need a house cleaning. I am dumbfounded that they let good work go unattended. The only hope these idiots have are addressing reforms in the special session but I have no faith they'll do it. Time to clean that house.

Anonymous said...

And you think this is a bad thing? I'm just thanking the Good Lord they only meet once every two years!

Anonymous said...

The private prison interest was running scared this year. Their ALEC model legislation to enhance criminal penalty was held up by more alert liberal Democrats and Tea Party. The traditional Republicans attempt to push for enhanced incarceration and retaliated on cost saving criminal justice reforms that lower inmate populations. One item that could have saved the state money, which never went anywhere was medical parole. With an aging population and the less likelihood of recidivism, it is senseless to keep an aging elderly population locked up with Texas taxpayers footing the bill.

Whitmire and West pushed several key reforms in the Senate this years, but the House Democrats were some what a disappointment. IE Sylvester Turner, Giddings, and Toni Rose who failed to support private prison closures. Senator Judith Zaffirini failed to support the CCA closures, maybe because her husband lobbies for private prisons, in the future she should take a NO VOTE due to the conflict of interest. Rep A Allen and S Thompson supported lot of CJ reforms this session. Hats off to the true D's who stood up against special interest.

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness they only get together every two years and for a relative short period of time. Time to clean house - pass a law that says they can't pass a law.

Anonymous said...

What this tells me is some of our elected officials are mere criminals themselves. Husbands are lobbyist? No wonder their is no such thing as reform. Time to vote people out of office. But these districts were drew up to maintain corrupted officials for a reason. Maybe that official who broke the law, DWI with serious bodily injure will be convicted and sent to them women's prison in Gatesville, or should I say the concentration camps down there. Then I bet she would wish she would have stood up for change. Let her go through a state sponsor rape or sent to solitary confinement when someone inquires about her mistreatment. But, I am sure those charges against her have already started to disappear. I bet some of those officials would be begging for TDCJ oversight when one of their family members end up in prison. Wait, I forgot they know how to pay people off so their family members don't end up in prison.

benbshaw said...

Certain types of reforms that improve the efficiency of "the system" do not develop a big enough constituency to pass the legislature. Most measures that pass the legislature appeal to the the self-interest of this or that group. There is no constituency for improving the efficiency of government. Such a push for a more efficient government must be championed by a highly-placed official like the governor. But, governors and other officials get campaign contributions and votes by mediating the built-in inefficiencies for the citizens who would not be able to navigate them otherwise.

Anonymous said...

The title of this eye opening Posting requires us to wake the hell up and let the R's & D's & the wannabes know the jig is up.

Yes, ‘finally’, some CJ reform issues have been dealt with and credit is deserved for those that made it so. While major no-brainer components like, recording custodial interrogations aka: interviews was shoved back under the rug due to the police chiefs association lobbying (bribing) the Rs' & Ds' as usual. We can wait two years to see what the next gang does or we can stand up now in 2013 & be counted as taxpayers fed up with legalized bribery (the buying & selling of votes – “to vote or not to vote”).

With that, hell yes – “It's time to clean house” indeed. Both parties (gangs) have a well documented history of running Texas into the ground by playing fiddles for their donors' (PACs) best interest. History also shows that we tend to blog and read about it and soon forget about it.

The problem is deciding on what to do about it and when to do it. Any ideas out there worthy of consideration ?

Cullen said...

Any chance for mundane things like HB 104 in the special session?

john said...

dem bums, dem bums, dem bums


SURE, we've been saying for several years, UNELECT THEM ALL.
But they're too rich, and Earth has ALWAYS been a class war.
So we can maybe hope to mosquito them to death.
But the ONLY successful union, ever--the "lawyers union" Bar Assoc--has to help.
"And the men who hold high places must be the ones to start-- mold a new reality, closer to the heart." -1977, Rush

OUR JOB BECAME TRYING TO OUT-LOBBY (bribe) SPECIAL (often corporate) INTERESTS. We The Poor People aren't having a lot of luck.