Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Shackled to Debt, Forfeiture Fail, a Self-Interested Revolt, and other stories

Here are a few odds and ends that merit Grits readers attention at the legislative session begins to heat up.

Rebellion of the Clerks: A self-interested revolt
There's only one real reason that clerks don't want a statewide database of court records, and it has nothing to do with quality control. They currently charge a dollar a page for records and don't want to lose the revenue. Their argument is the same as newspapers complaining about online competition from Craig's List for their classified ads. And yet, these are the most public of public records. And there's significant public demand for them. There's really no good reason not to make them available online, and the legislators lining up to stop the rollout of the new system are doing their constituents a real disservice, placing the interests of local elected officials over the public interest. Grits doesn't do oppo work for campaigns anymore, but there's easily an attack ad to be had aimed at anybody who supported a bill aimed at keeping public records from the public via unjustifiably high fees.

More critics denounce forfeiture fail
Momentum for reining in asset forfeiture continues to grow, with prosecutors going on the defensive. Go to the Just Liberty site to send a message to lawmakers supporting reform.

Union bashing bill leaves out law enforcement
Critics at a State Affairs hearing raised the same criticism Grits did about legislation by Chair Joan Huffman to eliminate union-dues checkoffs for public employees - why leave out law enforcement, which are the most powerful public employee unions in the state? The bill was voted out on a 6-2 vote with the disparate treatment intact.

TDCJ chief exec interviewed
See an interview with new TDCJ chief mugwump Brian Collier from the Huntsville Item.

Raise the Age!
Three different newspaper editorials this week backed so-called raise-the-age legislation:
For more background, see the House Research Organization's primer on the topic. Go to the Just Liberty site to send a message to lawmakers supporting this legislation.

If you've got the money, honey ...
As I write this, there are folks scouring the budget to find money to eliminate the Driver Responsibility surcharge. For their benefit, here's a presentation from the Legislative Budget Board last year with a great deal of seldom-discussed detail about the program. (Send an email to your legislators asking them to abolish the surcharge.)

Shackled to Debt
New report via Harvard's Kennedy School and the NIJ: "Shackled to Debt: Criminal-justice Financial Obligations and the Barriers to Re-Entry They Create."


Unknown said...

"why leave out law enforcement, which are the most powerful public employee unions in the state?"

There is a question that answers itself, if I ever saw one.

Unknown said...

Hello, Scott,

That last link needs to be fixed -- it goes to your local hard disk.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Thanks unknown, fixed it.

@Rick, but abuse of power by unions is supposedly the impetus for the law. So why not apply it where it happens most often?

Anonymous said...

Do organizations like TX DPS or TPWD have unions? They have associations that I've heard of, but unions?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Unions = associations in a right to work state. Those are the entities we're talking about, 4:52, that's just a TX euphemism.

Anonymous said...

Grits - Thank you.

Another question please - can first responders in Texas strike like UPS workers, Communications Workers of America, teachers or steel workers?

David White (aka Caged Monkey #12) said...

Just Liberty - Really appreciate how easy yall make it to contact my Reps. I spoke to the choef of staff for my state Rep the other day and he let me know he's been getting them and reading them!

Anonymous said...

Anon 2/22/2017 06:11:00 AM, no they cannot strike or engage in any of the traditional practices of unions so many people find distasteful. This is a large part of the reason why they are being exempted.