Interim Legislative Update - November 2011
November 29, 2011
We know these updates usually go out on a Friday, but in light of last week's holiday and our Elected Prosecutor Conference starting tomorrow, we thought we'd squeeze this information between those two events and give those of you attending that conference some issues to ponder on your drive/flight to Dallas for the seminar.
Election dates. If you don't already know, redistricting litigation has resulted in a change in election filing periods. Pursuant to a recently-passed bill, the filing period for federal, state, county, and local offices was originally supposed to run from Saturday, November 12 through Monday, December 12. However, the new, court-imposed filing period started yesterday and runs through Thursday, December 15. For the official details, visit this website: http://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/voter/2012dates.shtml.
Changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes. Another casualty of the redistricting process is continuity. In addition to those officeholders who get drawn out of office, several other "old hands" are retiring from the Texas Legislature or setting their sights on higher office. To date, 24 of the 150 members of the Texas House have announced they will not seek re-election, including these committee chairmen:
Rep. Pete Gallego (D-Alpine), House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee
Rep. Jim Jackson (R-Carrollton), House Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee
Rep. Jerry Madden (R-Plano), House Corrections Committee
In addition, several Senate committee gavels will be wielded by new chairmen due to voluntary attrition in that chamber, including:
Sen. Chris Harris (R-Ft. Worth), Senate Jurisprudence Committee
Sen. Steve Ogden (R-Bryan), Senate Finance Committee
The results of these and other changes cannot yet be predicted. All we can tell you for certain is that most of the legislative committees that handle your business at the Texas Legislature will look very different in 2013.
Interim hearing on DNA. Speaking of the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence, last Tuesday it held a hearing on one of its interim charges concerning DNA. That original charge relates to increasing the number of accredited labs available to conduct forensic DNA testing in Texas, but the chairman's prerogative was to focus instead upon inmates' access to post-conviction DNA testing. The hearing was for invited witnesses only—no public testimony was taken—but if you'd like more details about what was discussed, contact Shannon.
New DPS lab reports coming soon. DPS labs will soon be changing the format of their lab reports (mostly on drug cases) to comply with new requirements of their accrediting body (ASCLD-LAB). The new reports will contain more information than the current version. We hope to have a sample copy of one of the new lab report forms by the end of December, and we will post it on our website when we receive it. The new report format must be implemented by March 1, 2012, but DPS anticipates rolling them out in January 2012; keep checking our website for updates.
Quotes of the month. It wouldn't be a TDCAA Update without some parting humor, now would it? And with our state's governor in the midst of a presidential campaign that is not going according to plan, there is plenty of fodder ...
"The most devastating moment of any modern primary debate."
—Larry Sabato, noted professor of political science at the University of Virginia, referring to Governor Perry's "Oops" moment at the November 9 GOP debate.
"You can say this about Rick Perry: He has forgotten more about cutting government than Barack Obama will ever know."
—James Taranto, Wall Street Journal columnist.
"You know what you call a Democrat who makes as many verbal gaffes as Rick Perry? 'Mr. Vice president.'"
—Jay Leno, talk show host.
"President Obama surged in the Gallup Poll to pull even with 'Generic Republican' on the ballot. The generic Republican had a bad week. It's now clear that Mitt Romney will say anything to get elected while Rick Perry would get elected if he could say anything."
—Argus Hamilton, political comedian.
"The Justice Department convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout of selling weapons to South American terrorists. He broke all the rules. Under the WTO, he's required to sell the weapons to the Justice Department, which gives them to a gun store on the border, which sells them to a cartel, which sells the weapons to the South American terrorists. That's how jobs are created."
That's all for this month!