Interm Update: July 2019

July 25, 2019

Not sure what we did to deserve such a relatively mild summer so far, but we’ll take our blessings where we can find them after this session!

Legislative awards

After every legislative session, the TDCAA Board of Directors selects a handful of legislators to receive a “Law and Order Award” in recognition of their service to prosecutors, public safety, or the criminal justice system in general. This year’s winners are (drum roll, please):

State Rep. Craig Goldman (R-Fort Worth)
State Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso)
State Rep. Andy Murr (R-Junction)
State Rep. Four Price (R-Amarillo)
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R-Houston)
State Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas)

If any of these legislators hail from your neck of the woods, please be sure to congratulate them as appropriate. And if you would like to participate in a future award presentation, contact Shannon to be notified when those details are nailed down. (The only presentation confirmed so far is for Sen. West at the Dallas Legislative Update on August 2.)

Assistant prosecutor longevity pay update

We have some good news on this subject and we have some bad news, so let us sandwich the bad news between two slices of good news.

As previously reported, the legislature propped up this year’s funding for the assistant prosecutor longevity supplement with a supplemental appropriation. (That’s good.) Unfortunately, the revenue stream has continued to decline in this last state fiscal quarter and the comptroller is statutorily obligated to reduce the amount of state funds sent to the counties on an equal percentage basis (per §41.255(f), Tex. Gov’t Code). (That’s bad.) The amount of the reduction will likely be 10–20 percent. In an effort to mitigate that impending shortfall in this last check of the fiscal quarter, the comptroller will probably delay sending out those checks to counties until the first or second week of August (instead of July 31, the usual date of issuance). This gives the comptroller the chance to include all the fee collections in that final check. And thanks to some clever budget-writing by the legislature, this won’t happen again in the next biennium—even if the fund runs short, the comptroller will be authorized to pay 100% of the longevity supplement owed. (That’s good).  If you have any questions, contact Rob.    

Hemp

On the heels of the recent letter from state leadership about the newly-enacted hemp law, the DPS crime laboratory has also issued a letter on this topic for your perusal, a PDF copy of which can be found on our website. As with the previous letter from on high, you can read this new letter and decide for yourself whether or how it will change your policies going forward, but if you have any questions, feel free to contact Shannon or Rob first.

Legislative Update tour

Speaking of the new hemp law and its resulting collateral consequences, our Legislative Update tour is on the road and coming to a location near you! All the dates and locations are listed in this brochure, and online registration by location is available here. More than 2,500 prosecutors, defense lawyers, peace officers, judges, and others have registered to attend so far, but we want to break our all-time record of 2,700 attendees from the 2017 tour, so don’t get left behind—register you and your office today!

Annual Update hotel rooms are going fast!

We know you may be in the midst of summer’s doldrums right now, but it will be time to pack up and head to the coast for our Annual Criminal & Civil Law Update before you know it! If you plan to join us in Corpus Christi (September 18–20, 2019), then now is the time to register online. And don’t forget to reserve your hotel room, too—some host hotels are already sold out, and the discounted TDCAA rate at the other remaining hotels is available only until August 26, so check out your recommended lodging options and book your room as soon as possible.

The new code books are here! The new code books are here!

We have received several pallets’ worth of shiny new books that are ready to be shipped in the upcoming weeks, so now is the time to order your copies of the 2019–21 Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure, and Annotated Criminal Laws of Texas if you haven’t already placed an order. Visit www.tdcaa.com/books to get that ball rolling and guarantee that you have your updated code books before most of the new laws go into effect on September 1, 2019!

Scattershots

Here are articles that have crossed our radar that some of you might enjoy:

  • Forensic experts have a plan to fix Texas’ marijuana problem. (Texas Tribune)
  • Despite high hopes, self-driving cars are “way in the future.” (New York Times)
  • After defeats in 2019, some Texas lawmakers team up to push criminal justice reform. (Texas Tribune)
  • Houston is the card skimmer capital of the nation. What is being done about it? (Houstonian Magazine)
  • State leaders again want to review how Texas elects judges. (Texas Tribune)

Future updates

Remember, during the interim we send these updates only once a month (barring emergencies). Look for your next update at the end of August.

Quotes of the Month

“People need to understand [that] a special session is not a magic wand that solves all problems.”

Governor Greg Abbott (R-Houston), when asked earlier this month if he would call a special session to override Austin’s repeal of its camping ban that has resulted in an increase in homeless people camping and sleeping in public spaces. (But you can apply the statement to anything hemp-related as well!)

“You should just pay in cash.”

State Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller (R-Stephenville), describing the only way to ensure your credit card information is not intercepted by card skimmers at gas stations.

“It’s the biggest cycle in memory. If Democrats take Texas, it’s game over, and both sides recognize the stakes.”

Austin lobbyist and political consultant Bill Miller, referring to the upcoming 2020 elections.

“Texas born. Texas bred. When I die, I’ll be Texas dead. Ha!”

H. Ross Perot, Sr. (1930–2019), in a quote from his final interview with the Dallas Morning News in 2016. (For a fascinating story of a life well-lived, read the full DMN article on his passing.)