Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Governor's Veto Pen

During the recent 81st Texas Legislative Session, Governor Rick Perry stayed true to form by vetoing a number of criminal justice bills sent to him for signature which benefitted the defense bar. My guess is the powerful Texas prosecutor lobby, TCDAA, had a hand in many of these vetoes. Here's a short list of bills Perry struck down that aided those accused of crime:

1. HB 3148 would have expanded the authority of judges to waive or reduce sex offender registration for young offenders;
2. HB 3481 would have expanded the ability to obtain expunction to defendants charged with misdemeanors that were not presented within 180 days after arrest and defendants against whom the statute of limitations had expired;
3. SB 223 would have allowed a person who successfully completed a term of deferred adjudication probation to become eligible for a pardon, followed by potential expunction. (currently, those who complete deferred are not eligible for a pardon); and my personal favorite . . .
4. SB 488 would have created a crime for failure to allow three (3) feet of operating room between vehicles and "vulnerable road users," including bicycles, runners, highway workers, and stranded motorists.

So there you go. And by the way, one new crime of interest that became effective September 1, 2009 is the use of a wireless device (e.g., a cell phone) in a school crossing zone. That can get you up to a $200 fine. Funny the Texas Legislature did not pass a total ban on cell phone usage while driving. I bet it's because the law makers use THEIR cell phones all the time while driving.

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