Innocence bill stalls, prompting outburst
A House proposal to create a state commission to investigate wrongful convictions stalled in a Senate committee on Tuesday, prompting an emotional protest by the brother of Timothy Cole..
Cole’s posthumous exoneration on a rape conviction several years ago spurred changes in state law to prevent future wrongful convictions.
During a public hearing on House Bill 166, state Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, said she opposes its passage because creating a state Innocence Commission would duplicate initiatives already in operation and would waste taxpayer money.
Cory Session challenged her, saying the intent of the bill is to right wrongs in Texas’ criminal justice system that continue to keep innocent people in prison.
After an emotional outburst in which he accused the state of “screwing people,” Sessions stormed out of the hearing room. He could be heard calling her an expletive in the hall outside. After the meeting ended, Huffman was escorted back to her Capitol office by a security officer.
Senate passes marriage ID bill
Texans applying for a marriage license would have to present photo identification under a bill the Senate approved Tuesday and sent to the House.
State law allows more than a dozen forms of identification when applying for a marriage license. Bill sponsor, Sen. Donna Campbell, a New Braunfels Republican, says county clerks have asked for the photo identification requirement and the state should join 29 other states with similar requirements.
Two Democrats, Sens. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth and Jose Rodriguez of El Paso, said the change would be a roadblock to marriage for people who don’t have or can’t afford to get photo identification.
Morton bill on way to governor
The House gave final approval Tuesday to the Michael Morton Act, voting 146-0 to send it to Gov. Rick Perry for his signature.
The bill requires Texas prosecutors to share certain information with defense lawyers before trial.
Several representatives cheered and waved to a smiling Morton as he sat in the gallery. Morton spent almost 25 years in prison before DNA evidence proved he did not kill his wife.
Donor disclosure bill headed to Perry
A proposal requiring politically active nonprofits to make the names of their major donors public cleared the Legislature on Tuesday, despite repeated attempts by conservative lawmakers to kill it and mounting pressure on Gov. Rick Perry to veto it.
Supporters say Senate Bill 346 will crack down on “dark money,” or contributions secretly made to groups that avoid campaign finance and disclosure laws because of their nonprofit status. Those opposed argue it violates free speech.
Perry has not said if he will sign the measure.