AUSTIN — Criminal justice bill re-visited
Another bill that ran out of time during the first special session was a complicated issue dealing with the sentencing of 17-year olds, In June 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Miller v. Alabama that life without the possibility of parole is unconstitutional for juvenile defendants, and defined a minor as being less than 18-years-old. Because Texas had been sentencing 17-year-olds as adults, this meant the state was out of compliance with the court's ruling.
In order to comply with this Supreme Court ruling, Texas must pass legislation to treat 17-year-olds as minors rather than adults, and give them the same mandatory punishments as 14 to 16-year-olds. The bill is expected to advance quickly with little resistance.
Redistricting reprieve rejected
If you recall last week the US Supreme Court, in Shelby County vs. Holder, struck down a central section of the Voting Rights Act essentially allowing Texas and eight other states to alter their own election laws as they want, rather than having those laws first "pre-cleared" by the U.S. Department of Justice.
As a result of this ruling, and in conjunction with Governor Perry approving legislatively drawn maps last week, the Attorney General’s office petitioned the three judge federal panel in San Antonio to end the litigation over the maps drawn in 2011. The judges ultimately rejected this request. The result is litigants will have to appear again later this year for a reexamination of arguments by the court. This might impact the date of spring primary elections.
And so the saga continues….
Beat the heat and come for a visit
Looking for a way to avoid the summer heat, grab some AC and learn about Texas history this summer? Come visit your state Capitol! An extraordinary building by any measure, the 1888 Texas Capitol is the largest in gross square footage of all state capitols and is second in total size only to the National Capitol in Washington, D.C. However, the Texas Capitol surpasses the National Capitol in height, rising almost 15 feet above its Washington counterpart!
Don’t forget to stop by your state Senate office for a visit. It’s your office after all; you just let me work there!