"A mixed bag of wins and losses in Austin on our priorities," is the title of an editorial in today's Dallas Morning News.
At the beginning of 2011, this newspaper identified six priority areas where we wanted leaders to “stand and deliver” solutions to stubborn problems. Here is our assessment of how lawmakers did in the regular legislative session that just ended in Austin.
Getting it right on criminal justice
Give the Legislature high marks for adopting safeguards against wrongful convictions.
Shepherded by Sen. Rodney Ellis , D-Houston, and Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, the most badly needed reform sets standards for police agencies in conducting eyewitness lineups. Another allows defendants new post-conviction access to DNA evidence. Legislation by Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, sets a timeline for police agencies to have rape kits tested to try to solve cases. And one more bill extends compensation eligibility to Anthony Graves, who was railroaded and put on death row for a killing spree that took six lives; he was exonerated last year.
The governor should sign these bills.
Lawmakers leave important unfinished business, including reforms to record confessions of felony suspects and to ban the offer of leniency in exchange for accomplice testimony in a death penalty case. And at long last, lawmakers should create a special commission to study wrongful convictions and find ways to improve the system.
Earlier coverage of the Texas Legislature's 82nd Regular Session begins at the link. Related posts are in the Texas Legislature index.
The Regular Session eneded Monday. Lawmakers are currently meeting in a Special Session. The agenda is limited to items specified by the governor.