Speaker answers Barkman comments
Your paper recently published a column by Patrick Barkman titled "How not to fire US attorneys." The column's author falsely claimed that I "recently killed a provision to create a standing special prosecutor to investigate TYC (Texas Youth Commission) abuses." Three weeks ago, House Bill 472, a bill that would expand the jurisdiction of the special prosecution unit to include the prosecution of crimes committed in TYC facilities, was discovered to contain a technical error while being debated on the House floor. The bill was sent back to the House Corrections Committee, where is was amended and voted out again by the committee last week. it will likely be debated on the floor sometime later this month. Everyone realizes this is an important tool in addressing systemic problems at the TYC; however, it is equally important to insure that the legislation is drafted in a way that will provide the best outcome when prosecuting crimes that occur within the TYC. I anticipate House Bill 472 to pass the House. In light of the recent revelations of the abhorrent behavior at the Texas Youth Commission, it is my hope that this legislation will go toward helping to fix this broken agency.
Speaker of the Texas House
UPDATE: Normally, I don't respond to fan mail, but this release from the Speaker's press-droid is so outrageously false that the very stones themselves cry out for an answer. During the debate in question, House Minority Leader Jim Dunnam offered an amendment to HB 472 that would've created a special prosecutor, not merely codified the ability of district and county attorneys to request one, as in the original language of the bill. The amendment was adopted 75-63 on a bipartisan vote. Rep. Larry Phillips (R-Sherman) then raised a technical objection to the analysis of the bill and one paragraph that accidentally dropped a word or two. The Speaker could have overruled this minor and irrelevant point, but chose instead to sustain it. Thus, a bill that would've gone into effect back in late March still hasn't passed. This delay (and if the bill dies before the session ends, the death of the bill) can be laid, like a flaming bag of dog crap, at the feet of Speaker Tom Craddick.