News Roundup: Texas House Members Launch Bipartisan Criminal Justice Reform Caucus

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelJuly 22, 2019 2:10 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

A Democratic lawmaker has launched the new bipartisan Criminal Justice Reform Caucus in the Texas House of Representatives.  

State Rep. Joe Moody of El Paso will co-chair the group with state Rep. Jeff Leach, a Republican from Plano. 

Moody says state lawmakers didn’t get enough criminal justice bills across the finish line during this year’s legislative session – including legislation addressing capital punishment. 

“The United States Supreme Court has twice said that we are not doing things right; we are operating an unconstitutional system when it comes to individuals who have intellectual, development disabilities and executing them, and that is something that should be a no-brainer to do, but we can’t seem to get it done,” Moody said.

Moody says the group of lawmakers will also tackle issues including drug policy, prison conditions and asset forfeiture. He describes the overall approach he plans to take: 

“I think the goal in creating a good, strong, fair criminal justice system is finding the place at which justice and mercy intersect. That is the goal that I am going to have any time I look at a bill that deals with criminal justice,” he said.

Aside from Moody and Leach, there are 10 other founding members of the Criminal Justice Reform Caucus: five Democrats and five Republicans. 

San Antonio officials recently agreed to delay the city’s Paid Sick Leave Ordinance until December after speaking with the attorneys who are challenging it in court. It was supposed to take effect August 1. 

But as Joey Palacios with Texas Public Radio reports, a judge will need to approve the proposed delay. 

This past Friday, city attorneys announced they agreed to the delay with lawyers for several business groups who sued against the ordinance.

Deputy City Attorney Ed Guzman said in a statement the delay would allow for more time to refine the ordinance. Joleen Garcia is with the Texas Organizing Project. TOP is one of the organizations who gathered enough signatures to create the ordinance. it filed an intervention asking the ordinance to go forward on August 1.

“We do not agree with any backroom deal that is done with the business community.’” Garcia says.

Also on Friday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed an intervention siding with the business groups. A similar ordinance in Austin was struck down by an appeals court and is awaiting a ruling from the Texas Supreme Court.

Today, Bexar County judge Monique Diaz denied a request to delay the implementation of San Antonio’s paid sick leave ordinance.

Democratic presidential hopeful Julián Castro says the governor of Puerto Rico needs to step down. 

Castro was one of the first Democratic presidential candidates to call for Governor Ricardo Rosselló to resign, after messages between the governor and his staff were leaked. As NPR reports, the messages were widely condemned as homophobic and misogynistic.

Castro told CNN Sunday it’s not enough that Roselló has said he won’t run for reelection in 2020 – calling his refusal to step down a mistake. 

“He may think this is some sort of stop gap measure to say that he’s not going to run for reelection — that that might suffice, but he’s wrong,” Castro says.

Just Sunday, about 300 people demonstrated against Rosello in North Texas, according to The Dallas Morning News.