Michael Morton Act, beer bills, redistricting and much more

Posted in Around The Nation, Around The State at 9:52 am by wcnews

Some items of interest from last week that didn’t get posted.

This was the best news last week, via Kuff, Michael Morton Act signed into law.

Under SB 1611, prosecutors will be required to turn over evidence to defendants accused of crimes and to keep a record of the evidence they disclose. The landmark 1963 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Brady v. Maryland already requires prosecutors to give defendants information that is “material either to guilt or to punishment.” The Morton Act requires disclosure of evidence regardless of its materiality to guilt or punishment. It is the first significant reform to Texas discovery laws since 1965.

Let’s hope it helps anyone else from having to suffer through what Michael Morton, and so many other Texans who were innocent of the crime they were convicted of, had to suffer through.

And maybe the second best news last week, the 5-pack of beer bills passed to second reading on Friday.

The Texas House of Representatives just voted to approve a 5-pack of bills that would make significant changes in the way beer is sold across the state.

There was audible applause from the gallery, where Scott Metzger, Rick Donley and other interested parties were watching the proceedings.

If approved on third reading — either later today or Monday — and signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry, Texans could soon buy and drink a beer at their local brewery and purchase brewpub beers at the store.

The package of bills is considered the most significant legislation affecting the beer industry since 1993, when the state authorized brewpubs that could make and sell their own beer on site.

Long overdue.  Let’s hope they make it to Perry and he signs them.

Looks like Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbott is trying out his gubernatorial voice, Abbott to GOP lawmakers: “Don’t pack your bags”. A bit presumptuous, maybe this is the first real sign that Perry won’t run again. Here’s a little on the timing.

If Perry does call a special session, he’s likely hoping it will be swift and sure because the maps are already in place. While there is certain to be a minority push for better representation, the truth is everyone in the Legislature got there last November running in those districts.

With a filing deadline for offices coming in early December, the Legislature would have to get the maps to the court by late August to give adequate time for review, Li said. That’s cutting it pretty close.

More likely in June. But there’s also another deadline looming: Perry is expected to become a grandfather for the first time around June 20. Bets are he won’t want to be dealing with a special session when he’s got something more special going on.

Something is rotten at ABC news, Jay Rosen sums it up nicely here, Jon Karl got played by a confidential source and now ABC News has a big Benghazi problem.

After thinking about it some more, here’s the problem for ABC:

If a reporter for your network tells the public he has “exclusively” obtained evidence he has not in fact obtained, causing other reporters for the network to repeat that untruth, and part of his report turns out to be wrong, in a way that a.) is politically consequential and b.) would have been avoided if the evidence was actually in the reporter’s possession… what is the proper penalty?

ABC’s current position: The reporter has to say that he regrets the misreport, and apologize for not being clearer, while benefitting from the confusion he created across multiple reports by sometimes being accurate (that he had summaries of emails read to him) and sometimes misleading us with the claim that he had “obtained” the originals. (Link.) Also see Josh Marshall’sanalysis at Talking Points Memo. #

Can that stand? We will see this week, I guess.

It also might be some of that ‘ol conservative media bias, This was written in 2011, A Right-Wing Mole at ABC News. Let’s face it, if a purported liberal would have done something like this (see Dan Rather) they would be fired.  Here’s more about conservative media bias, Charlie Cook, Karl Rove’s consigliere.

The GOP’s plan to keep Congress dysfunctional.

Here’s a good read for some context on what happened at the IRS, How the IRS’s Nonprofit Division Got So Dysfunctional. Or as Digby says:

I’m all for “reform” and “streamlining” but in my personal experience in the corporate world that inevitably just meant making one person do the job of three. Or four. For the same money. They call this “enhanced productivity” and on paper it looks really great. But for anyone who’s on the job, most often it’s clear that morale tanks and the work suffers.

Naturally the spending jihad during these decades of conservative political dominance meant that government would go the same way.

Yes, cutting back on government in the wrong places can cause serious problems. (see also banking regulation).

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