Statement from State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
Thursday, May 17, 2001
Contact: Jeremy Warren, (512) 463-8393

Eagle Forum Criticism of Senator Staples Ill-informed

(Austin)//Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) today released a statement in response to an attack campaign waged by the Eagle Forum against Senator Todd Staples regarding an amendment to the James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Act.

"The Eagle Forum has recently begun a misguided attack campaign on Senator Todd Staples regarding an amendment to the James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Act. Their criticism is at best, unfair, unwarranted and ill-informed. At worst, it is a malicious and personal attack that serves no purpose. Senator Staples, and the people of Texas deserve better.

"The simple fact of the matter is that I offered the amendment that requires the Attorney General's office and the Texas Education Agency to come up with a plan to teach Texas students about the hate crimes law and the damage hate crimes cause our community. The language was similar to a separate plan Senator Staples' had discussed in the Senate Criminal Justice Committee. I opposed Senator Staples overall plan for the hate crimes bill, but thought that the education proposal had merit. That is why I decided to put forward that idea as my own amendment. Let me be clear. At no time did Senator Staples ask me to add this language to the bill.

"The Eagle Forum is simply waging a pitched battle based on fear, not facts, but it is what I have come to expect on this issue. Our state would be a better place if they used this opportunity to bring Texans together rather than divide them with emotion and threats of retribution."

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