AUSTIN - The Texas Senate passed legislation today that affects parents who share custody of a child. The custodial parent will be obligated to notify the other parent upon marrying or the intention to marry a person charged with a sex offense. Failure to inform the other parent would be a misdemeanor. Plano Senator Florence Shapiro is the Senate sponsor for the Committee Substitute for House Bill (CSHB) 1462.
CSHB 938, the pending hate crimes legislation, is suddenly at the center of national politics. On Friday, President Clinton pledged his support for the legislation during a recent Austin visit. Senate Criminal Justice Committee member Shapiro says she has been lobbied by former U.S. Senator and presidential hopeful Bill Bradley. At first, she thought the call was a joke. But Bradley was indeed on the phone, encouraging her to vote for enhanced penalties for crimes motivated by hate. Shapiro said pressure from outside of Texas is not going to influence her vote, "It is a political issue that they think they can get mileage out of it and I resent that."
Shapiro co-authored hate crimes legislation in 1993 but dislikes the new bill because she says it more narrowly defines who should be protected by setting up specific categories. "I think as you put groups in to include them you therefore exclude other groups," said Shapiro. Bill supporters say the legislation does not exclude anyone. Shapiro says she is still considering arguments on both sides and would not say how she would vote on the issue. "I have to decide what I think is right one way or another and as soon as we make a decision to vote, that's when I'll know," said Shapiro. Senate sponsor, Rodney Ellis of Houston, says he hopes to get a vote by the end of the week.
The end of the 76th Legislature is May 31st. This Friday will mark the final day for committees to report bills for consideration by the full Senate.
The Senate will reconvene tomorrow at 10:00 a.m.