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May 14, 2003   
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Senate Approved Legislation to Release Tulia 13

Senator Jeff Whitmire
Senator John Whitmire of Houston argues for Senate Bill 1948, which would free thirteen persons arrested during the 1999 Tulia drug sting. All thirteen are still in jail despite the fact that their convictions were overturned after the single informant in the case was charged with perjury.

Austin - The Senate unanimously approved legislation today aimed at ending what Senators called an injustice to the Tulia residents convicted in a controversial 1999 drug sting. Thirteen of the thirty-eight convicted still remain in prison after applying for a writ of habeas corpus to seek relief from the original judgement. Houston Senator John Whitmire, author of Senate Bill (SB) 1948, called the incident a travesty of justice rife with inconsistencies. The convictions against the individuals were overturned and the one informant has subsequently been indicted on perjury.

"To maintain our system of justice here in Texas, I think our only recourse is to release these Tulia 13 on bond until the Court of Appeals has made it's final decision," said Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst. He commended Senator Whitmire for passing legislation that would do just that. SB 1948 specifically addresses the Tulia case and would allow a defendant sentenced to more than ten years to be allowed out on bond under certain strict requirements.

Whitmire called this situation "one of the reasons so many of us serve in public office." "If you can play a small role in impacting the lives and the results of these individuals, it makes it all worthwhile," said the Dean of the Senate.

Senator John Carona
Under a bill passed today by Senator John Carona of Dallas, Texans would have easier access to lines of credit backed by their home equity if they approve a constitutional amendment this fall. Carona says SB1067 and Senate Joint Resolution 42 preserve and add new consumer safeguards to the Texas Constitution.

Legislation that would let voters decide if home equity lines of credit should be allowed in Texas was passed by a voice vote of the Senate. Dewhurst called the legislation consumer- and taxpayer-friendly and said that it permits Texas homeowners with equity in their homes to access money in the cheapest way.

Senator Royce West
Senator Royce West of Dallas today passed Senate Bill 791, ordering the Comptroller to develop and submit a monitoring program for court costs and fees that should be remitted to the Comptroller. The report is due by September 1 of 2004.

Dallas Senator John Carona said that Senate Joint Resolution 42 and SB 1067 would provide Texans with a more convenient means to borrow money against the equity in their home. Carona stated that the measures maintain, and even add, consumer safeguards in the Texas Constitution.

Additionally, the Senate gave preliminary approval to SB 1942, which would change the name of Southwest Texas State University. Author of the bill, San Antonio Senator Jeff Wentworth, said that the name change to Texas State University--San Marcos is supported by many of the university's students and alumni.

The Senate will reconvene Thursday, May 15, 2003, at 11:00 a.m.

Session video and all other Senate webcast recordings can be accessed from the Senate website's Audio/Video Archive.