Texas senator and Tea Party wingnut Konni Burton usually makes headlines for her ongoing mission to set the evolution of our species back an eon or two. This is the same woman who filed legislation that makes it mandatory for teachers, counselors, and school administrators to snitch on kids who are struggling with their sexual identities. The same person who opposed TEX Rail without any real alternative plan for how to move around the tens of thousands of people pouring into the area every year.
She’s a gun-loving, gay-hating, big business-worshipping right-wing cliché.
As much as this paper has bashed her over the past couple of years, since she succeeded Wendy Davis, we have to give her credit when it’s due. Burton filed a bill (SB 271) that would prohibit law enforcement officers from arresting a person whose offense is a crime punishable only by fine. Under the current law, police have discretion to make an arrest for almost any violation, including those that don’t carry jail time.
The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition recently completed a study that reviewed arrests in Houston’s Harris County over a 16-week period. About 11 percent of the 23,578 arrests were class C misdemeanors and below. Most of the arrests arose from simple traffic offenses.
Burton’s proposed law not only would have prohibited those arrests, but it would also make it mandatory for police to notify a person that his or her offense is a misdemeanor and that he or she can’t be arrested.
Maybe it’s the eggnog talking, but SB 271 is that rare bill that actually looks like it’s designed to protect us little guys and not oil and gas companies, corporations, the gun lobby, or any other of the right-wing’s crushes.
The law in our great state may get a little fairer, and it’s all thanks to Burton. We’re just going to ignore almost everything else she’s done since taking office and say, Merry Christmas, Senator!
In our cover story last week (“Voter Fraud or Politics as Usual,” Dec. 14, 2016), we failed to mention that the term “Mexican Mafia” is no longer welcome among public officials in North Texas, particularly in Tarrant County. We wish to emphasize that in no way did the Fort Worth Weekly concoct this phrase (it’s been around in relation to local politics since the 1980s) or intend for its use to be derogatory. We apologize for any offense.