Representative Joe Moody’s House Bill 63 was considered by the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee on Monday evening, including hours of outstanding testimony from those who support the bill!
Supporters included judges, current and former prosecutors, law enforcement, an addiction specialists, victims of arrest for small amounts of marijuana, a representative from Rice University’s Baker Institute, the Republican Liberty Caucus of Texas, the ACLU of Texas, Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition and many more – all in support of a more reasonable approach to marijuana policy in our state. (Watch here – begins @41 minutes.)
Several members of law enforcement opposed the bill. Their testimony amounted mostly to fear-based propaganda in support of the status quo. Expert testimony easily refuted their misinformation and legislators pushed back on base-less claims.
The proposal would make it a civil offense ($250 fine) to possess up to one ounce of marijuana in Texas. This change in the law eliminates the arrest, jail time, and criminal record associated with low-level marijuana possession. The penalty increases to a Class C Misdemeanor after three civil penalties.
HB 63 has strong bipartisan support and several members of the committee have signed on as co-authors, including Criminal Jurisprudence Chairwoman Nicole Collier. Also of note: Corrections Chairman James White and State Affairs Chairman Dade Phelan have signed on as joint authors!
Right now, we have strong bipartisan support for reform in the Texas Legislature and a record setting number of bills have been introduced for consideration. There’s a very small window to make this happen before the session ends in May. It will take all of us doing this important work to get across the finish line!
Now that the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee has heard HB 63, what happens next?
In the Texas Legislature, committees tend to leave bills pending after the hearing. They will typically vote on bills in batches. This means that it can take several weeks for a bill to be voted on, though this can vary. With growing support from committee members, we can expect a vote on HB 63 in the near future. Once the committee votes, they will issue a report on the bill that will be distributed to every member in the chamber. Learn more about the process.
What can you do to help today?
Rep. Joe Moody has expressed the need for Texans to reach out the their representatives and ask them to support HB 63. Ask your legislator to be a coauthor on HB 63 today! This will help continue to solidify the strong bipartisan support as the bill progresses.
Stay tuned! We will keep you updated on the progress of the bill and any additional actions that may need to be taken. Sign up for email updates and notifications.