by Michael J. Whitlock
The 85th Texas Legislature is nearing its long-awaited conclusion. By all accounts that state’s long running bail system remains fully intact after a withering assault this session. This legislature will be fallow in 2018 providing PBT’s Legislative Committee time to recoup after what could only be described as heroic efforts to fend off adverse legislation and keep Texas bail agents in business.
It was ten long weeks ago on March 6, when Sen. Whitmire filed his bill, SB 1338. The toxic measure was aimed at providing welfare to criminals, marginalizing the rights of victims and killing an entire industry. In the months’ prior PBT was already alerting its members of Sen. Whitmire’s intention to file a bill that had the real potential to put them out of business.
The Professional Bondsmen of Texas has always had a legislative committee that is engaged, prepared and proactive. In recent years’ this committee has been led by North Dallas bondsman Scott Walstad. The committee members practically move to Austin during session spending long days at the State Capital. They volunteer their time to the detriment of their own businesses and rarely if ever are reimbursed for their expenses much less their time.
ABC worked closely with PBT over the past many weeks providing support where requested. Sen. Whitmire’s bill was initially stalled in the Senate Criminal Justice Committee after receiving intense opposition from the bail industry. The bill ultimately made it out of committee only after the author cut his 30-page bill down to 10. What remained was still a threat to the bail industry.
But, where the legislative process is concerned, like a possum, death is but an illusion. The language in SB 1338 could still be added to another bill in the form of an amendment. The PBT legislative team kept its focus until it was determined all strategic options to pass the language contained in SB 1338 had been exhausted.
Thank you PBT, ABC and those Texas bail agents working independently but pulling in the same direction during this session. It’s times like these the tenacity and intestinal fortitude of bail agents shine through. While things can look bleak at the start of a legislative session, it’s never over until it’s over. If you write bail in Texas I encourage you to support PBT as they really came through for you this year.