Legislative Advocacy

TCADP is actively involved in the Texas Legislature, which meets every other year for 140 days, starting in mid-January and concluding at the end of May.  Much of our work is carried out by the TCADP Lobby Corps, a dedicated group of volunteers who work with our staff and board of directors to advance our legislative agenda. We also provide opportunities for constituent engagement.  Check out this great advice from Texas House Parliamentarian Chris Griesel on how to communicate with state legislators.

The 85th Texas Legislature recently concluded its regular session.  Below are some of the highlights of our work during the session.

Death penalty repeal bills were introduced in both chambers of the 85th Texas Legislature:

  • State Representative Jessica Farrar filed House Bill 1537, a bill to abolish the death penalty, on February 3, 2017.  The bill was jointly authored by State Representatives Alma Allen and Donna Howard. The House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee considered testimony on the bill on April 17, 2107 (see below for details).
  • State Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. filed Senate Bill 597, a bill to abolish the death penalty, on January 24, 2017. The bill was referred to the Senate Criminal Justice Committee but was not scheduled for a hearing.

Read our position papers on SB 597 and HB 1537.

Committee Hearing on HB 1537
During the hearing on House Bill 1537, members of the Texas House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence heard from representatives of several religious and civil rights organizations, including the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops, Texas Impact, and the ACLU of Texas.  TCADP Executive Director Kristin Houlé provided testimony, as well.

Reverend DeAnna Golsan shared with the committee how she came to oppose the death penalty after learning that a member of her congregation was the mother of a man on death row. She witnessed his execution on behalf of the family last year.

No one testified against the bill, which was left pending in the committee.

You can watch the full broadcast of the 7+ hour hearing; testimony on the abolition bill begins around the 3:07 mark. Clips of individual witnesses also are available from Texas Impact.

Faith Leader Advocacy Day
Earlier in the legislative session, on March 28, 2017, TCADP and Texas Impact sponsored the 2017 Faith Leader Advocacy Day on the Death Penalty.  Participants included clergy and lay leaders from Beaumont, Houston, Plano, Abilene, Copperas Cove, and Crowell, as well as members of the TCADP Lobby Corps.  Collectively, participants visited nearly 40 legislative offices to share their opposition to the death penalty and urge support for HB 1537 and SB 597, the death penalty repeal bills.

We are grateful to the TCADP Lobby Corps and everyone who contacted lawmakers to express opposition to the death penalty during the 2017 session.

For results from previous sessions, please visit our Legislative Advocacy Archive page.