Dewhurst Scrambling For Votes For Jessica
Thu April 19, 2007 4:38 pm

With the state's prosecutors standing firm in opposition to Jessica's Law, David Dewhurst spent most of today in meetings with senators trying to drum up support for the latest version of the legislation.

According to several senators, Dewhurst promised to generate thousands of phone calls to senators from supporters of the bill from their districts. And as negotiations continued this afternoon, some speculated that Dewhurst decided against naming his budget conferees until he had secured enough votes for Jessica's Law.

In his press briefing Thursday afternoon, Dewhurst denied the two were tied together. "What does Jessica's law have to do with budget conferees?" he asked. He also denied there was any "glitch" regarding the bill, and predicted it would win passage early next week. Sen. Bob Duell is carrying the bill.

Still, senators are sticking with prosecutors, who argue that the death penalty provisions in the bill would actual deter prosecution of sex offenders, since many victims, as family members of their abusers, would be reluctant to bring charges.

A large group of senators have signed a letter supporting a bill by Sen. Florence Shapiro, which creates a new crime of "continuous sexual assault" carrying a minimum sentence of 25 years imprisonment. They're hoping to convince Dewhurst to allow Shapiro's bill as a floor substitute for Jessica's law.

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