A House-Senate feud over how to change the state constitutional right to bail could get a public airing this week. If lawmakers don’t come to a resolution soon, one says, the bill could simply be sent for further study with nothing done this year.
To get around the dispute over which accused criminals should lose their automatic right to bail, Sen. Mike Carrell told me Tuesday he is fine-tuning a new, compromise proposal that he hopes will satisfy the required two-thirds majorities in both chambers.
We could find out more about the proposal Friday. Rep. Mike Hope just announced that’s when the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on his bill that passed the House.
Hope said in a statement he’s worried that lawmakers might punt. “I have concerns the measure will be changed from action to studies. We don’t need to study this further. The governor and law enforcement community studied the issue and realized our bail provisions have weakened over the years and should be strengthened.”
Carrell, who serves on the committee, hopes to amend the House bill to reflect his new idea, which he sees as a compromise between the House position (judges should be able to detain anyone facing a possible life sentence) and the Senate position (judges should only be able to detain those charged with certain serious repeat offenses).
“I’m trying to find the sweet spot between the House and Senate – with the understanding that I’ve got to get 33 votes out of the Senate,” Carrell said.
Specifically, he wants to cover only “intentional acts that are felony crimes,” and that cause bodily harm, he said. A driver charged with killing someone while drunk, for example, would still be guaranteed bail, unlike in the House bill.
As for Carrell’s old bill that passed the Senate, no House hearing has been scheduled and it seems to have been abandoned. Hope said: “I believe the Senate proposal is dead, so it’s very important we keep the House bill moving.”