Anyone who thinks lawmakers don’t move to fix unintended problems in legislative initiatives should see what State Rep. Jerry Madden of Plano did. He took what could have accidentially been a joke on the taxpayers, and fixed it to become a cost-saving initiative good for everyone.

House Bill 3226 was created to deal with the problem of legitimate parolees who don’t have a halfway house to go, and end up staying in the prisons — a very costly proposition for taxpayers. It is clearly less expensive for taxpayers to have these folks not just hanging out in prison — again, these are people correctly eligible for supervised parole. The idea was to use fewer dollars than would have been used to house them in jail, and instead find an appropriate place for them to be supervised out of jail. Prudent idea; good for everyone.

Here’s the problem: When the legislation came up in the House for “second reading,” language seemed to some to open the door for these offenders to be given $4,000 in vouchers with no real supervision or accountability. That’s clearly would have been bad policy, opening the door to any number of abuses. Rep. Madden obviously didn’t want that to happen.

Fortunately, the problem was caught in time and on the “third reading” of the legislation it was fixed through an amendment by Reps. Terri Hodge and Madden.

The fix ensures payments under the bill will only be issued to pay for services, and not go directly the parolees. At no time will offenders be given funds to spend at their discretion.

Taxpayers will see a better bang for the buck even as parolees remain correctly supervised as part of their ongoing rehabilitation and restoration into the community. That’s good for everyone.

Turning lemons to lemonade happens to rarely in the legislative process. And making the lemonade a benefit to the taxpayers even less so. But in this case, the process worked nicely.

Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael Quinn Sullivan is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. He is a native Texan, a graduate of Texas A&M, and an Eagle Scout. Previously, he has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine contributor, Capitol Hill staffer, and think tank vice president. Michael and his wife have three adult children, a son-in-law, and a dog. Michael is the author of three books, including "Reflections on Life and Liberty."


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