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Chad’s Morning Brief: Governor Rick Perry Supports the Decriminalization of Marijuana, Lubbock City Council Meeting, and Other Top Stories

Here is your Morning Brief for the morning of January 24, 2014. Give me your feedback below and tune in to The Chad Hasty Show for these and many more topics from 8:30 to 11am. Remember, you can listen online at KFYO.com or on your iPhone/Android with the radioPup App.

Stewart F. House, Getty Images

Perry for Decriminalization

Governor Rick Perry surprised many when he announced that he supports the decriminalization of marijuana. The Governor also said he supported the rights of the states to decide whether to legalize marijuana. According to MySanAntonio:

Gov. Rick Perry signaled Thursday that he’s for the decriminalization of marijuana use — not legalization, but the softening of punishment for pot users in the border state.

“As governor, I have begun to implement policies that start us toward a decriminalization” by introducing alternative “drug courts” that provide treatment and softer penalties for minor offenses, Perry said during an international panel on drug legalization at the World Economic Forumin Davos, Switzerland.

It’s the first time the governor, who’s voiced support for drug courts in the past, took a position on decriminalization in Texas.

His spokeswoman confirmed that Perry is staunchly opposed to legalization of marijuana because of the dangers that have been associated with the drug but is committed to policies that would lower the punishment for its use to keep smokers out of jail.

“Legalization is no penalty at all, whereas decriminalization doesn’t necessarily mean jail time (for minor possession offenses). It means more of a fine or counseling or some sort of program where you don’t end up in jail but in a rehabilitative program,” said Lucy Nashed, a spokeswoman for Perry.

“The goal is to keep people out of jails and reduce recidivism, that kind of thing,” she said, adding that decriminalization would exclude violent offenders and dealers.

In Texas, an offender with less than 2 ounces of marijuana can be sentenced to up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. An offender with more than 5 pounds faces up to two years in jail.

Drug courts, which provide supervision and intense rehabilitation for some convicted drug users in lieu of jail time, were passed in Texas in 2001 by a group of Democrat lawmakers.

Bills have been introduced in the state Legislature to reduce penalties and allow the sale of medicinal marijuana over the past six years but have not made it out of committee.

In the past, Perry has discussed his opposition to legalization of marijuana but voiced his support for the 10th amendment and state’s rights to legalize the drug, which he highlighted at the forum Thursday.

Perry did not address medicinal use of marijuana during the event.

Nashed said Perry has discussed support of drug courts in the past; however, the governor specifically has not gone as far as supporting decriminalization in public comments.

“I am shocked,” said Ana Yañez-Correa, executive director of the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, adding that Perry killed a drug treatment bill the organization supported in 2007. “I am very happy to hear the governor supports a more rehabilitative approach.”

More than 15,000 people are imprisoned in Texas correctional facilities for possession of drugs, Yañez-Correa said.

Perry, who sought the Republican nomination to the office in 2012, announced in 2013 that he would not seek re-election to his office. He has not confirmed whether he will run for president again.

When asked whether Perry thinks it’s a good idea to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana in Texas, Nashed said, “He has long supported diversionary programs like drug courts in Texas that have had remarkable results.”

Lubbock City Council

The Lubbock City Council met last night and approved two items that held citizen’s interest this week. One of the major debates last night was about how to handle citizen comments. KFYO’s Rob Snyder has a great wrap-up of last night’s events.

The first item was to change the zoning for the Myrick-Green Building in downtown Lubbock.  The Myrick-Green Building was the first multi-story office building constructed in the City of Lubbock and it was completed in 1928.  The building was recently purchased by the Reagor Dykes Auto Group and it will house new offices for the company.  The zoning for the building was changed to CB-2 Design Historic, which gives the building a local Historic Building designation.

District 2 Councilman Floyd Price was pleased to see a Lubbock landmark preserved, “I am looking at the proposed exterior elevation for this building…. this is amazing. I’m just so excited about what (Reagor Dykes Auto Group) is doing. This is putting a face on Downtown Revitalization in Lubbock,” Price said.

The second unanimously approved agenda item was the rejection of an electric rate increase for Xcel Energy’s Southwestern Public Service Company (SPS) in Lubbock.

The council then took up the issue of the rules and procedures for Citizen Comments, and the televising of Citizen Comments. Mayor Glen Robertson made a recommendation on rule changes for the ordinance, which the council worked off of and eventually voted into effect.

District 1 Councilman Victor Hernandez, who in the past has been subjected to personal attacks by citizens speaking during Citizen Comments, was the most vocal opponent to changing the ordinance.  Hernandez spoke in two separate instances, summing up his thoughts by stating, “I really do believe the best solution is leave it alone. Just leave it alone; deal with it (personal attacks) on a case-by-case basis. Deal with it with the gavel, (Mayor’s power to keep a citizen’s comments on topic) because it’s not going to go away with these… changes. In fact, it’s just going to create an additional firestorm.”

After discussion amongst the council members ended, Mayor Robertson took the unprecedented step of allowing citizens who had been vocal about Citizen Comments an additional chance to address the council.

Maurice Stanley, who is running for District 3 in May, was supportive of the changes, “I’m of the opinion that when we come down here to speak, it should deal with items that have to do with city business.”

Bill Curnow sided with Councilman Hernandez, “If I were in your shoes I would vote for the proposal as it’s been amended.  Councilman Hernandez is absolutely correct it will not solve the problem, but it helps address it.  That gavel will do more to solve the problem in the future than anything else you do tonight.”

After the comments concluded, Mayor Robertson outlined the new Citizens Comments ordinance before the vote was taken, “A citizen may sign up 75 hours in advance to the meeting and speak on any topic the citizen lists, including any agenda items.

“If a citizen signs up the night of the meeting to speak on an agenda item, they will be placed with the first set of people that signed up for Citizen Comments before the 75 hour deadline.”  The first portion of Citizen Comments would be televised on City News Channel 2, as has been previously done.

Mayor Robertson continued, “There will be no overall time limit. However, if a person signs up (to speak) the night of a council meeting on an item that is not on the agenda, the person will speak at the end of the meeting in a separate Citizen Comments that will be televised (on City News Channel 2) with a disclaimer.”

The new Citizen Comments ordinance was approved 5-2, with councilmen Todd Klein and Victor Hernandez dissenting.

I think the overall plan for citizen comments is fine, but I still believe the whole debate and controversy was a waste of time.

Other Top Stories:

Council Talks Police Station

AG Candidates Talk Death Penalty Case 

Smitherman and the Death Penalty 

Davis Supports Mock Abbott 

Oklahoma and the Piers Morgan Act 

RNC Wants to Condense GOP Primary 

Immigration Back on GOP Agenda 

Teacher Sent Home for Being Too Sexy

CONTEST: KK Video Throwback Thursday Photo Contest

Today’s Guests:

9:05am- Mark Heinrich, Republican candidate for Lubbock County Commissioner

These and many more topics coming up on today’s edition of The Chad Hasty Show. Tune in mornings 8:30-11am on News/Talk 790 KFYO, streaming online at kfyo.com, and now on your iPhone and Android device with the radioPup App. All guest interviews can be heard online in our podcast section after the show at kfyo.com.

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