FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MAY 26, 2015
Contact: Liz Zornes
ANCHIA PASSES ADDITIONAL LEGISLATION TO BENEFIT EXONEREES
HB 638 will allow annuity payments for beneficiaries of exonerees
(Austin) On Sunday, May 24th, thanks to the leadership of Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston), the Texas Senate passed HB 638, a bi-partisan bill filed by Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas) that would allow wrongfully convicted persons to elect to reduce their annuity payments in order to extend those payments or a portion of those payments to their surviving spouse or designated beneficiary upon their death.
“The family members of wrongfully convicted persons were deprived of both emotional support from their loved ones as well as an essential source of income while they are wrongfully imprisoned,” said Rep. Anchia. “HB 638 attempts to make these families whole and allow a wrongfully convicted person to plan for the care of their loved ones upon their death, much like my fellow legislators do through our state retirement plans.”
Sen. Ellis responded, “I commend Rep. Anchia for his leadership on this important legislation, and I’m proud to have had a role in helping him pass it through the Senate. We can never fully repay these exonerees and their loved ones for the years wrongfully taken from them. But this legislation is a meaningful step forward toward helping provide the support that they and their families deserve.”
Rep. Ron Simmons (R-Carrollton), a joint author of HB 638 who was instrumental in getting the legislation passed on the floor of the House, also had this to say about the bill, “An efficient and swift, yet fair system of justice is a key plank of our great American republic. However, the protection for the innocent is paramount above all else. Rep Anchia’s bill will allow simple protections for exonerated citizens and their families without costing taxpayers any additional funds. ”
HB 638 expands upon the Tim Cole Act, a bill authored by Rep. Anchia that passed in 2009, which entitles a wrongfully convicted person to a lump sum payment and a monthly annuity payment that is guaranteed for his or her lifetime.