This VHS tape captures scenes from the Texas 77th Legislature in the year 2001. The segment focuses on the consideration of House Bill 2639, introduced by State Representative Harold V. Dutton of Harris County. The bill relates to the inclusion of an incarcerated person in the population data used for redistricting, according to the person's last residence before incarceration. HB 2639 leads to a debate between Dutton and Republican Warren Chisum, chair of the Environmental Regulation Committee. Chisum argues that a prison and its corresponding district counts as an inmate's residence. However, Dutton maintains that a prison sentence is temporary. He argues that most inmates return to their original place of residence one their sentence expires. Although this bill is specific to redistricting, the various arguments highlight important issues and concerns regarding the prison system today. The clip not only illustrates the legislative process, but also provides a glimpse into the culture of Texas politics, where humor, sarcasm, and gravity combine into one unique concoction.
Ronald "Ron" Clark was born on January 5, 1953, in Caripito, Venezuela. He attended the University of Connecticut before joining the US Army in 1974, serving two years. Clark then moved to Texas to pursue a law degree. After graduating from the University of Texas School of Law in 1979, he became an assistant city attorney in the City Attorney's Office of Abilene. Three years later, Clark went into private practice and settled in Sherman.
Clark began a political career in 1996 with a campaign for State Representative from the 62nd District. He won, eventually serving three terms in the Texas House of Representatives. Clark was reelected for a fourth term, but was never sworn in. In January 2002, President George W. Bush nominated him for a seat on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The United States Senate confirmed his lifetime appointment in October 2002. Clark became chief judge of the court in January 2015.