A bill passed by the House but bottled up in the Senate seeks to increase from 17 to 18 the age at which offenders automatically enter Texas' adult legal system.
Houston Democratic Rep. Harold Dutton's "raise the age" bill is holding in the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, where chairman John Whitmire, a fellow Houston Democrat, has declared it dead -- though late legislative wrangling could still change that.
Similar bills failed in previous sessions, but the change is backed by youth organizations, criminal justice reform groups and conservatives who want the state to spend less on prisons.
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Dutton's bill could also eventually cost $35-million-plus annually to implement, however, and opponents worry about increasing the ranks of the state's troubled juvenile justice system, which would absorb many cases under the bill.