Update: May 13, 2011
Last Friday, we promised you drama. Little did we know that we’d only have to wait 18 hours to see it. For parliamentary rules geeks, last Saturday’s “Mother’s Day Meltdown” in the House was as good as it gets. For the other 99.5 percent of you, rumors of near-fisticuffs on the House floor last weekend should keep your attention on the Capitol as the Legislature careens towards the finish line. If not, we bet our recent unpleasantness involving surprise House floor amendments will keep you glued to future updates!
For a session that’s been relatively quiet for us, Wednesday was a real kick in the pants. Within a span of about four hours on the House floor, several bills supported by prosecutors received unfavorable floor amendments, and several bills previously killed by prosecutors resurrected themselves as amendments to other bills. Some were low-grade problems that are still being worked on, but the major development was what happened to SB 316 by Whitmire/Gallego, the asset forfeiture reform bill.
We won't rehash all the details here, but suffice it to say, the bill was eventually fixed. Many of you played key roles in achieving this success. That was no easy feat due to the timing of events, but we pulled it off thanks to everyone’s hard work. Now the bill is likely headed to a conference committee to resolve one local issue.
A note to our county attorney friends
Those of you who don’t do felony work may have been wondering why we’ve been so focused on DA-related issues. We can assure you, that is not by choice. It just seems that your felony friends have been in the cross-hairs much more than you this session. That may make for boring updates for you, but if you feel slighted, call up your local DA and ask how he or she has enjoyed the rollercoaster ride the past few weeks. That should put some perspective on things—remember, boring sessions are never bad!
The Big Picture
While we were running around tending to our issues, the House and Senate were busy driving school finance reform into the ditch and taking the overall state budget with it. This has resulted in several rounds of the “What if?” game around the Capitol. There’s no telling how that will all sort itself out, but it sure doesn’t make a special session any less likely. Elsewhere, redistricting is causing some legislative chafing in the Senate, and the House is licking its self-inflicted wounds from a contentious debate over the anti-sanctuary city bill (HB 12 by Solomons, R-Carrollton), which now heads to the Senate for more debate.
When the clock on the House floor struck midnight last night, hundreds of bills met their untimely deaths. Among the bills we were watching that failed to pass before the deadline were HB 1477 by Allen (parole revocation credit for street time), HB 1696 by Zedler (election investigation referrals to the AG), HB 2352 by Allen (expanding mandatory early release), HB 219 by Gallego (mandated recording of certain confessions), HB 220 by Gallego (creating a new “scientific” writ), and HB 2448 by Harper-Brown (Office of Inspector General referrals to the AG). If you have questions about another bill that you were following, check it online or contact Shannon. The next major deadline is in 11 days—Senate bills must be heard on second reading in the House by midnight on Tuesday, May 24, and all bills must receive final approval by a second chamber no later than midnight on Wednesday, May 25. After that, only bills that have passed both chambers in different forms (like SB 316, the forfeiture bill discussed above) can be debated and passed to the governor’s desk.
Sent to the governor
The following bills were sent to the governor this past week: HB 1806 by Flynn/Hegar (fishing tournament fraud), HB 3000 by Thompson/Van de Putte (continuous human trafficking), SB 198 by West/T. Smith (exempting certain young sex offenders from registration), SB 250 by Zaffirini/Anchia (stalking protective orders), SB 279 by W. Davis/ Laubenberg (including pets in protective orders), SB 1024 by Rodriguez/Rodriguez (theft of service), SB 1490 by Uresti/Hunter (international child custody/abduction), SB 1608 by Carona/ Rodriguez (enhancing No DL penalties involving certain injuries), and SB 1680 by Ellis/Murphy (Medicaid/Medicare fraud evidence).
Passed second chamber with changes
HB 2014 by Thompson/Van de Putte (human trafficking consequences) and SB 316 by Whitmire/Gallego (asset forfeiture reforms).
Passed first chamber
The rush to beat the deadline in the House resulted in a large volume of bills passed on second reading, some of which still need to be finally approved by the House by today to go to the Senate. We’re still catching up on everything that has passed, but this is a list of the bills that are halfway to becoming law, so read them carefully! Here is a sampling: HB 12 by Solomons (anti-sanctuary city bill), HB 96 by Fletcher (excusing a State’s witness from The Rule), HB 189 by T. Smith (deferred for DWI-1st), HB 274 by Creighton (“loser pays” civil bill), HB 278 by Alonzo (mandatory pre-trial hearings), HB 351 by Veasey (expanding expunctions), HB 595 by Raymond (false identification as a peace officer), HB 597 by Madden (fake weed), HB 748 by Menendez (incompetency to stand trial procedures), HB 783 by Y. Davis (impersonating a peace officer), HB 892 by C. Howard (transport of illegal alien), HB 940 by Dukes (expanding offense of improper educator/student relationship), HB 1043 by Christian (cockfighting), HB 1122 by Weber (human trafficking), HB 1205 by Turner (time credits for early release from probation), HB 1856 by Woolley (enhancement for retaliation), HB 1937 by Simpson (criminalizing certain TSA searches at airports), HB 1988 by Gallego (certain victims’ statements about plea bargains), HB 2329 by Zedler (pseudonyms and protective orders for trafficking victims), HB 2649 by Allen (diligent participation credit at state jail facilities), HB 2889 by Madden (expunctions upon prosecutors’ acquiescence), HB 2993 by Miles (continuous sex with an inmate), HB 3001 by Thompson (monitoring of high-risk sex offenders), HB 3473 by Gallego (prostitution defenses and enhancements), HB 3691 by Gallego (victim-offender mediation in property crimes (per amendment on floor)), and HB 3746 by Frullo (administrative subpoenas in internet child sex crimes).
Scheduled floor debates
Now that the House is done with its own bills, it will focus on Senate bills. The House is still on the floor as this goes to press, so future calendars have not been finalized. Among those currently calendared for debate next week are SB 544 by Seliger/Shelton (Medicaid fraud offenses), SB 688 by Nichols/Creighton (Medicaid fraud prosecutions), and SB 1106 by Harris/Madden (exchange of juvenile information between agencies). The Senate calendar is also in flux because redistricting maps may consume a good portion of senators’ time next week, as could these bills: HB 215 by Gallego/Ellis (eyewitness identification procedures), HB 1754 by Gallego/Ellis (indigent defense task force), HB 2482 by Pena/Williams (organized retail theft), and HB 2725 by Hartnett/Williams (incompetency procedures).
Next week will be the last week for real committee hearings—and the last week we get any notice of what they are doing and when they are doing it. Everything heard in committee at this point has already passed several hurdles, so from here on out, bills will be considered in committees with little or no notice, requiring us to be quick on our feet. Among those bills that will be considered next week are:
Monday, May 16
Senate Transportation and Homeland Security (8:00 a.m., E1.012)
HB 243 by Craddick/Zaffirini creating an offense for reading text messages while driving
HB 343 by Fletcher/Huffman relating to accidents involving government vehicles
HB 1395 by Parker/Watson relating to the requirements to operate certain watercraft/boats
HB 1523 by Phillips/Watson relating to transporting household goods
Senate State Affairs (9:00 a.m., Senate Chamber)
HB 274 by Creighton/Huffman instituting “loser pays” for civil actions
House Criminal Jurisprudence (8:00 a.m., E1.012)
SB 121 by Ellis revising photograph and live lineup identification procedures
SB 152 by Huffman making admissible certain extraneous evidence in child sex cases
SB 844 by Dan Patrick expanding the offense of escape to a person lawfully detained
SB 905 by Dan Patrick applying certain CHL defenses to legislators and other officials
SB 1616 by West relating to biological evidence storage and destruction
House Elections (2:00 p.m., E2.028)
SJR 37 by Van de Putte revising the “resign to run” constitutional provision
Tuesday, May 17
Senate Criminal Justice (1:30 p.m. or upon adjournment, E1.016)
[not posted yet]
Wednesday, May 18
House Corrections (8:00 a.m., E2.014)
SB 1209 by Whitmire relating to the detention of certain juvenile offenders
SB 1617 by Harris relating to the discretionary transfer from a juvenile court to a criminal court of certain alleged offenses arising out of a single criminal transaction
TDCAA Summer Regionals
TDCAA’s popular Legislative Update regional seminars will be coming to a location near you this summer. We will offer more than 20 three-hour legislative trainings this year during a two-month period, all of which qualify for credit as both CLE and TCLEOSE’s mandated Course 3182. All attendees will also receive a copy of our Legislative Update book. Several of our locations have limited seating that will be made available on a first-registered, first-served basis. Flyers are probably in your mailboxes, and pre-registration is now open on our Training webpage (registration is online only). TDCAA members who pre-register save 25 percent off the walk-up price, so don’t delay—sign up today!