Hello, autumn. Hello, interim. We’ve missed you both.
Your Texas Legislature adjourned its third called session sine die in the wee hours of this morning after passing around a dozen bills all told, several of which will be the subject of litigation for years to come. However, most of those bills don’t directly impact your day job, so we’ll leave the summarizing of those new laws to your news source of choice.
There were really only three pieces of legislation in play related to your bailiwick this third special session. The first was SJR 1 by Huffman/Kacal, which would have placed a constitutional proposition to allow judges to deny bail in certain cases on a future ballot. As in past sessions, a party-line vote resulted in that measure falling two dozen votes shy of the two-thirds approval required to send it to the voters. Chalk that up to further proof that Texas Rs and Texas Ds are still not playing each other’s reindeer games during this year of Washington, D.C.-style partisan politics.
The second measure was SB 5 by Lucio/Patterson, the anti-tethering dog bill, a previous version of which was vetoed by the governor during the regular session. After some minor face-saving tweaks, the governor appears ready to sign this version and put an end the #AbbottHatesDogs hashtag that went viral on social media after the earlier veto.
The final piece of this puzzle was SB 8 by Nelson/Bonnen, the bill to spend the billions of federal dollars coming to the state as part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). These one-time expenditures ended up being spread among a variety of different articles in the state budget. Of relevance to your office are the funds dedicated to crime victims compensation, services, and related grants; increased mental health treatment options; and visiting judges and indigent costs related to working on local docket backlogs. What that will look like in action remains to be seen, but most of the state agencies you deal with got at least a little sumpin’-sumpin’ to help them address pandemic-related issues.
Now we wait to see whether the governor will call a fourth special session. Rumors abound about another special session in January to take up as-yet-unnamed issues, but frankly, we don’t care enough to try to run those to ground right now. The 87th Legislature is leaving town, and we are going to take our wins where we can find them. Full stop.
Registration is open for TDCAA’s Key Personnel & Victim Assistance Coordinator Seminar to be held in Kerrville on November 10–12, 2021, at the Inn of the Hills Hotel. The TDCAA Key Personnel-Victim Services Board has planned outstanding workshops for Texas prosecutor staff and victim assistance personnel, so if you wish to send any of your office staff to this excellent training, CLICK HERE for hotel and registration information.
Some articles that you might find interesting:
- “Texas law says jury panels must be chosen randomly. A Brazoria County official had a different idea.” (Texas Monthly)
- “Texans will decide eight proposed amendments to the state Constitution on Nov. 2. Here’s what you need to know.” (Texas Tribune)
- “Analysis: An election slogan you won’t hear in Texas in 2022” (Texas Tribune)
Quote of the Week
“I think my campaign has had a dramatic impact on his policies.”
—Don Huffines, Republican candidate for governor, when asked about various recent actions taken by the current governor.
“Have a nice day.”
—Gov. Greg Abbott, when asked by a reporter about the prospects for a fourth called session in the near future.
[This will (hopefully) be the last legislative update from Austin for a while.
These messages will continue only as needed depending upon whether there is another special session or other interim business.]