It’s over! But consider this not so much a “good-bye” as a “see you later.”
Adios (for now)
This second called session was to conclude on Sunday, September 5, but the legislature has adjourned sine die before then. Having passed what red meat it can push through the sausage grinder this session, both chambers adjourned last night, giving the governor bills on most (but not all) of the subjects he requested while also giving themselves a true Labor Day holiday weekend.
Next up? Well, there is still redistricting to tackle. The conventional wisdom in Austin is that the governor will let legislators go home for a week or two to let tempers cool a bit, then call them back in late September or early October to start drawing lines on maps. The governor might also add to the call of that third special session some of the items that still have not passed this year, but that is speculation at this point.
Bail bond reform crosses the finish line
Fifth try is the charm, eh? The Lege finally delivered Governor Abbott the “bail bond reform” bill that he asked for. Senate Bill 6 by Huffman/Smith has been delivered for his final approval after some last-minute tweaks in the House. Among its many provisions, the bill:
- prohibits certain violent offenders being released on personal bond;
- requires magistrates to review a Public Safety Report (PSR) and criminal history on each arrestee prior to setting a bail amount;
- adds new factors—such as citizenship status and past court involvement—to the list of things to be considered before setting bail;
- imposes new requirements on judges setting bail for arrestees with pending cases;
- requires bond conditions to be entered into TLETS; and
- increases the bail-related training requirements for magistrates.
Different parts of the bill will be phased into effect from December 2021 through April 2022. Look for a complete PDF text and review of the new law to be offered for free on TDCAA’s Publications web page before those new changes take effect.
Meanwhile, the other prong of bail bond “reform”—SJR 3, the constitutional proposal to allow outright denial of bail for certain violent or sexual offenses—fell a dozen votes short of the two-thirds approval needed for it to appear on the ballot next spring, so that idea is dead (again).
Dolla dolla billz, y’all
The Lege also passed two supplemental appropriations bills related to border security. House Bill 5 by Bonnen/Nelson included a late House floor amendment that will direct $180 million to Texas Anti-Gang Center programs in the state’s largest cities, while HB 9 by Bonnen/Nelson appropriates almost $2 billion to border-related purposes, including:
- almost $3.8 million to the Border Prosecutor Unit (for hiring and training more prosecutors);
- $14 million to border counties for law enforcement expenses; and
- more than $32 million to the Office of Court Administration (to provide indigent defense funds, visiting judges, and related assistance to counties along the border).
These bills take effect immediately.
TDCAA training update
We’re up to 962 registered attendees for the 2021 Annual Conference in Galveston later this month; check out the details and register HERE if you’d like to join us. We will also be offering an in-person Legislative Update the day before the Annual at that same location. We’ve received 510 registrations for that course, but it will be held in the same cavernous convention space as the main course, so you can sign up HERE if you’d prefer that socially-distanced in-person experience to our online version, which appears to be a huge hit based on the positive evaluations rolling in. The online course will be open for several more months and can be accessed HERE.
The National Computer Forensics Institute (NCFI) will start offering its five-day prosecutor courses on digital evidence, computer forensics, and social networks in 2022. All costs associated with the course (including travel) are covered by the United States Secret Service. Eligible dates and application instructions for their Digital Evidence for Prosecutors (DEP) and Advanced Digital Evidence for Prosecutors (ADEP) courses can be accessed at HERE. The deadline to apply for these free courses is September 28, 2021. Additional information on the NCFI can be found at www.ncfi.usss.gov.
Some articles that you might find interesting:
- “What Philadelphia Reveals About America’s Homicide Surge” (ProPublica)
- “2022 election dates hinge on how fast Texas lawmakers get redistricting bill to Gov. Greg Abbott” (Dallas Morning News)
- “Thanks to local politics and a railroad, rural Kinney County accounts for most of Texas’ migrant arrests” (Texas Tribune)
Quotes of the Week
“I want to see if [the lieutenant governor] has his big boy pants on. This meeting is adjourned.”
—House Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston), chairman of the House Public Education Committee, explaining why he adjourned that committee on Monday without a vote on two hot button education issues—critical race theory and transgender athletes. (Ultimately, the former passed but the latter did not.)
“Health care workers have been dealing with this for years, and it’s become more pronounced with the COVID pandemic.”
—Karen Garvey, vice president of patient safety at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, as quoted in an article about verbal abuse and physical assaults against health care workers by hospital patients and visitors.
[With the conclusion of this second called session, these weekly updates will become monthly updates—at least until the next called session.
Happy Labor Day Weekend!]