TDCAA Legislative Update: Week 13, Part II

When it rains, it pours. (And no, we aren’t talking about this weekend’s weather.)

Looking ahead

Now the struggle gets real in the House. Due to looming deadlines, you can probably stick a fork in any House bill that has not been heard in a committee in the next two weeks. (Senate bills have until early May to get heard though.) That means long bills lists and short notices are now the norm going forward. Committee hearings are the best place to slow down bills, so pay attention to these bill postings below and get involved if you want to sink (or save!) a bill.

Because we aren’t busy enough already …

It looks like we’ll be talking about bail bond reform next week (finally).

Before adjourning for the weekend, the House suspended its normal posting requirements to allow Monday’s Criminal Jurisprudence Committee meeting to include HB 1323 by Murr (R-Junction), HB 2020 by Kacal (R-Bryan), and HB 3283 by White (R-Hillister). In order, those are: the chief justice’s plan, the governor’s plan, and … another, more modest bail bond bill that hasn’t gotten much attention. Oh, and both of the first two bills are called “The Damon Allen Act” in memory of a fallen highway patrol trooper, even though they do very different things. All three bills are now part of the full committee agenda on Monday.

HB 1323 by Murr is the bail bond reform pushed last session by the chief justice. For a full summary of the bill, see our Week 5 Legislative Update. The main sticking point with it for some prosecutors last session was the denial-of-bail provisions that trigger a new right to an evidentiary hearing within 10 days at which witnesses may be called by either side and the State must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the arrestee is a flight risk who will endanger the public/victims. That proposal was eventually stripped from last session’s Senate version before the bill died in the House, but it has re-appeared in the current bill as filed.

HB 2020 by Kacal is the governor’s preferred vehicle for bail bond “reform,” although it does little to address various federal cases challenging current practices. Instead, it seeks to ensure potentially dangerous offenders are not released with inadequate security. The most controversial part of this bill as filed is probably the requirement that only a district court judge can grant bail to arrestees accused of felonies and misdemeanor crimes of violence. There is likely to be a new version of this bill laid out in committee on Monday, but we have yet to see it.

HB 3283 by White authorizes the use of local bail schedules but allows a defendant who cannot meet the amount set in his case to make a “counter-offer” which must be considered by a magistrate within 48 hours, and if rejected, the defendant has a right to another hearing for re-consideration within four days of that determination.

These three bills now join the AG’s trafficking bill, grand jury reform, and 24 other bills teed up for consideration on Monday—all in the same committee. If we survive it, we’ll update you next week on how things shake out.

AG’s trafficking bill update

To update Thursday’s report: The Senate version of SB 1257 by Huffman (R-Houston) was voted out of the Senate State Affairs Committee last night by a 7-0 vote (Nelson (R) and Lucio (D) absent). Once the paperwork is done, it may be considered by the full Senate via the Senate Intent Calendar (requiring a three-fifths majority vote) or on the Local and Uncontested Calendar. As previously reported, the House version—HB 3979 by Leach (R-Plano)—is set for a hearing Monday afternoon in the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee. Contact Rob if you want to get involved in this issue, time is of the essence.

“Stay in your lane, bro”

Those of you coming to Austin to help legislators craft good public policy should know that not everyone appreciates your unsolicited input. Specifically, the Texas Public Policy Foundation and various Tea Party-affiliated groups deem your involvement at the legislature to be “taxpayer-funded lobbying” and want to curtail your ability to impact the legislative process. Most of their efforts are directed at the cities, counties, and school districts who have thwarted some of their preferred policy initiatives over the years, such as school choice, property tax restrictions, and more. But make no mistake: Prosecutors and law enforcement are also in their crosshairs, both individually and as a group—namely, TDCAA—and for the same reason. (Think civil asset forfeiture, grand jury reform, and various other policy proposals pushed by Right on Crime and its supporters). All told, there are more than a dozen of these kinds of bills filed this session. Here are the ones that are actually moving through the legislative process right now:

  • HB 281 by Middleton (R-Wallisville): Political subdivisions that impose a tax may not spend money to influence legislation or pay dues to associations that do so (passed House State Affairs Committee, soon to be sent to House Calendars Committee)
  • SB 29 by Hall (R-Edgewood): No political subdivision may spend money to influence legislation or contribute to or pay in any manner an association that influences legislation (passed Senate State Affairs Committee, awaiting consideration on Senate floor)
  • SB 702 by Bettencourt (R-Houston): Political subdivisions must approve by public vote each individual expenditure to influence legislation and report all such expenditures to the Ethics Commission, including association dues (passed Senate, referred to House State Affairs Committee)

We will leave it to you to decide what action, if any, these bills call for on your part. While a few of you might find the more drastic proposals somewhat offensive, please do not take it personally. If anything, it is a compliment to you—both individually and as members of our association—that certain advocacy groups who cannot beat you and your subject-matter expertise on the battlefield of ideas are now trying to take you off that field altogether.

Feel free to contact Shannon for more information about any of these bills.

Money

The Senate will take up their version of HB 1, the state budget, on Tuesday, but that debate is usually quite perfunctory in comparison to the House’s all-nighter. Once the Senate replaces the House’s language with their own and sends it back to the House to go to a conference committee, we’ll provide you with a House/Senate comparison and update you on where related issues (judicial branch pay raise, longevity pay, etc.) stand.

Upcoming committee hearings

For a reminder of everything set for Monday, April 8, see Thursday’s report. Here are summaries of the relevant committee notices posted for later in the week:

Tuesday, April 9

Senate Criminal Justice – 1:30 p.m., Room E1.016

  • SB 691 and SCR 10 repealing automatic DL suspensions for certain drug offenses
  • SB 1125 by Hinojosa permitting video testimony by forensic analysts in criminal proceedings
  • SB 1698 by Whitmire barring juvenile certifications/transfers for state jail or 3rd-degree felonies
  • SB 1754 by Huffman simplifying the elements of taking a weapon from certain officers
  • SB 2114 by West requiring law enforcement agencies to confirm compliance with discovery laws
  • SB 2381 by Hughes legalizing long knives in bars, amusement parks, and churches

Wednesday, April 10

House Homeland Security & Public Safety – 8:00 a.m., E2.016

  • HB 372 by Allen reducing penalties for DWLI
  • HB 1207 by Rodriguez creating a criminal penalty for failure to report a lost or stolen firearm
  • HB 1208 by Rodriguez relating to storing firearms for certain protective order respondents
  • HB 1590 by Howard creating the Office for Sexual Assault Survivor Assistance
  • HB 3106 by Goldman requiring ongoing sex crime investigations to be entered into TDEx
  • HB 3191 by Moody requiring protective order respondents to surrender their firearms
  • HB 3540 by Burns authorizing peace officers to release in lieu of arrest certain disabled persons
  • HB 4236 by Anderson allowing viewing of certain body cam footage by victims’ families

House Juvenile Justice & Family Issues – 10:30 a.m. or upon adjournment, E2.012

  • HB 2491 by Wu prohibiting commitment to a TJJD facility for any state jail felony
  • HB 2756 by Leach protecting parental rights in CPS cases
  • HB 4606 by White mandating diversion programs for youths accuses of Class C offenses

Thursday, April 11

House Corrections – 8:00 a.m., E2.030

  • HB 1115 by White mandating policies for the placement of children accompanying arrestees
  • HB 1271 by Thompson granting certain 3g offenders early parole consideration
  • HB 2481 by Metcalf authorizing certain veterans deferred adjudication for DWI
  • HB 2772 by Wilson barring mandatory supervision release of TDCJ inmates from county jails
  • HB 3297 by Allen barring probation revocation for any unadjudicated new offense
  • HB 3303 by Bowers barring probation revocation of kid’s caretakers absent certain new offenses
  • HB 3512 by Pacheco mandating early release of compliant probationers after half their term
  • HB 4009 by Toth creating victim-offender mediation programs
  • HB 4104 by White mandating specialty court probation for certain felony prostitution cases
  • HB 4594 by J. Gonzalez mandating probation for state jail and 3rd-degree felony drug cases

House Pensions/Investments/Financial Services – 8:00 a.m., E2.026

  • HB 2624 by Perez facilitating the prosecution of criminal offenses involving fraud
  • HB 2625 by Perez creating the offense of mass fraudulent use/possession of credit/debit information
  • HB 2945 by Perez criminalizing payment card skimmers on gas pump dispensers

Senate Finance – 9:00 a.m., E1.036

  •   SB 918 by Huffman repealing the DRP and replacing it with other fees and DWI fines

House Public Health, Subcommittee on Medical Marijuana – 10:30 a.m. or upon adj., E2.012

  • HB 122 by Hinojosa prohibiting investigation or prosecution of certain doctors
  • HB 1365 by Lucio III legalizing and regulating medical cannabis
  • HB 3703 by Klick expanding Texas’ Compassionate Use Act
  • HB 4045 by Dominguez legalizing and regulating medical cannabis
  • HB 4097 by Blanco legalizing and regulating medical cannabis by veterans for PTSD
  • HB 4276 by Zedler legalizing certain CBD oil
  • HB 4508 by Lucio III exempting low-THC CBD oil from the criminal definition of marijuana

If you want to learn more about a bill or find out how to get involved for or against it, contact Shannon for details.

Upcoming calendars

The following bills have been calendared for consideration on the House floor next week: HB 226 by Krause (revising or repealing various non-Penal Code crimes), HB 444 by Meyer (insider trading), HB 446 by Moody (removing knuckles from the list of prohibited weapons), HB 869 by Hefner (credit card skimmers at gas pumps), and HB 1030 by Moody (revising jury instructions in capital cases).

The following bills are eligible to be considered on the Senate floor at any point:

SB 9 by Hughes (election fraud), SB 38 by Zaffirini (hazing), SB 325 by Huffman (protective order registry), SB 710 by Creighton (county ethics commissions), and SB 1640 by Watson (“walking quorum” fix).

These lists change daily, so click on this link to access the latest House Calendar or Senate Intent Calendar.

Floor action

The House passed the following bills over to the Senate: HB 27 by Canales (assault of federal officer) and HB 101 by Canales (new crime of false caller ID).

The Senate passed the following bills over to the House: SB 201 by Huffman (looting enhancements) and SB 702 by Bettencourt (counties must disclose money spent to influence legislation).

Committee action

House bills approved by committees last week include: HB 344 by Dutton (raising juvenile jurisdiction to include 17-year-olds), HB 1139 by S. Thompson (pre-trial determination of intellectual disability in capital cases), HB 1364 by Wu (excluding from juvenile jurisdiction 10- and 11-year-olds who commit offenses below a second-degree felony), HB 1482 by Lozano (hazing), and HB 1936 by Rose (no death penalty for murderers with serious mental illness). These bills now go to the Calendars Committee, which decides which of them will be heard by the full House.

In the Senate, committees approved the following bills: SB 21 by Huffman (no smoking under age 21), SB 370 by Watson (employment protections for jurors), SB 801 by Rodriguez (protective order revisions), SB 891 by Huffman (omnibus new courts bill), and SB 1802 by Huffman (enhancements for human trafficking-related crimes). These bills are now eligible to be placed on the Senate Intent Calendar at the discretion of their authors.

More Quotes of the Week

“That’s gutless. Mr. McNutt knew exactly where I was. I was on the House floor and he chose to go to my home, to Lake Jackson where my 14-year-old son was.”

House Speaker Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton), responding to news that an advocate of “constitutional carry” personally visited the homes of several House members last week in a lobbying stunt he publicized on social media. The following day, State Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford) announced he would not seek a hearing for HB 357, his permit-less carry bill.

“My mother’s fertility doctor decided to use his own sperm instead of the sperm donor that my parents selected and consented to, and without their knowledge. And then I had to be the one to tell my mother that this had happened.”

Eve Wiley, who is seeking legislation to make assisted reproduction or fertility fraud a criminal offense under the current sexual assault statute.

“I believe this is the legislative session that we come together, in bipartisan fashion, to pass a bill to prohibit this practice that can have life-altering consequences for those who unnecessarily end up in jail. Ending this practice will free up time for police to attend to serious crimes.”

State Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston), touting HB 482, her bill to ban arrests for most Class C misdemeanors.

“I messed up. The mistake was, it was an archaic 180-page document that I did not know contained this particular provision. I guess I did not scour everything that could possibly disrupt a run.”

New Harris County Civil Court-at-Law #4 Judge William McLeod, who did not realize that he was resigning from the bench by operation of law when he announced his candidacy for the Texas Supreme Court.