Don’t look now, but this regular session is half-over as of Monday. That’s the good news; the bad news is that what follows next is the lawmaking equivalent of trying to shove three pounds of sausage into a two-pound bag. Viewer (and voter) discretion is advised.
Your local students may be going on Spring Break, but legislators will not—as you will realize after reading this second of two updates’ worth of committee hearing notices. We already sent you information earlier this week on the judicial branch pay raise issue and other bills set for Monday; now we’ve got another 40 bills to tell you about that are set for hearings later in the week—and that’s just what we’ve cherry-picked from the various lists. All told, 105 of the bills we are tracking this session are set for a committee hearing during the first four days of next week! Get used to that, as the next seven weeks will be a sprint until they run up against the various deadlines imposed by House and Senate rules in early May. Hold on to your hats, people, it’s about to get stormy.
So much for “limited government”
Thanks to the good people at the Texas Legislative Library, we can tell you that the 86th Legislature has filed 7,281 bills and joint resolutions as of this session’s filing deadline, which is the second-highest total in history. (To see that history in visual form, check out their handy graphics here.) We are current tracking more than 1,300 of those bills, but it will take us a few more days to review them all. We’ll share some subject-specific lists with you next week if, for instance, you want to check up on all the bills that would impact DWI cases, firearms prosecutions, create new crimes, etc.
Lite Guv’s Top 30
The main man in the Senate released a list of his 30 priority bills this session, which you can view at this link (with further links to the bills themselves in that document). Among those you might find interesting are:
- SB 9 by Hughes relating to election integrity
- SB 11 by Taylor improving school security (+ more than $500 million to fund it!)
- SB 20 by Huffman, the omnibus human trafficking/sex trade bill this session
- SB 28 by Huffman limiting local government contingent fee agreements for legal services
- SB 29 by Hall prohibiting local governmental entities from spending public funds to interact with the Legislature with or through an association or similar entity.
Look for all of the bills on this Top 30 list to start flying through the Senate. In fact, some—like SB 20 on human trafficking—have already been heard and voted from committee within a week of being filed. The rest will soon follow suit, so if you have concerns about any of them, don’t lollygag.
Here are some stories and articles we don’t have time to summarize, but they might be of interest to some of you:
- Call to end cash bail in Bexar County intensifies (Texas Public Radio)
- Texas Senator proposes moving all TJJD youth to former adult facility (Texas Tribune)
- No one’s really sure how to regulate this [CBD-oil] hemp food craze (Pew Stateline)
Now that the 60-day filing deadline has passed, both chambers can start debating and passing non-emergency bills from the floor. Check this space in future updates for more news.
Bills approved last week by committees include: HB 892 by Kuempel (county regulation of eight-liner game rooms), SB 295 by Lucio (unlawful restraint of dogs), SB 363 (restricting certain law enforcement access to Prescription Monitoring Program information), SB 476 (municipal regulation of dogs), and SB 666 (reporting offenses that invalidate firearm possession).
Upcoming committee hearings
Here are summaries of the relevant committee notices posted so far:
Monday, March 18
(see our previous update, plus these additions …)
Senate State Affairs – 9:00 a.m., Senate Chamber
- SB 9 by Hughes on election integrity
- SB 21 by Huffman increasing the smoking/vaping age from 18 to 21
- SB 29 by Hall restricting local officials’ ability to lobby the legislature
- SB 346 by Zaffirini revising court cost revenue allocations
Tuesday, March 19
House Human Services – 10:30 a.m. or upon adjournment, Room E2.030
- HB 2134 by Klick prohibiting certain medical consultations in child abuse/neglect investigations
Senate Criminal Justice – 1:30 p.m., Room E1.016
- SB 194 by Perry creating the offense of indecent assault of an adult
- SB 306 by Watson authorizing the release of intoxicated persons to a sobering center
- SB 315 by Hughes adding credit card skimming to engaging in organized criminal activity
- SB 2191 by Whitmire prohibiting pretrial detainees from being housed in out-of-state jails
Wednesday, March 20
House Homeland Security & Public Safety – 8:00 a.m., Room E2.016
- HB 1168 by Anchia creating an exception for possessing a weapon in an airport
- HB 282 by Neave requiring training on trauma-informed interviewing of sex crime victims
- HB 2146 by Kacal authorizing municipal prosecutors to carry handguns
- HB 1660 by Herrero requiring training on strangulation evidence in family violence cases
- HB 265 by Blanco requiring data collection about immigration status in traffic stops
House Higher Education – 8:00 a.m., Room E1.014
- HB 1482 by Lozano revising and expanding the criminal offense of hazing
House State Affairs – 10:30 a.m. or upon adjournment, Room E2.014
- HB 1232 by Guillen creating the Human Trafficking Prevention Coordinating Council
- HB 1655 by Hunter limiting the withholding of DOBs under the PIA
- HB 1700 by Hunter making various information held by a current or former government officer or employee public information
- HB 2191 by Capriglione, an omnibus PIA bill
- HB 2192 by Capriglione on the assessment of litigation costs and attorney’s fees in PIA cases
House Juvenile Justice & Family Issues – 10:30 a.m. or upon adjournment, Room E2.012
- HB 1189 by Ja. Johnson imposing community service in lieu of fines for certain young offenders
- HB 1332 by Israel repealing local governments’ authority to issue juvenile curfews
- HB 1760 by White relating to confidential, sealed, and destroyed juvenile records
- HB 2027 by Bowers informing a juvenile and his family regarding the sealing of records
- HB 2343 by Dutton expanding the “Romeo & Juliet” defense to five years for high schoolers
- HB 3195 by Wu relating to certain juveniles committed to TJJD at sanction level six
Senate Veterans Affairs and Border Security – 1:30 p.m. or upon adjournment, Room 2E.20
- SB 616 by Birdwell, the DPS sunset bill
Thursday, March 21
House Corrections – 8:00 a.m., Room E2.030
- HB 1452 by S. Thompson reducing the wait before eligibility for an order of non-disclosure
- HB 1753 by Allen accelerating eligibility for early release from parole supervision
- HB 2158 by White creating a work-release program for prison inmates
- HB 2502 by Moody imposing a jail term as a condition of probation for fatal hit-and-runs
- HB 2559 by Bowers requiring a summons issue for most parole violators with new offenses
- HB 2758 by Hernandez eliminating probation and deferred adjudication for certain human trafficking and prostitution-related crimes
- HB 3120 by G. Bonnen related to the stacking of certain sex crime sentences
- HB 3296 by Allen increasing diligent participation credits for certain state jail felony inmates
If you want to learn more about a bill or find out how to get involved for or against it, contact Shannon for details.
Legislative rotation sign-up
Thanks to Ector County DA Bobby Bland and Oldham County C&DA Kent Birdsong for coming to Austin last week and riding herd on several bills. We still have volunteer slots open for this session, so if you’ve found any new reasons to want to talk to your legislators, contact Shannon for details on how to get involved.
Quotes of the Week
“Our customers who come in say they don’t care what the district attorney says and they say they need the product.”Trey Phillips, a CBD oil retailer (and former Fort Worth police officer), on whether a recent advisory about the illegality of unregulated CBD productswould impact his business in Tarrant County.
“Like it or not, you get one bite at this apple, and you do not want to do anything to cause harm to this case, that may cause a reversal or a mistrial. Your goal right now is to get justice. That’s primary.”Andy Kahan, director of victims services for Crime Stoppers of Houston, on how he explains to murder victims’ family members why information about those cases are not public before trial.
“We have 11 doctor shifts a day and most of the doctors tell me it’s hard to go a whole shift without seeing at least one scooter injury.”Dr. Christopher Ziebell, ER director for Dell Seton Medical Center at UT-Austin, when asked about the increase in injuries among urban electric scooter riders.
“Court is one of those places where facts still matter.”Federal judge Amy Berman Jackson, during her recent sentencing of Paul Manafort.