Happy Passover, Good Friday, and Easter, y’all! Sorry to interrupt your holiday festivities, but even when the legislature is on a break there is still work to be done.
Grand jury bill set for Wednesday
The Senate Criminal Justice Committee has posted a hearing for Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. to consider various bills in a public hearing, including SB 1492 by Whitmire (D-Houston). That bill is similar to HB 2398 by S. Thompson (D-Houston) in that it puts counsel in the grand jury room during questioning, imposes delays to allow witnesses to hire and consult with counsel, requires recording of all proceedings, requires presentation of exculpatory evidence, and limits re-presentments. Unlike the House bill, though, the Senate bill does not include pre-presentment discovery to the witness or allow prosecutors to be sued.
If you want to participate in the consideration of SB 1492 at Wednesday’s hearing, contact Rob. To date, prosecutors have done a good job in the House making clear why these bills may be mis-directed, have unintended consequences, or simply be bad policy. However, we know that advocates for the bills are working hard behind the scenes lobbying committee members to vote for them anyway. Politics can trump policy at the legislature, so those of you who know senators on the committee (membership available here) should consider doing the same.
Here are summaries of relevant committee notices posted for the upcoming week. You’ll notice that some Senate bills are now being heard in House committees and vice-versa; those bills have a high likelihood of passage if they are being heard this early. Also, all of these hearing are likely to have bills added to them at the last minute.
Monday, April 22
House Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence – 8:00 a.m., Room JHR 120 (Reagan Bldg.)
- SB 362 by Huffman to release incompetent non-violent arrestees to outpatient treatment
- HB 1383 by Lozano exempting firefighters and police officers from jury service
- HB 1637 by Miller requiring trauma-informed training for judges and attorneys in CPS cases
- HB 3136 by Cain relating to judicial permission for carrying a handgun in a courthouse
- HB 3409 by Reynolds requiring trauma-informed training for judges, prosecutors, and officers
- HB 3918 by Dutton authorizing lawsuits against government employees for certain torts
- HB 4021 by Dominguez prohibiting carrying of a weapon within 100’ of courthouse premises
- HB 4551 by Dutton authorizing costs and fees in lawsuits against local officials who fail to perform a lawful duty
Wednesday, April 24
Senate Criminal Justice – 8:30 a.m., 2E.20 (Betty King Committee Room)
- SB 207 by Kolkhorst expanding money laundering laws to include digital currency
- SB 696 by Huffman mandating peace officer training on human trafficking
- SB 803 by Rodriguez requiring certain mental health reports be shared with a sheriff and personal bond office
- SB 1147 by Buckingham authorizing “medication-assisted treatment” for DWI probationers
- SB 1331 by Hinojosa expanding the authority of the Texas Forensic Science Commission
- SB 1377 by Buckingham expanding Medicaid fraud statutes to apply to all health care fraud
- SB 1492 by Whitmire mandating new grand jury procedures and remedies
House Juvenile Justice & Family Issues – 10:30 a.m. or upon adjournment, E2.012
- HB 4103 by White allowing discretionary sealing of certain juvenile records
- HB 4267 by Wu requiring a juvenile to be allowed to wear normal clothing during proceedings
Thursday, April 25
House Corrections – 8:00 a.m., E2.030
- HB 3563 by Farrar creating an offense for tampering with an electronic monitor while on probation or parole
- HB 4460 by Allen barring revocation for technical violations while on probation for state jail and third-degree felonies
House Criminal Jurisprudence – 2:00 p.m. or upon adjournment, E2.016
- SB 201 by Huffman increasing looting penalties during a disaster or evacuation
- SB 341 by Huffman barring appointment of defense lawyers as prosecutors pro tem
- SB 961 by Bettencourt authorizing cite-and-release for certain criminal trespasses
- SB 1259 by Huffman criminalizing fertility fraud
- SB 2191 by Whitmire prohibiting pretrial detention in out-of-state facilities
- HB 1261 by K. Bell expanding the presumption of child endangerment
- HB 1955 by Dutton requiring personal bond for misdemeanors absent good cause
- HB 2049 by Collier expanding the lack of consent list for sexual assault crimes
- HB 2499 by Springer making intrusive touching by TSA/security officers a crime
- HB 2524 by Anderson relating to notices in certain theft of service offenses
- HB 3135 by Cain removing certain defenses to showing children obscene/harmful material
- HB 3424 by S. Thompson expanding certain definitions for post-conviction DNA testing
- HB 3555 by Farrar adding massage therapy to the sexual assault lack-of-consent law
- HB 3594 by S. Thompson applying certain elements of the Michael Morton Act retroactively
- HB 3849 by C. Bell clarifying the powers of personal bond/pretrial services offices
- HB 3926 by Tinderholt creating an offense for Munchausen-by-proxy conduct
- HB 4143 by Dutton increasing the jail layout rate from $100 to $200
- HB 4169 by Moody changing state jail felonies to fourth-degree felonies; reducing certain punishment ranges for drug and property offenses
- HJR 62 by Murr authorizing the denial of bail for certain offenders
By the way, if you are watching a House bill that has not yet been heard in a House committee and is not listed above, you better get it added to one of these lists or it is dead. (Senate bills still have another week or two of wiggle room in the Senate, though.)
Other bills on the move
Here are updates on a fraction of the bills making progress this past week:
Passed the House, headed to the Senate: HB 8 by Neave (testing evidence in sex crimes), HB 11 by E. Thompson (transferring DL program from DPS to DMV), HB 667 by K. King (sexual assault enhancement involving incest), HB 892 by Kuempel (county regulation of game rooms), HB 902 by Landgraf (assault of pregnant woman), HB 979 by Hernandez (DNA sample upon arrest for Class A assault), HB 1177 by Phelan (carrying handgun during disaster declaration), HB 1355 by Button (extra-jurisdictional execution of DWI blood warrants), HB 1364 by Wu (limiting juvenile jurisdiction over children aged 10–11), HB 1452 by S. Thompson (accelerating eligibility for certain nondisclosures), and HB 1661 by Herrero (continuous family violence).
Approved by a House committee (heading to the Calendars Committee): HB 1359 by Wu (statewide courthouse security access pass for lawyers), HB 1631 by Stickland (banning red light cameras), HB 1753 by Allen (early release from parole supervision), HB 2003 by Leach (limits on counties’ contingent legal fee arrangements), HB 2826 by G. Bonnen (more limits on counties’ contingent legal fee arrangements), HB 3016 by Schaefer (handguns in cars), HB 3976 by Leach (civil collection of criminal restitution), and HB 3979 by Leach (AG trafficking authority).
Passed the Senate, headed to the House: SB 29 by Hall (ban on local funds for influencing legislation), SB 370 by Watson (employment protections for jurors), SB 719 by Fallon (death penalty for murder of child under 15), SB 891 by Huffman (new courts/prosecutors), SB 903 by Hughes (election integrity, including allowing OAG to prosecute “any offense that involves any part of the election process”), SB 1257 by Huffman (AG trafficking authority), SB 1259 by Huffman (fertility fraud), and SCR 18 by Campbell (designating Kyle as the Official Pie Capital of Texas).
Approved by a Senate committee: SB 405 by Birdwell (false report to jailer), SB 562 by Zaffirini (diversion of incompetent offenders from maximum security beds), SB 693 by West (family violence findings), SB 1268 by Watson (multiple victim allocutions), SB 1698 by Whitmire (limiting certification and transfer for juvenile state jail felonies), SB 1803 by Huffman (limiting probation for certain trafficking and prostitution crimes), SB 2114 by West (law enforcement discovery certification), and SB 2381 by Hughes (limiting places where long knives are prohibited).
More Quotes of the Week
“You can put lipstick on a pig. It’s still a pig.”State Rep. Jarvis Johnson (D-Houston), explaining why his HB 1183 would remove Confederate Heroes Day from the state calendar rather than renaming it “Civil War Remembrance Day” as some others have proposed in the past.
“The die was cast and the bill was gonna pass anyway. My vote wasn’t for the measure. My vote was for the Senate itself.”State Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo), explaining why he voted to allow the Senate to consider SB 2 by Bettencourt (R-Houston), the property tax cap bill, even though he later voted against it.
“You just watch. There is going to be more hemp grown [in Texas] than we could ever process.”Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller (R-Stephenville), advocating for passage of HB 1325 by T. King (D-Uvalde), which would legalize hemp and hemp products in Texas.