TDCAA Legislative Update: Week 16, Part II

April 28, 2019

House leadership told its members to not make any plans for Saturday as they intend to set a calendar for floor business that day. Guess we’ll be watching the Kentucky Derby on our office TV this year; please send us your best mint julep recipes so we can be in the proper mind-set for both events.

Bail bond reform bills moving again

Earlier this week, the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee voted out all three of the “bail bond reform” bills they heard two weeks ago, but substantial changes have been made to two of them, and we could be in store for quite a mess if all three of them are finally passed and become law. Here’s why.

The reform advocates’ preferred changes were originally contained in HB 1323 by Murr (R-Junction); that’s the bill the Chief Justice touted earlier in the session. However, the committee substitute version of that bill has been slimmed down to two main provisions: (a) judges may not adopt a bail schedule “inconsistent with the laws of this state,” and (b) judges may order preventative detention for offenders accused of 3g offenses. For those of you concerned about that latter concept—which still includes an evidentiary hearing within 10 days of arrest with live witnesses, cross-examination, and a new State’s burden of clear and convincing evidence, as in the filed bill—this may not be great news. But it also requires a constitutional amendment, which was voted out later in the week as a substitute version of HJR 62 by Murr and will require approval of two-thirds of each chamber in order to make it on November’s ballot. The new language of the bill and resolution are not yet available on the legislature’s public website, but a PDF copy of CSHB 1323 can be accessed at this link. (We don’t have the CSHJR yet but are told it is changed to conform to the bill’s new language.)

The other major bail reform bill is HB 2020 by Kacal (R-College Station). The substitute version of this bill maintains the “Damon Allen Act” moniker identifying it as the governor’s preferred bill. (Interestingly, that name has been stripped from HB 1323.) The main thrust of HB 2020 is two-fold. First, it creates a Bail Advisory Commission under the direction of the governor’s office that is tasked with working with the Texas Judicial Council to create and approve a new validated risk assessment to be used as a part of bail determinations made on or after September 1, 2020. Second, it limits the types of judges who can issue bail for all felonies and for jailable misdemeanors under Penal Code Chapters 21 (Sexual Offenses) and 22 (Assaultive Offenses). For those cases, only judges licensed to practice law for four or more years who live in the counties/districts they serve and who have not been removed or retired in lieu of removal can set bail—something that may create heartburn for rural Texas where lawyer-judges are sparse, but that will vary by jurisdiction. Like HB 1323, the substitute version of HB 2020 is not yet available on the legislature’s public website, but we have a PDF version available here if you want to read it for yourself.

The third bail bill passed by the committee is HB 3283 by White (R-Hillister), which contains the bail bondsmen’s preferred “reforms.” It permits standing bail schedules (possibly contradicting HB 1323) and allows a type of “bail bargaining” in which a defendant who cannot make his initial assigned bail amount may counter-offer an amount he can make and request a hearing on that counter-offer within 48 hours, and if that is denied, he gets a second hearing for reconsideration within another four days. Unlike HB 1323, there are no details on how these hearings would be conducted, which judges would conduct them (unlike HB 2020), or who needs to be at them, but the assumption is that it would work within the context of current procedures. This purports to create the kind of individualized assessment required by recent federal court rulings out of Harris County while changing as little as possible elsewhere, but we’ll leave it to others to decide if it really does so.

So, that’s our quick take on these bills. All of them now head to the House Calendars Committee for further consideration, so if you have an interest in one or more of them, now is the time to reach out to the members of that committee (more on that below) and let them know your thoughts. If you have questions about any of this, contact Shannon.

Bills in House Calendars Committee

Bills sent to the House Calendars Committee over the past three days include: HB 464 by Moody (expands scientific writs to punishment errors), HB 1223 by VanDeaver (custody interference), HB 1323 and HJR 62 by Murr (preventative detention), HB 1365 by Lucio (medical marijuana), HB 1615 by Schaefer (imposing innocent owner burden on State in forfeiture cases), HB 2020 by Kacal (limitations on bail), HB 2754 by White (limits on arrests in certain Class C proceedings), HB 3554 by Farrar (out-of-state forensic testimony), HB 3979 by Leach (AG original criminal jurisdiction), and SB 1640 by Watson/Phelan (walking quorum fix). These bills now sit in purgatory awaiting a golden ticket to floor debate; to help make that happen—or not happen—on any specific bill, contact the members of the Calendars Committee.

Committee hearings

Here are summaries of relevant committee notices posted for the upcoming week. See our previous update for Monday’s listings.

Tuesday, April 30

Senate Intergovernmental Relations – 8:30 a.m., Room E1.016

  • HB 892 by Kuempel authorizing all counties to regulate game rooms
  • HB 1476 by Anderson authorizing McLennan County to regulate game rooms
  • SB 1469 by Powell authorizing municipal regulation of game rooms and related machines
  • SB 1470 by Power relating to zoning regulations for certain coin-operated machines

Wednesday, May 1

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

  • HB 4017 by Calanni limiting LTCs for identified members of criminal street gangs
  • SB 71 by Nelson creating a statewide telehealth system for SANE exams
  • SB 284 by Hinojosa relating to disciplinary proceedings for licensed forensic analysts
  • SB 324 by Huffman relating to the disposition of firearms seized from mentally ill persons
  • SB 363 by Watson requiring a warrant/subpoena/court order for PMP prescription information
  • SB 1804 by Kolkhorst requiring certain bond conditions in FV cases be entered into TCIC

Senate Criminal Justice – 8:30 a.m., 2E.20 (Betty King Committee Room)

  • SB 336 by West granting jail credits to certain offenders
  • SB 550 by West authorizing orders of non-disclosure following set-asides
  • SB 815 by Rodriguez relating to the preservation of certain criminal records
  • SB 1269 by Watson extending the time for sealing a search warrant affidavit
  • SB 1637 by Zaffirini waiving or excusing various fines, fees, and costs
  • SB 2045 by Fallon relating to mutual aid law enforcement task forces
  • SB 2093 by Hughes regulating access to location information and other electronic customer data
  • SB 2136 by Powell expanding the scope of evidence admissible in a family violence prosecution

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

  • HB 758 by Wu relating to public access to juvenile court proceedings
  • HB 1871 by Goldman also relating to public access to juvenile court proceedings
  • HB 4038 by Dominguez expanding the Romeo & Juliet affirmative defense

Thursday, May 2

House Corrections – 8:00 a.m., E2.030

  • SB 1154 by Perry relating to the powers and duties of the Texas Civil Commitment Office

Interested in something else?

Try as we might, we cannot both keep up with the thousands of bills that are still moving through the legislature in a panicked rush to beat various deadlines and provide detailed updates on all of them to you. Therefore, if you want information on a specific issue or bill, please call or email Shannon for the details.

More Quotes of the Week

“Well, I know, Stickland, you’re not going to vote for it anyway, so if you could just, uh, be quiet ….”

State Rep. Sarah Davis (R-West University Place), shutting down State Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford) as he tried to ask questions on the House’s back mic about a joint resolution she was proposing (video via Twitter).

“I think this is a terrible Big Brother, big government bill, and if you think that Big Brother, big government is what you want, vote for this. It’s crap.”

State Rep. Terry Canales (D-Edinburg), arguing against passage of HB 1399 by Smith (R-Sherman) to expand DNA collection upon arrest. The bill eventually passed the House by a 77-68 vote and has been referred to the Senate for its consideration.