Early Session Legislative Update
By CJCAT Senior General Counsel Jim Allison
The 140-day Regular Session of the 88th Legislature has begun, and more than 2,500 bills have already been filed in the House and Senate. Senate Committee membership has been announced by the lieutenant governor, and House Committee appointments will be made shortly by the speaker of the House. No final actions can be taken in the first 60 days except for emergency items declared by the governor.
HB 1/SB 1 includes increased funding for mental health programs and adult and juvenile probation salaries. We need support for additional funding for reduction of jail and juvenile backlogs, courthouse preservation, indigent defense, and the EMS and trauma care systems (local project grants). Senate Finance Committee hearings on the budget have begun.
Bills of Interest
Good Bills – Need Support
- HB 103 by Murr – Allows a retired judge with 96 months of service to serve as a retired visiting judge to a constitutional county court.
- HB 251 by Murr – Assess visiting statutory probate judge fees against estate.
- HB 458 by Craddick – Require Texas Juvenile Justice Department to accept a committed juvenile within 30 days.
- HB 499 by Meza – Allows all counties to adopt countywide voting.
- HB 657 by Bailes – Allows a county to post notices on the internet instead of newspaper after satisfying certain requirements.
- HB 1132 by Spiller – Raises bid limit from $50,000 to $100,000.
- SB 157 by Perry – Raises warrant fee from $50 to $75 for felony, class A and B offenses.
- SJR 20 by Eckhardt – Authorizes optional dollar amount county homestead exemption.
Problem Bills – Need Work
- HB 192 Schaefer – Limits authority to restrict firearms to courtrooms instead of courthouse.
- HB 257 by Cortez – Allows the sale of fireworks on July 5.
- HB 1489 by Tepper – Restricts use of Certificates of Obligation.
- SB 171 by Blanco – Requires criminal disposition reporting within five days jeopardizing grants.
- SB 175 by Middleton – Silences county officials’ legislative communications and deletes TAC’s enabling statute.