News Article | February 03, 2023
Bills of Interest
HB 445 by Rep. Schofield – Requires a ballot for a bond election to disclose each project to be funded and the amount of bond proceeds to be spent on each project. Prohibits expenditures on a project that exceed the amount stated on the ballot and transfer of bond proceeds between projects. Should a municipality or county violate these stipulated terms, a voter in the bond election has standing to petition in district court for injunctive relief.
HB 862 by Rep. Schofield – Requires a voter registrar to cancel a person’s voter registration on notice that the person has been excused or disqualified from jury service as a result of their acknowledgement that they are a non-citizen.
HB 1332 by Rep. Herrero – Exempts all firefighters and police offices from jury duty.
HB 1603 by Rep. Guillen – Permits justice of the peace and municipal courts to appoint any competent attorney to prosecute a case when the prosecutor is not present. A reasonable fee may be paid for performing these duties.
HB 1618 by Rep. Moody and HB 1064 by Rep. Sherman Sr. – The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) may grant good conduct time to an inmate only for demonstrating good behavior by complying with all applicable department rules; by diligently participating in an agricultural, educational, vocational or treatment program provided to inmates by the department; or by diligently participating in a voluntary work program operated by a sheriff in the same manner as the programs provided by TDCJ.
HB 1627 by Rep. Hernandez – Requires judges and magistrates at all levels and court personnel, including clerks, to receive two hours of training every two years on implicit bias through a course approved by the Court of Criminal Appeals. Requires attorneys to receive one hour of continuing education annually on implicit bias through a course approved by the State Bar.
HB 1713 by Rep. Canales – Requires the Office of Court Administration to create and promulgate standard forms for criminal cases.
HB 1714 by Rep. Canales – Increases the burden of proof in forfeiture actions from a preponderance of the evidence to clear and convincing evidence. Prohibits a local law enforcement agency or prosecutor from transferring seized property to or coordinating forfeiture with a federal agency unless the property value exceeds $50,000 and the seizure is interstate in nature or can only be made under federal law. Prohibits participation from local law enforcement agencies and the Texas National Guard in federal asset forfeitures unless the property value exceeds $50,000.
HB 1732 by Rep. Leach and SB 404 by Sen. King – Reestablishes the Prosecuting Attorneys Coordinating Council. The Texas Prosecutor Council, which existed from 1977 to 1985, functioned as an oversight body for elected prosecutors, with the authority to accept and investigate complaints against elected prosecutors and issue reprimands or refer claims to a separate judicial proceeding that could result in the removal from office of an elected prosecutor.
HB 1765 by Rep. Burns – Upon request by a current or former governmental employee meeting specified conditions, a county and district clerk shall redact certain information from a document that is to be posted on the internet.
HB 1808 by Rep J. Jones – Requires every full-time peace officer, in order to be employed by the state or any political subdivision, to be self-insured to cover damages resulting from any misconduct committed in scope of employment. The Commissioner of Insurance will set the minimum level of liability insurance and adopt rules to ensure the insurance is enough to compensate a reasonable number of victims.
SB 171 by Sen. Blanco – Requires a clerk of court to report to the Department of Public Safety the disposition of criminal cases within five days after disposition. Requires a county to have reported the disposition of cases within five days at least 90% of the time in order to receive any federal or state criminal justice grant money disbursed by the Governor's Office.
SB 295 by Sen. Perry – Allows a probate court to order the clerk of the court to refund court costs paid or advanced for a person by an inpatient mental health facility if the facility has received no compensation or reimbursement for the treatment of the person; has provided treatment for the person under a contract with a local mental health authority; or has provided treatment for the person and the person is eligible for Medicaid benefits.
SB 571 by Sen. West – Creates a new cause of action and waives all immunity for peace officers. Good faith belief in lawfulness of action is not a defense. Prevailing plaintiff entitled to mandatory attorneys’ fees and other fees. At the court’s discretion, attorneys’ fees and other fees may be ordered to prevailing defendant if the court finds the claims frivolous. Mandates peace officers intervene in unlawful use of force by another officer, if force is not required or if the force puts any person at risk of injury. Mandates adoption of a cite-and-release policy for offenses punishable by fine only and adopting a policy on de-escalation. Law enforcement agencies must use a progressive discipline matrix. Imposes new limits on use of both lethal and non-lethal force by both peace officers and the public.
SB 575 by Sen. Gutierrez – Creates a statutory finding of liability against a peace officer who subjects or causes to be subjected, including failing to intervene, the deprivation of individual rights to any person. The bill removes any statute of limitations and removes any qualified immunity coverage. It places liability on the officer’s employer unless the employer determines the officer did not act in good faith regarding the lawfulness of their actions. It caps the officer’s liability at five percent of the judgment or $25,000, whichever is less. The employer is responsible for the rest and potentially all of the judgment if the officer’s portion is uncollectible. If an officer is acting in good faith that does not change the finding of liability, it only changes who is responsible for paying for it.
SB 648 by Sen. Middleton – Subjects prosecutors to removal from office and disbarment for refusal to prosecute any criminal offense. The Attorney General may investigate prosecutors, compelling written statements and documents and examination under oath. Prosecutors will be held in contempt for failure to comply. Permits any resident of this state to file a complaint with the Attorney General against a prosecutor for refusal to prosecute and the Attorney General may seek removal from office. Permits any resident of this state to bring an action in the district court of their choosing for the removal from office of a prosecutor in the county where that individual resides. Prosecutors may be removed only following a trial by jury and may not assert any immunity defense. Upon removal from office, the chief disciplinary counsel (this is, the attorney who performs disciplinary functions for the State Bar under the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct and the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure) shall revoke the prosecutor's license to practice law in this state no later than the 30th day from the date the order becomes final. If the chief disciplinary counsel fails to revoke the prosecutor's license to practice law, then any resident of this state may bring an action directing the chief disciplinary counsel to comply.
SB 665 by Sen. Johnson – Requires the Attorney General to create and maintain a statewide, publicly searchable database on asset forfeiture. Prohibits prosecutors and law enforcement from receiving any of the proceeds unless the forfeiture is properly reported to the Attorney General.