That’s a Wrap!
While the U.S. marked the Memorial Day holiday, May 27 also marked the official end of the 86th Legislative Session. The Legislature adjourned sine die, having accomplished a number of important priorities for Texans, including several important reforms to the legal system. We’ll have a more thorough review of notable bills for you in the next Advocate, but until then, here’s an update on the status of some of TLR’s key bills. Gov. Abbott has until June 16 to sign or veto bills. Any legislation that he does not sign or veto becomes law without his signature.
SENT TO THE GOVERNOR: Transparency in Local Government Contracting—House Bill 2826
This bill is one of TLR’s primary legislative priorities. It will ensure that local governments are transparent and open when entering into contingency fee contracts with attorneys. It also ensures that the local government keeps more of any legal settlement it may be awarded, rather than giving an exorbitant share of the recovery to the attorney. House bill author Rep. Greg Bonnen and Senate sponsor Joan Huffman devoted significant time to working with stakeholders to develop a bill that allows local governments to continue hiring contingency fee attorneys, while giving taxpayers the transparency they expect any time a private attorney is hired to do the government’s work.
SENT TO THE GOVERNOR: Access to Courts—Senate Bill 2342
Another of TLR’s major priorities for this session is making litigation less expensive and time consuming so all Texans can pursue their legitimate claims in court. This bill expands the jurisdiction of justice of the peace courts, which quickly and efficiently handle smaller cases and do not require an attorney. It also expands the use of successful expedited procedures that have helped make the legal process more streamlined and efficient. The bill authors, Sen. Brandon Creighton and Rep. Jeff Leach, are strong proponents of common-sense lawsuit reforms and received strong support for this legislation.
SENT TO THE GOVERNOR: Attorney Advertising—Senate Bill 1189
Sen. Dawn Buckingham, who is a practicing physician, led the charge for this bill in the Senate and Rep. Giovanni Capriglione led the charge in the House to ensure legal services TV ads are truthful and provide important information to consumers. Dr. Buckingham is particularly concerned about the effects drug-related ads have on older Texans who are targeted by the ads and sometimes frightened into discontinuing use of critically important medicines. The bill requires a few common-sense disclaimers, including, ‘Do not stop taking a prescribed medication without first consulting a physician.’
SENT TO THE GOVERNOR: Anti-SLAPP Statute—House Bill 2730
This issue has received a lot of media attention in the past few months. As we’ve discussed, when the Legislature passed the Texas Citizens’ Participation Act in 2011, it wanted to ensure a powerful entity couldn’t use a frivolous lawsuit to bully Texans out of exercising their rights of free speech and association. However, the law has been used in ways the Legislature never intended—for example, to shield actions like extortion and theft of trade secrets. House Bill 2730, authored by Rep. Jeff Leach and sponsored in the Senate by Bryan Hughes, is the product of feedback from key stakeholders—including media organizations, attorneys and judges who work with this law every day. It helps guarantee that Texans can exercise their constitutional rights of speech and association, while making adjustments to prevent the statute’s overly broad application.