The first week of the First Called Session of the 85th Legislature is in the books. After the Senate passed the necessary sunset bills, Governor Abbott formally added the remaining items to the special session call via his July 20th proclamation. Senate and House committees are beginning to conduct hearings on bills and resolutions pertinent to the items added to the call. Like last week, this update will be brief—let’s hope we can keep it that way.
As of July 23rd, 405 bills and resolutions have been filed. Of those filed thus far, there are only a handful of bills that have “below the radar” civil justice system implications. Two of the bills are as follows:
HB 250 - Civil Liability for Injury of a Protestor by the Operator of a Motor Vehicle
· Summary: HB 250, filed by Rep. Pat Fallon (R – Little Elm), would add Chapter 72A to the Civil Practice & Remedies Code (CPRC) and provide that a person operating a motor vehicle who injures another person with the motor vehicle is not liable for the injury if, at the time of the injury: (1) the person operating the motor vehicle was exercising due care; and (2) the person injured was blocking traffic in a public right-of-way while participating in a protest or demonstration. However, the motor vehicle operator would remain liable for an injury caused by grossly negligent conduct.
· Bill Status: Referred to Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence on July 21, 2017.
SB 54 - Award of Court Costs and Attorney’s Fees in Certain Actions Challenging an Order, Ordinance, or Similar Measure of a Political Subdivision
· Summary: SB 54, filed by Sen. Don Huffines (R - Dallas), would add Chapter 38A to the CPRC and require a court to award court costs and reasonable and necessary attorney’s fees to a person who prevails on a challenge to an order, ordinance, or measure of a political subdivision if the court determines that the order, ordinance, or measure is unenforceable because it is preempted by the Texas Constitution or a state statute. Also, if a court determines that an officer of a political subdivision has failed to perform an act of the office required by the Texas Constitution or a state statute, the court must award court costs and reasonable and necessary attorney’s fees to the party challenging the officer’s acts or omissions. SB 54 would not apply to a municipality or county with a population of less than 25,000.
· Bill Status: Filed on July 17, 2017.
Of course, additional bills may be added as the session progresses. So stay tuned.
Just for Fun
As in every regular session, there always seems to be a bill (or two) that simply makes you go “Hmmmm…”. Here’s one that does it for me:
SB 98 - Regulation of Raising or Keeping Six or Fewer Chickens
· Summary: SB 98, filed by Sen. Van Taylor (R - Plano), would add Section 251.007 to the Agriculture Code and prohibit a political subdivision from imposing a requirement that prohibits an individual from raising or keeping six or fewer chickens in the boundaries of the political subdivision. However, a municipality would be permitted to impose reasonable requirements that do not have the effect of prohibiting the raising or keeping of six or fewer chickens within the boundaries of the municipality, such as: (1) limiting the number of chickens an individual may raise or keep in excess of six; (2) prohibiting the breeding of poultry; (3) prohibiting the raising or keeping of roosters; or (4) establishing a minimum distance that an individual must maintain between a chicken coop and a residential structure.
· Bill Status: Filed on July 21, 2017.
I will keep everyone informed of developments, if any, as I become aware of them. In the interim, if you have any questions about these topics or any other matter that comes to mind, feel free to contact me. If I do not know the answer to your questions, I’ll do my best to find someone who does.
Co-Chair, Legislative Liaison Committee
State Bar of Texas Appellate Section
Jerry D. Bullard*
Adams, Lynch & Loftin, P.C.
3950 Highway 360
Grapevine, Texas 76051