© 2017 by Kevin Stewart

Texas Legislative Law Handbook

BY KEVIN STEWART

May 8, 2017

     There were two sustained points of order based on Rule 11, Section 2: The amendment is not germane to the bill (Handbook §3.6). The bill, SB 16, would reduce fees associated with obtaining and renewing handgun licenses. An amendment would have required handgun-license applicants to include in their affidavit a statement that the applicant owns a secure gun-storage device, such as a gun safe. The chair held that requiring a statement about gun safety is not germane to reducing fees for handgun licensure.

     On the same bill, and amendment would have exempted an applicant from fees if the license provided proof that a secure gun device had been purchased. Unlike the amendment above, this relates to the fees. Nevertheless, according to the Chair, "exempting a certain class of persons from fees is not germane to reducing the fee for an original or renewed license to carry a handgun."

     There were also two overruled points of order based on Rule 8, Section 1...

May 3, 2017

     On Monday, the chair sustained a point of order on HB 1156, which related to the unlawful restraint of a dog. The point of order was based on Rule 8, Section 1(c) (see Points of Order § 2.2 of the Handbook). This subsection is one of three that require additional statements in the caption of bills with certain affects. Subsection (b) deals with taxes and fees, subsection (c) relates to criminal penalties, and subsection (d) applies to certain licensure bills.

     Subsection (c) requires bills "that would create a criminal offense, increasing the punishment for an existing offense or category of offenses, or change the eligibility of a person for community supervision, parole, or mandatory supervision" to "include a statement at the end of its title or caption indicating the general effect of the bill on the offense, punishment, or eligibility." The rule also provides examples of satisfactory statements: "creating a criminal offense," "increasing a criminal penalty," and...

May 2, 2017

     In this case, the court grappled with legislative abrogation of a common-law claim. One of the many canons of statutory interpretation that the court uses says that the court will presume that the legislature, in passing a statute, did not intend to change common law (see Statutory Interpretation § 7.1 of the Handbook). This presumption is even stronger when the court is addressing a remedy or right. The presumption can only be overcome if (a) the statute provides for abrogation expressly, or (b) there is a "clear repugnance" between the statutory and common-law provisions. In other words, the claim must be abrogated by the "express terms or necessary implications" of the statute. Cash Am. Int'l Inc. v. Bennett, 35 S.W.3d 12, 15 (Tex. 2000).

     At issue was whether the legislature intended the Railroad Commission to have exclusive jurisdiction over what would otherwise be a common-law contamination claim. A provision in the Water Code states the RRC "is solely resp...

May 1, 2017

By my count, there were 12 separate attempts to either kill the bill itself or a proposed amendment. Only one of them, against an amendment, was successful. The good news is that all of these attempts provide many opportunities for rule clarifications. Section numbers in the following bullet points refer to sections in the Handbook.

  • §4.5 The sworn statement of witness is incomplete: A witness leaving off their street number, even if they did not leave a phone number, is not a defect. While the rule requires enough information to contact a witness, the Chair will not verify if the information is correct. 85 H.J. Reg. 1848 (2017).

  • §4.2 The committee minutes are incomplete: If a meeting begins improperly and the chair begins again to ensure compliance with the rules, actions taken in the first attempted meeting are not technically actions of the committee and therefore do not need to be recorded in the minutes. 85 H.J. Reg. 1852 (2017).

  • §4.1 The bill analysis is incorrect: Al...

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