Despite the logistical limitations imposed by the pandemic health emergency and an historic winter storm that shut down much of the state for a week, legislators still managed to introduce roughly the same number of bills as in the last few sessions. As of today, 7042 bills and resolutions have been filed with a little more than half the session still remaining. As you might expect, the ongoing pandemic and the health of the state’s electric grid are dominating the discussion thus far, and the number of bills filed in these areas reflects that. By our count (and we may not have picked up everything), nearly 150 bills relating to the pandemic and an equal number relating to the electric market have been introduced. These bills come from a variety of philosophical and political viewpoints, but the issues are of such significant statewide importance that no member of the legislature can go home after the session without having done something about them.
TCJL is currently monitoring nearly 300 bills that in some way or another concern business liability, the civil trial process, and the courts. These include tort and medical liability, employment law, construction law, court administration, evidence and civil procedure, eminent domain, regulatory penalties, and administrative procedure. Some of these bills–about three dozen so far–create new causes of action. A few abolish common law causes of action in favor of statutory remedies. About 30 authorize or mandate the recovery of attorney’s fees in different contexts. While most of these bills will not survive the process, part of our job is to make sure that any of these bills moving through the process have at least one set of eyes on them that is attuned to the potential impact on the civil justice system as a whole. We are also working closely with our allied organizations to inform each other of problematic bills and coordinate appropriate and timely responses. As the speed of the session accelerates over the next few weeks, we ask our members to assist us when we put out the call. We also are counting on you to let us know if you see something we might have missed!