Texas Civil Justice League
87th Legislature Highlights
June 16, 2021


Politics & Dynamics of the 87th Legislature
Governor Abbott Priorities
Lt. Governor Patrick Priorities
Speaker Phelan Priorities
2021 Bill Stats
State Budget
Expected 2021 Special Sessions
Business Bills that Passed and Failed
New Causes of Action
Issues for the Interim and 88th Session
Politics and Political Action

Politics & Dynamics of the 87th Legislature

IN THE BEGINNING, there was a pandemic

      • Slow start
      • Crippled economy
      • Masks, tests, & wristbands
      • Limited public access
      • Budget & Redistricting

IN THE MIDDLE, there was a storm

      • Loss of 2 additional weeks
      • Refocus of priorities
      • Weatherization & securitization

AND IN THE END, there was a meltdown

      • A walk out
      • Most conservative agenda in recent history
      • Republican “mandate”

 Governor Abbott Priorities

HB 5 – Expansion of broadband access (Signed by Governor 6/15/21)
SB 23 – Defunding law enforcement (Signed by Governor 6/1/21)
SB 21 – Bail Reform (Died in House JCJ)
SB 7 – Election Integrity (Discussion terminated by loss of House quorum)
SB 6 – Liability Protections Related to COVID-19 (Signed by Governor 6/14/21)
SB 3 – Power Grid Reform (added 2.26.21, post-storm, signed by the Governor 6/8/21)

Lt. Governor Patrick Priorities

SB 1 – The State Budget (Sent to Comptroller 6/1/21)
SB 2 – ERCOT Reform (Signed by Governor 6/8/21)
SB 3 – Power Grid Stability (Signed by Governor 6/8/21)
SB 4 – Star Spangled Banner Protection Act (Signed by Governor 6/16/21)
SB 5 – Statewide Broadband Access (Died in House State Affairs)
SB 6 – Pandemic Liability Protection Act (Signed by Governor 6/14/21)
SB 7 – Election & Ballot Security (Discussion terminated by loss of House quorum)
SB 8 – The Heartbeat Bill (Signed by the Governor 5/19/21)
SB 9 – Abortion Ban Trigger (Died in House Public Health)
SB 10 – Stop Taxpayer Funded Lobbying (Dead by procedural action)
SB 11 – Appellate Court Reorganization (Died in Senate Jurisprudence)
SB 12 – Protect Free Speech on Social Media (Died in House)
SB 13 – Oil & Gas Investment Protection (Signed by Governor 6/14/21)
SB 14 – Business Freedom and Uniformity Act (Died. House did not adopt conference report)
SB 15 – Ban Sale of Personal Data from State Agencies (Sent to Governor 6/1/21)
SB 16 – Protect State-held Personal Data (Died in Senate Finance)
SB 17 – Protect Texas Trucking (Companion bill HB 19 signed by Governor 6/16/21)
SB 18 – Protect Second Amendment Businesses (Companion bill HB 1500 sent to Governor 5/28/21)
SB 19 – Stop Corporate Gun Boycotts (Signed by Governor 6/14/21)
SB 20 – Second Amendment Protections for Travelers (Sent to Governor 6/1/21)
SB 21 – Bail Reform (Died in House JCJ)
SB 22 – First Responders Pandemic Care Act (Signed by Governor 6/14/21)
SB 23 – Stop Local Police Defunding (Signed by Governor 6/1/21)
SB 24 – Law Enforcement Transparency Act (Signed by Governor 6/16/21)
SB 25 – Family Nursing Home Visitation Rights (Signed by Governor 6/14/21)
SB 26 – Protect Our Freedom to Worship (Companion bill HB 1239 signed by Governor 6/16/21)
SB 27 – Expanding Virtual Learning Options (Died on Senate Intent Calendar)
SB 28 – Charter School Equity Act (Died in House Public Education)
SB 29 – Fair Sports for Women & Girls (Died in House)
SB 30 – Remove Racist Restrictions from Real Estate Deeds (Signed by Governor 6/14/21)
SB 31 – Senate Redistricting Act (Held until summer special session)

Speaker Phelan Priorities

The Speaker had some over-arching goals of passing the budget and continuing to fund public education. As a new Speaker, he allowed the membership to pick their priority bills and vote their districts.  He released a mid-session list of priorities bills in April.

HB 4 – Increasing Access to Telehealth and Telemedicine (Signed by Governor 6/15/21)
HB 5 – Establishing Framework for Broadband Internet Expansion (Signed by Governor 6/15/21)
HB 290 – Reducing Red Tape for Children’s Healthcare (Died on Senate Intent Calendar)
HB 797 – Increasing Flexibility in Vaccine Delivery (Signed by the Governor 5/18/21)

Improving Health Outcomes
HB 15 – Establishing a Brain Institute of Texas (Died on Senate Intent Calendar)
HB 18 – Lowering Drug Costs for the Uninsured (Signed by Governor 6/15/21)
HB 133 – Providing Greater Care for New Mothers (Signed by Governor 6/15/21)                HB 4139 – Advancing Health Equity (Died in Senate)

Increasing Affordability of Health Care
HB 2487SB 1137 by Kolkhorst Promoting Transparency in Hospital Pricing (sent to Governor 6/1/21)
HB 3752 – Increasing Health Coverage Options (sent to Governor 6/1/21)
HB 3923, HB 3924 – Increasing Health Coverage Options (HB 3923 died on Senate Intent Calendar, HB 3924 sent to Governor 6/1/21)

2021 Bill Statistics

Filed House Bills: 4,671
Filed Senate Bills: 2,256
Bills sent to the Governor: 1,073
(does not include resolutions)
Bills sent to the Governor in 2019:  1,429

State Budget

    • the 2020-2021 budget written last session went from an expected ending balance of nearly $3 billion to a projected shortfall of almost $5 billion by the summer
    • appropriates $116.4 billion in general revenue funds (GR/GR-D) and $248.5 billion in all funds (AF), through September 2023. (up 5.5 percent over last session, but well within constitutional spending limits)
    • adds more than $3.1 billion to the state’s public education budget in order to preserve the increases in state education spending that was the centerpiece of the 2019 session

Expected 2021 Special Sessions

    • Redistricting (Fall)
    • $16 billion federal funds (Fall?)
    • Election integrity/voting (Late summer?)
    • Bail
    • Veto Art. X?
    • Other possible issues

TCJL Pandemic Liability Task Force

SB 6 by Hancock/Leach:
Signed by Governor 6/14/21

    • Exempts a physician, health care provider, or first responder from liability for an injury or death arising from care, treatment, or failure to provide care or treatment related to or impacted by a pandemic disease, except in a case of reckless conduct, intentional, willful, or wanton misconduct
    • Limits the liability of a person who designs, manufactures, labels, sells, or donates enumerated products for personal injury, death, or property damage
    • Provides immunity for injury or death caused by exposing an individual to a pandemic disease during a pandemic emergency unless the claimant proves that the person knowingly failed to implement or comply with applicable government-promulgated standards, guidance, or protocols, provided the person: (1) had a reasonable opportunity or ability to comply with the standards, (2) refused to implement or comply with or acted with flagrant disregard of the standards; and (3) that the government-promulgated standards that the person failed to comply with did not on the date of the exposure conflict with standards the person did comply with
    • Retroactive to March 13, 2020

Commercial Vehicle Accident Litigation

HB 19 by Leach/Taylor
Signed by Governor 6/16/21

    • Requires the court to bifurcate the trial on motion of a defendant
    • Trier of fact determines liability and compensatory damages in first phase
    • Allows certain evidence of employer’s regulatory violations in first phase
    • Bars claimant from introducing evidence of employer’s ordinary negligence if employer stipulates that employee acted within course and scope, with the exception of evidence of specified regulatory violations limited to proving negligent entrustment by the employer
    • Allows evidence of employer’s gross negligence in second phase on a claim of gross negligence
    • Creates a presumption that a photo or video of the accident is admissible

Eminent Domain Reform

HB 2730 by Deshotel and Burns/Kolkhorst
Signed by Governor 6/16/21

    • Adds to the LOBOR notice of the property owner’s right to file a written complaint with TREC regarding misconduct by easement or right-of-way agents
    • Requires the LOBOR to include an addendum of required terms for the instrument of conveyance of a pipeline or electric utility easement
    • Requires the OAG to conduct a biennial review of the LOBOR with public input
    • Requires easement or ROW agents to complete required courses to obtain or renew a certificate of registration (16 hours every two years)
    • Requires trial court to appoint special commissioners not later than the 30th calendar day after the petition is filed

Other bills that passed

    • SB 721 by Schwertner/Leman (Signed by Governor 5/18/21): Requires condemning entity to disclose to property owner all current and existing appraisal reports relating to the property and intended to be used at the commissioners hearing
    • SB 725 by Schwertner/Leman (Signed by Governor 5/18/21): Provides that the penalty for a change of use of agricultural land as a result of condemnation is the personal obligation of the condemnor.
    • SB 726 by Schwertner/Leman (Signed by Governor 5/24/21): Changes the definition of “actual progress” to make it more restrictive (exempts navigation districts, port authorities, and projects included in state water plan)
    • HB 4107 by Burrows/Kolkhorst (Sent to Governor 5/28/21): Requires a common carrier, before entering property for the purpose of a preliminary survey to be used in connection with the power of eminent domain, to provide the property owner with a written notice of intent to enter and an indemnification provision against any damages caused by the survey.

Bills that didn’t pass

    • SB 722 by Schwertner (Died in Senate State Affairs): Awarded attorney’s fees to property owner if the condemnor fails to disclose appraisal reports
    • SB 723 by Schwertner/Leman (Died in House Land and Resource Management): Required condemnor to give property owner notice of owner’s rights concerning a survey
    • SB 724 by Schwertner (Died in Senate State Affairs): Awarded attorney’s fees to property owner if commissioners award or judgment exceeds the condemnor’s final offer by more than 20%
    • HB 448 by Bailes (Withdrawn from Senate Local Calendar): Added a provision to the LOBOR property owner’s right to file a complaint with TREC concerning misconduct by a ROW agent
    • HB 3385 by Rogers (Withdrawn from Senate Local Calendar): Added a provision to the LOBOR notifying a property owner of the right to submit to the appraisal district office a report of decreased value for the owner’s remaining property after the taking
    • SB 986 by Kolkhorst (Died in Senate State Affairs): Property owner meetings, required easement terms, basis of compensation
    • HB 901 by Burns (Died in House Land and Resource Management): Required easement terms
    • HB 1505 by Zwiener/SB 1842 by Eckhardt (Died in Senate State Affairs): Prohibited private condemnors from taking possession prior to 180 days from date of commissioners award

Royalty Suspense

SB 1259 by Birdwell/Smith
Signed by the Governor 5/24/21

    • Provides that the payee of a royalty does not have a cause of action for breach of contract against the payor for withholding royalty payments in the event of a title dispute, unless the contract requiring payment requires otherwise.

Workers Comp

Bills that passed:

    • SB 22 by Springer/Patterson (Signed by Governor 6/14/21): Establishes a presumption that a firefighter, EMS technician, peace officer, correctional officer, or detention officer contracted SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19 resulting in death or total or partial disability in the course and scope of employment under certain circumstances (sunsets 2023)
    • HB 1752 by Oliverson/Schwertner (Signed by Governor 6/4/21): Permits the Workers’ Compensation Division to conduct a benefit review conference telephonically, by video conference, or in person on a showing of good cause as determined by the division

Bills that didn’t pass:

    • HB 396 by Moody (Died in Senate Business and Commerce): Created a presumption under workers’ compensation law that a nurse who treated or came into contact with a patient contracted COVID-19 in the course and scope of employment
    • HB 776 by Walle (Died in House Business and Industry)/SB 305 by Eckhardt (Died in Senate Business and Commerce): Required building contractors and subcontractors to provide workers’ compensation insurance for their employees
    • HB 2502 by Patterson (Died in House Business and Industry): Entitled a first responder to lifetime income benefits in the amount of 100% of the employee’s average weekly wage
    • HB 3120 by Capriglione (Died in Senate Business and Commerce): Extends lifetime income benefits for certain injuries
    • HB 3158 by S. Thompson (Died in Senate Business and Commerce): Permitted the estate of a deceased employee to recover exemplary damages in a gross negligence action against the employer
    • SB 1450 by Birdwell/HB 3120 by Capriglione (Died in Senate Business and Commerce): Extends LIBs to first responders or political subdivision employees who suffer certain permanent and total disabilities under the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Act

New Causes of Action or Penalties

Bills that passed:

    • SB 3 by Schwertner/Paddie (Signed by the Governor 6/8/21): Penalties against various utilities
    • SB 4 by Buckingham/Burrows (Signed by Governor 6/16/21): Penalties against professional sports teams
    • SB 8 by Hughes/Slawson (Signed by the Governor 5/19/21): Creates a private cause of action (which can be brought by anyone) against a person that performs, aids, abets, or pays for an illegal abortion (Fetal Heartbeat Act)
    • SB 13 by Birdwell/King (Signed by Governor 6/14/21): Requires the state to divest from financial companies that directly or indirectly boycott an energy company (OAG enforcement and investigative authority)
    • SB 15 by Nichols/King (Sent to Governor 6/1/21): Private cause of against person who sells motor vehicle records to an unauthorized person
    • SB 19 by Schwertner/Capriglione (Signed by Governor 6/14/21): Penalties against entities that discriminate against firearm and ammunition industries or the NRA
    • SB 20 by Campbell/Hefner (Sent to Governor 6/1/21): Criminal penalties against hotels for prohibiting a guest from carrying or storing a handgun or ammunition on the premises
    • SB 23 by Huffman/Oliverson (Signed by Governor 6/1/21): Penalties against counties that reduce or reallocate law enforcement expenditures
    • HB 1239 by Sanford/SB 26 by Paxton (Signed by Governor 6/16/21): Claim against public official or agency for issuing an order that has the effect of closing a religious establishment
    • SB 968 by Kolkhorst/Klick (Signed by Governor 6/7/21): Prohibits a business from requiring a customer to provide COVID-19 vaccination or recovery status as a condition of entry; imposes administrative and civil penalties on health care facilities
    • SB 969 by Kolkhorst/Klick (Signed by Governor 6/16/21): Imposes civil penalties on hospitals relating to failure to report certain data
    • HB 4218 by Craddick/Hughes (Sent to Governor 5/31/21): Creates a cause of action for a bad faith washout of a person’s overriding royalty interest in an oil and gas lease

Bills that didn’t pass:

    • SB 7 by Hughes/Cain (Discussion terminated by loss of House quorum): Penalties against election authorities
    • SB 12 by Hughes/Sanford (Died in House): Private cause of action against social media companies
    • HB 3024 by Wu (Died in House Criminal Jurisprudence)/SB 1691 by Miles (Died in Senate Criminal Jurisprudence): Private cause of action for doxing
    • HB 1130 by White (Died in House JCJ): Cause of action for certain excavators and operators
    • HB 3095 by Julie Johnson (Died in House Human Services): Cause of action against senior living facilities
    • HB 1221 by Campos (Died in House Human Services): Administrative penalties against long term care facilities
    • HB 1820 by Zwiener (Died in House): Increased TCEQ penalties for permit violations

Paid or Incurred

    • SB 207 by Schwertner/HB 1617 by Bonnen: Allowed the defendant to introduce evidence of the reasonableness of the amount charged by a medical or health care service provided to a claimant
    • SB 207 passed the Senate and was reported out of HJCJ
    • Sponsors made decision to pull down SB 207 after SCOTX opinions in In Re Allstate and In Re K&L Auto Crushers, LLP

In Re Allstate Indemnity Co. (No. 20-0071)
Key Holdings:

    • Person giving a §18.001 counteraffidavit need only be qualified by knowledge, skill experience, training, or education, not someone who is in the same field of medicine
    • A §18.001 counteraffidavit does not“charge trial courts with determining the admissibility of an affiant’s opinions, and a trial court’s doubts about admissibility are not a proper basis for striking a section 18.001 counteraffidavit”
    • The trial court erred by “importing a reliability requirement into its section 18.001 analysis,” and that it abused its discretion by importing such a requirement and then striking the counteraffidavit based upon it
    • Even if the trial court’s order striking the counteraffadavit had been appropriate, it still abused its discretion by prohibiting the counteraffiant from testifying at trial and Allstate from questioning witnesses, offering evidence, or arguing to the jury the reasonableness of the bills
    • Mandamus was appropriate because the trial court’s order denied Allstate the ability to present its own evidence of reasonableness and necessity and prohibited Allstate from challenging the plaintiff’s claims through cross-examination or jury argument

In Re K&L Auto Crushers, LLC and Thomas Gothard, Jr.  (No. 19-1022)
Key Holdings:

    • Nothing in §41.0105 (paid or incurred rule) limits or pre-empts a century or more of Texas common law that medical expenses claimed as damages must be reasonable and necessary
    • Tortfeasors are responsible only for losses naturally resulting from a wrongful act, not what a claimant may or may not have agreed to pay a medical provider
    • Negotiated rates the providers charged to private insurers and public payors for the medical services and devices provided to [the plaintiff], and the costs the providers incurred to provide those services and devices, are “‘at least relevant’ to whether the chargemaster rates the providers billed to [the plaintiff] for the same services and devices are reasonable”
    • Trial courts must grant reasonable and proportional discovery of “the rates healthcare providers charge to private insurers and public payors and their costs for providing services to a patient constitute relevant facts and data”

Underinsured Motorist Claims

HB 359 by Geren/SB 1935 by Hughes: Overruled the Brainard decision. Provides that an insured may provide notice of a claim for uninsured or underinsured coverage by giving written notification to the insurer that reasonably informs the insurer of the facts of the claim. Provides that a judgment or legal determination of the other motorist’s liability or the extent of the insured’s damages is not a prerequisite to recovery in an action under §541.151, Insurance Code, for a violation of §541.060. Provides that the insured’s only extra-contractual cause of action with respect to a UM or UIM claim is provided by §541,151 for damages under §541.152 for a violation of §541.060. HB 359 passed the House but died in the Senate. BUT . . .

Allstate Insurance Company v. Irwin (No. 19-0885)
Key Holdings:

    • 5 justices: Devine, Lehrmann, Boyd, Busby, Blacklock
    • Because the insured did not have a mature breach of contract claim against Allstate (Allstate’s liability under the policy had not yet been determined), his UDJA claim did not duplicate issues already before the trial court
    • A declaratory judgment is therefore appropriate to assign rights and obligations under the policy
    • Because the UDJA gives the trial court the discretion to award attorney’s fees that are equitable and just, absent evidence of an abuse of discretion the Court will not disturb such an award

The dissent:

    • 4 justices: Hecht, Guzman, Bland, Huddle
    • No distinction between this case and Brainard v. Trinity Universal Insurance Co. (2006) and pointed out that the insured could have simply sued Allstate for breach of the policy, just as Brainard did
    • By permitting the insured in this case to bring a tort action under the cover of the UDJA so that he could get his attorney’s fees, Justice Hecht argues, the Court has now in effect required insureds to sue their insurers in a direct action under the UDJA because they cannot recover under a standard breach of contract claim
    • The JDJA may now provide an avenue for attorney-fee awards, not just in UIM cases, but in all tort cases

Construction Law

Bills that passed:

    • SB 219 by Hughes/Leach (Signed by Governor 6/16/21): Adopts Spearin rule absolving contractors for defects in design plans and specifications, with exceptions for enumerated critical infrastructure facilities, design-build contracts, and contractor involvement in plans and specifications
    • HB 2116 by Krause/Powell (Signed by Governor 6/15/21): Bars duty to defend provisions in contracts for architectural or engineering services to the extent of the owner’s negligence
    • HB 2416 by Gervin-Hawkins/Powell (Sent to Governor 5/28/21): Allows recovery under §38.01, CPRC, of attorney’s fees as compensatory damages for breach of construction contracts
    • HB 3069 by Holland/Hughes (Signed by Governor 6/14/21): Reduces statute of repose from 10 to 5 years for design defect claims arising from contracts for highway, mass transit, and civil works projects

Bills that didn’t pass:

    • HB 3221 by Leach/SB 1781 by Creighton (Died in Senate State Affairs): Triggered accrual of cause of action against a contractor by a governmental entity on the date the report of a specific defect is postmarked
    • HB 3595 by Leach (Died in House JCJ): Made significant changes to RCLA (Ch. 27, Property Code)
    • HB 3162 by Martinez/Lucio (Withdrawn from Local Calendar): Exempted from the certificate of merit requirement a design-build project in which a governmental entity contracts with a single entity to provide both construction and design services
    • HB 3355 by Schofield (Died in House Business and Industry): Required a contractor who does not have a contract with the owner, original contractor, or subcontractor to recover payment only through enforcement of a lien or other statutory remedy and not under contract or quasi-contract theories such as quantum meruit or unjust enrichment.

Tort Liability

Bills that passed:

    • SB 6 by Hancock/Leach (Signed by Governor 6/14/21): Raises standard of care for health care providers, product manufacturers, and premises owners for certain acts or omissions during a declared pandemic disaster (retroactive to March 13, 2020)
    • HB 19 by Leach/Taylor (Signed by Governor 6/16/21): Requires bifurcation of a trial arising from a commercial vehicle accident (driver’s negligence in first phase + certain evidence of negligent entrustment by employer + compensatory damages in first phase; employers gross negligence + exemplary damage in second phase; limits certain types of discovery; requires admission of videos and photographs of the accident)
    • HB 365 by Murr/Springer (Signed by Governor 6/4/21): Limits liability for negligence of a farm animal activity sponsor, farm animal professional, farm owner or lessee livestock producer, livestock show participant, livestock show sponsor, or other persons arising from property damage, death, or injury resulting from dangers or conditions that are an inherent risk of farm animals or farm animal activities.

Bills that didn’t pass:

    • HB 3 by Burrows/Birdwell (Died in Conference): Provided immunity to an entity for exposing a person to a pandemic disease if the person made a reasonable effort to comply with governmental standards
    • HB 2144 by Harris (Died in House): Abolished common law doctrine of public nuisance and replaced it with a more limited statutory remedy
    • HB 1130 by White (Died in House JCJ): Authorized an operator of an underground facility or an excavator to bring a civil action to enforce statutory provisions requiring an excavator to provide notice of excavation and an operator to mark the location of a facility at or near the excavation site; authorized a substantially prevailing party to recover attorney’s fees, court costs, and other expenses incurred in the action
    • HB 1548 by Bell (Died in Senate State Affairs): Granted immunity to an owner of a business from liability arising solely from the owner’s permission for a license holder for a concealed handgun to carry on the business premises
    • SB 12 by Hughes/Sanford (Died in House): Created a cause of action against certain interactive computer services for suppression of lawful speech with recover of attorney’s fees and costs; created a civil penalty enforceable by OAG with attorney’s fees
    • HB 2788 by Leach (Died in House): Limited direct actions against a transportation network company for a driver’s negligence
    • HB 3440 by Schofield (Died in House JCJ): Required a claimant asserting an asbestos-related injury on or after 9/1/21 to serve, together with the petition, on each defendant a sworn information form specifying the evidence that provides the basis for the claim against each defendant
    • HB 1794 by Johnson (Died in House): Repealed certain limits on liability of owner, lessee, or occupant of real roperty used for recreational purposes (Six Flags bill)

Health Care Liability

Bills that passed:

    • SB 6 by Hughes/Leach (Signed by Governor 6/14/21): Raises standard of care to gross negligence for certain acts or omissions by health care providers during a declared pandemic emergency
    • SB 232 by Johnson/Davis (Filed without Governor’s signature 5/30/21): Allows a court, on motion of a claimant, to make a preliminary determination of whether a claim is a health care claim under Ch. 74, CPRC, prior to serving an expert report (court’s determination subject to interlocutory appeal)
    • HB 1914 by Schofield/Kolkhorst (Signed by Governor 6/15/21): Provides immunity from civil liability for the negligence of a children’s isolation unit that treats children with highly contagious infectious diseases (gross negligence standard)
    • HB 2064 by Leach/Hughes (Signed by Governor 6/16/21): Deducts from the amount of a hospital lien the claimant’s pro rata share of attorney’s fees and expenses

Bills that didn’t pass:

    • HB 501 by Wu (Died in House JCJ): Indexed the cap on noneconomic damages and the amount of required financial responsibility in health care claims
    • HB 2406 by Davis/Hughes (Died in Senate State Affairs): Allowed a chiropractor to give opinion testimony regarding the standard of care of a chiropractor in a health care liability claim against the chiropractor
    • SB 493 by Johnson (Died in Senate Health and Human Services): Required a licensed nursing facility to carry professional liability insurance at prescribed amounts

Judicial Matters and Courts

Bills that passed:

    • SJR 47 by Huffman/Landgraf (Filed with Secretary of State): Raises practice requirements for trial courts from four to eight years; bars lawyers whose licenses have been suspended, revoked, or subject to probated suspension during 10-year period
    • HJR 165 by Jetton/Zaffirini (Filed with Secretary of State): Authorizes the Judicial Conduct Commission to accept complaints or reports, conduct investigations, and take any other authorized action regarding a candidate for judicial office in the same manner the Commission has authority to take against a holder of that office
    • HB 2950 by Smith/Huffman (Signed by Governor 6/16/21): Permits the appointment of retired or former CCA justices to an MDL panel; changes appointment authority from the CJ of SCOTX to the whole court
    • HB 3774 by Leach/Huffman (Sent to Governor 6/1/21): Omnibus court bill

Bills that didn’t pass:

    • SB 11 by Huffman (Died in Senate Jurisprudence): Reorganized the intermediate courts of appeals
    • SB 1529 by Huffman (Died in House State Affairs): Created a statewide court of appeals to hear administrative matters and constitutional questions
    • HB 1875 by Landgraf (Died in House): Created a business court and business court of appeals to hear certain matters governed by the BOC and contract disputes involving a business entity that exceed $10,000,000
    • HB 1876/HB 1880 by Schofield (Died in House JCJ): Judicial pay raise
    • HB 3053 by Rodriguez (Died in House JCJ): Disqualified a vexatious litigant from serving as a district judge
    • SB 690 by Zaffirini (Died in Senate State Affairs)/HB 3611 by Leach (Died in House): Authorized judges to conduct remote jury trials and other procedures without the consent of the parties
    • HB 228 by Murr (Died in House JCJ): Allowed a county commissioners court to exempt a trial court from the requirement to appoint an official court reporter by authorizing an electronic recording device to report the court’s proceedings

Employment Law

Bills that passed:

    • HB 21 by Neave/Zaffirini (Signed by Governor 6/9/21): Extends the limitations period for filing a complaint alleging sexual harassment with the Texas Workforce Commission from 180 to 300 days
    • SB 45 by Zaffirini/Zwiener (Signed by Governor 5/30/21): Makes it an unlawful employment practice if sexual harassment of an employee occurs and the employer or the employer’s agents or supervisors knows or should have known that the conduct constituting sexual harassment was occurring and fail to take immediate and appropriate corrective action

Bills that didn’t pass:

    • HB 38 by Reynolds (Died in House State Affairs)/HB 392 by Bowers (Died in House)/SB 77 by Miles (Died in Senate State Affairs): Made it an unlawful employment practice to adopt or enforce a dress or grooming policy that discriminates against a hair texture or protective hair style commonly or historically associated with race
    • HB 455 by Deshotel (Died in House): Prohibited an employer from including a question regarding an applicant’s criminal history information on an initial employment application form until the employer determines that the applicant is otherwise qualified for employment and has either offered employment or invited the applicant for an interview
    • HB 1687 by Noble (Died in House International Relations/Economic Development): Adds Subchapter H-1, Chapter 21, Labor Code, to prohibit employment discrimination based on an employee’s failure to receive a COVID-19 vaccine
    • HB 2002 by Sanford (Died in House): Prohibited an employer of a first responder to take any adverse employment action against the responder because the employer knows or believes the responder has a mental illness
    • HB 4195 by Ellzey (Died in House International Relations/Economic Development): Prohibited an employer from retaliating or discriminating against a person who engages in lawful conduct involving the exercise of constitutionally guaranteed civil rights during the employee off hours away from the worksite
    • HB 2507 by S. Thompson/HB 2972 by Morales Shaw (Died in House International Relations/Economic Development): Provided that with respect to an allegation of discrimination in payment of compensation, an unlawful employment practice occurs each time: (1) a discriminatory compensation decision or other discriminatory practice affecting compensation is adopted; (2) an individual becomes subject to a discriminatory compensation decision or other discriminatory practice affecting compensation; or (3) an individual is adversely affected by application of a discriminatory compensation decision or other discriminatory practice affecting compensation, including each time wages affected wholly or in part by such decision or practice are paid

Attorney’s Fees

Bills that passed:

    • HB 1428 by Huberty/Huffman (Signed by Governor 5/15/21): Amends §2254.102(e), Government Code, which requires a political subdivision to get approval from the comptroller for contingency fee contracts, to exempt contracts to collect a delinquent obligation. Does not apply to fines or penalties arising from an action of a political subdivision under Chapter 7, Water Code
    • HB 1578 by Landgraf/Hughes (Signed by Governor 6/15/21): Amends §38.01, CPRC, to add “organization,” as defined by §1.002, Business Organizations Code, to the list of persons from whom a party may recover attorney’s fees in an enumerated action (except for a quasi-governmental entity authorized to perform a function by state law, a religious organization, a charitable organizational, or a charitable trust)
    • HB 2416 by Gervin-Hawkins/Powell (Sent to Governor 5/28/21): Permits a person to recover attorney’s fees from an individual, corporation, or other entity from which recovery of attorney’s fees is permitted as compensatory damages for breach of a construction contract as defined by §130.001, CPRC

Bills that didn’t pass:

    • HB 1495 by Dutton (Died in House JCJ): Required a court to award court costs and reasonable and necessary attorney’s fees to a party who prevails in an action challenging an order, ordinance, or similar measure of a political subdivision as preempted by the Texas Constitution or state statute
    • HB 2817 by C. Turner (Died in House JCJ): Required attorneys contracting with the attorney general to provide legal services to document and retain a record of hours worked on the matter and to provide a report to the attorney general of total hours worked at the conclusion of the matter
    • HB 3150 by Meyer (Died in House): Provided that a court may award reasonable and necessary attorney’s fees to a prevailing party in the enumerated actions under §38.01, CPRC, and to recover fees the prevailing party must be represented by an attorney

Issues for the Interim and 88th Session

Too early to tell.  Stay tuned.

Politics and Political Action

With redistricting on the horizon, all 181 legislative seats will be on the ballot in 2022.

    • Statewide Elected Officials: Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Comptroller, Land Commissioner, Agriculture Commissioner
    • Three Supreme Court seats: Place 9 (Guzman), Lehrmann, Huddle
    • Possible late primaries if new maps are delayed
    • Maps in litigation


A final session summary will be available after the veto period.






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