How a Bill Becomes a Law: The Texas Constitution and the rules of the House and the Senate govern the movement of bills through the Legislature. This report by the House Research Organization summarizes the key constitutional provisions and rules governing bills in the Legislature, with emphasis on the House Rules. Learn more.
Reading a Bill: The purpose of this publication by the Texas Legislative Council is to help individuals who are unfamiliar with the legislative process to read and understand statutes and bills by providing a basic overview of the statutes and bills and tips for reading them. Learn more.
Legislative Glossary: Source - Texas Legislative Council: Guide to Texas Legislative Information. Learn more.
Tracking Bills on the Texas Legislature Online: Outlines the basic steps involved in passing a bill into law. Includes links to information available on the Texas Legislature Online are provided to aid in following these steps. Learn more.
How to Compile a Legislative History
Legislative intent histories of past legislation are not routinely prepared, they must be compiled from many different sources. The Legislative Reference Library of Texas has information on the steps to take in compiling a legislative history at their website as well as a more guide in a pdf format. The website also provides access to many components of bill histories, with a session law – bill chapter reference tool and a bill file archive.
If you need any assistance, please contact the TTLA Public Affairs Staff.
Two Ethics Opinions Have a Significant Impact on Local Trial Lawyer Associations
Two recent ethics opinions have had a significant impact on activities that local trial lawyer associations have proposed doing or have engaged in over the years. Ethics Opinion 484, issued by the Texas Ethics Commission, will require judges and other officeholders who come to local trial lawyer functions pay for their transportation, lodging, meals and other costs associated with those events. Ethics Opinion 294 issued by the State Bar’s Committee on Judicial Ethics prohibits judicial liaison programs organized by local trial lawyer organizations. A summary of both opinions with links to the full opinions are listed below:
SBoT Judicial Section, Committee on Judicial Ethics: Ethics Opinion 294
In 2009 the Committee on Judicial Ethics of the Judicial Section of the State Bar of Texas issued Ethics Opinion 294 which discusses a judge’s participation in a judicial liaison program of a local trial lawyer association. The local trial lawyer association in question proposed to have one of the association’s members assigned to each civil court in the county to act as the association’s liaison for that court.
The opinion finds that a judge’s participation in such a proposed program is not permitted by the Code of Judicial Conduct. Participation by a judge would violate Cannon 2 A which provides that a judge “should act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.” Participation would likewise violate Cannon 2 B which provides that a judge shall not “convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the judge.” Access opinion.
Texas Ethics Commission: Ethics Advisory Opinion 484
On August 6, 2009 the Texas Ethics Commission issued Ethics Advisory Opinion 484 which has a significant impact on corporations that invite elected officeholders to speak at or attend a corporate function. Thus, this will impact local trial lawyer associations. The Ethics Commission was asked to consider whether an elected officeholder could accept transportation, meals or lodging from a corporation or labor organization in return for addressing an audience or participating in a seminar, when the reason they are asked to participate is their public position or duties.
The Ethics Commission engaged in a detailed analysis of how restrictions in the Penal Code, the Lobby Law and the Campaign Finance Law impact this issue. One must first consider, when an officeholder benefits from money spent by a corporation or labor organization, has the corporation or labor organization given a thing of value to the officeholder for purposes of one of the laws under the Ethics Commission’s jurisdiction. The Ethics Commission in this opinion determined that pursuant to the state’s campaign finance laws, an elected officeholder may not accept transportation, meals, and lodging from a corporation or labor organization in return for addressing an audience, or participating in a seminar if the officeholder’s services are in connection with his or her duties or activities as an officeholder. Access opinion.
Additional Ethics Opinions Impacting Attorneys
State Bar of Texas Professional Ethics Committee: Ethics Opinion 590
The Professional Ethics Committee of the State Bar of Texas recently issued Ethics Opinion 590 which offers important guidance to law firms about their agreements with lawyers in their firm. The Committee was asked to consider whether a law firm could enter into an agreement with a firm member that would require that if the lawyer left the firm the lawyer would not solicit the firm’s clients and would pay the firm a percentage of fees collected by the lawyer from the firm’s clients for work done after the lawyer left the firm.
The Committee concluded that under the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct a law firm may not enter into an agreement that restricts a former member of the firm from soliciting firm clients or require the former member to pay a percentage of fees collected from firm clients for work done after the lawyer left the firm. This conduct would violate Rule 5.06(a) which states “A lawyer shall not participate in offering or making: (a) a partnership or employment agreement that restricts the rights of a lawyer to practice after termination of the relationship, except an agreement concerning benefits upon retirement…” Such agreements also violate Rule 1.04(f) since the provision relating to the payment of fees collected from former firm clients contains no requirement that the law firm perform any services or assume joint responsibility nor does it require client consent.
If you have questions contact Jim Pecora, TTLA General Counsel.