Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Friday, January 31, 2003

The Texas Legislature - Picking Up Steam


Since the latest report on Tuesday, there has been the first initial action on a couple of the bills and more bills have been introduced.

Two bills have been referred to committee after an initial reading. S.B. 137 which would prohibit the so called 'dead peasants insurance' has been referred to the State Affairs Committee. H.B. 50 which would allow employees time off to meet with certain school officials has been referred to the Economic Development Committee.

New legislation filed includes:

H.B. 624 Menendez (D - San Antonio). Basically a refined version of Representative Moreno's H.B. 281 which prohibits use of mobile phones while driving. This version has more definitions, some exceptions for emergency calls, and a range of fines that increases if the violation occurs in a school zone.
H.B. 643 Wohlgemuth(R - Burleson) A technical amendment to the punitive damages cap. Currently, the cap is not applicable where the defendant engages in certain criminal activity. The amendment would require a conviction before the cap would not be applicable. Under the current law, plaintiffs are able to argue that certain conduct should be outside the cap because it meets the literal language of the current statute, even though there has been no criminal prosecution.
S.B. 328 West (D - Dallas) Requires an arbitrator and/or arbitration services provider to file a public disclosure within 30 days of the entry of the award by the arbitrator. Failure to do so could result in a fine, and multiple failures could result in the arbitrator being barred from court ordered arbitrations and being listed on a public list maintained by the Office of Court Administration. The disclosure would require the names of the parties, the general nature of the claim and the relief sought, the award by the arbitrator and the costs charged by the arbitrator and the arbitration services provider. It is designed to be a supplement to existing arbitration laws, including the Federal Arbitration Act.


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