Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Sunday, April 13, 2003

Slow Week In the Texas Legislature - For Employment Issues At Least

Although overall things are beginning to heat up, there was not a lot of movement on employment related issues this past week. Here are the bills on which some action was taken:
H.B. 804 Charlie Geren (R - Fort Worth) Amends Texas minimum wage law to pre-empt any city ordinance setting a minimum wage. It does not apply to government contracts or tax-abatement agreements. In light of recent adoption of a living wage ordinance by Santa Fe, New Mexico, this bill may now get more attention.Referred to Economic Development. Passed on April 8, 2003 and sent to the Senate. Legislative exchange made it clear that it does not apply to living wage ordinances which set a higher minimum wage for any local governmental entity.
H.B. 945 Lon Burnam (D - Fort Worth) Would set a minimum wage for state and local governments. The minimum wage would be the higher of the federal minimum wage or one calculated based on the federal poverty guidelines. Based on the 2002 guidelines, the minimum wage would be $8.70. Referred to State Affairs. Public hearing on April 7, 2003, pending in committee.
H.B. 995 Ken Mercer (R – San Antonio). Expands the public whistle blower statute to also include protection from retaliation for reporting a waste of funds to an appropriate governmental agency. Referred to Government Reform. Public hearing on April 8, 2003, pending in committee.
H.B. 1136 Mike Villarreal (D – San Antonio) Prohibits discrimination in employment, housing or public accommodations because of sexual orientation. Referred to State Affairs. Scheduled for public hearing on April 16, 2003.
H.B. 1221 Barry Telford Prevents a chargeback to an employer's account if unemployment benefits are provided because the employer was called to active duty military service after January 1, 2003. Referred to Defense Affairs & State-Federal Relations. Passed the House on April 3, 2003. Referred to Veteran Affairs and Military Installations.
H.B.1359 Aaron Pena (D - Edinburgh) Would make it more difficult to offer evidence of past sexual conduct in civil related cases by adopting the standards and procedures of Rule 412 of the Federal Rules of Evidence. This is the first employment related bill offered by Representative Pena, who in his day job, is the leading plaintiff's employment lawyer in the Valley. Referred to Civil Practices. Scheduled for public hearing on April 16, 2003.
H. B. 2001 Harold Dutton (D - Houston) Adds a federal medical support notice to the requirement that employer’s must follow in withholding from their employee’s. Referred to Juvenile Justice & Family Issues. Reported favorably by Committee and sent to Local & Consent Calendar on April 11, 2003.
H.B. 2395 Frank Corte (R - San Antonio) Would substantially rewrite the common law of defamation by requiring that there be a request for correction or clarification of defamatory statements, and limiting recovery to actual damages if a correction or clarification were made in a timely manner. Referred to Civil Practices. Scheduled for public hearing on April 16, 2003.
H.B. 2949 Reuben Hope (R - Conroe) Requires that a waiver of right to a jury trial use specific language and be in 16 point type. Part of the required statement is that the waiver is not required by law. Referred to Civil Practices. Public hearing held on April 9, 2003, pending in committee.
H.B. 3060 Kino Flores (D - Mission) Limits liability of employer utilizing a staff leasing company to those items for which it has contracted to pay. Correction in referral, now referred to Licensing & Administrative Procedures.
H.B. 3220 Dwayne Bohac (R - Houston) Amends the workers compensation statutes to allow for a request for clarification on a determination of maximum medical improvement and related technical changes. Referred to Business & Industry. Public hearing scheduled for April 15, 2003.
S.B. 374 Tommy Williams (R - Woodlands). Limits liability of employer utilizing a staff leasing company to those items for which it has contracted to pay. Passed the Senate and sent to the House. Correction in referral, now in Licensing & Administrative Procedures.

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