The Texas Senate this afternoon voted not to concur with the House version of a judicial system overhaul bill, and it named five senators to sit on a conference committee that will resolve the differences in the bills that passed out of the two chambers. Senate Bill 1717 author Sen. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock, will chair the conference committee. Others serving on the committee are Sen. Chris Harris, R-Arlington, Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Southside Place, and Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio. The House has yet to name representatives for the committee, but it will include Rep. Tryon Lewis, R-Odessa, who sponsored the bill in the House. S.B. 1717 is an omnibus bill, hundreds of pages long, that changes the law on the operation and administration of the judicial branch. One significant provision would make it easier for district courts to transfer cases and for district judges to preside in another courtroom if a judge were sick or recused from a case. Another major provision would create uniform jurisdictional limits, functions, rules and definitions for county courts-at-law. The Senate passed the bill on April 26, and the House passed it with amendments on May 24.
-- Angela Morris