Bill Text: TX HB4504 | 2019-2020 | 86th Legislature | Introduced


Bill Title: Relating to the appointment of certain judicial offices, a board for considering the qualification of applicants for judicial office, and a nonpartisan election for the retention or rejection of a person appointed to those offices.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Republican 1-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2019-04-15 - Left pending in committee [HB4504 Detail]

Download: Texas-2019-HB4504-Introduced.html
 
 
  By: Landgraf H.B. No. 4504
 
 
 
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
 
AN ACT
  relating to the appointment of certain judicial offices, a board
  for considering the qualification of applicants for judicial
  office, and a nonpartisan election for the retention or rejection
  of a person appointed to those offices.
         BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
         SECTION 1.  Subtitle A, Title 2, Government Code, is amended
  by adding Chapter 21A to read as follows:
         CHAPTER 21A. JUDICIAL APPOINTMENTS ADVISORY BOARD
         Sec. 21A.001.  DEFINITIONS. In this chapter:
               (1)  "Board" means the judicial appointments advisory
  board.
               (2)  "Majority party" means the political party with
  the most members among the membership of the Texas House of
  Representatives or the Texas Senate, as applicable.
               (3)  "Minority party" means the political party with
  the second highest number of members among the membership of the
  Texas House of Representatives or the Texas Senate, as applicable.
         Sec. 21A.002.  ADVISORY BOARD. (a)  The judicial
  appointments advisory board is composed of 11 members as follows:
               (1) three members appointed by the majority party of the
  house of representatives as follows:
                     (A)  two members with the qualifications required
  by Subsection (b); and
                     (B)  one member with the qualifications required
  by Subsection (c);
               (2)  two members appointed by the minority party of the
  house of representatives as follows:
                     (A)  one member with the qualifications required
  by Subsection (b); and
                     (B)  one member with the qualifications required
  by Subsection (c);
               (3)  two members appointed by the majority party of the
  senate as follows:
                     (A)  one member with the qualifications required
  by Subsection (b); and
                     (B)  one member with the qualifications required
  by Subsection (c);
               (4)  two members appointed by the minority party of the
  senate as follows:
                     (A)  one member with the qualifications required
  by Subsection (b); and
                     (B)  one member with the qualifications required
  by Subsection (c);
               (5)  one member with the qualifications required by
  Subsection (c), appointed by the chief justice of the supreme
  court; and
               (6)  one member with the qualifications required by
  Subsection (c), appointed by the presiding judge of the court of
  criminal appeals.
         (b)  A member of the board who is subject to this subsection
  must:
               (1)  be a citizen of the United States and a resident of
  this state;
               (2)  be at least 35 years of age; and
               (3)  not be licensed to practice law.
         (c)  A member of the board who is subject to this subsection
  must:
               (1)  be a citizen of the United States and a resident of
  this state;
               (2)  be at least 35 years of age;
               (3)  be licensed to practice law in this state; and
               (4)  have practiced in this state as a lawyer or as a
  judge of a court, or both combined, for at least seven years
  preceding the date of the appointment.
         (d)  Appointments to the board shall be made without regard
  to the race, color, disability, sex, religion, age, or national
  origin of the appointee.
         (e)  The members of the board shall serve staggered six-year
  terms, with the terms of approximately one-third of the members
  expiring August 31 of each odd-numbered year.
         (f)  A person may not serve for more than 12 years on the
  board.
         (g)  The board shall select a presiding officer and other
  officers from its members.
         Sec. 21A.003.  DUTIES OF BOARD. (a)  The board shall:
               (1)  review the academic credentials, substantive
  experience in law, and reputation for competence, fairness, and
  integrity of any person appointed to a judicial office to which
  Section 28(b), Article V, Texas Constitution, applies; and
               (2)  advise the senate on whether the board believes
  the appointee is "unqualified," "qualified," or "highly qualified"
  to hold the office to which the person has been appointed.
         (b)  The board shall provide its assessment of an appointee's
  qualifications to the lieutenant governor and the chair of the
  senate committee with jurisdiction over gubernatorial
  appointments:
               (1)  not later than the 30th day after the date a
  regular session of the legislature begins, for a person who is
  appointed before the regular session;
               (2)  not later than the 30th day after the date the
  person is appointed, for a person who is appointed during a regular
  session of the legislature on a date that is at least 60 days before
  the date the session will end; or
               (3)  within a reasonable time required by the chair of
  the senate committee with jurisdiction over gubernatorial
  appointments for a person who is appointed:
                     (A)  before or during a called session of the
  legislature; or
                     (B)  less than 60 days before the date the session
  of the legislature will end.
         Sec. 21A.004.  EXPENSES. (a)  A member of the board may not
  receive compensation for service on the board but is entitled to
  reimbursement for actual and necessary expenses incurred in
  performing the duties of the board.
         (b)  The board, board officers, and board committees are
  entitled to reimbursement for the actual and necessary clerical
  expenses incurred in performing functions under this chapter.
         Sec. 21A.005.  REMOVAL OF BOARD MEMBERS. (a)  It is a ground
  for removal from the board that a member:
               (1)  does not have, at the time of taking office, or
  does not maintain during service on the board, the required
  qualifications;
               (2)  cannot, because of illness or disability,
  discharge the member's duties for a substantial part of the member's
  term;
               (3)  is absent from more than one-fourth of the
  regularly scheduled board meetings that the member is eligible to
  attend during a calendar year without an excuse approved by a
  majority vote of the board; or
               (4)  is incompetent or inattentive to the member's
  duties.
         (b)  The validity of an action of the board is not affected by
  the fact that it is taken when a ground for removal of a board member
  exists.
         SECTION 2.  The Election Code is amended by adding Title 15A
  to read as follows:
  TITLE 15A. NONPARTISAN JUDICIAL RETENTION ELECTIONS
  CHAPTER 261. RETENTION ELECTION
         Sec. 261.001.  APPLICABILITY. This chapter applies only to
  the following judicial offices:
               (1)  chief justice or justice of the supreme court;
               (2)  presiding judge or judge of the court of criminal
  appeals;
               (3)  chief justice or justice of a court of appeals;
               (4)  district judge of a judicial district that
  contains a county with a population of more than 500,000; and
               (5)  district judge of a judicial district in which the
  voters of the district have voted to have district court judge
  vacancies filled by appointment under Section 28(b), Article V,
  Texas Constitution.
         Sec. 261.002.  VACANCY IN OFFICE. (a)  In addition to the
  provisions of Chapter 201, a vacancy in a judicial office to which
  this chapter applies exists on January 1 of the year following the
  year in which:
               (1)  a justice's or judge's 12-year term of office ends;
  or
               (2)  a justice or judge:
                     (A)  does not file a declaration of candidacy for
  a retention election in accordance with Section 261.004;
                     (B)  withdraws from a retention election; or
                     (C)  receives less than a majority of the votes
  cast on the question of retention at a retention election.
         (b)  A vacancy in an office to which this chapter applies is
  filled under Section 28(b), Article V, Texas Constitution.
         Sec. 261.003.  TIMING OF RETENTION ELECTION. Each person
  appointed to an office to which this chapter applies is subject to
  retention or rejection by the voters at the nonpartisan judicial
  retention election held in conjunction with the general election
  for state and county officers during the fourth and eighth years of
  the person's 12-year term.
         Sec. 261.004.  DECLARATION OF CANDIDACY. (a)  Not later than
  5 p.m. on June 1 preceding the nonpartisan judicial retention
  election at which the justice or judge is subject to retention or
  rejection, a justice or judge who seeks to continue to serve in that
  office must file with the secretary of state a declaration of
  candidacy to succeed to the next term.
         (b)  A declaration may not be filed earlier than the 30th day
  before the date of the filing deadline. A declaration filed by mail
  is considered to be filed at the time of its receipt by the
  appropriate authority.
         Sec. 261.005.  WITHDRAWAL, DEATH, OR INELIGIBILITY.  (a)
  With respect to withdrawal, death, or ineligibility of a candidate
  in a nonpartisan judicial retention election, this section
  supersedes Subchapter A, Chapter 145, to the extent of any
  conflict.
         (b)  A candidate may not withdraw from the retention election
  after the 74th day before election day.
         (c)  A withdrawal request must be in writing and filed with
  the secretary of state.
         (d)  A candidate's name shall be omitted from the retention
  election ballot if the candidate withdraws, dies, or is declared
  ineligible on or before the 74th day before election day.
         (e)  If a candidate who has made a declaration of candidacy
  that complies with the applicable requirements dies or is declared
  ineligible after the 74th day before election day, the candidate's
  name shall be placed on the retention election ballot.
         Sec. 261.006.  CERTIFICATION OF NAMES FOR PLACEMENT ON
  RETENTION ELECTION BALLOT. (a)  Except as provided by Subsection
  (c), the secretary of state shall certify in writing for placement
  on the nonpartisan judicial retention election ballot the name of
  each candidate who files with the secretary a declaration of
  candidacy that complies with Section 261.004.
         (b)  Not later than the 68th day before election day, the
  secretary of state shall deliver the certification to the authority
  responsible for having the official ballot prepared in each county
  in which the candidate's name is to appear on the ballot.
         (c)  A candidate's name may not be certified if, before
  delivering the certification, the secretary of state learns that
  the name is to be omitted from the ballot under Section 261.005.
         Sec. 261.007.  RETENTION ELECTION BALLOT. The name of the
  person subject to retention or rejection shall be submitted to the
  voters on the nonpartisan judicial retention election ballot
  following the offices subject to election under the heading
  "Retention of Nonpartisan Judicial Offices," in substantially the
  following form:
               "Shall (Justice or Judge)                    
                                                       
               be retained in office as (justice or judge) of the
               (name of court)                    ?"
                 "Yes"
                 "No"
         Sec. 261.008.  GENERAL PROCEDURE FOR CONDUCT OF RETENTION
  ELECTION. (a)  Except as otherwise provided by this code, the
  nonpartisan judicial retention election shall be conducted and the
  results canvassed, tabulated, and reported in the manner applicable
  to partisan offices in the general election for state and county
  officers.
         (b)  A certificate of election shall be issued to a retained
  officer in the same manner as provided for a candidate elected to an
  office.
         Sec. 261.009.  WRITE-IN VOTING PROHIBITED. Write-in voting
  is not permitted in a nonpartisan judicial retention election.
         Sec. 261.010.  APPLICABILITY OF OTHER PARTS OF CODE. The
  other titles of this code apply to a nonpartisan judicial retention
  election except provisions that are inconsistent with this title or
  that cannot feasibly be applied in a retention election.
         Sec. 261.011.  ADDITIONAL PROCEDURES. The secretary of state
  shall prescribe any additional procedures necessary for the orderly
  and proper administration of elections held under this chapter.
         Sec. 261.012.  EFFECT OF RETENTION ELECTION. (a)  If a
  majority of the votes received on the question are for the retention
  of the justice or judge, the person is entitled to continue the
  person's term, unless the person becomes ineligible or is removed
  as provided by law.
         (b)  If the name of a justice or judge appears on the
  retention election ballot, although a vacancy has occurred in the
  office pursuant to Chapter 201 or the justice or judge has withdrawn
  from seeking retention, the retention election for that office has
  no effect.
         SECTION 3.  Section 1.005, Election Code, is amended by
  amending Subdivision (9) and adding Subdivisions (12-a) and (12-b)
  to read as follows:
               (9)  "Independent candidate" means a candidate in a
  nonpartisan election or a candidate in a partisan election who is
  not the nominee of a political party. The term does not include a
  nonpartisan judicial candidate.
               (12-a) "Nonpartisan judicial candidate" means a
  candidate in a nonpartisan judicial retention election.
               (12-b) "Nonpartisan judicial retention election" means
  an election held under Title 15A.
         SECTION 4.  Section 41.002, Election Code, is amended to
  read as follows:
         Sec. 41.002.  GENERAL ELECTION FOR STATE AND COUNTY
  OFFICERS. The general election for state and county officers,
  including the nonpartisan judicial retention election, shall be
  held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November in
  even-numbered years.
         SECTION 5.  Section 52.092, Election Code, is amended by
  amending Subsection (a) and adding Subsections (f-1) and (f-2) to
  read as follows:
         (a)  For an election at which offices regularly filled at the
  general election for state and county officers, including the
  nonpartisan judicial retention election, are to appear on the
  ballot, the offices shall be listed in the following order:
               (1)  offices of the federal government;
               (2)  offices of the state government:
                     (A)  statewide offices;
                     (B)  district offices;
               (3)  offices of the county government:
                     (A)  county offices;
                     (B)  precinct offices.
         (f-1)  Nonpartisan statewide judicial retention election
  offices shall be listed in the following order:
               (1)  chief justice, supreme court;
               (2)  justice, supreme court;
               (3)  presiding judge, court of criminal appeals;
               (4)  judge, court of criminal appeals;
               (5)  chief justice, court of appeals;
               (6)  justice, court of appeals.
         (f-2)  Any nonpartisan district judicial retention election
  offices shall be listed in the following order:
               (1)  district judge;
               (2)  criminal district judge;
               (3)  family district judge.
         SECTION 6.  Section 145.003(b), Election Code, is amended to
  read as follows:
         (b)  A candidate in the general election for state and county
  officers, including the nonpartisan judicial retention election,
  may be declared ineligible before the 30th day preceding election
  day by:
               (1)  the party officer responsible for certifying the
  candidate's name for placement on the general election ballot, in
  the case of a candidate who is a political party's nominee; or
               (2)  the authority with whom the candidate's
  application for a place on the ballot or declaration of candidacy is
  required to be filed, in the case of an independent candidate or a
  nonpartisan judicial candidate, as applicable.
         SECTION 7.  Section 145.005(a), Election Code, is amended to
  read as follows:
         (a)  If the name of a deceased, withdrawn, or ineligible
  candidate appears on the ballot [under this chapter], the votes
  cast for the candidate shall be counted and entered on the official
  election returns in the same manner as for the other candidates.
         SECTION 8.  Section 172.021(e), Election Code, is amended to
  read as follows:
         (e)  A candidate for an office specified by Section
  172.024(a)(9) [172.024(a)(8), (10), or (12),] or for justice of the
  peace in a county with a population of more than 1.5 million, who
  chooses to pay the filing fee must also accompany the application
  with a petition for a place on the primary ballot as a candidate for
  judicial office that complies with the requirements prescribed for
  the petition authorized by Subsection (b), except that the minimum
  number of signatures that must appear on the petition required by
  this subsection is 250. If the candidate chooses to file the
  petition authorized by Subsection (b) in lieu of the filing fee, the
  minimum number of signatures required for that petition is
  increased by 250. Signatures on a petition filed under this
  subsection or Subsection (b) by a candidate covered by this
  subsection may not be obtained on the grounds of a county courthouse
  or courthouse annex.
         SECTION 9.  Section 172.024(a), Election Code, is amended to
  read as follows:
         (a)  The filing fee for a candidate for nomination in the
  general primary election is as follows:
               (1)  United States senator$5,000
               (2)  office elected statewide, except United States
  senator, chief justice or justice of the supreme court, and
  presiding judge or judge of the court of criminal appeals3,750
               (3)  United States representative3,125
               (4)  state senator1,250
               (5)  state representative750
               (6)  member, State Board of Education300
               (7)  [chief justice or justice, court of appeals, other
  than a justice specified by Subdivision (8) 1,875
               [(8)     chief justice or justice of a court of appeals
  that serves a court of appeals district in which a county with a
  population of more than one million is wholly or partly situated
  2,500
               [(9)]  district judge or judge specified by Section
  52.092(d), who is not subject to a retention election and for which
  this schedule does not otherwise prescribe a fee1,500
               (8) [(10)     district or criminal district judge of a
  court in a judicial district wholly contained in a county with a
  population of more than 1.5 million 2,500
               [(11)]  judge, statutory county court, other than a
  judge specified by Subdivision (9) [(12)] 1,500
               (9) [(12)]  judge of a statutory county court in a
  county with a population of more than 1.5 million2,500
               (10) [(13)]  district attorney, criminal district
  attorney, or county attorney performing the duties of a district
  attorney1,250
               (11) [(14)]  county commissioner, district clerk,
  county clerk, sheriff, county tax assessor-collector, county
  treasurer, or judge, constitutional county court:
                     (A)  county with a population of 200,000 or
  more1,250
                     (B)  county  with a population of under  200,000
  750
               (12) [(15)]  justice of the peace or constable:
                     (A)  county with a population of 200,000 or
  more1,000
                     (B)  county  with a population of under  200,000
  375
               (13) [(16)]  county surveyor75
               (14) [(17)]  office of the county government for which
  this schedule does not otherwise prescribe a fee750
         SECTION 10.  Section 202.001, Election Code, is amended to
  read as follows:
         Sec. 202.001.  APPLICABILITY OF CHAPTER. This chapter
  applies to elective offices of the state and county governments
  except the offices of:
               (1)  state senator and state representative;
               (2)  justice or judge of an appellate court; and
               (3)  judge of a district court who is subject to a
  retention election.
         SECTION 11.  Section 172.021(g), Election Code, is repealed.
         SECTION 12.  (a)  This section applies only to a judicial
  office to which Title 15A, Election Code, as added by this Act,
  applies.
         (b)  A justice or judge in office on the effective date of
  this Act, unless otherwise removed as provided by law, continues in
  office until completion of the term to which the justice or judge
  was elected.
         SECTION 13.  This Act takes effect January 1, 2020, but only
  if the constitutional amendment proposed by the 86th Legislature,
  Regular Session, 2019, providing for appointments to fill vacancies
  in the offices of the supreme court, court of criminal appeals,
  courts of appeals, and certain district courts, for nonpartisan
  retention elections every four years for those offices, and for the
  creation of a judicial appointments advisory board is approved by
  the voters. If that amendment is not approved by the voters, this
  Act has no effect.
feedback