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Under current law, small claims courts will be abolished May 31, 2013 and the Texas Supreme Court must promulgate new small claims rules to go into effect on the same date. HB 1263 postpones abolishment of small claims courts and implementation of the new small claims rules to August 31, 2013.
The 82nd Legislature acted to simplify the operation and administration of the Texas judicial branch by abolishing small claims courts, transferring those cases to justice courts, and requiring the Texas Supreme Court to promulgate rules regarding small claims cases. Those changes are all scheduled to go into effect May 31, 2013. Some justice courts expressed concern that not enough time was allowed for the new rules to be implemented. HB 1263 addresses these concerns by delaying implementation of the new rules until August 31, 2013 and postpones the abolishment of small claims courts by the same amount of time.
HB 1263 is essentially a housekeeping bill designed to fix a timing issue and does not substantively alter current law. While this legislation does not directly fit under the heading of our liberty principles, we recognize that adequate time is necessary for the orderly implementation of new rules and regulations. Allowing this extra time increases the likelihood that the new small claims process will be efficient, transparent, and useful to the parties involved.
Our endorsement of HB 1263 should not be construed as an endorsement of the abolition of small claims courts by the 82nd Legislature, which we have not commented on.