SB 302

85(R) - 2017
Senate State Affairs
House Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence
Senate State Affairs
House Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence
Occupational Licensing

Vote Recommendation

  • Neutral
  • Neutral
  • Neutral
  • Negative
  • Negative


Kirk Watson


Senfronia Thompson

Bill Caption

Relating to the continuation and functions of the state bar.

Fiscal Notes

From the Legislative Budget Board: an impact of $0 through the biennium ending August 31, 2019.

Bill Analysis

SB 302 would amend the Government Code to extend the Texas Sunset Act regarding the state bar until September 1, 2029. Next, each member of the state bar would be required to submit a set of fingerprints for criminal record information and pay a fee, and the Supreme Court would set fees regarding the state bar during its budget process. 

The chief disciplinary counsel would be given a series of new responsibilities regarding ethics and disciplinary decisions, most notably creating a grievance tracking system. Next, the Committee on Disciplinary Rules and Referenda would be created to review the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct and Rules of Disciplinary Procedure. Finally, an ombudsman, funded by the state bar, would serve for the attorney discipline system.

Vote Recommendation Notes

We oppose sunset bills which add new, onerous requirements to licensed professions (such as mandatory fingerprinting and background checks) without at a minimum offsetting the new requirements with counterbalancing repeal of other requirements. Some ways to provide a counterbalance include significant reduction or revocation of fees, reduction in required continuing education, reduction of the number of hours of required training to obtain a license, or increasing the length of time a license is valid before it must be renewed.

SB 302 adds new requirements for members of the state bar to submit to fingerprinting and background checks. There are no counterbalancing provisions in the bill to repeal or significantly reduce other licensure requirements, therefore for we oppose SB 302 as a net growth in government mandates on members of the state bar.

For a fuller exposition of our views regarding occupational licensure, click here.

For further reading on this issue we recommend a couple excellent resources:

The Institute for Justice has done yeoman’s work in researching the pervasiveness of the licensing problem. Their 2012 national study, License To Work, which gives an in-depth report on the status of licensure in every state, should be required reading for policymakers working on licensure issues.  

Guild-Ridden Labor Markets: The Curious Case of Occupational Licensing by Morris M. Kleiner, which describes in easily readable language the history of occupational licensing in the United States, demonstrates the clear connection between licensure and industry protection. 

Organizations Supporting

Texas Trial Lawyers Association

Organizations Opposed

Texans for Lawsuit Reform