HBA-AMW, SEP H.B. 538 77(R)BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 538 By: Thompson Judicial Affairs 6/14/2001 Enrolled BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE Prior to September 1, 1999, a judge was required to hear the proceedings of a case in the county in which the case was pending. Since a judge who sits in different counties may not return to a county in which a case is pending for extended periods of time, the parties involved in a case might have to wait to have routine court matters resolved. In 1999, the governor signed into law Senate Bill 1436, which authorizes an active, former, or retired district or statutory county court judge to hear judicial proceedings, except the trial on the merits, in a county different from the one in which the suit is pending, unless objected to by a party. Statutory probate judges were not included among such judges. House Bill 538 authorizes an assigned statutory probate court judge to conduct any proceedings, except the trial on the merits, in a county different from the one in which the suit is pending, unless a party objects. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this bill does not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state officer, department, agency, or institution. ANALYSIS House Bill 538 amends the Government Code to authorize an assigned statutory probate court judge who has jurisdiction over a suit pending in one county, unless a party objects, to conduct any of the judicial proceedings except the trial on the merits in a different county. EFFECTIVE DATE September 1, 2001.