HBA-SEP H.B. 689 77(R)BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 689 By: Thompson Judicial Affairs 6/14/2001 Enrolled BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE The 75th Session Legislative Committee on Statutory Probate Courts made recommendations limiting the jurisdiction of statutory county courts and statutory probate courts with regard to probate, guardianship, and mental health matters. These recommendations were made because some of the statutory probate courts were once county courts at law and had retained the county court at law jurisdiction in certain situations. Extra jurisdiction for statutory county courts was removed last session, but corresponding legislation affecting the statutory probate courts did not become law. Furthermore, county court judges have opted out of performing judicial functions regarding probate courts such that now the jurisdiction as specified in statute does not reflect the tasks that statutory probate courts in Texas have assumed over the years. House Bill 689 limits the jurisdiction of statutory probate courts to matters in probate, guardianship, mental health, and eminent domain and delineates the particular matters over which statutory probate courts have jurisdiction. 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 689 amends the Government Code to clarify that a statutory probate court has the jurisdiction provided by law for a county court to hear and determine actions, cases, matters, or proceedings (actions) relating to: _a physician's refusal to honor a patient's advance directive; _delayed birth and death certificates; _investigations to determine a patient's means of support, and filing of claims to show cause why the state should not have judgment against a person for the cost of a patients's support; _removal of interred remains, and abandoned plots in private cemeteries; or _the treatment of chemically dependent persons, and persons with mental retardation or other mental health issues. The bill repeals provisions granting jurisdiction to certain courts over matters other than guardianship, probate, mental health, and eminent domain proceedings. If the jurisdiction conflicts with a specific provision for a particular statutory probate court or county, the specific provision controls unless the specific provision attempts to create jurisdiction in a statutory probate court other than jurisdiction over probate, guardianship, or mental health proceedings. The bill provides that a statutory probate court in Denton County has the jurisdiction set forth under general provisions relating to statutory probate courts rather than the jurisdiction for a county court. Provisions regarding statutory conflict do not apply to the Probate Court of Denton County until May 1, 2002. The bill requires a Denton County statutory probate court judge to transfer all actions over which the court loses jurisdiction under this Act and that are pending in the court on May 1, 2002, to a district or county court with jurisdiction over the actions. Except as provided above, a statutory probate court judge is required to transfer all actions over which the court loses jurisdiction under this Act and are pending in the court on September 1, 2001, to a district or county court in the county with jurisdiction over the actions. All processes, writs, bonds, recognizances, or other obligations issued from the transferring court are returnable to the court to which the action is transferred as if originally issued by that court, and the obligee on all bonds and recognizances taken in and all witnesses summoned to appear in a court from which an action is transferred are required to appear before the court to which an action is transferred as if originally required to appear before the court to which the transfer is made. The bill authorizes a judge of a county court at law who is sitting for a judge of a statutory probate court under the El Paso County probate court provisions, immediately before the effective date of this Act, to continue to serve in that capacity until the regular statutory probate court judge becomes available. EFFECTIVE DATE September 1, 2001, except that provisions relating to the jurisdiction of a statutory probate court in Denton County take effect May 1, 2002.