This website will be unavailable from Thursday, May 30, 2024 at 6:00 p.m. through Monday, June 3, 2024 at 7:00 a.m. due to data center maintenance.

 
 
  H.B. No. 3233
 
 
 
 
AN ACT
  relating to the Judicial Campaign Fairness Act.
         BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
         SECTION 1.  Section 253.152, Election Code, is amended to
  read as follows:
         Sec. 253.152.  DEFINITIONS. In this subchapter:
               (1)  "Child" means a person under 18 years of age who is
  not and has not been married or who has not had the disabilities of
  minority removed for general purposes ["Complying candidate" or
  "complying officeholder" means a judicial candidate who files a
  declaration of compliance under Section 253.164(a)(1)].
               (2)  "In connection with an election" means:
                     (A)  with regard to a contribution that is
  designated in writing for a particular election, the election
  designated; or
                     (B)  with regard to a contribution that is not
  designated in writing for a particular election [or that is
  designated as an officeholder contribution], the next election for
  that office occurring after the contribution is made.
               (3)  "Judicial district" means the territory from which
  a judicial candidate is elected or appointed.
               (4)  "Law firm" means a partnership, limited liability
  partnership, limited liability company, professional corporation,
  or other entity organized for the practice of law.
               (5)  "Law firm group" means:
                     (A)  a law firm;
                     (B)  a general-purpose committee established or
  controlled by the law firm or a member of the law firm;
                     (C)  a member of the law firm; and
                     (D)  the spouse of a member of the law firm.
               (6)  "Member of a law firm" means:
                     (A)  a person designated "of counsel" or "of the
  firm";
                     (B)  a partner of the law firm, whether an
  individual or an entity;
                     (C)  an associate of the law firm;
                     (D)  a shareholder of the law firm, whether an
  individual or an entity; or
                     (E)  an employee of the law firm ["Noncomplying
  candidate" means a judicial candidate who:
                     [(A)     files a declaration of intent to exceed the
  limits on expenditures under Section 253.164(a)(2);
                     [(B)     files a declaration of compliance under
  Section 253.164(a)(1) but later exceeds the limits on expenditures;
                     [(C)     fails to file a declaration of compliance
  under Section 253.164(a)(1) or a declaration of intent under
  Section 253.164(a)(2); or
                     [(D)  violates Section 253.173 or 253.174].
               (7) [(5)]  "Statewide judicial office" means the
  office of chief justice or justice, supreme court, or presiding
  judge or judge, court of criminal appeals.
         SECTION 2.  The heading to Section 253.1541, Election Code,
  is amended to read as follows:
         Sec. 253.1541.  ACCEPTANCE OF POLITICAL [OFFICEHOLDER]
  CONTRIBUTIONS BY PERSON APPOINTED TO FILL VACANCY.
         SECTION 3.  Section 253.1541(b), Election Code, is amended
  to read as follows:
         (b)  Notwithstanding Section 253.153, a person to whom this
  section applies may accept political [officeholder] contributions
  beginning on the date the person assumes the duties of office and
  ending on the 60th day after that date.
         SECTION 4.  Section 253.155, Election Code, is amended by
  amending Subsections (a), (b), and (e) and adding Subsection (d-1)
  to read as follows:
         (a)  A [Subject to Section 253.1621, a] judicial candidate or
  officeholder may not[, except as provided by Subsection (c),]
  knowingly accept political contributions from a person that, in the
  aggregate, exceed the contribution limits prescribed by Subsection
  (b) in connection with each election in which the judicial
  candidate's name appears on the ballot [person is involved].
         (b)  The contribution limits under this section are:
               (1)  for a statewide judicial office, $5,000; or
               (2)  for any other judicial office:
                     (A)  $1,000, if the population of the judicial
  district is less than 250,000;
                     (B)  $2,500, if the population of the judicial
  district is 250,000 to one million; or
                     (C)  $5,000, if the population of the judicial
  district is more than one million.
         (d-1)  In addition to the contribution limits imposed on each
  contributor under this section, a judicial candidate or
  officeholder may not accept a political contribution in excess of
  $50 from a person if:
               (1)  the person is part of a law firm group; and
               (2)  the contribution, when aggregated with all
  political contributions accepted by the candidate or officeholder
  from the same law firm group in connection with the election, would
  exceed six times the applicable contribution limit under this
  section.
         (e)  A person who receives a political contribution that
  violates this section [Subsection (a)] shall return the
  contribution to the contributor not later than the later of:
               (1)  the last day of the reporting period in which the
  contribution is received; or
               (2)  the fifth day after the date the contribution is
  received.
         SECTION 5.  The heading to Section 253.157, Election Code,
  is amended to read as follows:
         Sec. 253.157.  LIMIT ON CONTRIBUTION BY [LAW FIRM OR MEMBER
  OR] GENERAL-PURPOSE COMMITTEES [COMMITTEE OF LAW FIRM].
         SECTION 6.  Section 253.157, Election Code, is amended by
  adding Subsections (a-1) and (a-2) and amending Subsections (b) and
  (c) to read as follows:
         (a-1)  A judicial candidate or officeholder may not
  knowingly accept political contributions from a general-purpose
  committee that, in the aggregate, exceed the contribution limits
  prescribed by this subsection in connection with an election in
  which the judicial candidate's name appears on the ballot. The
  contribution limits under this subsection are:
               (1)  for a statewide judicial office, $25,000; or
               (2)  for any other judicial office, $5,000.
         (a-2)  In addition to the contribution limits imposed on each
  contribution in Subsection (a-1), a judicial candidate or
  officeholder may not accept a political contribution in excess of
  $50 from a general-purpose committee if the contribution, when
  aggregated with all political contributions from all
  general-purpose committees in connection with an election, would
  exceed:
               (1)  for a statewide judicial office, $300,000;
               (2)  for the office of chief justice or justice, court
  of appeals:
                     (A)  $75,000, if the population of the judicial
  district is more than one million; or
                     (B)  $52,500, if the population of the judicial
  district is one million or less; or
               (3)  for an office other than an office included under
  Subdivision (1) or (2):
                     (A)  $52,500, if the population of the judicial
  district is more than one million;
                     (B)  $30,000, if the population of the judicial
  district is 250,000 to one million; or
                     (C)  $15,000, if the population of the judicial
  district is less than 250,000.
         (b)  A person who receives a political contribution that
  violates this section [Subsection (a)] shall return the
  contribution to the contributor not later than the later of:
               (1)  the last day of the reporting period in which the
  contribution is received; or
               (2)  the fifth day after the date the contribution is
  received.
         (c)  A person who violates this section [fails to return a
  political contribution as required by Subsection (b)] is liable for
  a civil penalty not to exceed three times the [total] amount of the
  political contributions accepted in violation of this section [from
  the law firm, members of the law firm, or general-purpose
  committees established or controlled by the law firm in connection
  with the election].
         SECTION 7.  Sections 253.158, 253.159, and 253.1601,
  Election Code, are amended to read as follows:
         Sec. 253.158.  CONTRIBUTION BY SPOUSE OR CHILD [CONSIDERED
  TO BE CONTRIBUTION BY INDIVIDUAL]. (a)  For purposes of this
  subchapter [Sections 253.155 and 253.157], a contribution by the
  spouse [or child] of an individual is not considered to be a
  contribution by the individual.
         (b)  For purposes of this subchapter, a contribution by a
  child of an individual is considered to be a contribution by the
  individual [In this section, "child" means a person under 18 years
  of age who is not and has not been married or who has not had the
  disabilities of minority removed for general purposes].
         Sec. 253.159.  EXCEPTION TO CONTRIBUTION LIMITS. Section
  [Sections] 253.155 does [and 253.157 do] not apply to an individual
  who is related to the candidate or officeholder within the second
  degree by consanguinity, as determined under Subchapter B, Chapter
  573, Government Code.
         Sec. 253.1601.  CONTRIBUTION TO CERTAIN COMMITTEES
  CONSIDERED CONTRIBUTION TO CANDIDATE OR OFFICEHOLDER. For purposes
  of Sections 253.155 and[,] 253.157, [and 253.160,] a contribution
  to a specific-purpose committee for the purpose of supporting a
  judicial candidate, opposing the candidate's opponent, or
  assisting a judicial [the candidate as an] officeholder is
  considered to be a contribution to the candidate or officeholder.
         SECTION 8.  Sections 253.161(a) and (b), Election Code, are
  amended to read as follows:
         (a)  A judicial candidate or officeholder, a
  specific-purpose committee for supporting or opposing a judicial
  candidate, or a specific-purpose committee for assisting a judicial
  officeholder may not use a political contribution to make a
  campaign expenditure for judicial office or to make an officeholder
  expenditure in connection with a judicial office if the
  contribution was accepted while the candidate or officeholder:
               (1)  was a candidate for an office other than a judicial
  office; or
               (2)  held an office other than a judicial office,
  unless the person had become a candidate for judicial office and the
  contribution was made in connection with an election for judicial
  office.
         (b)  A candidate, officeholder, or specific-purpose
  committee for supporting, opposing, or assisting the candidate or
  officeholder may not use a political contribution to make a
  campaign expenditure for an office other than a judicial office or
  to make an officeholder expenditure in connection with an office
  other than a judicial office if the contribution was accepted while
  the candidate or officeholder:
               (1)  was a candidate for a judicial office; or
               (2)  held a judicial office, unless the person had
  become a candidate for another office and the contribution was made
  in connection with an election for nonjudicial office.
         SECTION 9.  Subchapter F, Chapter 253, Election Code, is
  amended by adding Section 253.1612 to read as follows:
         Sec. 253.1612.  CERTAIN CAMPAIGN ACTIVITIES AUTHORIZED. The
  Code of Judicial Conduct may not prohibit, and a judicial candidate
  may not be penalized for, a joint campaign activity conducted by two
  or more judicial candidates.
         SECTION 10.  Sections 253.162(a) and (c), Election Code, are
  amended to read as follows:
         (a)  A [Subject to Section 253.1621, a] judicial candidate or
  officeholder who makes political expenditures from the person's
  personal funds or who accepts one or more political contributions
  in the form of a loan, including an extension of credit or guarantee
  of a loan or extension of credit, from one or more persons related
  to the candidate or officeholder within the second degree of
  affinity or consanguinity, as determined under Subchapter B,
  Chapter 573, Government Code, may not reimburse those [the]
  personal funds or repay those loans from political contributions in
  amounts that in the aggregate exceed, for each election in which the
  person's name appears on the ballot:
               (1)  for a statewide judicial office, $100,000; or
               (2)  for an office other than a statewide judicial
  office, five times the applicable contribution limit under Section
  253.155.
         (c)  A person who is both a candidate and an officeholder may
  reimburse the person's personal funds in only [in] one capacity.
         SECTION 11.  Section 253.1621, Election Code, is amended to
  read as follows:
         Sec. 253.1621.  APPLICATION OF CONTRIBUTION AND
  REIMBURSEMENT LIMITS TO CERTAIN CANDIDATES. (a)  For purposes of
  the [a] contribution limits [limit] prescribed by Section 253.155
  or[,] 253.157[, or 253.160] and the limit on reimbursement of
  personal funds and repayment of certain loans prescribed by Section
  253.162, the general and primary elections [election and general
  election for state and county officers] are considered separate
  elections for a candidate whose name appears on the ballot [to be a
  single election in which a judicial candidate is involved if the
  candidate:
               [(1)  is unopposed in the primary election; or
               [(2)     does not have an opponent in the general election
  whose name is to appear on the ballot].
         (b)  For purposes of the [a candidate to whom Subsection (a)
  applies, each applicable] contribution limits [limit] prescribed
  by Sections [Section] 253.155 and[,] 253.157 and the limits on
  reimbursement of personal funds and repayment of certain loans
  prescribed by Section 253.162, a runoff election in which the
  candidate's name is on the ballot is considered a separate
  election[, or 253.160 is increased by 25 percent. A candidate who
  accepts political contributions from a person that in the aggregate
  exceed the applicable contribution limit prescribed by Section
  253.155, 253.157, or 253.160 but that do not exceed the adjusted
  limit as determined under this subsecton may use the amount of those
  contributions that exceeds the limit prescribed by Section 253.155,
  253.157, or 253.160 only for making an officeholder expenditure].
         SECTION 12.  The heading to Section 253.167, Election Code,
  is amended to read as follows:
         Sec. 253.167.  CERTIFICATION OF POPULATION;  NOTICE OF
  CONTRIBUTION [AND EXPENDITURE] LIMITS.
         SECTION 13.  Section 253.167, Election Code, is amended by
  amending Subsection (b) and adding Subsection (c) to read as
  follows:
         (b)  Following certification of population under Subsection
  (a), the commission or county clerk, as appropriate, shall make
  available to each candidate for an office covered by this
  subchapter written notice of the contribution [and expenditure]
  limits applicable to the office the candidate seeks.
         (c)  The commission shall post the written certification
  required by this section on the commission's Internet website.
         SECTION 14.  Section 253.171, Election Code, is amended to
  read as follows:
         Sec. 253.171.  CONTRIBUTION FROM OR DIRECT CAMPAIGN
  EXPENDITURE BY POLITICAL PARTY. A political expenditure
  [(a)     Except as provided by Subsection (b), a political
  contribution to or a direct campaign expenditure on behalf of a
  complying candidate] that is made by the principal political
  committee of the state executive committee or a county executive
  committee of a political party [is considered to be a political
  expenditure by the candidate for purposes of the expenditure limits
  prescribed by Section 253.168.
         [(b)     Subsection (a) does not apply to a political
  expenditure] for a generic get-out-the-vote campaign or to create
  and distribute [for] a written list of two or more candidates is not
  considered a contribution to a judicial candidate who benefits from
  the get-out-the-vote campaign or is included in the written list
  and is not subject to the limits of Section 253.155 or 253.157 if
  the get-out-the-vote campaign or written list [that]:
               (1)  identifies the party's candidates by name and
  office sought, office held, or photograph;
               (2)  does not include any reference to the judicial
  philosophy or positions on issues of the party's judicial
  candidates; and
               (3)  is not broadcast, cablecast, published in a
  newspaper or magazine, or placed on a billboard.
         SECTION 15.  Section 253.176(a), Election Code, is amended
  to read as follows:
         (a)  The commission may impose a civil penalty against a
  person as provided by this subchapter only after a formal hearing as
  provided by Subchapter E, Chapter 571, Government Code.
         SECTION 16.  Section 254.0611(b), Election Code, is amended
  to read as follows:
         (b)  In this section:
               (1)  "Child" and "law firm" have [has] the meanings
  [meaning] assigned by Section 253.152 [253.158].
               (2)  "Member" has ["Law firm" and "member" have] the
  meaning [meanings] assigned to "member of a law firm" by Section
  253.152 [253.157].
         SECTION 17.  The following provisions of the Election Code
  are repealed:
               (1)  Section 253.155(d);
               (2)  Sections 253.157(a), (d), and (e);
               (3)  Section 253.160;
               (4)  Section 253.161(c);
               (5)  Section 253.162(b);
               (6)  Sections 253.163, 253.164, 253.165, 253.166,
  253.168, 253.169, 253.170, 253.172, 253.173, 253.174, and 253.175;
  and
               (7)  Section 253.176(c).
         SECTION 18.  This Act takes effect immediately if it
  receives a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each
  house, as provided by Section 39, Article III, Texas Constitution.  
  If this Act does not receive the vote necessary for immediate
  effect, this Act takes effect September 1, 2019.
 
 
  ______________________________ ______________________________
     President of the Senate Speaker of the House     
 
 
         I certify that H.B. No. 3233 was passed by the House on May 3,
  2019, by the following vote:  Yeas 139, Nays 3, 1 present, not
  voting.
 
  ______________________________
  Chief Clerk of the House   
 
 
         I certify that H.B. No. 3233 was passed by the Senate on May
  19, 2019, by the following vote:  Yeas 31, Nays 0.
 
  ______________________________
  Secretary of the Senate    
  APPROVED:  _____________________
                     Date          
   
            _____________________
                   Governor