In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the Texas Senate passed Senate Bill 302 by Sen. Kirk Watson of Austin, the State Bar of Texas Sunset bill.

The Senate voted, 31-0, on a committee substitute of the bill after adding two amendments.

One amendment would leave the setting of dues in the referendum process in cases where an increase of more than 10 percent was proposed over a six-year period. Under the original bill, which was based on recommendations adopted by the Sunset Advisory Commission, all dues changes regardless of amount would have been approved as part of the existing State Bar budget process instead of through a referendum.

(The State Bar has not increased dues since 1991, and no dues increase is being contemplated.)

The other amendment concerned a part of the bill that said 20,000 “people” could sign a petition to initiate the process for proposing a disciplinary rules change. Under the amendment approved Tuesday, at least 51 percent of those signing such a petition would have to be Texas residents, which Watson said mirrored existing requirements in the Administrative Procedures Act.

The House version of the State Bar of Texas Sunset bill, House Bill 2102, is pending in the House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee. If approved by the Legislature and signed by the governor, the bill would continue the State Bar for 12 years, among other provisions.

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