The State Bar of Texas Sunset bill is on its way to the governor.

The Texas Senate voted on Sunday to adopt a conference committee report resolving differences with the House over the bill, SB 302. The House adopted the conference committee report on Saturday.

SB 302 continues the State Bar for 12 years, retains the rules referendum vote of State Bar members, and requires a referendum in cases where a dues increase of more than 10 percent is proposed in a six-year period.

The bill limits the original Sunset Commission recommendation concerning fingerprint-based background checks for Texas attorneys. Fingerprints will not be required to be obtained from those already licensed.

The Board of Law Examiners already obtains fingerprint-based criminal history information for bar examinees. Under the bill, the State Bar will have access to that information going forward.

Other provisions include:

  • making various enhancements to the grievance process, including new investigative tools, sanction guidelines, and greater opportunity for earlier resolution of complaints;
  • creating an independent ombudsman to answer questions from those seeking to file grievances and to ensure that the system is working;
  • requiring the State Bar to post more data on its website about attorney disciplinary actions;
  • requiring the Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel to report statistics and other information on barratry;
  • instructing the Texas Supreme Court to ensure that rules for admission do not violate Chapter 110, Civil Practice and Remedies Code; and
  • maximizing the use of the informal dispute resolution program in the grievance system.