Legislative Trail

Begun in 1965, the study and redrafting of the Texas Penal Code resulted in legislation proposed in 1971 for the 62nd Legislature. This proposed legislation did not garner a consensus, and after an interim study, a new bill was offered in 1973. The following is a brief synopsis of the path through the legislative process for these bills.

1971 - Final draft of work of the State Bar Committee on Revision of the Penal Code and the staff of the Texas Legislative council was introduced as a bill.

  • HB 419, 62nd Leg., R.S.
    Relating to reforming the penal law; enacting a new Penal Code setting out general principles, defining offenses, and affixing punishments.
    • Read first time and referred to Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence, February 8, 1971
    • Reported favorably, May 18, 1971
    • Read second time, postponed consideration, May 25, 1971
    • Laid on the table subject to call, May 27, 1971

1971 - When HB 419 cannot be passed, an interim committee is created to "study and educate the public in the proposed revision of the Texas Penal Code". (NOTE: It appears this interim committee was never appointed).

  • HCR 184, 62nd Leg., R.S.
    Creating an Interim Committee on the Penal Code of Texas.
    • Introduced, May 27, 1971
    • Adopted in House, May 29, 1971
    • Adopted in Senate, May 31, 1971

1973 - Groups from the State Bar of Texas, Texas District and County Attorneys Association, and the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association reached an agreement on language that all groups could support. The State Bar offered a new draft and bills were introduced.

  • SB 34, 63rd Leg., R.S. (companion bill, HB 514)
    Reforming the penal law; enacting a new penal code setting out general principles, defining offenses, and affixing punishments, making necessary conforming amendments to outside law; repealing replaced law.
    • Read first time and referred to Senate Committee on Jurisprudence, January 24, 1973
    • Passed Senate, May 16, 1973
    • Read first time in House and Referred to House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence, May 16, 1973
    • Passed House, May 23, 1973
    • Senate concurred in House amendments, May 24, 1973
    • Signed by Governor, June 14, 1973

Unique issues to consider when researching SB 34 and HB 514:

  • The introduced version and Senate Committee Report version of SB 34 are both missing from the bill file;
  • If the researcher is going to the level of listening to tapes of committee hearings, it is imperative to request the dates of hearings on the companion House bill because this bill was considered on several dates in subcommittee and full committee hearings before the Senate bill reached the House Committee; therefore, a major portion of the House committee discussion of the Penal Code took place on the House bill, not on the Senate bill.