HBA-BSM H.B. 3696 77(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 3696 By: Hinojosa Judicial Affairs 7/25/2001 Enrolled BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE Prior to the 77th Legislature, Hidalgo County had four county courts at law with jurisdiction over civil as well as criminal matters. In recent years, the dockets of these courts have greatly increased. In particular, these courts found themselves devoting a larger portion of their time to criminal pretrial hearings and trials. House Bill 3696 creates the County Criminal Court at Law of Hidalgo County, which deals solely with criminal cases, and the County Court at Law No. 5 of Hidalgo County. The bill redesignates the County Court at Law No. 3 as the statutory probate court of Hidalgo County. 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 3696 amends the Government Code to create the County Court at Law No. 5 of Hidalgo County and the County Criminal Court at Law of Hidalgo County. The bill redesignates County Court at Law No. 3 as the Probate Court of Hidalgo County. The bill provides that a county court at law has concurrent jurisdiction with the district court in civil cases in which the matter in controversy does not exceed $750,000 instead of $500,000. The bill also provides that a judge of a statutory probate court must be a qualified voter, a resident of the county, and a licensed attorney in this state who has actively practiced law for at least the five years preceding the date of election or appointment. The judge of the County Court at Law No. 3 is the judge of the probate court and serves until December 31, 2002. The County Court at Law No. 5 is created January 1, 2003. EFFECTIVE DATE September 1, 2001.