UPDATE: Judge Livingston has ruled to extend the terms of the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) in the form of a Temporary Injunction (TI). This is based on the Judge’s ruling, pending the signed TI order. Once signed, the TI will be in place until the final trial occurs, which is currently scheduled for February 2021.
Four Texas companies are suing to overturn Texas’ ban on the manufacture and sale of smokable hemp products, which they warn will shut Texas companies out of a multi-billion-dollar industry and lead to inaccurately labeled products on store shelves. Today these companies (the plaintiffs) and their attorneys (Matt Zorn, Chelsie Spencer, and Susan Hays), participated in a temporary injunction hearing against the state (represented by Charles Eldred) in Judge Livingston’s Travis County 261st District Court.
Out of the several complaints brought by the plaintiffs, Eldred only objected to the probable right to recovery. He did not object to the points on harm or cause of action, therefore waiving the right to appeal based on those issues. Eldred contended that the state’s rules: 1. do not add to the statutes, 2. do not counter the statute, 3. do not create additional restrictions. Eldred further argued that the ban on manufacture of smokable hemp products in the statute equates to a ban on sale since they assert that was the intent of the bill. Therefore, the rules make what is implicit, explicit.
Due to time restrictions, there was substantive back and forth on if witnesses would offer verbal testimony. The plaintiffs must put evidence in the record for an injunction to hold. The nexus between the law and government interest must be weighed to deem if it is oppressive. Eldred makes a standing objection to any verbal testimony, which Livingston overrules. Ultimately, Livingston says the plaintiffs have the burden of proof and may offer testimony only in regards to the probable right of recovery.
The plaintiffs assert in their closing that the ban is a deprivation of property rights and liberty rights. It is a travesty that businesses are being shut down during an economic crisis due to this oppressive economic regulation. The state reasserts the points they made in their opening statement.
The Temporary Restraining Order is still in effect until 9/17/20. The Judge plans to offer her verdict before that date.