Last November I wrote an article about a website, www.texasworkerscomplaw.com, which had been shut down by a legal threat from the Texas Department of Insurance. The state was citing existing law that it contended prevents anyone from using the term “Texas” and “Workers’ Comp” or “Workers’ Compensation” in connection with a website or blog, and had threatened the blog owner with a fine of $5,000 a day. (See “Even Stupid Decisions Are Bigger in Texas“)
Needless to say I had some opinions on this, which were not generally described as favorable towards the states position.
Yesterday, someone left a relatively cryptic comment on that article that simply said, “Texas SB381. Look it up.” Since I am a relatively curious person, and the IP address from this poster traced back to, shall we say, “A highly credible source” in the Texas State Capital, I did as they recommended.
Lo and behold, it does appear that the state is making an attempt to clarify their laws regarding this subject, as SB 381 would insert specific language into the law that would require such use to be “in a deceptive manner” in order to be considered a violation of the law. Specifically, the bill adds language that reads:
(c) For purposes of this chapter, a person acts in a “deceptive manner” if the person knows or should know that the person's actions would convey, or could reasonably be interpreted or construed as conveying, the false impression that:
(1) an item is approved, endorsed, sponsored, authorized by, the same as, or associated with the division, the department, this state, or an agency of this state; or
(2) the person represents, speaks for, or has an authorization from the division, the department, this state, or an agency of this state.
Additionally, the bill inserts the phrase “in a deceptive manner” in at least two other places within the legislative language. I would assume that the potential of this bill passing is strong.
Kudos, or perhaps I should say “Yee haw”, to Texas for stepping up and attempting to resolve this issue. As someone who runs a website with a section that reads “Texas Workers' Compensation”, it is nice to know I will once again be able to visit the San Antonio Riverwalk without the risk of being hustled off to the gulag. It also means I will not have to travel to this summer's AASCIF conference, scheduled in Austin, under an assumed name.
My faith in the Lone Star State is restored. Nice job Ya’ll.