AUSTIN, Texas -

Gov. Rick Perry touted the economic benefits of continued lawsuit restrictions as he ceremonially signed a new "loser-pays" tort reform law.

Perry, joined by the legislative sponsors of the measure, signed the bill Wednesday in Houston. The new law, which goes into effect Sept. 1, will levy fees on unsuccessful plaintiffs and allowing meritless suits to be dismissed early in the process.

Perry made the plan a top priority for the Legislature, saying Texas needs to crack down on junk lawsuits.

Some plaintiffs who sue and lose will be required to pay the court costs and attorney fees of those they are suing.

He said the new law, coupled with sweeping tort reform efforts passed in 2003, will allow employers to focus on creating jobs rather than defending frivolous lawsuits.

As for his future plans, some political experts said Perry is expected to announce his plans to run for president by the end of August.