CJCAT LEGISLATIVE ALERT – April 7, 2023
In an active week ending before Good Friday, Thursday saw the Senate pass S.B. 175, silencing county officials, and the House pass S.B. 30, the state supplemental budget bill and H.B. 1, the state budget for 2023-25. House and Senate Committees continue to conduct hearings, and bill postings change daily. There are 41 bills on the Senate Intent Calendar, including S.B. 1727 to revise the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, and 37 bills on the House Calendar for the week beginning April 10. Please review the following, contact the members of the committees and your legislators, and copy Jim Allison and Rick Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
S.B. 175, by Middleton, Silencing County Officials.
S.B. 175 passed the Senate by a vote of 19-12, with Sen. Nichols as the only Republican to oppose this legislation to silence local officials. A floor amendment was added to attempt to allow employees of statewide associations to continue to represent local officials before the legislature. Unfortunately, the amendment was incomplete, and S.B. 175 continues to prohibit a county from spending public funds “to pay a nonprofit state association or organization that: (A) primarily represents political subdivisions; and (B) hires or contracts with an individual required to register as a lobbyist…” In other words, an employee of TAC or the CJCAT could lobby the legislature, but a county could not spend any county funds to support TAC or the CJCAT in any way. This “bait and switch” provision will continue to prohibit counties from maintaining a collective voice before the legislature.
S.B. 175 would also continue to prohibit a county or group of counties from individually retaining a lobbyist to represent them on special matters, such as transportation projects, state grants, and unfunded mandates. We will continue our opposition to this legislation in the House of Representatives.
Backlog in County Jails and Juvenile Justice Facilities
Several bills have been filed to address the backlog in county jails by state inmates, mental health detainees, and juveniles. These bills would require that the state agencies accept their responsibilities or provide reimbursement to counties. Please contact your legislators and members of the referred committees and both budget committees and encourage them to approve these bills and fund these issues (include your county’s jail and juvenile costs):
S.B. 30 by Huffman – The supplemental appropriation bill provides $15.1 million in reimbursement for counties holding TJJD juveniles, $237 million to TDCJ for correctional operations, and $2.3 billion for state hospital and inpatient capacity. Passed the House 147-1.
H.B. 458 by Craddick – Requires Texas Juvenile Justice Department to accept committed juveniles within 30 days. Voted Favorably from House Juvenile Justice and Family Issues
H.B. 1563 by Harless – Requires TDCJ to reimburse counties for their daily cost of an inmate awaiting transfer after 45 days. Hearing set for Monday; 4/10 at 3 p.m. or upon adjournment in House Corrections
H.B. 2620 by Geren – Requires TDCJ to reimburse a county after the 45th day at the average daily cost of confinement. Voted favorably from House Corrections
H.B. 3363 by Frank – Omnibus bill which requires the state to reimburse counties after the 45th day for TDHS mental health detainees, TJJD juveniles, and inmates awaiting transfer to TDCJ. Referred to House Corrections.
H.B. 3530 by Neave Criado – Requires Health and Human Services Commissioner to accept a defendant awaiting transfer to a mental health facility within 21 days or reimburse the county $350 per day. Referred to House Public Health.
Bills of Interest
Good Bills – Need Support
H.B. 103 by Murr – Allows a retired judge with 96 months of service to serve as a retired visiting judge to a constitutional county court. Pending House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence
H.B. 251 by Murr – Assess visiting statutory probate judge fees against estate. Reported favorably from House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence
H.B. 499 by Meza – Allows all counties to adopt countywide voting. Referred to House Elections
H.B. 657 by Bailes – Allows a county to post notices on the internet, instead of newspaper, after satisfying certain requirements. Referred to House State Affairs
H.B. 1132 by Spiller – Raises bid limit from $50,000 to $100,000. Referred to House County Affairs
H.B. 1487 by Gerdes – Creates Rural County Law Enforcement Agency Grant Program which can be used for personnel costs, equipment, and training. Voted favorably as substituted, House County Affairs
H.B. 1591 by Ashby – Retired constitutional county judges would be eligible for a license to carry a handgun by the Texas Department of Public Safety. Referred to House Select on Community Safety
H.B. 1613 by Shine – Creates local government assistance account to provide state aid for 100 percent disabled veterans tax exemptions. Hearing set for Monday; 4/10 at 10 a.m. House Ways and Means
H.B. 3352 by Gerdes – Allows a county under 150,000 population to establish a scrap tire monitoring program. Hearing set for Thursday; 4/13 at 10:30 or upon adj Environmental Regulation
H.B. 4487 by Smith/SB 1906 by Sparks – Provides student loan forgiveness to rural attorneys who accept indigent defense appointments. Referred to House Higher Education
S.B. 22 by Springer – Rural Law Enforcement Grants. Received in the House
S.B. 157 by Perry – Raises warrant fee from $50 to $75 for felony, class A and B offenses. Referred to Senate Criminal Justice
S.B. 556 by West – Exempts a county from paying transcript fees to a court reporter who uses county equipment. Referred to Senate Jurisprudence
S.B. 778 by Kolkhorst – Requires TJJD to reimburse a county without a juvenile detention facility for court-committed juveniles awaiting transfer. Hearing set for Wednesday; 4/12 at 9 a.m. Senate Finance
S.B. 782 by Birdwell – Enables DIR’s Chief Privacy Officer to assist counties with data privacy. Referred to Senate Business and Commerce.
S.J.R. 20 by Eckhardt – Authorizes optional dollar amount county homestead exemption. Referred to Senate Local Government
Problem Bills – Need Work
H.B. 14 by Harris – Requires third party review of plat applications at county expense. Reported favorably from House Land and Resource Management
H.B. 159 by Landgraf – Requires an additional publication in a newspaper for the county tax worksheet. Voted favorably as substituted from House Way and Means
H.B. 187 by Landgraf – Requires all bond elections to be held on the November election. Pending House Pensions, Investments & Financial Services
H.B. 192 Schaefer – Limits authority to restrict firearms to courtrooms instead of courthouse. Referred to House Select on Community Safety
H.B. 257 by Cortez – Allows the sale of fireworks on July 5. Referred to House County Affairs
H.B. 866 by Oliverson – Limits county development authority. Reported from House Land and Resource Management
H.B. 1310 by Gamez – Two-day deadline for juvenile detention hearings. Pending in House Juvenile Justice and Family Issues
H.B. 1489 by Tepper – Restricts use of Certificates of Obligation. Pending House Pensions/Investments/Financial Services
H.B. 1977 by Morales Shaw – Mandatory juvenile diversion program for county unless county forces community corrections. Pending in House Select on Youth Health & Safety
H.B. 2117 by Oliverson – Creates liability for judges up to $10 million for improper release of defendant. Pending House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence.
H.B. 2127 by Burrows – Waives county immunity and allows claims to be filed in any county for enforcing an invalid order or rule in fields of specified codes. Voted favorably from House State Affairs
H.B. 2220 by Harrison – Requires election for county revenue increase and eliminates exemptions including de minimis rate. Referred to House Ways and Means
H.B. 2221 by Harrison – Requires 60 percent majority of voters to approve a tax rate increase. Referred to House Ways and Means
H.B. 2350 by Harris – Restricts county regulatory authority over certain occupations. Voted favorably, House Licensing and Administrative Procedures
H.B. 2665 by Gates – Limits county authority over short-term rentals. Referred to House Land and Resource Management
H.B. 3002 by Goldman – Repeals county authority to issue certificates of obligations. Removed from hearing House Pensions/Investments/Financial Services
H.B. 5064 by Cain – Repeals continuing education requirements for County Commissioners. Referred to House County Affairs.
S.B. 171 by Blanco/H.B. 4382 by Guillen – Requires criminal disposition reporting within five days, jeopardizing grants. Referred to Senate Criminal Justice/ HB 4382 –Hearing set for Tuesday; 4/11 at 2 p.m. or upon adj House Criminal Jurisprudence.
S.B. 175 by Middleton – Silences county officials legislative communications. Passed Senate
S.B. 295 by Perry – Shifts court costs for paying patients from private facility to county taxpayers. Referred to Senate State Affairs
S.B. 351 by Perry – Requires counties to pay for hotel rooms and DFPS staff monitoring. Pending in Senate Health and Human Services.
S.B. 990 by Hall – Eliminates the countywide polling place program. First placement on Senate Intent Calendar
S.B. 1104 by Birdwell – Restricts county disaster authority. Received in the House
S.J.R. 58 by Birdwell – Requires the governor to convene a special session to renew an order to declare a disaster under specific circumstances. Received in the House