The 88th Regular Legislative Session is gaining momentum with the end of the bill filing and emergency bill consideration period. Committees are organized and posting bills for hearing. The legislature is on a record pace for bill filing. Senate Finance and House Appropriations are completing their proposed budgets. Commissioners Court members should stay engaged throughout the process as the state budget allocation for county priorities can change rapidly.
Backlog in the County Jail and Juvenile Justice
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 both budget committees and encourage them to fund these issues:
- SB 30 by Huffman – The supplemental appropriation bill provides $9.7 million in reimbursement for counties holding Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD) juveniles through Aug. 31.
- HB 458 by Craddick – Requires the TJJD to accept committed juveniles within 30 days.
- HB 1563 by Harless – Requires the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) to reimburse counties for their daily cost of an inmate awaiting transfer after 45 days.
- HB 3363 by Frank – Omnibus bill which requires the state to reimburse counties after the 45th day for Texas Department of Human Services mental health detainees, TJJD juveniles, and inmates awaiting transfer to TDCJ.
- HB 3530 by Neave Criado – Requires the 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.
Bills of Interest
Good Bills – Need Support
- HB 103 by Murr – Allows a retired judge with 96 months of service to serve as a retired visiting judge to a constitutional county court.
- HB 251 by Murr – Assess visiting statutory probate judge fees against estate.
- HB 458 by Craddick – Requires the TJJD to accept a committed juvenile within 30 days.
- HB 499 by Meza – Allows all counties to adopt countywide voting.
- by Bailes – Allows a county to post notices on the internet, instead of newspaper, after satisfying certain requirements.
- HB 1132 by Spiller – Raises bid limit from $50,000 to $100,000.
- HB 1487 by Gerdes – Creates Rural County Law Enforcement Agency Grant Program, which can be used for personnel costs, equipment, and training.
- HB 1591 by Ashby – Retired constitutional county judges would be eligible for a license to carry a handgun by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
- HB 1613 by Shine – Creates local government assistance account to provide state aid for 100 percent disabled veterans tax exemptions.
- HB 3352 by Gerdes – Allows a county under 150,000 population to establish a scrap tire monitoring program.
- SJR 20 by Eckhardt – Authorizes optional dollar amount county homestead exemption.
- SB 30 by Huffman – Supplemental appropriation of $45 million for courthouse restoration.
- SB 157 by Perry – Raises warrant fee from $50 to $75 for felony, class A and B offenses
- SB 556 by West – Exempts a county from paying transcript fees to a court reporter who uses county equipment.
- SB 778 by Kolkhorst – Requires the TJJD to reimburse a county without a juvenile detention facility for court-committed juveniles awaiting transfer.
- SB 782 by Birdwell – Enables the Texas Department of Information Resources’ chief privacy officer to assist counties with data privacy.
Problem Bills – Need Work
- HB 192 Schaefer – Limits authority to restrict firearms to courtrooms, instead of courthouse.
- HB 257 by Cortez – Allows the sale of fireworks on July 5.
- HB 1310 by Gamez – two-day deadline for juvenile detention hearings.
- HB 1489 by Tepper – Restricts use of certificates of obligation.
- HB 2220 by Harrison – Requires election for county revenue increase and eliminates exemptions including de minimis rate.
- HB 2221 by Harrison – Requires 60 percent majority of voters to approve a tax rate increase.
- HB 2665 by Gates – Limits county authority over short-term rentals.
- HB 2919 by Johnson, Ann – Requires an appointment of a guardian ad litem for anyone under the age of 18 charged with an offense for anything other than a traffic offense or misdemeanor punishable by fine only. No funding attached.
- SB 171 by Blanco – Requires criminal disposition reporting within five days jeopardizing grants.
- SB 175 by Middleton – Silences county officials’ legislative communications.
- SB 295 by Perry – Shifts court costs for paying patients from private facility to county taxpayers.
- SB 814 by Creighton – Waives immunity and allows claims to be filed in any county for enforcing an invalid order or rule in fields of specified codes.