After failing to pass any legislation in the First Called Session due to a lack of a quorum in the House of Representatives, the Second Called Session sent 14 bills and one constitutional amendment to Gov. Greg Abbott. Some of these bills will have a significant effect on counties.
S.B. 6 by Sen. Huffman will revise the bail bond system in Texas. Defendants charged with a violent offense will not be eligible for a personal bond. Magistrates will be required to complete additional training. A new instrument, called a Public Safety Report, must be reviewed by the magistrate before setting bail on all felonies and Class A & B misdemeanors. There is no state funding for any additional county cost for implementing these changes. County auditors should begin developing the procedures to determine the additional taxpayer cost, and Commissioners Courts should be prepared to increase county budgets as required.
S.B. 1 by Sen. Hughes will make major changes in the election process. Additional requirements are imposed upon election officers, including additional security. Voting machines that do not produce a paper trail must be replaced. New restrictions are imposed on mail ballots and voting locations. Some grant funds are available for replacement of voting machines. County auditors should document all additional costs for these changes.
H.B. 9 by Rep. Bonnen provides funding for border security, known as Operation Lone Star. In addition to funds for DPS and National Guard personnel, approximately $1 billion is appropriated to the governor for border fencing and local enforcement costs. Grant authorization is included to reimburse counties for border security expenses. Eligibility is not limited to counties on the border with Mexico. Counties should document increased costs for law enforcement, courts, jails, and indigent defense. For details on law enforcement, courts, and jail grants, contact the Texas Department of Emergency Management or the Office of the Governor. For details on indigent defense grants, contact the Texas Commission on Indigent Defense.
A Third Called Session convened on Sept. 20 to consider reapportionment of the Senate, House, Congressional, and State Board of Education districts. Other topics may be included by the governor at any time.
For additional information, please call me at 1-800-733-0699.
General Council, CJCAT