Several Bills Present Threats in Texas as Session Approaches Critical Phase

Several Bills Present Threats in Texas as Session Approaches Critical Phase

NAPBS is working on a number of problematic bills in Texas as the legislature approaches a critical period in advance of the deadline for bills to be reported out of Committee on May 11. Our government relations and grassroots committees are actively coordinating with NAPBS members in Texas and other allies and would like to hear from other Texas members who can help weigh in with lawmakers opposing these bills.

Other NAPBS members may be asked to weigh in, if these bills advance.

S.B. 1874, The Modern Electronic Records in Texas Act (“MERIT Act”), introduced by Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston), will be heard on Tuesday, April 28 in the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice, which Whitmire chairs. The bill would, among other things, prohibit bulk transfer of criminal records databases and prohibit the purchase and sale of non-conviction records. NAPBS will have witnesses at the hearing and will be working with allies to oppose this bill.

TX S.B. 1960 / H.B. 2700, introduced by Sen. Chuy Hinosa (D-McAllen) and Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston), would limit bulk access to certain local criminal repositories. We are working with other stakeholders on alternative language.

TX S.B. 128, introduced by Sen. Royce West (D-Houston), seeks to prevent the dissemination of criminal record information for employment, housing, and other purposes unless that information has been verified first. The bill has several other components for reporting criminal record information that add significant complexity. It is currently pending in the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice. NAPBS continues to monitor action on this bill closely and expects to call upon members for assistance.

TX H.B. 4114, introduced by Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon (D-San Antonio), would impose a series of onerous requirements on businesses that publish, republish, or otherwise disseminate criminal record information and arrest photographs, including attesting to the accuracy of the information and notifying the individual whose criminal record information is being published, among others. This bill was heard in the House Committee on Business and Industry on April 21 and was left pending before the Committee. We will be working with stakeholders and the bill sponsor to provide substitute language.

TX H.B. 1118, introduced by Rep. Mike Schofield (R-Houston), would allow state agencies to deny public record requests from out-of-state individuals or businesses. The bill was heard on April 22 in the House Committee on Government Transparency and Operation Committee where it was left pending. We will continue to actively monitor this bill for any indication of further consideration.

If you are in Texas and can call, write, or meet with lawmakers in Austin please email Cathy Klafehn.

 

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