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    Legislative Services

    County Issues Newsletter | June 2023

    News Article | June 29, 2023

    TAC's Biennial Legislative Summary Document in Works

    County News | Legislative News
    Legislative Services

    The Texas Constitution calls lawmakers to Austin every two years for a 140-day legislative session to set the state budget and consider changes to state law. The Texas Association of Counties monitors the thousands of bills filed to assess their impact on county government. TAC summarizes legislation of primary importance to counties in its Legislative Analysis Report and provides the document to all 254 counties. While the 2023 report is not yet finalized, following is a preview of significant legislation to be included in the upcoming publication.

    Past Legislative Analysis Reports are available here.


    HB 2127 by Burrows. Relating to state preemption of and the effect of certain state or federal law on certain municipal and county regulation.

    Summary: Prohibits a county or municipality from adopting, enforcing or maintaining an ordinance, order or rule relating to one of the following sections of code unless it is expressly authorized by another statute.

    • Agricultural Code
    • Business & Commerce Code
    • Finance Code
    • Insurance Code
    • Labor Code
    • Local Government Code
    • Natural Resources Code
    • Occupations Code
    • Property Code

    A person who has sustained an actual or threatened injury in fact from an order in violation of HB 2127 is granted standing to bring an action against the municipality or county. A person is defined as an individual, corporation, business trust, estate, trust, partnership, limited liability company, association, joint venture, agency or instrumentality, public corporation, any legal or commercial entity, or protected or registered series of a for-profit entity. A claimant is entitled to recover declaratory and injunctive relief and recover costs and reasonable attorney’s fees. Governmental immunity is waived. A municipality or county is entitled to receive notice of the claim within three months of filing and is entitled to recover costs and attorney’s fees if the action is found to be frivolous. Municipalities and counties are explicitly authorized to continue regulation of credit service organizations or credit access businesses if a valid ordinance was adopted prior to Jan. 1, 2023.

    Effective Date: Sept. 1, 2023.


    SB 22 by Springer. Relating to the establishment of grant programs to provide financial assistance to qualified sheriff's offices, constable's offices, and prosecutor's offices in rural counties.

    Summary: Amends the Local Government Code to create a grant program to provide state funding to increase salaries, increase staffing and purchase safety equipment for sheriffs’ offices, constables’ offices and prosecutors’ offices.

    The state grant program shall be established and administered by the Comptroller for counties or jurisdictions with populations of 300,000 or less. This threshold level includes 236 counties and 295 district and county prosecutor offices.

    For sheriffs, the grant program sets up three tiers of funding levels.

    1. $250,000 per year for counties with less than 10,000 population. There are 93 counties in this tier.
    2. $350,000 per year for counties with 10,000 or more but less than 50,000 population. There are 91 counties in this tier.
    3. $500,000 for counties with 50,000 or more and 300,000 or less. There are 52 counties in this tier.

    The grant program requires that a sheriff’s salary be set at a minimum of $75,000, patrol deputies’ salaries at a minimum of $45,000 and jailers’ salaries at a minimum of $40,000. Counties must meet the established thresholds before using the funding for other purposes. After the minimum salary requirements are met, sheriffs may use the funding to further increase salaries, hire new employees or purchase safety equipment.

    For constables, a county with a population of 300,000 or less may apply for grant funding to provide a salary of $45,000 to a qualified constable. A qualified constable means a constable elected to an office created before Jan. 1, 2023, who primarily makes motor vehicle stops in the routine performance of their duties. Raising a qualified constable’s salary to $45,000 is the only allowable use of the grant and will only cover 25 percent of the total necessary for each constable. If a county chooses to apply for grant funding for this purpose, the county must agree to contribute 75% of the funding necessary to reach that level for each constable they fund with grant dollars.

    For prosecutors, the grant program sets up three tiers of funding levels.

    1. $100,000 per year for jurisdictions with less than 10,000 population.
    2. $175,000 per year for jurisdictions with 10,000 or more but less than 50,000 population.
    3. $275,000 for jurisdictions with 50,000 or more and 300,000 or less population.

    Prosecutors may use the grant funding to supplement their salaries, increase salaries of assistant prosecutors, investigators and victim assistance coordinators, or hire additional staff.

    The authors crafted SB 22 to establish the program as a part of the state’s base budget and intend it to be perpetual.

    Effective Date: Sept. 1, 2023.

    HB 17 by Cook. Relating to official misconduct by and removal of prosecuting attorneys.

    Summary: Expands the definition of official misconduct under Chapter 87 of the Local Government Code to include the adoption or implementation of a formal or stated policy by a prosecutor that prohibits or materially limits the enforcement of any criminal offense. A public declaration or announcement by a prosecutor of an intent to prohibit the enforcement of any criminal offense is prima facie evidence of an adoption or implementation of a formal or stated policy. Further prohibits prosecutors from instructing outside law enforcement agencies or officers to refuse to enforce or arrest for a class or type of criminal offense. Exempts a formal policy adopted:

    • To comply with state law or an injunction, judgment or other court order.
    • In response to a reasonable evidentiary impediment to prosecution.
    • To provide for diversion or similar conditional dismissals of cases when permissible under state law.

    Effective Date: Sept. 1, 2023.

    HJR 134 by Bonnen. Proposing a constitutional amendment to abolish the office of county treasurer of Galveston County.

    Summary: Authorizes a constitutional amendment that will go before voters on Nov. 7, 2023, to provide for the abolition of the office of county treasurer in Galveston County. The resolution provides that the Commissioners Court of Galveston County may employ or contract with a qualified person or may designate another county officer to perform treasurer functions. The proposed amendment takes effect if it is approved statewide and by a majority of the voters of Galveston County.

    Effective Date: Jan. 1, 2024, if voters approve the constitutional amendment in November, or no effect.


    SB 28 by Perry. Relating to financial assistance provided and programs administered by the Texas Water Development Board.

    Summary: Creates the New Water Supply for Texas fund, the statewide water public awareness account and the Texas Water Fund as constitutionally dedicated funds to provide financial assistance to political subdivisions to develop water supply projects that create new water sources for the state. Creation of the fund is dependent upon voter approval of the constitutional amendment authorizing the fund (SJR 75). If approved, the New Water Supply for Texas Fund will be administered by the Texas Water Development Board to provide financial assistance to political subdivisions to develop new water supply projects and to upgrade aging infrastructure – with a focus on rural communities.

    Effective Date: This act takes effect Sept. 1, 2023, except Section 6, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2024, if the constitutional amendment is approved by voters in November 2023, or no effect.


    HB 3474 by Leach. Relating to the operation and administration of and practices and procedures regarding proceedings in the judicial branch of state government, including the service of process and delivery of documents related to the proceedings, the administration of oaths, and the management of the Texas Indigent Defense Commission and the composition of certain juvenile boards; establishing a civil penalty; increasing certain court costs; authorizing fees.

    Summary: HB 3474 is a 131-page omnibus judicial bill that revises statutes governing the appellate, district courts, statutory county courts, justice courts and constitutional county courts, criminal law magistrates, associate judges and visiting judges, prosecuting attorneys, grand juries, jurors and jury service, court reporters and interpreters, disposition, transcription and interpretation services, the transfer of cases and proceedings, criminal procedure, and probate proceedings. HB 1, the 2024-25 state budget, includes $13.6 million dollars to fund this legislation.

    Amends the Government Code to create a number of new judicial districts and additional courts and contains provisions relating to the jurisdiction and transfer of proceedings between them. The bill also covers other related matters such as the management of the Texas Indigent Defense Council and the composition of certain judicial boards.

    Amends the Property Code to increase the justice court jurisdiction for repair and remedy cases from $10,000 to $20,000. This provision mirrors SB 1259 by Creighton which takes effect Sept. 1, 2023.

    Amends the Code of Criminal Procedure to authorize a justice of the peace to conduct an inquest by videoconference with a person designated by the justice of the peace who is present with the body of a deceased person who was not attended by a physician or was attended by a physician unable to certify the cause of death and requests the justice of the peace conduct an inquest.

    Adds a retired justice of the peace to the list of those empowered to administer the oath of office. Provides for the reimbursement of travel and other qualified expenses to certain judges or justices engaged in the discharge of official duties in a county other than their own.

    Amends the Code of Criminal Procedure to expand authority to the clerk of a district court to summon grand jurors who possess the qualifications prescribed by law, including never having been convicted of misdemeanor theft or a felony. The clerk of a district court, by the third business day of each month, is required to prepare a list of persons who in the preceding month were disqualified from serving as a grand juror based on citizenship or indictment or conviction for misdemeanor theft or a felony and send a copy of the list to the secretary of state and the prosecuting attorney for the court to which the grand jurors were summoned for investigation into whether any person made a false claim concerning the person’s qualifications.

    Expands the model uniform written jury summons to include the option to provide the electronic address of the court’s website where the exemptions and restrictions are posted; notice of contempt action for failure to comply with the jury summons; and options to include the jury questionnaire and providing the electronic address of the court’s website for the prospective juror to access and complete the questionnaire. Mandates the minimum size of a written jury summons.

    Requires the clerk to maintain a list of persons convicted of certain offenses disqualifying them from jury service. The clerk is required to remove such persons from the jury wheel, and by the third business day of each month, send a copy of the list to the secretary of state. A person is exempt from disqualification from jury service if the person was placed on deferred adjudication; received a dismissal or a discharge; or placed on community supervision and community supervision was terminated early.

    Increases the pay for jury service from $6 per day to $20 per day for the first day or fraction of the first day served. Compensation to selected jurors is increased from $40 to $58 for each day or fraction of each day served. The state is required to reimburse a county $14 a day for a person who reports for jury service for the first day or fraction of the first day and $52 per day for each subsequent day or a fraction of each day served.

    Each person who reports for jury service, shall be given a written or electronic form that provides the option to direct the county treasurer or a designated county employee to donate all or a specified amount of their jury pay to be divided among the funds, programs and county entities listed on the form.

    The bill contains language regarding the transfer of cases and standardizes the process for transferring civil and family cases from one court to another. The same language is contained in SB 1612 by Zaffirini with an effective date of Sept. 1, 2023, for certain sections; other sections have an effective date of Jan. 1, 2024.

    Authorizes a court, justice, judge, magistrate or clerk of the sending court in a case transfer to send any notice or document via the electronic filing system established in Government Code Section 72.031. Directs the court, justice, judge, magistrate or clerk of a statutory county court, district court or appellate court to use the electronic filing system to deliver to all parties in each case in which the electronic filing system is required all court orders the court enters for the case.

    Finally, the bill prohibits the service of process to legislators and staff during legislative proceedings.

    Effective Date: Sept. 1, 2023.


    HB 9 by Ashby. Relating to the development and funding of broadband and telecommunications services.

    Summary: Creates the Texas Broadband Infrastructure Fund (BIF) to expand access to reliable, high-speed broadband connectivity. HB 1, the 2024-25 state budget, appropriates $1.5 billion in Fiscal Year 2024 to the Office of the Comptroller to implement the legislation. That funding is dependent upon voter approval of the constitutional amendment authorizing the fund (HJR 125), which will be on the Nov. 7, 2023, statewide ballot.

    The BIF can be used for the following purposes:

    • Administration of grants through the Broadband Development Office, updating the Texas Broadband Development Map, or other purposes described by Chapter 490I of the Government Code.
    • Fund 9-1-1 and Next Generation 9-1-1 services under Chapter 771 of the Health and Safety Code, beginning with a one-time transfer of $155.2 million from the BIF to the next generation 9-1-1 services fund.
    • Support the Texas Broadband Pole Replacement Program, beginning with a one-time transfer of $75 million from the BIF to the broadband pole replacement program.
    • Expand broadband access in economically distressed communities.
    • Provide matching funds for the federal Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program.

    Effective Date: Jan. 1, 2024, if voters approve the constitutional amendment in November, or no effect.


    HB 718 by Goldman. Relating to the issuance of certain tags, permits, and license plates authorizing the movement of vehicles and the transfer and renewal of certain license plates.

    Summary: Amends the Transportation Code to eliminate the use of paper temporary tags for passenger vehicles and trucks. Requires dealers to affix a general issue license plate at the time of vehicle purchase. Authorizes the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV) to develop rules implementing processes and procedures for tax assessor-collectors and dealers to follow. Requires a licensed motor vehicle dealer to use TxDMV’s webDEALER system to electronically submit license plate assignments upon vehicle sale. HB 1 includes $35 million and additional TxDMV employees to fund this legislation.

    Effective Date: July 1, 2025, with TxDMV rulemaking to be completed by Dec. 1, 2024.


    SB 1677 by Perry. Relating to the establishment and administration of Health and Human Services Commission programs providing mental health services to certain individuals in this state.

    Summary: Directs the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to consider a local mental health authority not selected as a community mental health grant recipient in the previous fiscal year for receipt of current year grant funding.

    To support counties and local law enforcement in their efforts to reduce recidivism, arrest and incarceration among individuals with mental illness and to reduce wait time for forensic commitment, HHSC is directed to consider applicants from counties with a population of less than 250,000 not selected in the previous fiscal year.

    Recipients must use the grant funds to provide additional forensic hospital beds and competency restorative services, provide additional inpatient and outpatient mental health services and provide services to reduce recidivism and the frequency of arrest, incarceration and emergency detentions among persons with mental illness.

    Effective Sept. 1, 2023.


    HB 2183 by Stucky. Relating to the temporary appointment of county jailers.

    Summary: Amends the Occupations Code to allow an individual to receive more than one temporary jailer license in their lifetime.

    Under the previous Occupations Code an unlicensed person could be hired by a sheriff under a temporary jailer license and begin supervised work immediately. The person was required to simultaneously progress through and complete the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) jailer licensing process within 12 months. If they left employment for any reason before obtaining full licensure, the person could not receive another temporary license, effectively making them unemployable as a jailer. Additionally, if a person achieved full licensure, left the role for any reason, and allowed their license to go inactive, they were prohibited from receiving a temporary jailer license.

    Under HB 2183, a sheriff will retain authority to hire an unlicensed person under a temporary jailer license. The amended Occupations Code provides that, at the end of 12 months, if the person has not achieved full licensure, the sheriff can choose to appear before TCOLE and request a one-time six-month extension for the person to complete the licensing process. A person who has been appointed on a temporary basis and separated from that position may be subsequently appointed on a temporary basis at the same or another facility if they separated in good standing. After two cumulative years serving under a temporary basis, the person would be allowed to finish out their appointment term. If they still had not achieved full licensure, the person would be ineligible for one year to receive another temporary license.

    Further, HB 2183 allows a person whose full jailer license is inactive to be hired under a temporary license as they work to reinstate themselves.

    Effective Date: Sept. 1, 2023.

    For more information about this article, please contact Pete Winckler or Elizabeth Choate.