P.O. Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768
(512) 463-1004 Fax
1100 Bear Creek Parkway
Keller, Texas 76248
PO Box 770
Keller, Texas 76244
Rep. Giovanni Capriglione's 86th Legislative Session Wrap-Up
House Bills Passed
Current statute only allows a school district to award a posthumous diploma if a student has died during their senior year of high school and if they were academically on track to graduate. HB 638 opens up the statute to allow parents to request a posthumous diploma for a student who has passed away regardless of their grade level.
HB 1785 increases transparency by requiring the Texas Ethics Commission to include a statement on their lobby registration system of whether a registrant is required to also be registered as a foreign agent under FARA.
The issue of foreign influence in domestic affairs has been a significant topic of analysis and conversation. Most of the focus has been on federal affairs, however state governments are not immune from attempted foreign influence. Today, if a state official wants to know if a Texas lobbyist is also a registered foreign agent, he or she would have to look up each person individually in the Justice Department's Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) website.
Currently, Texas law mandates that contractors collect insurance deductibles owed on work connected to the proceeds of a property or casualty insurance claim. Even though it is currently punishable by a Class A misdemeanor, some contractors still offer to "waive" or "absorb" an insurance deductible and consumers go along for the ride, not knowing they are committing a crime. The current statute, written in 1989, is extremely vague and leaves plenty of loopholes.
HB 2102 requires mandatory disclosure in every contract saying Texas law requires the payment of insurance deductibles and that it is a violation of law for a contractor to knowingly waive, rebate, absorb, etc. an insurance deductible owed on work connected to the proceeds of an insurance claim. The bill also removes the current criminal penalty on homeowners and reduces the criminal penalty on contractors for waiving a deductible.
Currently, insurance adjusters who also act as contractors may engage in insurance fraud by adjusting a loss related to damage on an insurer's behalf, increasing the rate for their work and pocketing the price difference. The Insurance Code specifically prohibits only roofing contractors from this fraudulent activity, therefore providing a possible loophole to be used by other contractors.
HB 2103 would broaden the code to capture all contractors and make sure no one is unfairly profiting off the people of Texas.
Farmers and small-scale food producers face significant barriers due to the inability to determine what they must do to comply with regulations. Local health departments frequently refuse to answer or give conflicting answers to farmers’ inquiries about what they have to do to operate legally. Moreover, even after getting an answer, the producers continue to be at risk if the inspector comes up with a new interpretation.
HB 2107 applies the provisions of the DSHS Better Communications Act to local health departments. It simply requires them to respond to inquiries in a timely manner, and then not to fine producers who comply with what they are told is the law.
This bill cleans up statute relating to the Texas Bullion Depository, created in 2015. Through implementing the Depository, the Comptroller's office gained valuable industry knowledge and recognized the need to update existing statute to ensure the Texas Bullion Depository continues to be administered in an efficient, prudent manner.
This bill makes small corrections to ensure every dollar invested under the Public Funds Investment Act is put to work to the greatest benefit of Texans relying on these funds. HB 2706 also requires the study of appropriate investments by public schools by the Texas Education Agency.
Currently, precious metals that are not held for the production of income are exempted from ad valorem taxation. However, due to a provision in the tax code, a local taxing jurisdiction has the ability to rescind that exemption, by resolution or order. Texas is the only state to allow this and it creates uncertainty as to the taxability of precious metals stored in commercial depositories in the state.
HB 2859 proposes a constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to exempt from ad valorem taxation precious metal held in a depository located in the state.
Proposed constitutional amendments require both a bill and a joint resolution to change the Texas Constitution and current Texas Statute. HJR 95 is the enabling joint resolution to place language on the statewide November ballot authorizing the legislature to exempt from ad valorem taxation precious metals held in a depository located in the state.
This bill requires Adult Protective Services officials to complete training on identifying and interacting with people with Alzheimer's or other dementias as part of basic training or continuing education. It also requires the Department of Family Protective Services to develop a process for reporting neglect, criminal abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and financial exploitation to law enforcement agencies. Additionally, HB 3428 requires each Area Agency on Aging to develop evidence-based or evidence-informed core training programs for staff relating to Alzheimer's disease and dementia, and any additional training based on local needs.
The process in which the Commission on Jail Standards collects data is outdated and inefficient. There is no format standardization, thus the commission is forced to enter data into their system by hand and from documents ranging from PDFs to hand written reports.
HB 3440 promotes efficiency and migrates from data entry and compilation to simple compilation. By requiring counties to submit their required monthly reports in something as simple as Excel format, it will reduce the cost and time of additional employees for the Commission.
State and local governments increasingly depend on information technology services to facilitate their duties. With most employees or contactors using IT to complete at least part of their daily duties, this inherently leads to countless points of vulnerability to government data systems that house sensitive information pertaining to their constituents.
This bill ensures state and local governments are better safeguarded against cybersecurity risks by requiring employees to undergo cybersecurity training through state-certified programs.
When upgrading state agency technology, cloud computing services are not taken into account very often. With state government upgrading information systems so infrequently, thinking about the future and the rapid movement of technology would benefit the state and stretch important technology dollars.
HB 3875 would require state agencies to ensure new automated information systems and major information resource projects would be capable of being deployed and run on cloud computing services, or being "cloud-ready."
In the digital era, a growing array of organizations use personal data to provide an ever increasing range of services. Regulation can protect individuals and communities from harm and misuse of data, and help maintain the trust that enables innovation and change.
HB 4390 creates an Interim Advisory Council made up of Texas Representatives, Senators, and industry appointees to study data privacy regulations in other states and make legislative recommendations to be implemented in the 87th Legislative Session in 2021. The bill also strengthens reporting requirements after a breach of data.
Senate Bills Passed
SB 69 (Similar to my HB 20)
The goal of SB 69 is to reform the Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF) and maximize its investments. It allows 75% of the fund to be invested by the Comptroller in the manner of a prudent investor exercising reasonable care, skill, and caution. This will allow the investment return on the ESF to increase from around 2.5% right now to closer to 6%, therefore creating additional revenue to pay for state needs.
SB 943 (Identical Companion to my HB 2189)
Two decisions from the Texas Supreme Court in 2015 drastically reduced the public's ability to remain informed, particularly when it comes to government spending and government contracting. In both cases, the Court overruled decades of Attorney General interpretations that protected transparency. Unfortunately, in the four years since these two cases were decided, these rulings have been used to deny over 2,600 PIA requests.
SB 943 restores transparency to state and local government contracting, while recognizing that some information is truly proprietary and needs to be protected from disclosure in order to foster competition.
SB 944 (Identical Companion to my HB 2191)
SB 944 compiles various PIA improvements that have come out of recent stakeholder negotiations without known opposition. The overall focus is to address a common complaint--that the PIA process is bureaucratic and inefficient.
The bill closes a loophole by ensuring governmental bodies may obtain public information stored on their employees’ private devices, creates a new exception to disclosure for sensitive healthcare information, allows governmental bodies to designate a single email address and a single mailing address to receive PIA requests, and directs the Office of the Attorney General to promulgate a PIA request form that governmental bodies and requestors may use to reduce the government's workload and result in a faster response to the requestor.
SB 988 (Identical Companion to my HB 2192)
Under current statute, a court may assess the costs of litigation and reasonable attorney’s fees incurred by a plaintiff or defendant who substantially prevails. Until a recent decision in Travis County, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has never had fees assessed against it for defending open records challenges brought by governmental bodies or third parties seeking to keep public information from being released. Should this decision become a trend, governmental bodies and third parties would be encouraged to challenge more OAG rulings in court thus impacting the rightful and timely release of information to the public.
SB 988 changes statute to require a higher standard in order to assess fees against the Attorney General for fulfilling its statutory duties under the Public Information Act.
SB 1189 (Identical Companion to my HB 2251)
If you watch television, you see attorneys advertising for clients. The advertisements focus on prescription drugs and medical devices, asbestos-caused cancer, automobile and truck-related accidents, workplace injuries and more. Research has proven that advertising for clients in the prescription drug arena alarms people who are using the drug in question. There are documented examples of people seeing attorney advertisements, becoming concerned, stopping use of their prescription drug, and suffering negative health consequences or even dying as a result.
SB 1189 requires attorney advertisements in any medium to disclose that it is a paid ad, disclose the name of the sponsor of the ad, disclose whether the advertising law firm will actually represent the client, and, in prescription drug-related advertisements, state that a person should not stop taking a product without a physician’s advice. It also requires that an advertisement for legal services should not use the phrases "medical alert," "health alert, service announcement" or similar terms, and should not state that a product has been recalled when it has not.
SCR 21 (Identical Companion to my HCR 78)
In April 2015, the Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) learned that its public-facing website contained a database of names, addresses, Social Security and Medicaid numbers, and treatment or diagnosis information for over 6,000 clients. DADS reported the breach as required by federal law and following an investigation by the federal Office of Civil Rights (OCR) it was found that DADS violated HIPAA in four different ways. As a result of these findings, OCR proposed a "resolution agreement." Because DADS no longer exists and its functions have been consolidated into HHSC, HHSC must respond to OCR and comply with a corrective action plan as the successor agency.
SCR 21 grants statutorily-required legislative authority for HHSC to enter into the resolution agreement.
General Appropriations Act
Several additions and improvements I offered to the General Appropriations Act passed and are a part of the state's 2020-2021 budget.
Some of the Bills I Joint-Authored and Co-Authored
SB 2 - Texas Property Tax Reform and Transparency Act of 2019
HB 3 - Public school finance reform
HB 5 - Disaster recovery efforts
HB 6 - Disaster relief and recovery
SB 12 - Retired teacher actuarial stability and 13th check
HB 16 - Born Alive Act
SB 18 - Protecting expressive activities at public institutions of higher education
SB 22 - Prohibiting government entities from transactions with abortion providers
SB 24 - Requiring an abortion provider to hand required information materials to a pregnant woman before an abortion
SB 26 & SJR 24 - Fully appropriating the Sporting Goods Sales Tax to Texas Parks and Wildlife
HB 39 & HJR 12 - Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas
HB 121 - 2nd Amendment
HB 259 - Named driver insurance polices
HB 302 - 2nd Amendment
HB 305 - Political subdivision required website posting
HB 368 - Use of legislatively produced audio/visual materials in political advertising
HB 492 & HJR 34 - Temporary property tax exemption after disaster
SB 572 - Expanding the types of foods allowed in the cottage foods industry
HB 803 - Financial reporting by a toll project entity
HB 888 - Criminalizing misrepresenting a child as a family member at a port of entry
HB 902 - Increasing the criminal penalty for assault of a pregnant woman
HB 996 - Prohibiting debt buyers from threatening litigation after statute of limitations has expired
SB 999 - Creating a state plan for education and treatment of Alzheimer's disease and related disorders
HB 1028 - Increasing penalties for burglary and arson offenses in a declared state of disaster
SB 1264 - Protecting consumers from surprise medical billing
HB 1421 - Cybersecurity of voter registration lists
HB 1576 - Increasing efficiency for Medicaid transportation
HB 1590 - Establishing the Sexual Assault Survivors' Task Force
HB 1631 - Prohibiting the use of red-light cameras
HB 1791 - Allowing handgun license holders to carry on government property
HB 1888 - Temporary polling place revisions
SB 1978 - Preventing governmental entities from taking adverse actions based on association with religious organizations
HB 2174 - Changing the Texas Controlled Substances Act to combat the growing rate of abuse of prescription drugs
HB 2305 - Enhancing training and credentialing of emergency management personnel
HB 2315 - Easing the process for obtaining a trailer title used for temporary housing following a disaster
HB 2320 - Better coordinating communications systems after a disaster
HB 2340 - Encouraging government entities adopt the goals of FEMA's strategic plan to help coordinate in times of disaster
HB 2345 - Creating the Institute for a Disaster Resilient Texas
SB 2551 - Updating workers compensation laws for firefighers
HB 2677 - Prohibiting a former officeholder from using previous political contributions as a lobbyist expenditure
HB 2826 - Establishing requirements for contingent fee contracts for legal services by political subdivisions
HB 2945 - Cracking down on credit card skimmers
HB 2984 - Increasing computer science instruction in public schools
HB 3022 - Allowing a person to opt-in to local emergency warning systems
HB 3745 - Converting the Texas emissions reduction plan fund to a new trust fund
HB 4150 - Implementing certain safety and inspection reporting requirements for electric utilities
HB 4345 - Providing immunity from civil liability for a charitable organization employee for reporting sexual misconduct of a fellow employee/volunteer
HB 4388 - Establishing the Permanent School Fund Liquid Account
HCR 19 - Urging Congress to repeal the Government Pension Offset / Windfall Elimination Provision of the Soc. Sec. Act