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Summary: SB 219 is a Sunset Review of the Texas Ethics Commission. However, it is not a true Sunset bill because the Ethics Commission cannot be voted away or allowed to expire without amending the Texas Constitution. Voting against this bill would not end the Texas Ethics Commission. SB 219 makes the changes recommended by the Sunset Advisory Board.
Analysis: This bill would make some positive changes, such as referring to “sworn complaints” as “inquiries.” This would prevent officials from being unfairly targeted in the press for minor technical errors deemed “complaints.” However, the bill would further complicate the process through which inquiries will be handled. The bill would remove the ability to have a “trial de novo” on appeal and take away the defendant’s chance at having a jury. Also, the bill would remove the current process of having Commissioners appointed by the Speaker, Governor and Lt. Governor and only require two members to hear inquiries during the first step of the process. This would prevent all 3 political entities from being able to participate.
The changes this bill would make to the Ethics Commission would not improve the Commission and voting against it would not end the Commission.
SB 1773, which is also being considered by this legislature, would provide a better review process for the Texas Ethics Commission than a Sunset Review.