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Relating to the practices and professions regulated by the Texas Appraiser Licensing and Certification Board.
No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
SB 1007 would make many changes to Chapter 1103 of the Occupations Code concerning real estate appraisers. There are new sections and amendments that modify the current practices of the Texas Appraiser Licensing and Certification Board (TALCB).
First, this legislation would bring TALCB under Sunset review in 2019. A board member of TALCB must undergo a training program before taking on the authority of that position. Additionally, instead of serving two-year terms, board members would now serve staggered six-year terms. In case there is a vacancy on the board, the governor would be responsible for appointing another member to fill the unexpired term. The governor would also need to appoint a board member to be the presiding officer of the TALCB.
This legislation would outline new procedures for handling grounds for removal of certain board members.
A new section added to Chapter 1103 would allow a board member to give a presentation to licensed appraisers as part of an effort for continuing education. Though, the board member may not receive additional compensation for this presentation.
This bill would require the commissioner to determine the salaries of board members.
The advisory committee to the board would now consist of four people appointed by the governor instead of two. They would serve two year terms.
A new section to Chapter 1103 would outline the applicant requirements for receiving a new or renewed certificate or license from TALCB. Applicants would be required to disclose whether they have ever committed a felony and whether they entered a guilty plea or nolo contendere. Moreover, this information must be disclosed regardless of whether a court granted community supervision to the applicant. This section adds a provision that an applicant must provide any information required by the board to comply with its criminal history and background check requirements.
TALCB would be allowed to require an applicant to submit fingerprints so that it may obtain a criminal history record. Moreover, this legislation would allow the board to enter into an agreement with the Department of Public Safety or other federal entities that are authorized to conduct a criminal background check. The DPS or other agencies contracted with TALCB could charge a fee to each applicant who is having a background check done of him or her.
SB 1007 adds an additional requirement for renewing a certificate or license. The applicant would now be required to satisfy “the board as to the person’s honesty, trustworthiness, and integrity.” This requirement would also apply to a person who wants to return their certificate or license from an inactive status to active.
The board would be required to administer a licensing test at least once a month in Austin or other locations.
A person would now be required to pay a fee to register an application with the board.
SB 1007 would make some changes to the complaint process at TALCB. For instance, a new provision would prevent the board from investigating an alleged offense four years after it occurred. Additionally, if a person accused of an allegation fails to appear for a hearing, the administrative law judge may allow TALCB to recover costs from the person who committed the alleged offense.
This bill would add a new section that allows TALCB to issue a cease and desist order if it suspects a person to be in violation of Chapter 1103 or Chapter 1104. However, the board may only issue this order after it has provided notice and an opportunity for a hearing for that person.
Finally, SB 1007 would repeal three sections:
No changes have been made to this bill in House committee. The second chamber sponsor is Rep. Kuempel.
First chamber recommendation:
Although most of the changes to Chapter 1103 would be benign to our liberty principles, there remain certain concerning issues with this bill. A criminal history record will haunt a person for the rest of his or her life because it serves as a barrier to getting a job. People who have committed a crime should be punished, but once they have paid their debt to society for their transgressions (i.e. jail time, community service, etc.) they should not have to endure a lifelong punishment by a criminal history record that prevents them from obtaining a job in their chosen trade or profession.
Requiring background checks and felony disclosure will ultimately result in qualified people being refused a license based on past history that may have no relevance to the profession they are seeking a license for. Not all felonies are the same and the mere fact of a felony in someone's past is not sufficient to deny an occupational license. For instance, there are nearly a dozen felonies you can commit with an oyster in Texas.
It is obvious that an oyster related felony should not prevent a person from obtaining a real estate appraisal license and that is likely not the intent of this provision of the bill. However, it will be the unintended consequence. The licensing board will inevitably feel pressure to make sure that they are not issuing licenses to people with serious felony convictions but will eventually adopt a "zero tolerance" policy for felonies and use any felony conviction whatsoever to screen out applicants. This is a foreseeable outcome of SB 1007 and other bills which seek to expand mandatory background checks for occupational license applicants..
For this reason, we cannot support legislation that is a clear violation of an individual’s liberty by punishing a person in perpetuity for a crime he or she has already been punished for.
Additionally, we are concerned with some of the vague language that seems to give the board broad authority. For instance, this legislation would require a person renewing his or her license to satisfy “the board as to the person’s honesty, trustworthiness, and integrity.” Subjective requirements such as this could easily allow for board member abuse because there are no objective measures to determine such qualifications.
We oppose SB 1007 because it violates our individual liberty principle by allowing TALCB to prevent a person from being licensed because of past transgressions that he or she has been punished for already. It also violates our limited government principle because it gives vague authority to a government body.