HB 990

83(R) - 2013
Criminal Justice

Vote Recommendation

  • Neutral
  • Neutral
  • Neutral
  • Neutral
  • Neutral


Senfronia Thompson

Bill Caption

Relating to the establishment of a sentencing policy, accountability, and review council to develop means to assess the effect of sentencing practices and policies on state correctional resources.

Fiscal Notes

Estimated Two-year Net Impact to General Revenue Related Funds for HB 990, As Introduced: a negative impact of ($1,145,513) through the biennium ending August 31, 2015.

Bill Analysis

Summary: HB 990 would create a twenty member council consisting of Representatives, Senators, rights advocates, attorneys, and others to assess sentencing practices and the effects on state resources. This council would be tasked with developing means to promote a more balanced and cost-effective state criminal justice system.

Analysis: In our original published analysis, we opposed HB 990. After further review, and in light of data from other states that we were not previously aware of, we are changing our position to NEUTRAL.

This legislation sets up a conflict within our limited government liberty principle. The new commission would expand the size and cost of government. However, there is a very strong likelihood that the end result of the commission would result in a long term reduction in state spending that far outweighs the cost of the commission. While there is no guarantee that the state will adopt commission recommendations, there is clear evidence from a handful of other states that this type of commission can result in hundreds of millions of dollars in savings by reducing incarceration, reducing recidivism, and eliminating the need for construction of new prisons. Should such a model be adopted in Texas, the potential cost savings could be enormous.

Essentially this legislation would grow government in the short term in order to cut the cost of government in the long term, which is a likely but not guaranteed result. We are neutral on this legislation.

Recommendations: This legislation could be strengthened by making the commission subject to sunset review, by specifying that travel and meeting costs would not be reimbursable commission members, and by adopting the amendment offered by Rep. Steve Toth which would add HB 2804 to the provisions of HB 990.