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This bill would have a positive impact of $2,063,126 to the State through the biennium ending August 31, 2017. County and municipal governments will see reduced revenue from the local portion of court costs collected for the repealed Class C misdemeanor offense, as well as a reduction in fines collected. Assuming 93,786 failure to attend cases in which court costs were assessed and a collection rate of 50%, there would be a decrease of $770,772 in revenue to local governments per year. Additionally, there may be an indeterminate loss in fine revenue to local governments.
The bill would also repeal the current $30 fee is collected and retained by local governments to defray the cost of expunctions. Travis, Midland, and El Paso Counties indicated they may have to add or reassign staff to expunge the records as required by the bill and to meet other requirements of the bill. The impact may be significant but cannot be determined at this time and would vary by jurisdiction.
HB 1490 would make a series of changes to the statutes to address truancy-related offenses. This bill would enact an automatic expunction of truancy records and would create a progressive truancy intervention system. The system would include three tiers that have activities such as a conference with the student, an attendance contract, a school employee identifies the reasons the student accumulated unexcused absences, refers the student to any services or counseling appropriate, and/or impose consequences. This system would make it mandatory for a school to enact this preventive measure before referring a student to truancy court.
HB 1490 would increase the individual liberty of students by expunging their truancy records. This bill would support students to be able to live their lives free from the long term negative consequences of truancy-related offenses. This bill takes a graduated approach to truancy in order to steer students in the right direction rather than use the heavy hand of the justice system to punish them for nonattendance. For these reasons we support this legislation on the grounds of both individual liberty and limited government.