HB 1090

85(R) - 2017
House General Investigating & Ethics
House General Investigating & Ethics
General Investigating & Ethics

Vote Recommendation

  • Neutral
  • Neutral
  • Positive
  • Negative
  • Neutral


Morgan Meyer

Bill Caption

Relating to the criminal penalties for insider trading and other misuse of official information by public servants. 

Fiscal Notes

From the LBB: No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated. 

Bill Analysis

Under current law the criminal penalty for insider trading or misuse of official information is a third-degree felony. This bill would amend the Penal Code so that it is a third-degree felony if the net pecuniary gain is less than $150,000; a second-degree felony if the net pecuniary gain is more than $150,000 and less than $300,000; and a first-degree felony if the net pecuniary gain is more than $300,000.    

Vote Recommendation Notes

Public servants should not use official information they gain as a result of their public office - information that is not generally otherwise available - for pecuniary gain. This is a misuse of the trust placed in them by the citizens of this state.

The current penalty, a third degree felony, already carries a minimum two year prison sentence. We do not see any problem with tying the level of punishment to a pecuniary scale but also note that this legislation would increase the maximum sentence to a first degree felony which carries a minimum prison sentence of five years.

This sentence enhancement must be considered against the weight of the crime and the cost of at least an additional three years of incarceration. Five years is a long time for the state to incarcerate someone who clearly abused their public office but is not a violent offender. Does the extra $150,000 pecuniary gain merit an additional three years of mandatory incarceration at taxpayer expense? Probably not.

In our view the significant increase in mandatory prison time is disproportionate to the crime and constitutes a violation of limited government. On the other hand this would enhance personal responsibility by holding public officials to a higher standard. Due to these conflicting liberty principles we remain neutral.