HB 29

85(R) - 2017
House State Affairs
Senate Criminal Justice
House State Affairs
Senate Criminal Justice
Civil Procedure
Civil Remedies
Criminal Justice
Criminal Procedure
Occupational Licensing

Vote Recommendation

Vote No; Amend
  • Negative
  • Neutral
  • Neutral
  • Negative
  • Neutral


Senfronia Thompson


Joan Huffman

Bill Caption

Relating to prostitution and the trafficking of persons, civil racketeering related to trafficking, the prosecution of and punishment for certain sexual offenses and offenses involving or related to trafficking, reimbursement of certain costs for criminal victims who are children, and the release and reporting of certain information relating to a child; increasing a criminal penalty; creating a criminal offense.

Fiscal Notes

No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.

Bill Analysis

This bill would make a few substantial changes to various parts of the code. 

  • HB 29 would grant the attorney general (AG) vast new powers regarding how the AG's office may collect evidence for certain cases related to human trafficking and racketeering. This bill would allow the AG to initiate a “civil investigative demand” if they have any reason to believe that the person who the demand is against has information or documentary evidence relevant to a civil racketeering investigation. The AG would be able to compel the individual to produce any documentary material, answer any questions in writing, and provide oral testimony. Failure to comply would be a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 and/or confinement in a county jail, for not more than a year.

  • Certain continuous trafficking of persons offenses would end up on the sex offender registry. If an individual is a youth at the time of their offense while they are convicted of this crime, they may eventually petition for removal from the sex offender registry.

  • This bill would also require additional curriculum requirements for commercial driver’s licenses. If passed, each public junior college that offers commercial driver’s license training programs would be required to provide an education program that provides education and training on the recognition of prevention of human trafficking. 

  • This bill would also recreate a task force to collaborate with a multitude of federal agencies with the purpose of collecting, organizing, and publishing statistical data on human trafficking issues. It would also repeal the portion of the code that established this task force in previous sessions.

  • HB 29 would increase the penalty for the promotion of prostitution from its current status as a Class A misdemeanor, to a State Jail Felony. For a subsequent offense, the penalty would increase from a state jail felony to a third-degree felony.

  • This bill also repeals a portion of the code related to prostitution. Under current law, it would be considered prostitution if someone solicited sex for hire, even if they did not exchange the fee. If this bill passes, that portion would be repealed. 

Vote Recommendation Notes

We recognize that sex trafficking in Texas is a large and growing problem and this bill is well intentioned, however it is not without liberty-infringing provisions. This expansive bill violates a variety of our liberty principles while not solving the problem it seeks to solve.

One big concern is the amount of power vested in the office of the attorney general, including power to compel testimony or to produce documents that may contain evidence using a relatively low standard of proof the evidence exists in the first place. This is a significant increase in government power to be based on a "reason to believe" standard. This violates our commitment to limited government. It would be better to require probable cause and a warrant.

Another major concern is the mandatory curriculum changes for commercial driver’s licenses; not only is this unnecessary but it violates our commitment to free markets by making the process of acquiring an occupational license even more onerous. Commercial drivers are not an arm of law enforcement and they should not be treated as such; nor should the burden to get an occupational license be increased for a purpose which has no direct connection to the license. For these reasons we oppose HB 29.

We would withdraw our objection if the standard for the attorney general's office to compel testimony and documentary evidence was raised to a higher standard such as probable cause and a warrant, and if the CDL training was changed to be an optional rather than mandatory training requirement. 

Organizations Supporting

Christian Life Commission
League of Women Voters of Texas
Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops
Texas Impact