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Current law requires that administrative judges provide a report to the Office of Court Administration about any security incidents that occur in or around a local court.
SB 42 would require the entity providing security to submit this report instead of an administrative judge and requires the establishment of court security committees to oversee and provide recommendations for security measures in and around buildings housing a court; the report would not be subject to public disclosure. The committee may recommend to a municipality the uses of resources and expenditures but may not mandate any action.
Under this bill a new fee would also be implemented on the filing of any civil action or proceeding and will be credited to the judicial and court personnel training fund. This $5 fee is estimated to bring in $10 million in new fee revenue to the state for implementing the training program established in this bill.
This bill would also establish the Judicial Security Division within the Office of Court Administration and prohibit a person from serving as a court security officer unless they hold a court security certification issued by a training program approved by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE).
Though this bill seeks to address some issues that likely need to be addressed and do make sense, they are overshadowed by the government expansion, new fees, and the imbalance created between the different levels of government.
This bill would implement new training and certification requirements for anyone who would be a court security officer. Law enforcement officers already undergo extensive training and although specialized training may be appropriate in some cases, creating a new certification and training program to accomplish this is unnecessary and will result in greater expense of monetary and personnel resources. This in particular will be a problem for smaller counties and municipalities who's resources are limited. The bill does seek to address this however it does so by creating fees imposed on civil only cases and allows implementation through private organizations. This means that instead of a true user fee, only one particular group will be helping to fund these new requirements instead of all involved. It would also mean that taxpayer money would be given to private organizations.
Finally, though it is within the proper role of state government to provide security requirements for state level courts, it is not the role of the state to micro-manage the lower courts. Counties and municipalities should be allowed to address the security of their courts as they see fit, free from state mandates that do not account for uniqueness of each court.
For these reasons, we oppose SB 42.