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Relating to establishing a protective order registry and the duties of courts in regard to the registry.
Estimated Two-year Net Impact to General Revenue Related Funds for HB629, Committee Report 1st House, Substituted: a negative impact of ($350,000) through the biennium ending August 31, 2021.
The Office of Court Administration is required to implement a provision of this Act only if the legislature appropriates money specifically for that purpose. If the legislature does not appropriate money specifically for that purpose, the Office of Court Administration may, but is not required to, implement a provision of this Act using other appropriations available for that purpose.
The bill would make no appropriation but could provide the legal basis for an appropriation of funds to implement the provisions of the bill.
HB 629 would create a public database to search for applications for restraining orders filed and restraining orders issued for family violence in Texas. This bill would allow for anyone in the public to search by county the order was issued in, by name of who the order was issued against, by birth year of the person the order was issued against and see what court issued the order, the case number, information regarding who the order was issued against, the date the order was issued and served, the date the order was vacated, and the date the order will expire. Full applications filed and submitted would only be accessible to authorized users, district attorneys, criminal district attorneys, county attorneys, municipal attorneys, and peace officers.
Texas Action opposes HB 629 because it violates the principle of limited government. While we support an efficient procedure for informing law enforcement agencies about active protective orders, this bill creates some cause for concern. As written, there is no mechanism for ensuring that names are removed from the registry once the protective order has been vacated or expired. We would suggest an amendment putting this safeguard in place, as well as restricting access from the public.
As a reminder, the issuance of a protective order does not mean a person has been charged or found guilty of a crime. Creating a public registry to shame people subject to a protective order will surely lead to negative unintended consequences, including loss of employment and social status, some of whom will inevitably be innocent.