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Relating to the criminal penalties for certain criminal offenses.
Estimated Two-year Net Impact to General Revenue Related Funds for HB 1086, As Introduced: a positive impact of $35,917,607 through the biennium ending August 31, 2023.
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 1086 would replace state jail felonies with the new name felonies of the fourth degree and replace mentions of state jail felonies in state law with the new name. A person previously convicted of a state jail felony is to be considered convicted of a fourth-degree felony from the effective date of the bill. If enacted, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice would be permitted to use existing state jail felony facilities in whatever manner they deem appropriate.
HB 1086 would also alter several criminal offense categorizations. It would reduce certain controlled substance offenses that are state jail felonies to Class A misdemeanors and downgrade certain lower-level offenses from Class A to Class B misdemeanors. It would reduce other state jail felony offenses to Class A misdemeanors and, more specifically, reduce harassment by persons in certain facilities or of a public servant from a third-degree felony to Class A misdemeanor. In addition, theft of less than $750 would be a Class A misdemeanor if the person has been convicted two or more times in the past of any grade of theft. If enacted, there would be no more previous conviction enhancement for fourth-degree felony theft.
HB 1086 would also make a few miscellaneous changes. Illegal bartering of property or funds a person knows are from the commission of marijuana would only apply to third-degree possession, rather than fourth-degree. Judges would be required to automatically impose community supervision for Class B misdemeanor prostitution convictions, rather than jail time, unless advised otherwise by a jury. Juvenile treatment facilities owned by local intellectual and developmental disability authorities would be exempt from certain location regulations.
Texas Action supports HB 1086 because it would advance individual liberty and limited government. Reducing criminal penalties for marijuana possession limits government involvement in an activity that does not violate anyone’s rights. Changing the phrase “state jail felony” to something more sensible also makes state law easier to comprehend to the average person, thereby increasing government transparency. The other provisions in HB 1086 on balance do not significantly affect our Liberty Principles.