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Relating to the creation of a commission to review certain penal laws of this state and to make certain recommendations regarding those laws, to criminal offenses previously compiled in statutes outside the Penal Code, to repealing certain of those offenses, and to conforming punishments for certain of those offenses to the penalty structure provided in the Penal Code; increasing the punishment for the criminal offenses of sedition, sabotage, and capital sabotage; imposing a civil penalty.
No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
HB 816 would create a commission to study all penal laws of the state located outside of the Penal Code and unrelated to the operation of a motor vehicle. The commission would make recommendations to the Legislature regarding the repeal or amendment of all such penal laws they deem unnecessary, duplicative, overly broad, or insufficient to achieve their purpose. HB 816 outlines requirements for appointments to the commission and for submitting the completed study.
HB 816 would also transfer certain criminal laws from outside the Penal Code into the Penal Code. It would place certain criminal offenses, including sedition, sabotage, and capital sabotage, into classifications, removing their individual sentencing requirements. HB 816 would reduce criminal penalties for certain offenses such as forging cargo ship documents and practicing dentistry without a license. Lastly, it would provide a civil penalty for introducing a frivolous consumer claim against an auctioneer.
Texas Action supports HB 816 because it would limit overcriminalization and reduce unreasonable criminal penalties in state laws. The Texas code includes criminal provisions that punish non-injurious behavior, permit the prosecution of multiple, redundant offenses, and institute unreasonably severe penalties. The commission and the other provisions in HB 816 would limit arbitrary criminal laws and bolster the individual rights of Texans.