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July 9 2015

Texas is a Hot Bed for Legislative Action Addressing the Background Screening Industry

Texas is a Hot Bed for Legislative Action Addressing the Background Screening Industry. A number of hearing are taking place that could challenge the background screening industry in this state:

  1. The Modern Electronic Records in Texas Act ("MERIT Act"), introduced by Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston) will be heard on Tuesday, April 28 in the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice which Whitmire chairs. The bill would, among other things, prohibit bulk transfer of criminal records databases and prohibit the purchase and sale of nonconviction records. NAPBS will have witnesses at the hearing and will be working with allies to oppose this bill.
  2. Bill S.B 1960 H.B. 2700 was introduced by Sen. Chuy Hinosa (D-McAllen) and Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) and would limit bulk access to certain local criminal repositories. 
  3. Bill TX S.B. 128 introduced by Sen. Royce West (D-Houston) seeks to prevent the dissemination of criminal record information for employment, housing and other purposes unless that information has been verified first. The bill has several other components for reporting criminal record information that add significant complexity. It is currently pending in the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice. NAPBS continues to monitor action on this bill closely and expects to call upon members for assistance.
  4. Bill TX H.B. 4114 introduced by Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon (D-San Antonio) would impose a series of onerous requirements on businesses that publish, republish or otherwise disseminate criminal record information and arrest photographs, including attesting to the accuracy of the information and notifying the individual whose criminal record information is being published, among others. This bill was heard in the House Committee on Business and Industry on April 21 and was left pending before the Committee. We will be working with stakeholders and the bill sponsor to provide substitute language.
  5. Bill TX H.B. 1118 introduced by Rep. Mike Schofield (R-Houston) would allow state agencies to deny public record requests from out of state individuals or businesses. The bill was heard on April 22 in the House Committee on Government Transparency and Operation Committee where it was left pending.
We will continue to actively monitor thiese and other bills for any indication of further consideration.