Increasing Government Accountability


In the 84th legislative session, TCC members helped to improve government accountability and enact stronger ethics reforms by passing legislation to:

  • Create a public integrity division within the Texas Rangers to investigate offenses against public administration (HB 1690). Under HB 1690, offenses against public administration include bribery, coercion, conduct of government officials and lobbyists, nepotism, and use of political funds, to name a few. The Texas Rangers are required to investigate all offenses against public administration and refer cases to the appropriate local prosecutor. These responsibilities will be disbursed to neutral venues across the state. Before HB 1690, the Travis County District Attorney—who is elected only by residents of Travis County—prosecuted offenses against public administration. The fact that such a small proportion of the state elected the head of an office with statewide jurisdiction was troubling. No longer will a single county be responsible for investigating and prosecuting elected officials.
  • Require the Comptroller to develop an online database with listings of all entities – public and private – in the state with eminent domain authority to condemn and/or take land (SB 1812). The comptroller is required to include various information about each entity, including the specific provisions of law that authorize the entity to exercise the power of eminent domain, and update the database annually. Entities, in turn, are required to file certain reports with the comptroller, and there are penalties for noncompliance.
  • Prohibit a person from reidentifying an individual that has attempted to scrub clean all self-identifying material (SB 1213). As technology becomes a greater part of everyday life, more and more private information is being stored online and in remotely accessible databases, often by government. It is important to recognize that while many are concerned about large datasets of private information stored on Texas servers, scant attention is sometimes paid to the Texans from who the data is derived. The anonymity of those individuals must be of the highest importance, and SB 1213 attempts to protect it.
  • Require faculty at institutions of higher education to disclose donors funding their research (HB 1295). Disclosed donors include “interested parties,” defined as a person who benefitted financially from a contract, including a person who had a legal or equitable interest in the contract or a contracting person or a person who served as a broker, intermediary, director, adviser, or attorney for, or otherwise actively participated in, a contract.