Investing in the future of Texas: Justice and safety

Texas 2036 served as a trusted, data-driven resource for the 88th Legislature on issues that matter most for the future of the state. Here’s a look at how we supported justice and safety legislation.

Key Accomplishments: 88th Legislature

With a firm resolve and a forward-looking approach, the 88th Legislature responded to pressing justice and safety issues in Texas. Harnessing the power of data and technology, important enhancements on policing, the judiciary and child welfare were addressed.

Texas 2036 provided vital support, offering a data-driven perspective that supported reshaping the role of the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, the state’s regulatory body overseeing peace officers. This approach also helped address challenges, such as the judicial court backlogs and outdated child welfare technology, bringing these issues forward to support legislators’ efforts. This commitment fueled the progress of three major legislative efforts, which were fortified by millions of dollars in investments.

Historic Budget: Generational Investments

  • $4.6 million and 19 additional employee positions to support landmark TCOLE Sunset legislation and reforms
  • $4.3 million to fund direct IT services for state courts to ensure judiciary can operate efficiently and securely in their day-to-day IT functions
  • $931.2 million to completely eliminate unfunded law enforcement and judicial pension liabilities
  • $6 million to update legacy IT court data collection systems
  • $2.2 million to stand up a court appearance text-reminder program
  • $320,000 for IT and data analysis at the Texas Commission on Jail Standards
Building Public Confidence in Law Enforcement:

Sunset legislation includes multiple reforms fundamentally re-shaping the agency responsible for licensing and regulating peace officers and law enforcement agencies, including repealing problematic “discharge categories” in favor of a new officer misconduct reporting system and a new data infrastructure for officer personnel records and licensing actions.

Senate Bill 1445 Sen. Paxton (R) / Rep. Goldman (R)

Modernizing Child Welfare IT Systems:

The Department of Family and Protective Services will report on the funding and timeline requirements needed to modernize the state’s child welfare IT system to one that meets federal standards. The report should put the state on the path to upgrade this crucial technology infrastructure, supporting caseworkers and better caring for children.

House Bill 1 Rep. Bonnen (R) / Sen. Huffman (R)

Addressing the Judicial Caseload Backlog:

This bill will require the systematic collection of case-level court data to provide a better understanding of what’s behind persistent and costly court backlogs. Coupled with appropriations updating the state’s legacy IT system, Texas court data will be an asset to the administration of justice, rather than a mere byproduct of the courts.

House Bill 841 Rep. Ordaz (D) / Sen. Middleton (R)

Notable Justice & Safety Legislation

Judicial Retirement System of Texas Pension Reform: Creates a new cash balance retirement plan for new state district and appellate judges, lowering the fund period and stabilizing it long-term. SB 1245 Sen. Huffman (R) / Rep. Bonnen (R)

Access to Criminal History Information: Allows institutions to pull bulk criminal history to advance criminal justice research. HB 1184 Rep. Rose (D) / Sen. Johnson (D)

Trial Court Information & Statistics: Requires submission of monthly court-level statistics and the most populous counties to report detailed trial court workload information. House Bill 1182 Rep. Harless (R) / Sen. Whitmire (D)

New Courts & Judicial Workload Reporting: Creates new courts includes a provision to require regular, public reporting of judicial caseloads and clearance rates for those parts of Texas that need new courts. House Bill 3474 Rep. Leach (R) / Sen. Hughes (R)

Editor’s note: These bills supported by Texas 2036 were sent to the Governor pending review and potential signature during the veto period, which lasted until June 18, 2023. There were changes to the notable justice and safety legislation following that window. Find an updated list below:

  • Require the most populous counties to report detailed trial court workload information
  • Improve access to criminal history information for criminal justice research
  • Reform the judicial retirement system for district and appellate judges to ensure long-term sustainable funding and more!