Sunset Commission Proposal that DPS be Directed to Consider Mitigating and Aggravating Factors in Assessing Criminal History

This is the sixth part in an ongoing series reviewing proposed changes to the Department of Public Safety (DPS) rules and law by the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission (Sunset Commission). As we discussed previously, DPS is being reviewed by the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission, which has prepared its report for the Texas Legislature in the 2019 legislative session.

In this post, we look at the proposal that DPS be directed to consider mitigating and aggravating factors when assessing criminal history. Before a state agency denies, revokes, or otherwise takes action against a licensee based on criminal background, the Texas Occupations Code requires that agency to consider certain factors, such as the licensee’s rehabilitation, letters of recommendation, and overall criminal history. However, the Sunset Commission noted that DPS’s “[s]taff does not apply mitigating and aggravating factors in assessing whether a criminal conviction should preclude licensure.” The Sunset Commission further stated:

The department in particular has had problems evaluating mitigating and aggravating factors to criminal history for applicants and licensees of the private security program.

Because DPS’s current activities are not consistent with the Texas Occupations Code, the Sunset Commission proposes that the Legislature direct DPS to adopt a process for applying mitigating and aggravating factors in criminal history evaluations.

These changes would be tremendously helpful for allowing applicants with criminal backgrounds obtain licenses and the ability to practice their chosen profession. We will follow the legislative session closely to see how this proposed change is received by the Legislature and what changes are made. If you would like to read about the Sunset process, you can do so at the Sunset website.