Sunset Commission Proposal that DPS be Required to Establish a Process to Informally Resolve Complaints

This is the eighth 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 required to establish a process to informally resolve complaints. DPS currently has authority to informally settle cases in the metal recycling entities program and in some private security program cases. However, this means that Regulatory Services Division cases and many private security program cases cannot be settled informally. As the Sunset Commission notes, “[f]ormal hearings often require significant time and expense for both the agency and licensee, but other, informal means of resolving cases can reduce costs and still achieve a fair outcome that protects the public.”

An increase in settlement authority would help many licensees (and the agency) resolve their cases with fewer risks and less expense. It is unclear from the Sunset Commission’s recommendation if any such informal processes would be available to applicants with a criminal background. In our experience, DPS has previously denied having informal resolution authority with regards to such applicants and routinely takes such cases to formal hearings. We would recommend this informal settlement authority be extended to such cases to reduce both monetary and time costs.

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.