IMF H.B. 1453 75(R)BILL ANALYSIS STATE AFFAIRS H.B. 1453 By: Turner, Sylvester 5-2-97 Committee Report (Amended) BACKGROUND Current law does not allow the Commission on Human Rights to pursue legal action in employment discrimination complaints. Current law also does not give the Commission on Human Rights the authority to require the Office of the Attorney General to pursue legal action in employment discrimination cases. The Commission on Human Rights' lack of authority has hindered its ability to obtain federal funding from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC's performance measures require state agencies that deal with employment discrimination issues to meet certain enforcement targets to receive federal funding. The Commission on Human Rights must take action on employment discrimination complaints to meet these targets. The lack of authority to direct the Attorney General to take action hinders the Commission's ability to meet the federal performance goals. PURPOSE As proposed, H.B. 1453 would require the Attorney General to legally pursue employment discrimination cases, as authorized by the Commission on Human Rights, within 30 days of authorization from the commission. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the committee's opinion that this bill does not expressly grant any additional rulemaking authority to a state officer, department, agency or institution. SECTION BY SECTION ANALYSIS SECTION 1. Amends Subchapter A, Chapter 21 of the Labor Code by adding Section 21.010 which thereby requires the attorney general to commence a legal action no later than 30 days after the Commission on Human Rights authorizes the action. SECTION 2. Amends Section 21.210 (a) of the Labor Code requiring the Commission on Human Rights to authorize the attorney general, in a perfected complaint, to file a petition seeking temporary relief. SECTION 3. Amends Section 21.151 of the Labor Code by adding Subsections (b) and (c): Section 21.151 (b) requires the Commission on Human Rights to authorize the attorney general to file civil action in district court seeking relief for a complaint. Section 21.151 (c) provides that the venue for a proceeding under this section is the county in which the employment practice occurred. SECTION 4. Amends Section 21.306 (b) of the Labor Code if a person fails to comply with a Commission on Human Rights subpoena, the commission must authorize the attorney general to order compliance with the subpoena. SECTION 5. Effective date; September 1, 1997. Makes this Act prospective. SECTION 6. Emergency clause. EXPLANATION OF AMENDMENT Committee amendment no. 1 letters existing Sec. 21.010 as subsection (a) and adds subsection (b) and (c) as exceptions to (a) as follows: (b) requires the attorney general to review and determine whether the commission's reasonable cause findings are well grounded in fact and warranted by law, within 10 days of notification of the authorization of legal action. If the attorney general so finds, he/she shall file suit as provided in (a). (c) requires the attorney general to explain in writing to the executive director a determination that findings are not well grounded in fact or warranted by law within 10 days of receiving the commission's authorization. Upon a vote to proceed with legal action by a majority of commission members at a regularly scheduled session, the attorney general shall either file the action within 30 days of the vote, or authorize the commission to retain outside counsel within 10 days of the vote. If the attorney general declines to file the action, the commission may file through outside counsel within 30 days of the commission vote. The commission may discuss the proposed legal action in closed session before the vote.