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  81R10215 CS-D
 
  By: Castro H.B. No. 4373
 
 
 
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
 
AN ACT
  relating to the independent office of consumer affairs for the
  Department of Family and Protective Services.
         BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
         SECTION 1.  Subtitle D, Title 2, Human Resources Code, is
  amended by adding Chapter 41 to read as follows:
  CHAPTER 41. INDEPENDENT OFFICE OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS FOR THE
  DEPARTMENT OF FAMILY AND PROTECTIVE SERVICES
  SUBCHAPTER A. GENERAL PROVISIONS
         Sec. 41.001.  DEFINITIONS. In this chapter:
               (1)  "Director" means the director of the independent
  office of consumer affairs created under this chapter.
               (2)  "Office" means the independent office of consumer
  affairs for the Department of Family and Protective Services
  created under this chapter.
         Sec. 41.002.  ESTABLISHMENT; PURPOSE. The independent
  office of consumer affairs for the Department of Family and
  Protective Services is a state agency established for the purpose
  of investigating, evaluating, and securing the rights of the
  children and families receiving child protection or child welfare
  services from the department.
         Sec. 41.003.  INDEPENDENCE. (a) The office in the
  performance of its duties and powers under this chapter acts
  independently of the commission and the department.
         (b)  Funding for the office is appropriated separately from
  funding for the commission and the department.
  [Sections 41.004-41.050 reserved for expansion]
  SUBCHAPTER B. APPOINTMENT AND MANAGEMENT OF OFFICE
         Sec. 41.051.  APPOINTMENT BY GOVERNOR. (a) The governor
  shall appoint the director of the office with the advice and consent
  of the senate for a term of two years, expiring February 1 of
  odd-numbered years.
         (b)  A person appointed as director of the office is eligible
  for reappointment.
         Sec. 41.052.  ASSISTANTS. The director may hire assistants
  to perform, under the direction of the director, the same duties and
  exercise the same powers as the director.
         Sec. 41.053.  CONFLICT OF INTEREST. (a) A person may not
  serve as director or as an assistant to the director if the person
  or the person's spouse:
               (1)  is employed by or participates in the management
  of a business entity or other organization receiving funds from the
  commission or department;
               (2)  owns or controls, directly or indirectly, any
  interest in a business entity or other organization receiving funds
  from the commission or department; or
               (3)  uses or receives any amount of tangible goods,
  services, or funds from the commission or department.
         (b)  A person may not serve as director or as an assistant to
  the director if the person or the person's spouse is required to
  register as a lobbyist under Chapter 305, Government Code, because
  of the person's activities for compensation on behalf of a
  profession related to the operation of the department.
         Sec. 41.054.  SUNSET PROVISION. The office is subject to
  review under Chapter 325, Government Code (Texas Sunset Act), but
  is not abolished under that chapter. The office shall be reviewed
  during the periods in which state agencies abolished in 2011 and
  every 12th year after 2011 are reviewed.
         Sec. 41.055.  REPORT. The director shall submit on a
  quarterly basis to the governor, the lieutenant governor, and each
  member of the legislature a report that describes:
               (1)  the work of the office;
               (2)  the results of any review or investigation
  undertaken by the office, including reviews or investigation of
  services contracted by the commission; and
               (3)  any recommendations that the director has in
  relation to the duties of the office.
         Sec. 41.056.  COMMUNICATION AND CONFIDENTIALITY. The name,
  address, or other personally identifiable information of a person
  who files a complaint with the office, information generated by the
  office in the course of an investigation, and confidential records
  obtained by the office are confidential and not subject to
  disclosure under Chapter 552, Government Code, except that the
  information and records, other than confidential information and
  records concerning a pending law enforcement investigation or
  criminal action, may be disclosed to the appropriate person if the
  office determines that disclosure is:
               (1)  in the general public interest;
               (2)  necessary to enable the office to perform the
  responsibilities provided under this section; or
               (3)  necessary to identify, prevent, or treat the abuse
  or neglect of a child.
         Sec. 41.057.  PROMOTION OF AWARENESS OF OFFICE. The office
  shall promote awareness among the public and the children and
  families receiving services from the department of:
               (1)  how the office may be contacted;
               (2)  the purpose of the office; and
               (3)  the services the office provides.
         Sec. 41.058.  RULEMAKING AUTHORITY. The office by rule
  shall establish policies and procedures for the operations of the
  office.
         Sec. 41.059.  AUTHORITY OF STATE AUDITOR. The office is
  subject to audit by the state auditor in accordance with Chapter
  321, Government Code.
  [Sections 41.060-41.100 reserved for expansion]
  SUBCHAPTER C. DUTIES AND POWERS
         Sec. 41.101.  DUTIES AND POWERS. (a) The office shall:
               (1)  review the procedures established by the
  department and evaluate the delivery of services to children and
  families to ensure that the rights of individuals receiving
  services are fully observed;
               (2)  review complaints filed with the office concerning
  the actions of the department and investigate each complaint in
  which it appears that an individual may be in need of assistance
  from the office;
               (3)  conduct investigations of complaints, other than
  complaints alleging criminal behavior, if the office determines
  that:
                     (A)  a child or the child's family may be in need
  of assistance from the office; or
                     (B)  a systemic issue in the department's
  provision of services is raised by a complaint;
               (4)  provide assistance to a child or family who the
  office determines is in need of assistance, including advocating
  with an agency, provider, or other person in the best interests of
  the child or family; and
               (5)  make appropriate referrals under any of the duties
  and powers listed in this subsection.
         (b)  To assess if an individual's rights have been violated,
  the office may, in any matter that does not involve alleged criminal
  behavior, contact or consult with an administrator, employee,
  child, parent, expert, or any other individual in the course of its
  investigation or to secure information.
         (c)  Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter,
  the office may not investigate alleged criminal behavior.
         Sec. 41.102.  TREATMENT OF EMPLOYEES WHO COOPERATE WITH
  OFFICE.  The commission and the department may not discharge or in
  any manner discriminate or retaliate against an employee who in
  good faith makes a complaint to the office or cooperates with the
  office in an investigation.
         Sec. 41.103.  TRAINING. The director or the director's
  designee may participate in appropriate professional training.
  [Sections 41.104-41.150 reserved for expansion]
  SUBCHAPTER D. ACCESS TO INFORMATION
         Sec. 41.151.  ACCESS TO INFORMATION OF GOVERNMENTAL
  ENTITIES. The commission and the department shall allow the office
  access to its records relating to the individuals receiving
  services from the department.
         SECTION 2.  As soon as practicable after the effective date
  of this Act, the governor shall appoint the director of the
  independent office of consumer affairs for the Department of Family
  and Protective Services as required by Section 41.051, Human
  Resources Code, as added by this Act, for a term expiring February
  1, 2011.
         SECTION 3.  On the effective date of this Act:
               (1)  all functions and activities performed by, and all
  records and property of, the center for consumer affairs of the
  Department of Family and Protective Services are transferred to the
  independent office of consumer affairs for that department as
  established under Chapter 41, Human Resources Code, as added by
  this Act;
               (2)  a reference in law to the center for consumer
  affairs of the Department of Family and Protective Services is a
  reference to the independent office of consumer affairs for that
  department as established under Chapter 41, Human Resources Code,
  as added by this Act; and
               (3)  an investigation being conducted by the center for
  consumer affairs of the Department of Family and Protective
  Services is transferred to and considered an investigation of the
  independent office of consumer affairs for that department as
  established under Chapter 41, Human Resources Code, as added by
  this Act.
         SECTION 4.  This Act takes effect September 1, 2009.