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Texas House Holds First Hearing on Payroll Fraud

There's still plenty of work to do, but supporters of a crackdown on payroll fraud in Texas got a big boost yesterday when the Texas Association of Business (TAB) said it would not oppose the effort. Cathy DeWitt with TAB said in a House hearing that the powerful business group agrees with the concept, but they have some problems with the bill filed by Representative Joe Deshotel, D-Beaumont.

Among other things, DeWitt said the amount of fines for payroll fraud shouldn't be written into a new law, but instead the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) should use its rulemaking process and take complaints on a case-by-case basis. 

I spoke with Representative Deshotel after the hearing and he said he has a lot of work to do when it comes to coordinating with the TWC on this issue. "I will keep visiting with them. We have to deal with what we have. I've been working with TAB and you know the other people who testified, and I think it's an enforcement issue and not an amount-of-the-fine issue," Deshotel said. "I think the problem is people following up on complaints. That would be the agency. So we're going to work with the agency to see if they need additional resources and what's their structure...I think those are things that need to be worked out," he said.

There are two other bills filed on this: One by Senator John Carona and one by Representative John Davis. Deshotel says the way this might play out is that he could simply end up supporting those bills instead of the one he filed. "It's not a matter of pride but an issue that needs to be corrected," he said.

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