Sec. 341.049: Administrative Penalty

(a) If a person causes, suffers, allows, or permits a violation of this subchapter or a rule or order adopted under this subchapter, the commission may assess a penalty against that person as provided by this section. The penalty shall not be less than $50 and not more than $5,000 for each violation. Each day of a continuing violation may be considered a separate violation.

(b) In determining the amount of the penalty, the commission shall consider:

(1) the nature of the circumstances and the extent, duration, and gravity of the prohibited acts or omissions;

(2) with respect to the alleged violator:

(A) the history and extent of previous violations;

(B) the degree of culpability, including whether the violation was attributable to mechanical or electrical failures and whether the violation could have been reasonably anticipated and avoided;

(C) the person's demonstrated good faith, including actions taken by the person to correct the cause of the violation;

(D) any economic benefit gained through the violation; and

(E) the amount necessary to deter future violation; and

(3) any other matters that justice requires.

(c) If, after examination of a possible violation and the facts surrounding that possible violation, the executive director of the commission concludes that a violation has occurred, the executive director may issue a preliminary report stating the facts on which that conclusion is based, recommending that a penalty under this section be imposed on the person, and recommending the amount of that proposed penalty. The executive director shall base the recommended amount of the proposed penalty on the factors provided by Subsection (b) and shall consider each factor for the benefit of the commission.

(d) Not later than the 10th day after the date on which the preliminary report is issued, the executive director of the commission shall give written notice of the report to the person charged with the violation. The notice shall include a brief summary of the charges, a statement of the amount of the penalty recommended, and a statement of the right of the person charged to a hearing on the occurrence of the violation, the amount of the penalty, or both.

(e) Not later than the 20th day after the date on which notice is received, the person charged may give the commission written consent to the executive director's report including the recommended penalty or may make a written request for a hearing.

(f) If the person charged with the violation consents to the penalty recommended by the executive director of the commission or fails to timely respond to the notice, the commission by order shall assess that penalty or order a hearing to be held on the findings and recommendations in the executive director's report. If the commission assesses a penalty, the commission shall give written notice of its decision to the person charged.

(g) If the person charged requests or the commission orders a hearing, the commission shall call a hearing and give notice of the hearing. As a result of the hearing, the commission by order may find that a violation has occurred and may assess a civil penalty, may find that a violation has occurred but that no penalty should be assessed, or may find that no violation has occurred. All proceedings under this subsection are subject to Chapter 2001, Government Code. In making any penalty decision, the commission shall consider each of the factors provided by Subsection (b).

(h) The commission shall give notice of its decision to the person charged, and if the commission finds that a violation has occurred and the commission has assessed a penalty, the commission shall give written notice to the person charged of its findings, of the amount of the penalty, and of the person's right to judicial review of the commission's order. If the commission is required to give notice of a penalty under this subsection or Subsection (f), the commission shall file notice of its decision with the Texas Register not later than the 10th day after the date on which the decision is adopted.

(i) Within a 30-day period immediately following the day on which the commission's order is final, as provided by Subchapter F, Chapter 2001, Government Code, the person charged with the penalty shall:

(1) pay the penalty in full; or

(2) if the person seeks judicial review of the fact of the violation, the amount of the penalty, or both:

(A) forward the amount of the penalty to the commission for placement in an escrow account; or

(B) post with the commission a supersedeas bond in a form approved by the commission for the amount of the penalty to be effective until all judicial review of the order or decision is final.

(j) If the person charged fails to forward the money for escrow or post the bond as provided by Subsection (i), the commission or the executive director of the commission may refer the matter to the attorney general for enforcement.

Comments

Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 353, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1993. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 76, Sec. 5.95(49), (59), eff. Sept. 1, 1995; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1010, Sec. 6.23, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

Amended by:

Acts 2019, 86th Leg., R.S., Ch. 519 (S.B. 530), Sec. 2, eff. September 1, 2019.