AUSTIN – Texas State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, filed four pieces of legislation today, including an omnibus bill to improve public data privacy and enhance the state’s cybersecurity efforts.  

"Texans must be able to trust that their data is secure when in the hands of government agencies. SB 475 prevents unauthorized dissemination of our data, strengthens confidentiality standards and ramps up our cyber defense," Senator Nelson said. "As we have seen with recent data breaches, the bad actors are becoming more sophisticated in their attack and are a clear and present danger to Texas. We have to stay ahead of the threat."

Cybersecurity & Public Data Privacy: SB 475 reflects a portion of the work of the Texas Privacy Protection Advisory Council, established last session and co-chaired by Senator Nelson. Specifically, it:

  • Prevents state agencies from acquiring, retaining, or disseminating data used to identify an individual or the individual's location without written consent;
  • Prohibits agencies from using bio markers, GPS or other technology to gather data about citizens without consent;
  • Creates the Texas Volunteer Incident Response Team (TVIRT) to provide rapid response assistance during a cybersecurity event and directs DIR to determine appropriate training and qualifications of volunteers;
  • Authorizes the creation of a pilot regional network security operations center (SOC) that will partner with institutions of higher education to assist in providing cybersecurity support and network security to state agencies and other eligible entities;
  • Establishes a Cloud Computing State Risk and Authorization Management Program to provide consistency and security for cloud computing services. 
  • Requires DIR to ensure each vendor is complying with state risk and authorization requirements before entering into a contract;. 
  • Requires each state agency with more than 150 full time employees (FTEs) to designate a data management officer, identify data assets and implement DIR-developed best practices for managing and securing data.  
  • Establishes data classification, security, and retention requirements to better understand what data the state is holding and better secure that data.

Senator Nelson also filed the following bills:

Sexual Assault Response Teams: SB 476 directs the establishment of Sexual Assault Response Teams (SARTs), multi-disciplinary teams that collaborate in sexual assault cases. "When sexual assault occurs, we need to bring all community resources to bear to meet the needs of survivors. This bill will promote a collaborative response throughout the state," Senator Nelson said.  

Wayfair Clean-up: SB 477 aligns the Tax Code so that collection requirements for marketplace providers are in line with those applicable to other types of sellers. Senator Nelson sponsored legislation last session allowing Texas to collect online sales tax in compliance with the Supreme Court's Wayfair decision. "This is a cleanup bill to update the work we did last session on online sales tax collections — which has proven to be a critical component of our fiscal resilience in the face of the ongoing pandemic," Senator Nelson said.

College Transcripts: SB 478 modifies the Tax Code to exempt private universities from the requirement that sales tax be collected on the purchase of an academic transcript to match the exception in place for students at our public universities. "Scholars should not be subjected to sales tax when they request their hard-earned academic transcript. By applying the same sales tax exemption to private universities as public universities, we can remove a barrier for individuals looking to continue their education — or join the workforce," Senator Nelson said.

Lawmakers may file legislation through March 12, 2021. Previous bills filed by Senator Nelson can be found here.

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