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RULE §1.13Contested Case Hearing Procedures

(a) Purpose. The purpose of this section is to provide procedures for contested case hearings. This section does not apply to matters such as appeals to the Board of staff decisions or waivers, and this section does not in itself create any right to a contested case hearing, but merely provides the process to be used for contested case hearings that are otherwise expressly provided for by law or rule.

(b) SOAH Designation. The Governing Board (the Board) of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (the Department) designates the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) to hold all contested case hearings on the Board's behalf.

(c) Initiation of Hearing.

  (1) Upon request from the Board or upon receipt of a pleading or other document that is intended to initiate a contested case proceeding, the Department shall determine if a contested case hearing is indicated under the relevant statutory provisions and rules. If so, staff will mark the file as a pending proceeding and refer the matter to SOAH for hearing generally within 45 calendar days, or such other lesser time as an applicable state or federal statute, rule, or regulation may require. The Department will notify the opposing party of any delay.

  (2) SOAH shall acquire jurisdiction over a case when the Department completes and files a Request to Docket Case form or other form acceptable to SOAH, together with the notice of report to the Board required under Tex. Gov't. Code §2306.043 or other pertinent documents giving rise to the case. Once SOAH acquires jurisdiction, all subsequent documents created, sent, or received in connection with the proceeding that SOAH requires to be filed with it are to be filed with SOAH, with appropriate service upon the opposing party in accordance with this section and the rules of SOAH.

  (3) Except upon a showing of good cause or as an applicable statute or federal regulation may require, all contested case hearings in which the Department is a party shall be held at the location so determined by SOAH.

  (4) Nothing in this subchapter shall in any way limit, alter, or abridge the ability of the Department to enter into mediation or alternative dispute resolution at any time prior to or after the holding of the administrative hearing but prior to the adoption by the Board of a final order.

(d) Service of Notice of Hearing, Pleadings and Other Documents on Parties.

  (1) Service of a notice of hearing or of pleadings or other documents shall be made electronically using the EFileTexas system (found at efiletexas.gov). If EFileTexas is not available to a party, hand delivery, courier-receipted delivery, regular first class mail or certified mail to the party's last known address as shown on the Department's records, in accordance with §1.22 of this Title (relating to Providing Contact Information to the Department) shall be used.

  (2) Service of pleadings and other documents shall be made in any manner provided for in SOAH rules.

(e) Proposal for Decision.

  (1) After the conclusion of a hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) shall prepare and serve on the parties a proposal for decision that includes the ALJ's findings of fact and conclusions of law, as modified by the ALJ's addressing of any exceptions and replies to exceptions timely filed with the ALJ in accordance with Tex. Gov't. Code §2001.062 and SOAH rules. The Executive Director shall place the proposal for decision and a proposed final order on the Board's agenda for discussion and possible action at a subsequent meeting of the Board.

  (2) At a meeting of the Board where the proposed final order may be adopted, parties may provide testimony based on the record only, for changes to the proposal for decision or the proposed final order. No new evidence shall be submitted at the Board meeting. The Board may, on its own motion, remand to SOAH for any additional fact finding it determines is necessary, or, the Board may change a finding of fact or conclusion of law made by the ALJ, but only for reasons stated in Tex. Gov't. Code §2001.058(e). The Board may adopt a final order if it finds that the findings of fact and conclusions of law are supported by the evidence. Motions for rehearing may be filed and served in accordance with the Tex. Gov't. Code Chapter 2001 and the rules of SOAH.

(f) Disposition of Contested Cases on a Default Basis.

  (1) In contested cases where the party not bearing the burden of proof at the hearing fails to appear, the ALJ may issue an order finding that adequate notice has been given, deeming factual allegations in the notice of hearing admitted, if appropriate, conditionally dismissing the case from the SOAH docket, and conditionally remanding the case to TDHCA for disposition on a default basis. Pursuant to SOAH rules, a party has 15 calendar days after the issuance of a conditional order of dismissal and remand to file with SOAH a motion to set aside the order of dismissal and remand. On the sixteenth day after issuance, if no motion to set aside has been timely filed or if such a motion to set aside is not granted within the time limits provided for in SOAH's rules, the conditional order of dismissal and remand becomes final.

  (2) When the order of dismissal and remand is final, the Executive Director shall prepare a proposed order for the Board's action containing findings of fact, as set forth in the notice of hearing, conclusions of law, and granting the relief requested by staff. The matter shall be placed on the Board's agenda for discussion and possible action at a subsequent meeting. Although public testimony is allowed, argument and evidence on the merits will not be considered at the Board meeting. Motions for rehearing shall be filed and served in accordance with Tex. Gov't. Code Chapter 2001 and the rules of SOAH.

Source Note: The provisions of this §1.13 adopted to be effective May 8, 2022, 47 TexReg 2512

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