In this issue of the Texas Catholic Voice:

  • Executive Director Jennifer Carr Allmon addresses permit-less carry and death penalty bills...
  • Bills in Committee this week....

A Message from Jennifer Allmon, Executive Director

This is the first time in recent history Catholics have not gathered at the Capitol during the legislative session. That doesn’t mean we haven’t been seeking your advocacy in other ways! 

Last week included two action alerts. One urged opposition to bills which allow individuals over age 21 to carry a handgun without a permit. The bishops are committed to reasonable measures to reduce gun violence; removing the current requirement for a license to carry will cost lives. Firearms training is essential to the protection of gun owners and their families and for the safety of law enforcement. Unfortunately, the House passed HB 1927, which now goes to the Senate for consideration. Please contact your Senator and voice your opposition to HB 1927 here 

A second action alert last week supported reform of the Texas Advance Directives Act (TADA)For more than a decade, the TCCB and the Catholic Healthcare Association of Texas, with other coalition members, have sought reform of TADA to balance the rights of patients and their families with the conscience rights of healthcare providers. Contact your Senator and Representative here to support SB 1944/HB 3099, which reform the Texas Advance Directives Act, and to oppose SB 917/HB 2609, which require healthcare providers to provide medical interventions indefinitely, outside the standard of care, potentially harming patients and violating provider conscience. 

This week we will be testifying in support of two bills to limit use of the death penalty. HB 77, authored by Rep. Steve Toth, removes the use the of death penalty for defendants who are found guilty of a capital felony if the finding of guilt is based solely on the testimony of a single eyewitness without any corroborating evidence. HB 140, authored by Rep. Toni Rose, prohibits the sentence of death for a defendant who, at the time of the commission of a capital offense, had severe mental illness. In addition, we are supporting HB 869, which prohibits a defendant with an intellectual disability from being sentenced to death. We support these bills to reduce the use of the death penalty, while continuing to work for its abolition. 

Finally, we are very happy to report that both HB 1280, the Human Life Protection Act, and HB 2337, the Chemical Abortion Safety Protocol, were voted out of the Public Health Committee and are headed to the House floor. The FDA this week suspended the in-person requirement for the dispensation of chemical abortion drugs for the remainder of the pandemic, which makes the passage of HB 2337 this session extremely urgent. Please contact your representatives and urge them to support these important bills to protect the lives of the unborn and women.  

See below for a full list of bills we will be taking positions on this week. 

Bills In Committee Week of April 19

House Juvenile and Justice Committee, Monday at 9 a.m.

  • HB 4371 by Rep. Alma Allen raises the age of criminal responsibility. The TCCB supports this bill.

House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, Monday at 1 p.m.

  • HB 77 by Rep. Steve Toth removes the use of the death penalty based solely on single eyewitness without evidence. The TCCB supports this bill.
  • HB 140 by Rep. Toni Rose prohibits death penalty for a crime committed by a person with severe mental illness. The TCCB supports this bill.
  • HB 869 by Rep. Senfronia Thompson prohibits the death penalty for a person with an intellectual disability. The TCCB supports this bill.

House Environmental Regulation Committee, Monday at 2 p.m.

  • HB 289 by Rep. Nicole Collier supports improved transparency and community engagement in environmental planning and engagement. The TCCB supports this bill.

House Natural Resources Committee, Tuesday at 8 a.m.

  • HB 1143 by Rep. Ana-Maria Ramos requires publication of pathogen-related freshwater data to improve transparency about water pollutants in Texas. The TCCB supports this bill.
  • HB 2148 by Rep. Phil Stephenson requires notice of contamination of a public water supply. The TCCB supports this bill.

House Human Services Committee, Tuesday at 8 a.m.

  • HB 1664 by Rep. James White requires reinstatement of eligibility for medical assistance of certain children placed in juvenile facilities. The TCCB supports this bill.

House Public Education Committee, Tuesday at 8 a.m.

  • HB 4042 by Rep. Cole Hefner requires public school students to participate in sports based on biological sex. The TCCB supports this bill.

Senate Business and Commerce Committee, Tuesday at 8 a.m.

  • SB 1089 by Sen. Dawn Buckingham increases the maximum base reference amount for certain consumer loans. The TCCB opposes this bill.

Senate Criminal Justice Committee, Tuesday at 8:30 a.m.

  • SB 957 by Sen. Judith Zaffirini provides certain payments to assist the needs of crime victims. The TCCB supports this bill.
  • SB 280 by Sen. Chuy Hinojosa promotes accountability and good governance in the office representing death-sentenced persons. The TCCB supports this bill.

Senate Education Committee, Tuesday at 9 a.m.

  • SB 1716 by Sen. Larry Taylor provides supplemental special education instruction for certain public school students. The TCCB supports this bill.

House Insurance Committee, Tuesday at 10:30 a.m.

  • HB 1854 by Rep. Rafael Anchia requires death benefit plans to cover the cost of disposition of embryonic and fetal tissue remains. The TCCB supports this bill.

House Transportation Committee, Tuesday at 2 p.m.

  • HB 1367 by Rep. Celia Israel allows a vehicle used by a nonprofit disaster relief organization to be exempt from registration fees. The TCCB supports this bill.

House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee, Wednesday at 8 a.m.

  • SB 30 by Sen. Royce West allows for removal of discriminatory restrictions in property records. The TCCB supports this bill.

House Public Health Committee, Wednesday at 8 a.m.

  • HB 136 by Rep. Shawn Thierry allows for voluntary and confidential reporting of pregnancy-associated deaths and development of a maternal-mortality and morbidity registry. The TCCB supports this bill.

Senate Higher Education Committee, Wednesday at 8 a.m.

  • SB 1622 by Sen. Paul Bettencourt supports workforce development via a Tri-Agency Workforce Development Initiative. The TCCB supports this bill.

Senate Health and Human Services Committee, Wednesday at 8:30 a.m.

  • HB 119 by Rep. Brooks Landgraf and Sen. Judith Zaffirini prohibits organ transplant discrimination on the basis of certain disabilities. The TCCB supports this bill.
  • SB 1200 by Sen. Beverly Powell requires referral of certain pregnant women to a nurse-family partnership program. The CCB supports this bill.

Senate Natural Resources/Economic Development Committee, Thursday at 9 a.m.

  • SB 770 by Sen. Bryan Hughes promotes greater opportunities for the poor to access job training and achieve self-sufficiency. The TCCB supports this bill.

Upcoming Texas Executions

  • Quintin Jones - 5/19/21

Please join our bishops in praying for those scheduled for execution, for the victims of violent crimes and for all affected, including their families and communities. As the bishops of Texas wrote in their pastoral letter, "May God give us the grace to witness to the dignity of human life. May the Lord console the suffering, protect our community, and grant conversion to those responsible for the inflicting of death and violence upon others."

The execution of Ramiro Gonzales has been rescheduled from April 20 to November 17, 2021.

Prayer for the Legislature

Please pray for all our public servants and elected officials, including our Governor, Lt. Governor, House Speaker, lawmakers, and their staff, that the Lord may grant them wisdom and prudence to work for the common good of all the people of Texas.

The Texas Catholic Voice is a publication of the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops. For more information, write news@txcatholic.org or call 512-339-9882.