In this issue of the Texas Catholic Voice:
- Bills making progress...
- Bills in committee this week ...
- And more!
A Message from Jennifer Allmon, Executive Director
Thank you to everyone who participated in Catholic Advocacy Day on Tuesday. We had a fantastic turnout at the rally, and the Catholic school students did a phenomenal job in their mock hearings on payday lending. Delegates from the arch/dioceses visited with their legislators to advocate for parental choice, child protection, expanded postpartum Medicaid coverage, and abolishing the death penalty for the severely mentally ill.
By all accounts, legislators and their staff were welcoming, transparent, and open to finding common ground on issues such as parental choice in education. The bishops had breakfast with the governor, positive meetings with the lieutenant governor and speaker, were recognized in the Senate and the House and warmly cheered at the rally. I am grateful to them for their leadership and for meeting with legislators.
I also want to thank the Advocacy Day coordinators from each arch/diocese who did a fantastic job of preparing their delegates and studying the issues, and the teachers, principals, and superintendents who brought their students to learn about the legislative process and how the Church engages in the public square to advance her mission. Last but not least, we are deeply grateful to the Popolo family of Dallas and EdChoice for sponsoring lunch. Pok-e-Jo's was a big hit!
Progress on important bills
We have great news for moms and babies and their families! Last Monday, Sen. Kolkhorst’s SB 24 passed out of the Senate and Rep. Rose’s HB 12 was unanimously voted out of committee. SB 24 consolidates the Alternatives to Abortion and Prevention and Early Intervention programs under one umbrella, Family Support Services, to establish an integrated continuum of care system of programs providing family support services to at-risk families. HB 12 expands Medicaid coverage for postpartum women to 12 months to help address maternal mortality and morbidity in Texas.
We are also pleased to report that Rep. Rose’s HB 727 which abolishes the use of the death penalty for the severely mentally ill passed to third reading in the House last Wednesday. The final vote in the House will be this Wednesday and if favorable, the bill will move to the Senate for their consideration.
Among our other priorities from Advocacy Day are bills that help to close loopholes in the state’s background check system, which currently allows different levels of access for different types of entities. We supported and offered testimony for SB 1849 and SB 1469 in the Senate and next week in the House we will testify in support of HB 3199. It’s great to have these critically important child protection bills advancing early. There are a few more which we hope will be set for hearing soon.
Finally Sen. Creighton’s parental choice bill, SB 8, was voted out of committee and will be debated on the Senate floor. Contact your Senator and ask them to support SB 8, which we expect to be on the floor soon.
I pray that everyone has a blessed Holy Week as we prepare to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
Bills in Committee April 3-7
Please contact your legislators to indicate your position on these bills. Click on the link below for Who Represents Me to obtain their contact information.
House Public Health Committee, Monday, 9 A.M.
HB 4058 by Rep. Cortez allows a public or private primary or secondary school, or a private or independent institution of higher education to adopt a policy regarding the administration of opioid antagonists to a person who is reasonably believed to be experiencing an opioid-related drug overdose on a school campus or at an off-campus event. The TCCB supports this bill to allow public and private schools the ability to administer life-saving medication in cases of opioid related drug overdoses.
Senate State Affairs Committee, Monday, 9:30 A.M.
SB 417 by Sen. Paxton requires manufacturers of electronic devices to have a filter for explicit material that is opt-in rather than opt-out and prohibits persons from disabling the filter on devices sold to minors with a civil penalty for enforcement. The TCCB supports this bill to reduce access to pornography.
SB 1711 by Sen. Perry requires an institution of higher learning not take any action against a student organization or deny any benefit available to other student organizations at the institution on the basis of political, religious, philosophical, ideological, or academic viewpoints expressed by the organization or any "requirement of the organization that the organization's leaders or members affirm and adhere to the organization's sincerely held religious beliefs or further the organization's mission or purpose." The TCCB supports this bill to ensure protection of religious liberty of student organizations.
SB 2021 by Sen. Paxton defines several terms related to "sexual material harmful to minors" and provides that a commercial entity that knowingly and intentionally publishes or distributes material on a website (including social media sites) of which more than one third is sexual material harmful to minors, shall use reasonable age verification methods to verify individuals attempting to access the information are 18 years or older. A commercial entity that violates this law will be liable to the parent of the minor for damages and to the individual if they retain identifying information after access has been granted. It also requires warnings to be posted on the website about the potential damages of watching pornography with resources for seeking help with an addiction. The TCCB supports this bill to protect children from viewing sexual material that is harmful to children.
SJR 70 by Sen. Hughes proposes a constitutional amendment would protect the liberty of parents to direct the upbringing of their child as a fundamental right, including the right to direct the care, custody, control, education, moral and religious training, and medical care of the child. States or political subdivisions would be prohibited from interfering with those rights unless it is essential to furthering a compelling governmental interest and is narrowly tailored to accomplish that interest. The TCCB supports this bill to protect parental rights.
SB 1281 by Sen. Hughes repeals the OmniBase program to allow for renewal of licenses regardless of ability to pay fines. The TCCB supports this bill to allow more Texans to keep and find employment by having the ability to drive to work.
House Higher Education Committee, Monday, 10 A.M.
HB 400 by Rep. Klick creates a psychiatric specialty innovation grant program to award grants to medical schools for residents specializing in adult and pediatric psychiatric care. The TCCB supports this bill to increase the workforce in Texas for mental health care.
HB 1142 by Rep. Thierry provides prioritization in admission, financial aid applications, on-campus or off- campus housing, food and meal programs and counseling programs for students who are homeless. The TCCB supports this bill to help homeless youth in pursuit of higher education.
HB 1323 by Rep. Talarico creates an outreach program so students in the care of DFPS in grades 9-12 are aware of benefits available to them at public institutions of higher education. TCCB supports this initiative to provide resources to youth who are aging out of foster care.
HB 1474 by Rep. Guillen requires public universities and colleges to provide pregnancy accommodations to pregnant students and ensures that pregnant and parenting college students are not discriminated against by university or college policy. The TCCB supports this bill to assist pregnant and parenting college students in continuing their post-secondary education.
House Select on Youth Health & Safety Committee, Monday, 2:30 P.M., OR ADJ.
HB 1927 by Rep. Hull requires a peace officer who takes a person into custody to use age-appropriate trauma-informed practices. It also gives parents the right to take custody of the child and voluntarily seek treatment for the child from a provider of the person's choice. It prohibits a peace officer from placing the child under emergency detention without first trying to contact the child's parent. Finally, it prohibits the use of handcuffs, electrical devices, chemical agents or any other similar devices on a child 10 years or younger. The TCCB supports this bill to ensure children are not needlessly restrained in schools and peace officers use best practices when taking a child into custody.
House Human Services Committee, Tuesday, 8 A.M.
HB 2010 by Rep. Hefner allows a child to be delivered to a designated emergency infant care provider by placing the child in a newborn safety device equipped with an alarm and located inside the provider's facilities. The TCCB supports this bill to provide an anonymous and safe process for mothers who voluntarily surrender custody of their newborns.
HB 2337 by Rep. Oliverson broadens the definition of behavioral health services provided under Medicaid to include intensive outpatient services and partial hospitalization services. The TCCB supports this bill to expand access to mental health care for Medicaid recipients.
HB 3199 by Rep. Noble allows child serving organizations to use the pre-employment affidavit that is used for applicants for jobs in public and private schools which requires applicants to discuss whether they ever been charged with, adjudicated for, or convicted of having an inappropriate relationship with a minor. The TCCB supports expanding access to this effective tool in deterring child predators from employment in child-serving organizations.
House Insurance Committee, Tuesday, 8 A.M.
HB 687 by Rep. Cole extends the enrollment period for newborns under certain employer health benefit plans from 31 days to 60 days. The TCCB supports this bill to give families more time to assess health coverage options for their newborns.
House Public Education Committee, Tuesday, 8 A.M.
HB 2411 by Rep. Talarico allows a public or private school to develop a policy to administer opioid antagonists to a person experiencing an apparent opioid-related drug overdose. The TCCB supports this bill to allow public and private schools the ability to administer life-saving medication in cases of opioid related drug overdoses.
HB 2891 by Rep. Talarico allows glucagon medication to be prescribed in the name of a school district or private school and allows a public or private school to adopt and implement a policy regarding the administration of glucagon medication for the treatment of extremely low blood sugar. The TCCB supports this bill to allow schools to administer lifesaving medication for students with extremely low blood sugar.
Senate Business and Commerce Committee, Tuesday, 8:30 A.M.
SB 814 by Sen. Creighton, known as the Texas Regulatory Consistency Act, precludes municipalities or counties from adopting or enforcing an ordinance, order, rule, or policy in a field occupied by provisions of the following codes unless explicitly authorized by statute: Agriculture, Finance, Insurance, Labor, Natural Resources, Occupations. Any person adversely affected by a violation can bring a cause of action and is entitled to declaratory and injunctive relief and costs and reasonable attorney's fees. The TCCB opposes this bill which would undermine the work of local communities to address local issues, including payday lending ordinances.
House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee. Tuesday, 10:30 A.M. or ADJ.
HB 909 by Rep. Moody allows for the motion to adjust an inmate's sentence on motion of the attorney representing the state. The bill would apply to inmates who are 50 years of age or older who have served at least 15 years of imprisonment for a felony or who are 35 years or younger than 50 but have served at least 20 years for a felony. A court must grant the motion unless they find by "clear and convincing" evidence that the inmate's release would result in an unreasonable risk to the physical safety of the community. The TCCB supports this bill to promote restorative justice.
HB 1739 by Rep. Leach provides victims of sexual assault with more rights for information about evidence, prosecutors’ decision processes, and plea bargains. The TCCB supports this bill to provide victim survivors with more information on prosecutions of their perpetrators.
HB 2700 by Rep. Guillen amends the penal code regarding the possession or promotion of child pornography to include in the definition of "visual material" any depiction of a child who is recognizable as an actual person by the person's face, likeness or other distinguishing characteristic and whose image was used to create computer-generated visual material using artificial intelligence or other computer software. The TCCB supports this bill to protect children from digital victimization.
House Select on Community Safety Committee, Tuesday, 2 P.M. or ADJ.
HB 3266 by Rep. Fraizer prohibits the possession, manufacture, transport, repair, or sale of a device designed and intended to make a handgun capable of automatically shooting more than one shot without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger. The TCCB supports this as a reasonable measure to reduce gun violence.
HB 3938 by Rep. Moody requires persons convicted of family violence, felonies, or subject to a protective or emergency protection orders to dispose of all firearms in their ownership, possession, or control. The TCCB supports this bill as a reasonable measure to reduce gun violence.
House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee, Wednesday, 8 A.M.
HB 2846 by Rep. Cain prohibits the state bar from discriminating against an applicant's ability to obtain or renew a law license based on a sincerely held religious belief or burden an applicant's free exercise of religion or freedom of expression by a rule or policy unless there is a compelling government purpose, narrowly tailored to accomplish that purpose or restricts expressions of bias or prejudice in connection to a judicatory proceeding. The TCCB supports this bill to protect religious freedom of attorneys.
House Pensions/Investments/Financial Services Committee, Wednesday, 8 A.M.
HB 225 by Rep. Murr increases the maximum reference base amount for certain consumer loans from $200 to $300. The TCCB opposes this bill because it would broaden the number of loans subject to the acquisition charge and installment account handling charge in cash advances.
Senate Health and Human Services Committee, Wednesday, 8:30 A.M.
SB 188 by Sen. Miles requires an owner or operator of a group home to obtain the criminal history record information maintained by DPS on each individual who is an applicant for employment with or an employee of the group home. An owner or operator may not hire or continue to employ an individual for certain serious convictions (e.g., kidnapping, trafficking, sexual offenses, assault). Failure to comply would be a Class A misdemeanor. The TCCB supports this bill to protect residents of group homes and prevent human trafficking.
House Juvenile Justice and Family Issues Committee, Wednesday, 10:30 A.M. or ADJ.
HB 491 by Rep. Wu changes the age at which a juvenile court may exercise jurisdiction over a child from 10 to 12. A child younger than 12 years of age must be released from custody unless the child poses an immediate threat to public safety or to the child's own safety. It provides for a jurisdictional hearing for a child younger than 12 years of age on the request of a party to determine whether to retain jurisdiction. The TCCB supports this bill to ensure that minors are not punished under the adult justice system.
HB 506 by Rep. Wu prohibits the use of a mechanical or physical restraint on a child during judicial processing and any restraint must be removed before the child's appearance in court unless the court finds that it is necessary, there is history of disruptive behavior, a substantial risk of flight, and it is the least restrictive restraint. The TCCB supports this bill to promote procedural fairness for youth in juvenile courts.
Daily House Calendar
Monday – 2nd Reading
HB 1599 by Rep. Bucy allows the HHS Commission to verify income using eligibility for assistance under a public assistance program (like SNAP) as part of the eligibility for Medicaid and CHIP. The TCCB supports this bill to provide quicker access to health care for eligible families in Texas.
Tuesday – 2nd Reading
HB 456 by Rep. Craddick allows charitable organizations to be exempt from property tax of royalty interests they own.
Wednesday – 3rd Reading, 9 A.M.
HB 727 by Rep. Rose bill prohibits the death sentence of a defendant who, at the time of the commission of a capital offense, was a person experiencing severe mental illness. The TCCB supports this bill to abolish the use of the death penalty on persons with mental illness.
Thursday – 2nd Reading
HB 1 by Rep. Bonnen is the General Appropriations Bill for the next biennium.
Senate Intent Calendar
SB 14 by Sen. Campbell prohibits the use of state funds for gender transitioning, reassignment or treatments for children. The TCCB supports this legislation which prevents the advancement of gender ideology and protects children from harm.
SB 459 by Sen. Paxton allows for early registration for parenting students at public institutions of higher learning. TCCB supports this bill to aid parenting students.
SB 798 by Sen. Middleton states that certificates as a school counselor may not require that a candidate have experience as a classroom teacher. The TCCB supports this bill to improve student access to counseling and mental health resources.
SB 959 by Sen. Campbell includes open-enrollment charter schools in the definition of "governmental entity" regarding the prohibition of governmental entities entering into taxpayer resource transactions with an abortion provider or affiliate. The TCCB supports this bill to prohibit contracts between charter schools and abortion providers or their affiliates.
SB 1601 by Sen. Hughes states that a municipal library may not receive state funds if they host an event where a man presents as a woman or a woman presents as a man to read a story to a minor or entertain and the person dressing as the opposite gender is the primary component of the entertainment. The TCCB supports this bill to oppose the advancement of gender ideology, especially in places where young children are involved.
Ivan Cantu, April 26
We are grateful a Texas court granted a stay of execution for Anibel Canales this past week. The Texas bishops ask for clemency for everyone on death row and pray for the abolition of the death penalty.
Pope Francis' prayer intention for April
For a culture of peace and non-violence
We pray for the spread of peace and non-violence, by decreasing the use of weapons by States and citizens.
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.