In this issue of the Texas Catholic Voice:

  • Executive Director Jennifer Carr Allmon discusses pro-life and end of life bills...

A Message from Jennifer Allmon, Executive Director

We hope everyone had a peaceful and joyful Easter. Please take note that next week we will be switching to a Monday edition of the Voice for the remainder of the legislative session.

An intense week of hearings on critical legislation in both the House and Senate is underway. We will be testifying in the House Committee on Public Health in support of the Human Life Protection Act, HB 1280, authored by Rep. Gio Capriglione and the Chemical Abortion Safety Protocol, HB 2337, authored by Rep. Stephanie Klick. We are also supporting HB 1515, the Heartbeat Act, and HB 3218, which prohibits discriminatory abortions, as well as HB 1173 which prohibits governmental entities from funding any logistical support, such as transportation and child care, to assist a woman with procurement of an abortion.

Senate Health and Human Services will be hearing two bills related to the Texas Advance Directives Act, SB 917 and SB 1944. Bishop Michael Olson of the Diocese of Fort Worth will be testifying in opposition to SB 917 which requires health care providers to provide medical interventions indefinitely that they deem inappropriate at the request of a family member or surrogate decision maker. The TCCB opposes this bill because it harms patients and violates the conscience rights of providers. Bishop Olson will be testifying in support of SB 1944, which increases the number of days families have to transfer a patient to another facility, establishes ethics committee composition and decision criteria, and ensures protection against disability-based discrimination. The TCCB supports this reform to the Texas Advances Directives Act to better safeguard both the rights of patients and their families and the conscience rights of healthcare providers.

We will also be testifying in support of Rep. Jeff Leach’s HB 1340 which eliminates the “law of parties” for the death penalty. Under current Texas law, a person can be sentenced to death based on the criminal responsibility for conduct of another rather than their own conduct and intent. We support this bill to restrict the use of the death penalty.

Finally, we testified Tuesday morning in Senate State Affairs in support of  Sen. Drew Springer’s SB 572 which requires inpatient healthcare providers to allow patients access to clergy during a public health emergency with special consideration for those receiving end of life care. Patient access to clergy and spiritual care in healthcare settings is an integral part of holistic care for the person. While doctors treat ailments of the body, clergy minister to the soul. Both are needed. Both are essential.

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

Bills in Committee Week of April 6

 

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

  • HB 2990 by Rep. Penny Morales Shaw requires environmental and water use permit applications to be available online. The TCCB supports this bill.

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

  • HB 2633 by Rep. Ann Johnson provides resources to and establishes a trafficked persons grant program. The TCCB supports this bill.
  • HB 3691 by Rep. James Frank requires implementation of community-based foster care. The TCCB supports this bill.

Senate State Affairs Committee, Tuesday at 9 a.m.

  • SB 185 by Sen. Charles Perry requires final order for suits affecting parent-child relationship to be rendered within 90 days to finalize guardianship issues. The TCCB supports this bill.
  • SB 572 by Sen. Drew Springer requires patient access to clergy during state of disaster. The TCCB supports this bill.

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

  • HB 3752 by Rep. James Frank establishes a Texas Mutual Health Coverage Plan. The TCCB supports this bill.

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

  • HB 688 by Rep. Harold Dutton eliminates the “law of parties” in a capital murder case. The TCCB supports this bill.
  • HB 1340 by Rep. Jeff Leach eliminates the “law of parties” for the death penalty. The TCCB supports this bill.

House Corrections Committee, Wednesday at 8 a.m.

  • HB 721 by Rep. Terry Wilson requires notice of release of certain inmates to victims or family members. The TCCB supports this bill.
  • HB 841 by Rep. Joe Moody improves transparency and justice in clemency hearings. The TCCB supports this bill.
  • HB 1894 by Rep. James White requires identification of persons to recommend for the purposes of granting clemency. The TCCB supports this bill.
  • HB 2352 by Rep. Tan Parker supports an educational and vocational pilot training program for inmates and releasees. The TCCB supports this bill.
  • HB 2742 by Rep. Ron Reynolds supports reentry and reintegration plans for TDCJ programs. The TCCB supports this bill.

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

  • HB 1280 by Rep. Giovanni Capriglione prohibits abortion to the extent allowed under SCOTUS precedent. The TCCB supports this bill.
  • HB 1515 by Rep. Shelby Slawson prohibits performing an abortion on a pregnant woman if a fetal heartbeat is detected. The TCCB supports this bill.
  • HB 2337 by Rep. Stephanie Klick regulates drug-induced abortion procedures. The TCCB supports this bill.
  • HB 2676 by Rep. Greg Bonnen creates an optional filing of a record of life and certificate of stillbirth. The TCCB supports this bill.
  • HB 3218 by Rep. Matt Schaefer requires providing perinatal palliative care information and prohibits discriminatory abortions. The TCCB supports this bill.

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

  • SB 910 by Sen. Charles Schwertner implements community-based family preservation services. The TCCB supports this bill.
  • SB 917 by Rep. Bryan Hughes requires indefinite treatment of dying patients and violates freedom of conscience of doctors by requiring them to perform non-beneficial treatment they believe is unethical. The TCCB opposes this bill.
  • SB 1146 by Sen. Charles Perry establishes monthly reporting requirements for abortions performed outside a facility. The TCCB supports this bill.
  • SB 1944 by Sen. Eddie Lucio amends the Texas Advance Directives Act to increase to 21 the number of days families have to transfer a patient, establishes ethics committee and decision criteria, and provides protection against disability-based discrimination. The TCCB supports this bill.

Senate Finance Committee, Wednesday at 9 a.m.

  • SB 330 by Sen. Eddie Lucio exempts from ad valorem taxation for property owned by a charitable organization that aids persons with substance use disorders. The TCCB supports this bill.

Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee, Wednesday at 10:30 a.m.

  • HB 985 by Rep. DeWayne Burns requires inclusion of human trafficking prevention in driver education curriculum. The TCCB supports this bill.

House Urban Affairs Committee, Wednesday at 10:30 a.m.

  • HB 1196 by Rep. Gina Hinojosa requires adoption of process to verify a person’s status as a homeless individual and issuance of IDs. The TCCB supports this bill.
  • HB 2405 by Rep. Eddie Rodriguez protects the religious liberty of churches to serve the homeless by prohibiting certain municipal zoning or land use ordinances. The TCCB supports this bill.

House State Affairs Committee, Thursday at 8 a.m.

  • HB 1173 by Rep. Candy Noble prohibits government entities from funding any logistical support for abortions. The TCCB supports this bill.

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

  • SB 49 by Sen. Judith Zaffirini requires a written report regarding a defendant suspected of having a mental illness or intellectual disability. The TCCB supports this bill.
  • SB 512 by Sen. Charles Perry promotes youth diversion programs. The TCCB supports this bill.
  • SB 685 by Sen. Eddie Lucio improves transparency and justice in clemency hearings. The TCCB supports this bill.
  • SB 698 by Sen. Bryan Hughes allows court to grant a new trial in certain criminal cases. The TCCB supports this bill.

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

  • SB 1166 by Sen. Donna Campbell supports improved public participation in environmental planning decisions that impact schools, places of worship, daycares, and hospitals. The TCCB supports this bill.

Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee, Friday at 9:30 a.m.

  • HB 1655 by Rep. Shawn Thierry prohibits a person younger than 18 years of age from being on the premises of a sexually oriented business. The TCCB supports this bill.
  • HB 2285 by Rep. Tan Parker prohibits minors on the premises of a sexually oriented business. The TCCB supports this bill.
  • HB 3520 by Rep. Todd Hunter prohibits an individual younger than 18 from being on the premises of a sexually oriented business. The TCCB supports this bill.

Upcoming Texas Executions

  • Ramiro Gonzales - 4/20/21

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."

 

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.