In this issue of the Texas Catholic Voice:

  • Executive Director Jennifer Carr Allmon addresses bills on juvenile justice and public assistance...

A Message from Jennifer Allmon, Executive Director

This is a special Wednesday edition of the Voice, since we will be away from the office for the Easter Triduum. We are thrilled to report this week that several pro-life bills we support have passed out of Senate. These include our top priorities, the Chemical Abortion Safety Protocol (SB 394) and the Human Life Protection Act (SB 9). We have great hope that these bills which provide further protections for women and unborn children, will become law.

On Monday we provided testimony for Rep. Jasmine Crockett’s HB 3315 which creates a pretrial intervention program for certain youth offenders. While the Church recognizes the need to promote justice and redress for crimes, approximately 40,000 children (age 10-16) are annually referred to juvenile probation in Texas, the gateway to the youth justice system. This “school-to-prison pipeline” continues to over-rely on harsh “zero tolerance” policies that disproportionately impact youth of color and youth with special needs. The TCCB supports this bill to promote diversion and rehabilitation for non-violent juvenile offenders so they may become productive members of society.

We also testified this week in support of Rep. Candy Noble’s HB 1886 which requires the Legislative Budget Board to study welfare programs available in the state for the purpose of streamlining eligibility requirements, resources and services to improve outcomes for beneficiaries and reduce costs for taxpayers. Currently in Texas, some programs may restrict economic mobility and neglect financial stability. The benefits system must be reformed to incentivize work while preventing a benefit cliff which results in families remaining in—or re-entering—poverty. We believe the state can design assistance programs that provide for our most poor and vulnerable while encouraging respect for the dignity of work and increasing self-sufficiency. For a full list of bills we took positions on this week, see the list below.

We wish everyone a happy and holy Easter and we continue to ask for your prayers as we represent the Church in matters of public policy.

Bills in Committee Week of March 29

House Juvenile Justice and Families Issue Committee, Monday at 10 a.m.

  • HB 3315 by Rep. Jasmine Crockett creates a pretrial intervention program for youth. The TCCB supports this bill.

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

  • HB 217 by Rep. Senfronia Thompson strengthens procedures for postconviction DNA testing. The TCCB supports this bill.

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

  • HB 270 by Rep. Senfronia Thompson increases the personal needs allow for nursing home residents. The TCCB supports this bill.
  • HB 290 by Rep.  Philip Cortez expands eligibility for CHIP. The TCCB supports this program.
  • HB 3041 by Rep. James Frank establishes a pilot program for family preservation. The TCCB supports this bill.

Senate Veterans Affairs and Border Security Committee, Tuesday at 8:30 a.m.

  • SB 1093 by Brandon Creighton allows for transfer between veterans’ treatment court program. The TCCB supports this bill.

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

  • HB 18 by Rep. Tom Oliverson establishes a prescription drug savings program. The TCCB supports this bill.

House Corrections, Wednesday at 8 a.m.

  • HB 30 by Rep. James Talarico helps incarcerated youth receive a diploma or equivalent. The TCCB supports this bill.
  • HB 3606 by Rep. Jeff Leach provides vocational training to inmates. The TCCB supports this bill.

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

  • HB 1171 by Rep. Scott Sanford allows for the appointment of an attorney ad litem for an unborn child. The TCCB supports this bill.
  • HB 3940 by Rep. Briscoe Cain protects the religious liberty rights of legal professionals. The TCCB supports this bill.

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

  • HB 1616 by Rep. Greg Bonnen creates an interstate medical licensure compact to increase physician and healthcare access. The TCCB supports this bill.
  • HB 2333 by Rep. Donna Howard establishes a newborn caregivers competitive grant program. The TCCB supports this bill.

Senate Health and Human Services Committee, Wednesday at 9 a.m.

  • SB 454 by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst requires a mental health services development plan. The TCCB supports this bill.
  • SB 1195 by Sen Angela Paxton allows certain hospital patients to designate an essential caregiver. The TCCB supports this bill.

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

  • HB 3616 by Rep. Ann Johnson regulates massage therapy. The TCCB supports this bill.
  • HB 3721 by Rep. Jake Ellzey requires human trafficking signs or notices. The TCCB supports this bill.

Upcoming Texas Executions

  • Ramiro Gonzalez - 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."

The Pope's April Intention

Fundamental Rights
We pray for those who risk their lives while fighting for fundamental rights under dictatorships, authoritarian regimes and even in democracies in crisis.

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.