In this issue of the Texas Catholic Voice:

  • Executive Director Jennifer Carr Allmon talks committee hearings....

A Message from Jennifer Allmon, Executive Director

Committees will hold hearings on legislation starting Monday, so the Voice will now include a weekly list of bills on the move. We encourage you to contact committee members on these bills, especially if you are a constituent, to let them know of your support or opposition. Fortunately, this week there are no bills we oppose. We are excited to see important bills on restorative justice being heard in the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee chaired by Rep. Nicole Collier. We will be testifying in support of HB 252 which removes court directives that mislead jurors about the level of unanimity required to impose a death sentence. The TCCB supports this bill which will improve the rights of jurists serving in death penalty sentencing cases.

In the Senate State Affairs Committee chaired by Sen. Bryan Hughes, we will be registering our support for critically important religious liberty protections to ensure churches can remain open during pandemics. SB 26 by Sen. Angela Paxton and SJR 27 by Sen. Kelly Hancock prohibit government orders that have the effect of limiting in-person worship. Below is a list of all the bills in committee next week which TCCB staff will be providing support.

We would also like to bring your attention to our action alerts related to our highest legislative priorities this session. These include one pagers and graphics that can be shared on your social media platforms.

Bills in Committee Week of March 8

  • Senate State Affairs, Monday at 8:55 a.m.
    • SB 26 by Sen. Angela Paxton prohibits a government closure of places of worship. The TCCB supports this bill.
    • SJR 27 by Sen. Kelly Hancock  is a constitutional amendment to prohibit the state or local government from prohibiting or limiting a religious service. The TCCB supports this bill.
    • SB 247 by Sen. Charles Perry provides protection of conscience rights for lawyers. The TCCB supports this bill.
  • House Juvenile Justice and Family Issues, Monday at 10 a.m.
    • HB 39 by Rep. Victoria Neave allows certain crime victims to file an application for a protective order. The TCCB supports this bill.
    • HB 80 by Rep. Jarvis Johnson requires judges to allow indigent defendants, foster, homeless, and unaccompanied children to pay fees and fines through community service. The TCCB supports this bill.
    • HB 454 by Rep. Will Metcalf establishes a drug court program to treat substance abuse by parents of juveniles who have entered the juvenile justice system. The TCCB supports this bill.
    • HB 686 by Rep. Joe Moody changes parole eligibility for inmates convicted of an offense when they were younger than 18 years. The TCCB supports this bill.
  • House Ways and Means, Monday at 10 a.m.
    • HB 115 by Rep. Eddie Rodriguez broadens the property tax exemption for certain property owned by charitable organizations and used in providing housing and related services to homeless individuals. The TCCB supports this bill.
  • House Criminal Jurisprudence, Monday at 2 p.m.
    • HB 187 by Rep. Senfronia Thompson allows courts to reconsider the merits or grant relief on a motion for habeas corpus on subsequent application if certain conditions are met. The TCCB supports this bill.
    • HB 225 by Rep. Senfronia Thompson allows a court to grant a convicted person relief on an application for a writ of habeas corpus if they file an application based on certain new evidence that was previously unavailable. The TCCB supports this bill.
    • HB 252 by Rep. Joe Moody removes directives that require judges and attorneys to lie to jurors about the level of unanimity required for a death sentence. The TCCB supports this bill.
    • HB 275 by Rep. Joe Moody (allows a court to grant relief based on certain relevant scientific evidence that was not available at the applicant's trial). The TCCB supports this bill.
    • HB 277 by Rep. Nicole Collier strengthens the requirements that counsel be provided to indigent defendants in criminal matter. The TCCB supports this bill.
    • HB 295 by Rep. Andrew Murr amends the statute relating to the Texas Indigent Defense Commission. The TCCB supports this bill.
    • HB 569 by Rep. Scott Sanford requires a justice or judge, when imposing a fine and costs in case involving a fine-only misdemeanor, to credit the defendant for any time the defendant was in jail or prison while serving a sentence for another offense. The TCCB supports this bill.
  • House Business and Industry, Tuesday at 8 a.m.
    • HB 390 by Rep. Senfronia Thompson supports annual human trafficking awareness and prevention training program for commercial lodging establishments. The TCCB supports this bill.
  • House Human Services, Tuesday at 8 a.m.
    • HB 892 by Rep. James Frank establishes the right of residents to essential caregiver visitation. The TCCB supports this bill.
    • HJR 46 by Rep. James Frank is a constitutional amendment establishing the right of a resident to designate at least one essential caregiver. The TCCB supports this bill.
  • House Public Education, Tuesday at 8 a.m.
    • HB 547 by Rep. James Frank allows home schooled students the opportunity to participate in UIL activities. The TCCB supports this bill.
  • House Public Health, Wednesday at 8 a.m.
    • HB 119 by Rep. Brooks Landgraf prohibits healthcare discrimination for organ transplants based solely on the disability status of a patient. The TCCB supports this bill.
    • HB 473 by Rep. James White prohibits healthcare discrimination for organ transplants based solely on the disability status of a patient. The TCCB supports this bill.
  • Senate Health and Human Services, Wednesday at 8:30 a.m.
    • SB 25 by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst establishes the right of residents to essential caregiver visitation. The TCCB supports this bill.
    • SJR 19 by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst is a constitutional amendment establishing the right of a resident to designate at least one essential caregiver. The TCCB supports this bill.

For a full list of bills we have already taken positions on, you can visit our website that will be updated throughout session.

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."

 

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.