In this issue of the Texas Catholic Voice:
- 88th Legislature closes Monday ...
- Special session #1 opens Monday ...
- And more!
A Message from Jennifer Allmon, Executive Director
The last day of the 88th legislative session was yesterday, and we anticipate having the Sine Die report for our readers by next Monday.
Governor Abbott, however, called a special session to begin at 9 pm last night. Unfortunately, there will be no rest for the weary just yet.
According to the announcement, there will be several special sessions and each one will focus on only a few items to “ensure that each priority receives the time and attention it deserves to pass into law.”
In a surprise move, the House gaveled in at noon today and filed, heard in committee, and passed on second and third reading three bills to address the governor’s call. They gaveled out around 6:30 p.m., forcing the Senate to accept the House bills as they will be unable to concur in amendments or go to conference committee.
HB 2 resurrected the basic content of HB 800 from the regular session, which enhanced the penalties for human smuggling. Chairman Guillen did add an amendment, which we supported, that allows for lower penalties for persons related in the third degree (cousins, siblings, aunts, uncles, parents, and grandparents). Overall, we remained neutral on all three bills that moved today.
We will continue to update you as items on the bishops’ agenda are addressed.
HB 100, which deals with public school finance, was amended in the Senate to include the establishment of an education savings account but failed to pass because the House members of the conference committee refused to accept the amendment. The Senate then inserted a contingency rider in the budget that ties teacher raises to the passage of parental choice — a political strategy not without controversy. These items will be included in one of the upcoming special sessions.
Both HB 7 and HB 800 failed because the Senate was unwilling to remove the harmful amendments they added to both bills, so no conference committee reports were finalized. In this first special session, the border security agenda is limited to “legislation solely for the purpose of increasing or enhancing the penalties for certain criminal conduct involving the smuggling of persons or the operation of a stash house.”
At this point, the House has already moved a bill, HB 2, that is the same as the engrossed House version of HB 800. The TCCB is neutral on this bill at this time as it is attempted targeted enforcement of human smuggling.
Life and Family
HB 12, providing 12 months Medicaid postpartum, passed with a minor technical change to the language that should enable implementation. HB 3058 by Rep. Ann Johnson passed to provide liability protection for physicians treating mothers with ectopic pregnancies and previable premature rupture of membranes.
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.
For the abolition of torture
Let us pray that the international community may commit itself concretely to abolish torture, guaranteeing support to victims and their families.
No Upcoming Executions
The Texas bishops ask for clemency for all on death row in our country and pray for the abolition of the death penalty.