Our staff and partners have been busy at the Texas Legislature, where time is running short for Committees to vote for bills in time for them to have a realistic shot at running the rest of the legislative gauntlet.
Some important bills are well ahead of that timeline. The House, for example, has already passed their version of the state budget while the Senate will vote on the budget tomorrow. The House's bill includes full funding for Early Childhood Intervention for toddlers with disabilities and TEA's school safety and mental health proposal. Unfortunately, the Senate's bill does not.
The House also passed its school finance bill (HB 3), which would take an historic step by funding full-day pre-k for currently eligible kids. And the Senate has passed a number of bills too, including important child care safety legislation by Sen. Joan Huffman (SB 568).
Several pieces of legislation have been approved by a Committee but aren't scheduled for a vote of the full House or Senate yet, such as Rep. Mary Gonzalez's bill (HB 25) to ensure more moms have transportation to prenatal care and postpartum appointments.
Other good bills have had hearings but are still waiting for a Committee vote, such as Sen. Kirk Watson and Rep. Eddie Lucio III's early childhood nutrition legislation (SB 952 and HB 1808) and Rep. Philip Cortez's Children's Health Coverage bill (HB 342). You can contact your legislators about the Children's Health Coverage bill here.
This week there will also be hearings on a number of important bills. Tomorrow, for example, Rep. Sarah Davis will present her bill (HB 1110) to extend health coverage to currently eligible new moms from 2 months to 12 months after giving birth. And Rep. John Raney will lay out his bill (HB 1682) to collect data on child care safety and staff-child ratios.
And in a part of the legislative process that can be difficult to follow, some legislation is getting folded into other bills. Rep. Four Price's good bill to support student mental health in schools (HB 19), for example, is expected to be part of two omnibus school safety bills (HB 17 and SB 11) that have had hearings but remain in Committee.
Meanwhile, we're also keeping an eye on concerning bills. On the CPS front, for example, legislators are considering reversing course on the progress made last session and making it harder for CPS to intervene to save children's lives and prevent abuse. Yet several bills to support children in foster care — such as this package of bills by Rep. Donna Howard — still haven't had a hearing scheduled.
Stay tuned for updates — and keep raising your voice to support Texas kids.