If you came by our office recently, you might have found our staff cheering as we watched the video feed from the Texas Legislature. And if you saw any of our staff over at the Capitol, you might have noticed a smile on their face and an extra spring in their step.
Our team has poured their hearts into several important bills for Texas kids this session, and we got to see a number of them pass either the House or the Senate over the last few days. For example:
HB 18 and HB 19, a pair of bills by Rep. Four Price to support student mental health in schools, passed the House;
HB 25, Rep. Mary Gonzalez's bill to ensure more moms have transportation to prenatal care and postpartum appointments, passed the House; and
SB 952, Sen. Kirk Watson's bill to support early childhood nutrition, passed the Senate.
A number of other bills that we're strongly supporting passed either the House or Senate during the last several days too, including:
HB 3, Rep. Dan Huberty's historic, high-profile bill to improve school finance and fund full-day pre-k, passed the House;
HB 55, Rep. Mary Gonzalez's bill to collect data on pre-k class sizes, passed the House;
HB 65, Rep. Eric Johnson's bill to collect data on suspensions of students as young as pre-k, passed the House;
HB 800, Rep. Donna Howard's bill to cover contraception in the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) when teens have parental consent, passed the House; and
SB 568, Sen. Joan Huffman's bill to improve child care safety, passed the Senate.
Of course, these bills still have to pass through the other chamber of the Legislature, which is easier said than done.
And there are plenty of other reasons that Texans will want to wait and see before judging the Legislature's performance this session:
A number of other important bills are still up in the air. In particular, so far this session, the Legislature has shown little interest in supporting kids in foster care or dealing with the fact that Texas has the nation's worst uninsured rate for kids and for adults. The clock is ticking, but there's still a little time left for the House Human Services Committee to vote on HB 342, the Children's Health Coverage bill that it discussed a month ago, and HB 474 and HB 475, the two bills the Committee is discussing today to support pregnant and parenting youth in foster care.
We need to ensure that the House-Senate conference committee finalizing the state budget provides a $72.6 million boost to Early Childhood Intervention for toddlers with disabilities, as the House version of the budget bill currently does.
And outside of these policy areas, Texans are keeping an eye on plenty of other issues, ranging from tax proposals to legislation limiting cities' ability to decide on subjects such as paid sick leave.
It's important to celebrate the victories, so we hope you're also excited about these important steps in the process. And a special kudos to our hardworking team as they try to help get these good bills over the finish line!