It's now officially crunch time at the Texas Legislature, with official and unofficial deadlines nearly every day for bills in the legislative process. There are still some opportunities to make real progress for kids and, unfortunately, a lot of opportunities for our state leaders to fall short.
Here are four things to watch (and work on!) in the next few days and weeks of the session.
1. Will the Lege get full-day pre-k funding and the student mental health bills over the finish line? The Legislature is getting close to make really significant progress on these two issues. The House and Senate both have full-day pre-k funding in their school finance bills. And bills with helpful student mental health provisions — such as SB 11, SB 1390, HB 18, and HB 19 — are working their way through the legislative process, too.
2. Which bills will get out of the House Calendars Committee in time? Lots of good bills are either in the Calendars Committee hopper or about to land there. To have a realistic chance of passing the House by the official May 9th deadline for House bills, the Calendars Committee will have to agree in the next day or two to put them on a calendar for a full vote of the House.
Some of those bills include HB 342 to protect children's Medicaid coverage; HB 1110 to provide new moms with Medicaid insurance for a year after giving birth; HB 475 to provide key information to pregnant or parenting youth in foster care; HB 1682 to collect data on child care safety; and HB 1808 on nutrition in child care. The Senate versions of those child care bills are moving through the process, providing a Plan B if the House bills remain stuck in Calendars. Here are the Calendars Committee members to contact about these bills.
3. Are Texas leaders really ok with the state's status quo on health care and on CPS reforms? For years, state leaders have essentially ignored the fact that Texas has the nation's worst uninsured rate for kids and for adults, and they've taken little action on other health care challenges facing moms, kids, and other Texans. This session legislators also seem content to let Texas kids endure the unacceptable status quo in the state's foster care system. The Legislature still has a chance to at least pass a few bills that would take small but important steps in these areas, like HB 25 to ensure more moms have transportation to prenatal care appointments and HB 53 to support youth aging out of foster care.
4. What will the budget conference committee decide about ECI for toddlers with disabilities, student mental health funding, substance use treatment, maternal health initiatives, and more? A number of critical decisions will come down to the 10 legislators chosen to work out the differences between the House and Senate budget bills (with plenty of input from the Lt. Governor and the House Speaker). Here are the children's priorities we've asked them to address and here's our action alert to help you contact the budget conference committee about ECI or other issues.
Keep up the fight in the coming days, and watch as our state leaders reveal how committed they are to Texas kids and families.