The Speaker of the Texas House and the Lt. Governor are each considering the issues they would like the Texas House and Senate, respectively, to study prior to the 2021 legislative session. After gathering input from legislators and others, they will issue "interim charges" outlining the subjects that each legislative committee should consider during its hearings and research throughout 2020.
Our team has developed several suggestions, which we are currently sharing with legislators and staffers.
Our suggested charges cover a number of ways that the Texas Legislature can take important steps for children over the next two years, including the following:
Seize the opportunities provided by the new federal Family First Act to safely keep more children with their families out of foster care and protect children who do enter foster care;
Building on the child care safety bills passed this session, begin to address child care affordability and quality to ensure that children of all working parents can develop the social, emotional, and learning tools they will need for school;
Determine if the state and school districts are adequately supporting student mental health through SB 11 and other recent legislation;
Reduce the high rate of uninsured children and mothers, including an examination of the decline in enrollment in Children's Medicaid/CHIP; and
Examine state investments in the health and brain development of babies and toddlers, including Early Childhood Intervention and other early childhood programs for children in the first three years.
Our interim charge suggestions for the Texas House are detailed here.
They pertain to the following House Committees: Appropriations, County Affairs, Human Services, International Relations and Economic Development, Juvenile Justice and Family Issues, Public Education, and Public Health.
Our Senate suggestions, which are largely similar, will be posted soon.
We look forward to working with legislators and our partners on these critical issues in preparation for the 2021 legislative session.