For this weekly feature, the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) profiles a noteworthy bill that is currently going through the legislative process. The bill may relate directly to TCDD’s Public Policy Priorities or another disability-related issue.
Bill: House Bill (HB) 2107, relating to services for children who are unfit or lack responsibility to proceed in juvenile court proceedings as a result of intellectual disabilities.
Bill Author: Rep. Gene Wu, Texas House District 137 (Houston)
What does the bill do?
Under current Texas law, if a child is not fit to proceed in a juvenile case due to mental health, the child is allowed two avenues: inpatient or outpatient care. However, if a child is unable to proceed because of an intellectual disability, the child is only allowed inpatient care.
As introduced, HB 2107 would allow a juvenile court to order that a child with intellectual disabilities receive services in an outpatient setting if the child is deemed unfit to proceed in juvenile court. Such an order would be made only if the court determined that the child could be adequately and appropriately served in that setting and for a period of no more than 90 days. The bill retains the court’s discretion under the current statute to order that a child receive services on an inpatient basis.
Statement from bill author, Rep. Gene Wu:
“Children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) end up in the juvenile justice system at nearly three times the rate of children without IDD. The current law gives options to children with mental illness in the juvenile system that it does not provide to children with IDD. HB 2107 would ensure that children who are unfit to proceed in the juvenile court based on IDD receive the same options as children with mental illnesses — both inpatient and outpatient care.”
Where is the bill in the process?
On March 22, 2021, HB 2107 received a public hearing before the House Committee on Juvenile Justice and Family Issues. You can watch the discussion on the bill here. On April 1, 2021, the bill was favorably reported by the committee on a vote of 9-0. It now moves to the Local and Consent Calendars Committee, where it awaits scheduling for consideration by the full Texas House.
Who supports the bill and why?
The following groups registered their support for the legislation but provided no testimony: the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, MEASURE, the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, Texas Appleseed, Disability Rights Texas, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Texas, the National Association of Social Workers – Texas Chapter, the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, the Bexar County Commissioners Court, and Dallas County Criminal District Attorney John Creuzot.
Who opposes the bill and why?
No opposition to the bill was registered at the March 22, 2021, public hearing.
- Texas Council of Community Centers: Lee Johnson, speaking in his role as deputy director of the Texas Council of Community Centers, provided testimony on the bill and stated, “Community-based diversion for children with IDD involved in the juvenile justice system is a goal that we all support. The Legislature has made investments and steady progress in investments for community-based services for people with mental illness. Unfortunately, community-based services for people with intellectual disabilities has not fared as well.” Johnson also discussed the need for additional language in the bill to allow for consultation to occur between the court and the juvenile probation department and the local IDD authority.
The Texas Statewide Behavioral Health Foundation of the IDD Strategic Plan included the following recommendation related to services for individuals with IDD:
Individuals with IDD should have access to quality behavioral health services, trauma-informed care, and opportunities for recovery. Additionally, supports should be adequate in both their approach and intensity to avoid unnecessary hospitalizations or incarcerations. When individuals with dual diagnoses end up in the hospital or in jail, appropriate interventions and supports must be targeted to their specific needs.
How much will the bill cost?
The Legislative Budget Board (LBB) determined the bill would not increase the state’s budget in a significant way. However, there may be a significant cost increase to local IDD authorities to create outpatient services for people found unfit to participate in court proceedings.
Is there a Senate companion to the bill?
There is no Senate companion to the bill filed at this time.
For the latest information about where HB 2107 is in the process, follow the bill on the Texas Legislature Online. To receive future legislative updates from TCDD, subscribe to TCDD eNews or follow us on Twitter.