Election-related legislation once again took center stage at the Capitol in the 12th week of the legislative session. On Wednesday, March 31, the full Texas Senate took up Senate Bill (SB) 7, a bill that would dramatically impact ballot access across the state, particularly for voters with disabilities. The debate on the bill went on for a number of hours, and the final votes were cast at about 2 a.m.
One provision that was removed from the final bill would have required individuals with disabilities to provide proof of their disability when applying for absentee ballots. However, there are still a number of sections in SB 7 that have drawn concern from the disability community, and advocacy on the bill will continue as it heads over to the House for consideration.
On Thursday, April 1, the House Elections Committee took up House Bill (HB) 6, a bill that has raised similar election-related concerns among disability advocates. The discussion on this legislation also went long, as hundreds of witnesses provided testimony. The hearing wrapped up around 6 a.m., nearly 24 hours after the committee hearing started.
A nationwide spotlight has been placed on election-related legislation since the recent passage of a bill in Georgia that limits early voting, gives the state the ability to overrule local election administrators, and even prohibits the distribution of water to people standing in line waiting to vote. A number of corporations have come out against the Georgia legislation, and Major League Baseball announced that it would relocate its All-Star Game out of the state in response. Here in Texas, both American Airlines and Dell Technologies issued statements critical of the election-related legislation under consideration at the Capitol.
In non-election news, the Texas House recently passed HB 797 by Rep. Donna Howard, which would allow home health nurses to administer COVID-19 vaccines. The bill now heads over to the Senate for consideration.
Hearings To Watch
The following section includes a sample of the hearings that we are monitoring this week. During these hearings, legislative committees may consider important disability-related bills. To receive notifications about new hearings that are scheduled with short notice, follow us on Twitter. You can find live and archived broadcasts of committee hearings on the House and Senate websites.
The House Human Services Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday morning, April 6. The committee will discuss the following notable bills:
- HB 941 by Rep. Richard Peña Raymond, which would create a workgroup to study quality measures for long-term services and supports
- HB 2325 by Rep. Ed Thompson, relating to emergency generators or other power sources in nursing facilities and assisted-living facilities
- HB 3720 by Rep. James Frank, relating to interest lists and eligibility for Medicaid waiver programs
- HB 3961 by Rep. David Spiller, relating to online posting requirements at long-term care facilities for information regarding the Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman
- HB 4571 by Rep. Toni Rose, which would establish a statewide intellectual and developmental disabilities coordinating council
The House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday morning, April 6, to discuss the following notable bills:
- HB 3063 by Rep. John Smithee, relating to the duties of guardians in end-of-life and critical-care decisions
- HB 3126 by Rep. Gary VanDeaver, relating to the health care providers authorized to examine people to determine if they are able to participate in guardianship proceedings
The House Public Education Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday morning, April 6, on the following notable bills:
- HB 1194 by Rep. Gene Wu, which would require schools to report data on student restraints, complaints, citations, and arrests
- HB 2256 by Rep. Bobby Guerra, which would create a bilingual special education certification to teach students with disabilities who have limited English proficiency
- HB 2975 by Rep. Lacey Hull, relating to bans on the physical restraint of certain students by peace officers and school security
- HB 3450 by Rep. James White, relating to the justified use of force against a student by a school employee or volunteer
The Senate Jurisprudence Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday morning, April 6, to discuss the following notable bills:
- SB 615 by Sen. Judith Zaffirini, relating to probate and guardianship matters
- SB 1129 by Sen. Judith Zaffirini, relating to guardianship, alternatives to guardianship, and supports and services
The House Corrections Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday morning, April 7. The committee will discuss HB 4212 by Rep. Joe Moody, relating to procedures for criminal defendants who have mental health conditions or intellectual disabilities.
The House International Relations and Economic Development Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday morning, April 7, on HB 3635 by Rep. John Frullo, relating to vehicle modification services provided under the vocational rehabilitation program.
The House Public Health Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday morning, April 7, to discuss the following notable bills:
- HB 1535 by Rep. Stephanie Klick, relating to the medical use of low-THC cannabis by patients with certain medical conditions
- HB 3218 by Rep. Matt Schaefer, relating to the regulation of abortion, including information regarding perinatal palliative care
To stay up to date regarding how disability-related issues are being addressed by the Legislature, subscribe to TCDD eNews. On our website, you can find legislative resources and video updates from TCDD Policy Director Scott Daigle on what’s happening at the Capitol. To receive additional notifications, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.