Texas Legislative News: March 15, 2021

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In the ninth week of the legislative session, most of the House and Senate committees started hearing bills for the first time. Friday, March 12, marked the 60th day of the session, which meant that it was also the deadline to file bills. Moving forward, the only additional bills that may be filed are those on emergency issues submitted by the governor or bills on local issues or emergency spending requests.

About 1,000 bills were submitted in the last few days before the deadline, and now advocates will pour through them to see which ones relate to their topics of interest. The final tally of House bills was 4,566, down slightly from last session’s total of 4,765. The final number of Senate bills was 2,133, down from last session’s total of 2,559.

Passing the 60-day threshold also means that lawmakers are no longer limited by the Texas Constitution from considering bills in their respective chambers. With that in mind, we could see legislation considered by the full House and Senate as early as this week.

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 Criminal Jurisprudence Committee held a hearing on Monday afternoon, March 15, on House Bill (HB) 375 by Rep. Reggie Smith. The bill relates to the criminal prosecution of continuous sexual abuse of a young child or a person with a disability.

The House Human Services Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday morning, March 16. The committee will discuss the following notable bills:

  • HB 149 by Rep. Ron Reynolds, relating to a study to evaluate state and local regulation of group homes
  • HB 168 by Rep. Mary Gonz├ílez, relating to the regulation of child care facilities and registered family homes providing services to children with disabilities or special needs (This legislation was previously featured as a TCDD Bill of the Week.)

The House Public Education Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday morning, March 16. The committee will discuss the following notable bills:

  • The House Public Education Committee will hold a HB 159 by Rep. Mary Gonz├ílez, relating to improving training and staff development for primary and secondary educators to enable them to more effectively serve all students
  • HB 785 by Rep. Alma A. Allen, relating to behavior improvement plans and behavioral intervention plans for public school students as well as notification and documentation requirements regarding behavior management techniques
  • HB 759 by Rep. Sam Harless, which would establish a threat-assessment database for public school students who may pose a serious risk of violence to themselves or others

The House Insurance Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday morning, March 16. The committee will discuss HB 843 by Rep. Ray Lopez, relating to health benefits coverage for early childhood intervention services. (An identical bill, HB 908, was recently featured as a TCDD Bill of the Week.)

The House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday morning, March 17. The committee will discuss the following notable bills:

  • HB 79 by Rep. Andrew Murr, relating to associate judges for guardianship and protective-services proceedings
  • HB 1071 by Rep. Cody Harris, relating to having qualified facility dogs or therapy animals in courtrooms
  • HB 1296 by Rep. Will Metcalf, relating to the provision of notices in guardianship proceedings
  • HB 1593 by Rep. Jeff Leach, relating to civil liability of a nursing facility resident’s responsible payor for misappropriation of the resident’s funds
  • HB 1675 by Rep. Steve Allison, relating to guardianships of people with profound intellectual disabilities who are minors or who were minors when their guardianship proceedings began

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday morning, March 17. The committee will discuss the following notable bills:

  • Senate Bill (SB) 224 by Sen. Charles Perry, relating to simplified certification and recertification requirements for people under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • SB 672 by Sen. Dawn Buckingham, relating to Medicaid coverage of collaborative care management services

The Senate Jurisprudence Committee will hold a hearing on Thursday morning, March 18. The committee will discuss SB 626 by Sen. Judith Zaffirini, relating to guardianships, management trusts, and other proceedings for people with disabilities.

Disability Policy Academy

Our next Disability Policy Academy, titled “Plugging the School-to-Prison Pipeline for Students with DD,” will take place at 2 p.m. CT on Thursday, March 25. The event will feature a discussion on the school-to-prison pipeline, a term frequently used to describe the policies and practices that funnel students, often those from marginalized communities, from the classroom into the juvenile and criminal justice system. Students with developmental disabilities (DD), especially those of color, are profoundly impacted by the perpetuation of the school-to-prison pipeline.

Please join us for a legislative update and conversation with a panel of criminal justice experts who are working to end the pipeline through policy reform.

The event will be held via Zoom. Participants must register ahead of time.

Registration Details
Date: Thursday, March 25, 2021
Time: 2-3:30 p.m. CT
Register to attend the Disability Policy Academy

Accommodations
Communication Access Real-time Translation (CART) service will be provided. If you need other accommodations to participate, please contact Koren Vogel at koren.vogel@tcdd.texas.gov or 512-437-5416.

Legislative Quiz

With the session quickly approaching its halfway point, we have prepared a quiz where you can test your knowledge and learn more about the 87th Texas Legislature.

Take the quiz.

Stay Informed

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.