Texas Legislative News: March 22, 2021

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Today marks the halfway point of the legislative session. Last week saw the first bills pass from one chamber of the Legislature to another as the Senate approved a variety of measures and sent them to the House for consideration. Among these was Senate Bill (SB) 25, which would enable residents of long-term care facilities to designate an essential caregiver for in-person visitation. The legislation is identical to House Bill (HB) 892, a recent TCDD Bill of the Week. Over the next few weeks, we’ll see thousands of bills receive votes in either the House or Senate, if not both.

For now, though, most of the work at the Capitol will take place in committee hearings. Last week, our staff provided comments on six bills on topics such as inclusive child care, a threat assessment database for public schools, and guardianship.

Disability Policy Academy

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

The event is free and open to the public, and will feature:

  • State Rep. Gene Wu, House District 137 (Houston), who will discuss the issue of the school-to-prison pipeline and a legislative outlook on the topic, including specific bills that he’s working on during the 87th legislative session
  • A panel discussion with Andrew R. Hairston, director of the Education Justice Project at Texas Appleseed; Malhar Shah, staff attorney with the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund; and Angel Crawford, staff attorney with Disability Rights Texas
  • A Q&A session

Laura Marquez, DD Policy Fellow with Paso del Norte Children’s Development Center, will be the event’s moderator. The event will be held via Zoom. Participants must register ahead of time. Register to attend.

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 Juvenile Justice and Family Issues Committee held a hearing on Monday morning, March 22, where the committee considered HB 2107 by Rep. Gene Wu. The bill relates to services for children with DD in juvenile court proceedings.

The House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee held a hearing on Monday afternoon, March 22. The committee discussed the following notable bills:

  • HB 703 by Rep. Barbara Gervin-Hawkins, relating to consecutive sentencing guidelines in criminal cases that involve injuries to children, older adults, or people with disabilities
  • HB 1773 by Rep. David Cook, relating to the creation of criminal offenses for obtaining unneeded medical treatment by deception for children, older adults, or people with disabilities, and continuous abuse of children, older adults, or people with disabilities

The House Public Education Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday morning, March 23. The committee will discuss HB 144 by Rep. Mary González, relating to supplemental information required in individualized education programs for students who receive special education services.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday morning, March 23. The committee will discuss the following notable bills:

  • SB 271 by Sen. Charles Perry, relating to applicants for employment at assisted living facilities
  • SB 412 by Sen. Dawn Buckingham, relating to telemedicine, telehealth, and technology-related health care services
  • SB 930 by Sen. Judith Zaffirini, relating to the disclosure of information regarding the occurrence of communicable diseases in residential facilities

The House Insurance Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday morning, March 23. The committee will discuss HB 440 by Rep. Julie Johnson, relating to health benefits coverage for hearing aids.

The House Public Health Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday morning, March 24. The committee will discuss the following notable bills:

  • HB 53 by Rep. Art Fierro, relating to the designation of April as Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month
  • HB 326 by Rep. Donna Howard, relating to workplace violence prevention in health care facilities

Stay Informed

Have you taken our legislative quiz yet? If not, you can still test your knowledge or learn more about the 87th Texas Legislature.

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.