Down to the Wire

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Hundreds of bills have run out of time in the Texas Legislature, but a flurry of amendments and maneuvers mean several policy solutions – and some policy nightmares – still have a chance of passing. Here is a preview of upcoming action we’re watching and some of our work from the past week.

What we’re watching:

The Texas House may consider a bad proposal (SB 722) that would allow private employers to report a jobseeker’s positive drug test result to the Texas Workforce Commission, which would then halt benefits to the individual. CPPP opposes SB 722.

On Monday the Texas House may vote on payday and auto title lending reform efforts offered by Rep. Craddick as amendments to SB 1282. Texans should contact their representatives and urge them to support Rep. Craddick’s payday lending reform efforts to better protect Texans from the abuses of payday and auto title lending.

The Senate Business and Commerce Committee should hear HB 1624, a good bill that would help people shopping for health insurance get accurate information about the list of covered drugs and in-network doctors on various plans. CPPP supports HB 1624.

A bad proposal (HB 2385) to send undocumented children who are eligible for services to the end of the waiting list for the Special Health Care Needs Program was improved with a House floor amendment that allows the program to consider severity of a child’s needs before taking immigration status into account. Despite the improvement, CPPP opposes HB 2385 and will watch the bill’s progress in the Senate.

On Tuesday the House Ways & Means Committee will hear SB 279, which would provide a local option for a flat-dollar homestead exemption. CPPP supports SB 279.
Related blog: The least-worst way to under-invest
Related testimony: CPPP testifies at House Ways & Means

The House may consider SB 1750, a good bill that would encourage colleges and universities to get at least 50 percent of their Texas Work Study students into off-campus jobs. CPPP supports SB 1750.
Related blog: Work-study jobs that lead to Texas careers

Highlights from the past week:

Key vote: House passed HB 903 to invest a portion of the Rainy Day Fund
Statement from Texas Forward

Key vote: HB 1267 passed the House with amendments. CPPP supports HB 1267, which would give drug felons the chance to access food assistance (SNAP) while they get back on their feet if they follow probation rules.
Related Op-ed: No one benefits from enrollment roadblocks

Health insurance: The Senate Business and Commerce Committee heard HB 1514, which would label all health insurance ID cards for plans purchased in the Health Insurance Marketplace. CPPP opposes HB 1514 because it opens the door to discrimination against patients who have bought insurance through the Marketplace set up under the Affordable Care Act.

School finance: School finance proposal HB 1759 was pulled down without a vote because it would have made matters worse for Texas schools. CPPP supports meaningful school finance reform, but HB 1759 was not the right approach.
Press release

Testimony: CPPP testified against HB 1305 in the Senate Education committee, which would affect low-income students’ ability to get free or reduced-price breakfasts. Video begins at 33:10.

Key vote: HB 1908, which would support former inmates’ mental health needs post-release, passed the Texas House. CPPP supports HB 1908.
Related blog: Mental health reintegration services eligibility is too limited
Budget update from Texas Coalition for Healthy Minds
News coverage: Advocates: 1 step forward, 2 steps back on mental health access

Latest Blogs:

Flat-dollar homestead exemption benefits homeowners and municipalities

Pre-K gets low score, HB 4 won’t change that

Let Texans decide on increasing the minimum wage

Follow all of CPPP’s legislative work here:

 944_COM_2015_03_WebBanner_Lege blog

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