Child Health

ICYMI: The 87th Texas Legislature is finally over. Here’s what you missed:

June 14, 2021 | Texas

What does this mean for all our policy areas here at CDF-TX?

For the past several months, we have continued to show up, give testimony, submit public comments, protest, and fight for our mission for a  Healthy Start, Head Start, Fair Start and Safe Start for every Texas child. Our work could never have been achieved without the support of our partners, coalitions, advocates, and supporters like you. Below we’ve collected the most important updates and action items for you to stay in the know as we move forward into special sessions and continue the fight for Texans’ rights.

A Note From our Civic Education Team:

This legislative session was exhausting for many, as attacks on voting rights, civics education, and transgender youth dominated over issues like our energy grid and healthcare. Over fifty anti-voter bills were filed this session, while pro-voter bills such as implementing online or automatic voter registration never even received hearings. After months of hearings, rallies, and advocacy, the omnibus voter suppression bill SB 7 died on the last night of session as Texas House Democrats walked out of the chamber in protest. But the Governor has already warned that voter suppression will be back on the agenda in an upcoming special session.

The latest version of the bill text specifically targeted Souls to the Polls initiatives and eligibility to vote by mail, in addition to provisions criminalizing small mistakes and empowering partisan poll watchers to intimidate voters. But these attacks on voting rights are not new or unique to Texas: a recent Heritage foundation video made clear this session’s tide of legislation is part of a coordinated attack on voting rights, and Texas has repeatedly violated the Voting Rights Act.

The legislative assault on our democracy continued with anti-civics bill HB 3979, which passed the legislature after appearing to be killed in the House, with Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick resorting to an unprecedented procedural maneuver that some argue was unconstitutional. The bill now heads to the governor in the form originally passed by the House, with a laundry list of required readings, prohibitions against certain forms of civic engagement, and language silencing conversations about race and discrimination in the classroom.

We will continue to fight for the rights of all children and inclusive, accurate, and comprehensive civic education both in and out of session. Our youth deserve to be safe, valued members of our community, not ostracized and unheard.

A Note from our Protecting Immigrant Communities Team:

This session, we followed bills with the TRUST coalition. The two bills we most closely watched were HB 3352 and HB 1058. 

HB 3352, the Alien Language Bill Draft, would have removed the word “alien” from certain laws, and replaced it with “noncitizen.” While a small change, this is a very important and intentional step toward humanizing immigrants in the United States. 

“The way that we choose to communicate is critical to enforcing the nation’s laws while respecting the humanity and dignity of those individuals with whom we interact.” (Source: NPR)

Next, HB 1058 was filed by State Representative Ramon Romero and would have created conditional driver’s permits for a broader group of individuals, regardless of background or immigration status. 

Senate Bill 607, the companion bill to HB 1058, was filed by Senator Carol Alvarado. In creating a pathway to conditional driver’s permits, Texas would join the 15 states and the District of Columbia that have successfully implemented programs granting access to driver’s permits to all of their residents. This type of permit would have allowed people to legally drive, but it cannot be used to vote or as a valid form of federal ID. Visit this page to voice your support for HB 1058 in the next legislative session. 

While our focus was on HB 3352 and HB 1058, here are two more bills you should know about:

SB 576 was drafted by Senator Hinojosa with the companion bill HB 687 by Rep. Lozano. This bill would have changed the smuggling offense to criminalize people who give rides without being paid, including family members and friends. The bill was signed in the Senate and in the House, and it has been sent to the Governor. We are strongly opposed and concerned with this bill. 

SB 1254 would have allowed the state of Texas to develop and join an interstate compact in an unconstitutional attempt to allow local and state law enforcement to enforce immigration law. The bill has been voted out of Committee, and the Committee report has been sent to Calendars.

A Note from our Health Policy Team 

This session, the Texas legislature heard our voices loud and clear: we wouldn’t let them rest without action on healthcare coverage. And thanks to advocates like you, after years of inaction, legislators finally took action by passing bills to improve coverage for Texas women and children. These did not expand Medicaid, and the final bills were watered down, but the Children’s Coverage Bill and the Maternal Health Coverage Bill represent the most important progress on healthcare coverage in over a decade

Thanks to your advocacy, moms will soon have Medicaid coverage for 6 months after pregnancy, rather than just 2 months. And children with Medicaid will face fewer barriers to keeping their coverage. These victories confirm that what we’re doing is working! 

As for Medicaid expansion: while state leaders ultimately failed again to take any action refusing to even hold a public hearing we have much to be proud of. For the first time ever, we secured bipartisan majority support for healthcare coverage in the Texas House in the form of co-authors on the Live Well Texas bill. We also built an unprecedented coalition of more than 200 physicians groups, health care providers, local officials, business leaders, and advocates who called for lawmakers to expand coverage this session.   

Now that we know that what we are doing is working, it’s time to do more of it! 

In fact, the next biggest opportunity to expand Medicaid in Texas is here right now. Texas is taking public input on what should be included in the state’s application for federal Medicaid dollars. To make coverage expansion happen, we’ll need everyone’s voice. 

Please take just three minutes to fill out our short form to express your support for coverage expansion. Then, help us get as many others as possible to do the same.

In the coming year, we’re committed to continue working with you to call for action on Medicaid expansion and hold lawmakers accountable for standing in the way of Texans’ access to healthcare coverage. 

The crisis hasn’t disappeared, and neither will we. Together, we’re shaping the future of healthcare in Texas!

Stay up to date and take action!

While the above is just an overview of the 87th Legislature as it pertains to our mission here at CDF-TX, so much has happened, and continues to happen in and out of the legislature. To stay up to date make sure you’re subscribed to our Civic Education and  Protecting Immigrant Communities Newsletters! Check out our partner Sick of It TX for action items and news updates related to healthcare policy. 

You can catch up with all our statements and testimonies from this session here.