Dear Army of Advocates!
The 86th Texas Legislature is done, there is no special session and, while not a complete win for the issues Texas Women’s Foundation supported to advance economic security for women, it was a very good session for women, working families and for Texas.
I want to highlight a few wins, a few missed opportunities and provide you with the key authors and sponsors. Saying THANK YOU is an easy way to show your elected officials that you are paying attention to what they do and that it is important to you. As always, we have links below to help you find contact information. We can all add Governor Abbot, Lt. Governor Patrick and House Speaker Bonnen to our lists. Please make at least two phone calls this week!
• HB 2697 PASSED – this bill extends the definition of identity theft to include debt that was incurred through coercion, including in an abusive relationship. TXWF has written about this bill and “coerced debt” before and its passage will help women escaping abusive relationships truly start over on stronger financial footing. Say THANK YOU to authors and co-authors:
o Rep. Meyer of Dallas
o Rep. Button of Richardson
o Rep. Swanson of Spring
o Rep. Wu of Houston
o Senator Zaffirini of Laredo as senate sponsor
• HB 650 PASSED – this bill seeks to improve outcomes for pregnant women who are involved in the justice system by providing training to correctional officers on topics related to care for pregnant women, parenting classes, nutrition support and a prohibition on shackling of pregnant women. Say THANK YOU to authors and co-authors:
o Rep. White of Woodville
o Rep. Klick of North Richland Hills
o Rep. Israel of Austin
o Rep. Minjarez of San Antonio
o Sen. Whitmire of Houston as senate sponsor
• Of course, you have all read about school finance reform, an action that has truly been in the making for a decade. Known as HB 3, this bill also provides funding for full-day preK for eligible students, which lowers child care costs for working families while increasing opportunity for children to be ready for school and success. Support was widespread across the House and Senate so say THANK YOU to your representatives for tackling this tough and important issue.
Now, to the missed opportunities. There are many representatives who worked on these important bills and you certainly want to say THANK YOU to them while also contacting your representative and senator to understand their stance and let them know yours.
• HB 744 DID NOT PASS – This is probably the biggest loss to Texas women that could have been passed this year. The bill would have extended health coverage from 60 days postpartum to 12 months postpartum for women who delivered a child while on Medicaid for Pregnant Women. The Texas Maternal Mortality Task Force identified this lack of postpartum care as an important driver in maternal mortality and morbidity, as well as a factor in less healthy future pregnancies. The bill passed in the House but did not receive a hearing in the Senate. Say thank you to authors and coauthors:
o Rep. Rose in Dallas
o Rep. Walle in Houston
o Rep. Farrar in Houston
o Rep. Reynolds in Missouri City
o Rep. Neave in Mesquite
o Rep Calanni in Houston
o Rep. Dominguez in Brownsville
o Rep. Julie Johnson in Dallas
o Rep. Lopez in San Antonio
• HB 800 DID NOT PASS – This bill would have included contraception as a covered benefit under the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) when teens have parental consent. Youth ages 18 and younger are eligible for CHIP. This bill has a long list of authors and coauthors to thank. It passed the House, but did not pass the Senate. Say THANK YOU to:
o Rep. Howard of Austin
o Rep Sarah Davis of Bellaire
o Rep. Collier of Ft. Worth
o Rep. Sheffield of Gatesville
o Rep. Blanco of El Paso
o Rep. Dominguez of Brownsville
o Rep. Julie Johnson of Dallas
o Rep. Minjarez of San Antonio
o Rep. Neave of Mesquite
o Rep. Ortega of El Paso
Now it is our turn to say THANK YOU to our Army of Advocates. It is only with all of you interacting with your elected officials, voting and following the facts that Texas women and families will thrive in the future. Strong Women. Better World.