Legislative Update, March 19

In this issue:

Upcoming Meetings & Events

View our 2019 Legislative Agenda


Bill Tracking




State Updates

Methodist Healthcare Ministries Sponsors Violence and Trauma Conference in Edinburg

With one in three Texans experiencing domestic violence in their life, family violence is a serious issue in Texas. On Tuesday, March 19, the RGV Equal Voice Network is hosting a Conference on Interpersonal Violence and Trauma at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) campus in Edinburg, Texas. Methodist Healthcare Ministries is proud to sponsor the event to promote awareness and education on issues regarding interpersonal violence and trauma. The half day conference will include a keynote presentation by Julian D. Ford, Ph.D., ABPP on promoting healthy relationships among young adults dealing with violence and trauma and a panel discussion about risk and resilience in interpersonal trauma.

In 2018, Methodist Healthcare Ministries joined Texas Impact in commissioning Responding to Family Violence: A Toolkit for Texas Faith Communities, a publication that provides educational materials and resources for congregations to promote awareness about family violence. Supporting public policies that provide services and resources for family violence victims is a top priority for the Ministries.

Texas Legislators Discuss Funding for San Antonio State Hospital Reconstruction

This past week, the Senate Finance and the House Appropriations Committees discussed funding the reconstruction of state mental health hospitals, including the San Antonio State Hospital (SASH). Methodist Healthcare Ministries submitted written testimony to the Senate Finance Committee in support of Senate Bill 500 by Senator Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound. Bexar County mental health stakeholders joining in with support testimony included The Center for Health Care Services, University Health System and Clarity Child Guidance Center. Senate Bill 500 was voted out of the Senate Finance Committee on Monday and voted out favorably by the Senate Chamber on Wednesday. The bill was referred to the House Appropriations Committee and has been posted for a hearing on Monday, March 18.

The House Appropriations Committee met last Tuesday to accept subcommittee recommendations which includes reconstruction funds for SASH and an increase in salaries for state hospital employees. The Committee voted to adopt $270 million in funds for the San Antonio State Hospital, along with funding for other state hospitals in Texas. Committee members adopted an increase of $30 million for state hospital staff salaries, which is 50 percent of HHSC’s initial budget request. Work continues to secure full funding of SASH and HHSC’s exceptional item request for state hospital salaries, which are essential to sustain operations.

House Committees Look to Improve Children’s Health

Methodist Healthcare Ministries provided written testimony in support of several bills that would improve the health and wellness of Texas’ youngest generation in several committee hearings this week. House Bill 680 by Representative Joe Deshotel (D-Beaumont), which was heard in the House Committee on International Relations and Economic Development, would require the Texas Workforce Commission to assess and report the average cost of child care and total number of providers and children participating in the state’s subsidized child care program. The bill was left pending in the committee by Chairman Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas).

Methodist Healthcare Ministries also weighed in on House Bill 340 and House Bill 342 by Representative Philip Cortez (D-San Antonio) this past week. HB 340 would reduce childhood obesity by requiring 30 minutes of daily recess for children from pre-K to 2nd grade, providing schools the opportunity to improve students’ physical activity and health. The bill was left pending in the House Public Education Committee by Chairman Dan Huberty (R-Houston). HB 342 addressed efforts to reduce the state’s uninsured rate for children by requiring continuous coverage on the Medicaid program for up to 12 months. The State’s current Medicaid policy allows for a six-month continuous coverage for children, followed by month-to-month audits on family income. HB 342 was left pending in the House Human Services Committee by Chairman James Frank (R-Wichita Falls).

House Public Health Committee Addresses Access to Women’s Health Programs

On Wednesday, Methodist Healthcare Ministries supported House Bill 1589 by Representative Evelina Ortega (D-El Paso) in written testimony to the House Public Health Committee. House Bill 1589 informs women about their auto-enrollment into the Healthy Texas Women (HTW) program during their third trimester, securing continuity of care for women’s health services after delivery. The bill was left pending in the Public Health Committee by Chairwoman Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston).

Auto-enrollment from Medicaid into the HTW program 60 days postpartum has been an important policy change to increase the number of women who access health care after they deliver through Medicaid. Legislative initiatives such as House Bill 1589 would ensure more women who are auto-enrolled are able to receive services. HTW increases continuity of care for women in a vulnerable period after delivery by improving birth spacing and health outcomes for future pregnancies, leading to stronger families and savings to the state and local taxpayers. Methodist Healthcare Ministries supports House Bill 1589 and its efforts to eliminate barriers to preventive healthcare and family planning services.

Ray Lopez Wins Race for Texas House District 125

Ray Lopez (D-San Antonio) won the special election runoff for House District 125 to replace former State Representative Justin Rodriguez who vacated the seat to accept the two-year appointment of Bexar County Commissioner. This will be Lopez’ third political office after spending eight years on the San Antonio City Council and almost a decade as a trustee for the Northside Independent School District. Methodist Healthcare Ministries congratulates Representative-Elect Lopez on his appointment and looks forward to working with him to improve the health and wellness of the residents of District 125.

Upcoming Meetings & Events

Mar 19: Senate Education Committee Hearing – Children’s Health (Austin)

Mar 19: House Human Services Committee Hearing (Austin)

Mar 19: Senate Health & Human Services Committee Hearing (Austin)

Mar 19: House Insurance Committee Hearing (Austin)

Mar 19: Conference on Interpersonal Violence and Trauma – Sponsored by Methodist Healthcare Ministries (Edinburg)

Mar 20: House Public Health Committee Hearing (Austin)

Mar 20: House Juvenile Justice & Family Issues Committee Hearing (Austin)

Mar 20: House Higher Education Committee Hearing (Austin)

Mar 20: Senate Higher Education Committee Hearing (Austin)

Mar 21: House Corrections Committee Hearing (Austin)

Mar 21: House County Affairs Committee Hearing (Austin)

Mar 21: House Urban Affairs Committee Hearing (Austin)

Mar 22: Bexar County Mental Health Consortium Meeting (San Antonio)

Mar 28: Texas Impact Advocacy Day (Austin)

Mar 30: SASH Spring Thing 5K – Sponsored by Methodist Healthcare Ministries (San Antonio)

Apr 2: Immunization Advocacy and Rally Day – Sponsored by Methodist Healthcare Ministries (Austin)

Apr 15-15: Texas Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy’s 8th Annual Symposium (Austin)

For more information on health care research, policy or advocacy,please contact Chris Yanas at cyanas@mhm.org.

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