Another Week in the Lege

In this post, more information about upcoming budget hearings and the House Supplemental Appropriations bill, Mental Health Day at the Capitol, as well as plenty of new mental health and substance abuse legislation.

Budget Business

Yesterday the House Appropriations Committee voted out a $4.8 billion Supplemental Appropriations bill to cover the budget shortfall in the current biennium, largely due to the unpaid Medicaid tab left from last session. Somewhat surprisingly–at least to Chairman Jim Pitts–the bill was voted out of committee 25-0.

As previously mentioned, the House Appropriations Article II Subcommittee will be hearing public testimony regarding the Department of State Health Services, which oversees funding for public mental health and substance abuse services, tomorrow, February 13th. The hearing will be held at 7:30 am in Room 120 of the John H. Reagan Building, located at 105 West 15th Street in Austin, TX. Yea to leaving home at 4:30 am! Sigh. Good thing I already have my testimony drafted, which you can access here.

The Senate Article II workgroup, chaired by Sen. Jane Nelson, with Senate Members Bob Deuell, Joan Huffman, Dan Patrick and Judith Zaffirini, will be meeting the following day to begin making its funding recommendations for health and human services items.

Mental Health Day at the Capitol

Mental Health Day at the Capitol will be held on February 28th! A bus will leave Houston at 6:00 am from the NAMI of Greater Houston office. If you want to reserve your seat, you can do so by contacting Natalie Cloyd at ncloyd@namimetrohouston.org or 713-970-4419.

Whether you are driving or riding the bus, the day requires a $10 registration fee, which includes the cost of lunch. You will need to complete a registration form and return it, along with your $10 fee, to the Texas Federation of Psychiatry. Please note that MHA will be covering the registration cost for all participating MHA Members, as well as for consumers. 

If you have any questions, contact me directly at ausanga@mhahouston.org. Hope that many of you will participate in this exciting day!

Behavioral Health Legislation

We’re now passed the 2,000 filed bill mark–woo hoo!  There were a number of mental health and substance abuse bills filed in the past week, including:

HB 933 by Sylvester Turner, which allows the expunction of a juvenile record after the juvenile’s 17th birthday if the juvenile completed a deferred prosecution program and had no other referrals resulting in adjudication or deferred adjudication. This will be of benefit to youths participating in the Harris County District Attorney Office’s Juvenile Non-Petition Deferred Prosecution Program;

HB 1023 by Burkett, which creates a task force to investigate the mental health workforce shortage in the state and to make recommendations to alleviate the identified shortages;

HB 1070 by Allen, which allows the expunction of arrest records for offenses related to the possession of alcohol or controlled substances under certain circumstances; and

SB 460 by Deuell, which requires that, in educator preparation programs, teachers receive training in the detection and education of students with mental or emotional issues. This bill is the result of a recommendation from MHA’s School Behavioral Health Initiative.

For a more in-depth look at filed behavioral health legislation and to see MHA’s position on these bills, click here.

Hero? Moi?

Finally, I surprisingly was named Children at-Risk’s February Hero of the Month.  It is an honor to receive this recognition, particularly from an organization that has done so much to advance the cause of children both locally and across the state!

That’s all I’ve got for now.  Until next time…

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2 thoughts on “Another Week in the Lege

  1. First, congratulations Andrea on being named Hero of the Month by Children At Risk. You have done a lot for children’s mental health and their future.
    HB 1023 by Burkett, thank goodness. There is a terrible shortage of mental health doctors in Texas and it is only getting worse.
    In the state’s effort to save money each session, the side effects have cost taxpayers so much more than if it was taken care of on the front end. 50th in the nation at taking care of mental health; number 1 at making a mess of our great state’s future.

    Like

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