The Texas legislature is starting to finally rev up for their biennial session, after delays due to the weather emergency and changeover in leadership in the House. It is almost certain to extend into special sessions beyond the regular 140 calendar days to get through all of their planned business.
An important part of the agenda will deal with the budget shortfall due to effects of the Covid pandemic, but some relief might be underway from the federal government.
As always, there are various bills in committee that attack reproductive freedom and LGBTQ rights, including a bill to ban schools and universities from allowing transgender students to participate in sports according to their gender identity. The powerful Lt. Governor Dan Patrick is working especially hard to get these passed. Stay tuned for more details.
The electric outages and subsequent water crisis have already prompted the state government to emergency action. TxUUJM is aware of this as a social justice issue and will be closely monitoring proposals as they emerge.
There are also a couple of potential positive bills to be on the lookout for. Texas is one of a dwindling number of states that has not signed on to Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. There may finally be enough bipartisan support this session to overturn this, as rural hospitals are hard hit and closing their doors for lack of funding. The pandemic has further exacerbated the problem.
Another bill that is taking shape is the George Floyd Act, a wide-ranging criminal justice reform measure.
TxUUJM is working closely with our partner organizations, which have larger staffs and rapid-fire updates as we move into the main business of the session. These include Texas Impact https://texasimpact.org/2021-2022-legislative-platform/ and Equality Texas https://www.equalitytexas.org/ .
There will also be opportunities to participate by directly contacting our local legislators, and especially, TxUUJM will be planning some sort of legislative action day again this year, probably done on Zoom or another remote platform.