The 87th Texas Legislative Session wrapped up on May 31 with plans for two special sessions later this year. The first taking place later this summer on governor priorities that did not pass in the regular session. The other in the fall for redistricting and the allocation of $16 billion in federal COVID-19 funds.
So how did women in Texas fair this legislative session? While we did not have all the wins we hoped for, we did move the needle in advancing economic security for women in Texas. Here are a few wins:
HB 133 Passed – This bill will extend a mother’s postpartum Medicaid insurance to cover six months rather than two months. Texas Women’s Foundation, along with several other organizations, signed on in support of Medicaid expansion. A 2018 report by the Texas Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force determined that almost 80% of pregnancy-related deaths could have been mitigated by extending coverage beyond the current 60 days post-partum to one year. While we did not get the 12 months we hoped for, we did move the needle in the right direction. Thank you to Representative Toni Rose, the primary author of this bill.
HB 2607 Passed – This bill would require subsidy providers to participate in the Texas Rising Star Program with a clear phase-in of requirements and support systems needed. This was identified as a priority from the 86th Legislative Session. Over a million Texas children could qualify for subsidized child care, but fewer than 10% of eligible children receive it, due to lack of funds and lack of child care providers who accept subsidies. Child care subsidies increase the likelihood that mothers work, alleviates financial stress on family budgets and increases the likelihood that children are in higher quality early childhood settings. (Economic Issues for Women in Texas, 2020) Thank you to Representative James Talarico, the primary author of this bill.
HB 2697 PASSED – This bill addresses the problem of “coerced debt” by expanding the definition of identity theft in Texas to include debt incurred through coercion in an abusive relationship. Texas Women’s Foundation has often spoken about “coerced debt” and with the expansion of this definition, it will help women who are escaping abusive relationships have a stronger financial footing. Thank you to Representative Morgan Meyer, the primary author of this bill.
As always, lawmakers were also tasked with passing a state budget this legislative session. This is actually the only thing that they HAVE to do each session according to the Texas Constitution. Believed to be at risk was school funding provided in 2019 by HB 3. Thankfully, lawmakers maintained this funding that provides more money for Texas classrooms, increases in teacher compensation, reduces recapture, and cuts local property taxes for Texas taxpayers. For Texas Women’s Foundation, education is the primary pathway to economic security and sets the stage for success in so many ways for women in Texas.
For a full rundown of the legislative session, to see how a bill faired that you were following, or to find your representative, visit Texas Legislature Online.
Now it’s time for us to say THANK YOU! To our state representatives, advocacy grantees and community partners, and to you – our Army of Advocates! For taking action when we asked you to, for sharing our calls to actions with others, and for being engaged with us to make a better Texas For All – Thank you!