Capitol Report: March 17, 2023

TCA Capitol Report, March 17, 2023
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
With nine weeks down and eleven to go, we are nearing the midway point in this year’s session of the Texas Legislature. This is the time of the session when the action is largely in committees, where bills are getting their first hearing and members of the public have the opportunity to voice their support or concerns (usually in three minutes or less). Fortunately, several of TCA’s Priority Bills have already been heard and others are set for hearings next week! As we mentioned last week, it is general practice to leave bills pending on the day they are heard. This means that they can be reported out at any time by the committee without further public notice.
ACTION ALERTS: TCA Bills on the Move
HB 2929 (Lozano) will be heard at 8 am, Tuesday, 3/21, by the House Public Education Committee in E2.036. Directions on how to submit virtual testimony is at the bottom of the  House Public Education Committee hearing notice. HB 2929 corrects a technical error from last session that inadvertently capped at 25% professional development hours for school counselors in core content areas. Contact Committee members, especially if you are a constituent, and ask them to support HB 2929.
HB 1167 (Romero) will be heard at 8 am, Tuesday, 3/21, by the House Human Services Committee in E2.030. Directions on how to submit virtual testimony is at the bottom of the  hearing notice. HB 1167 is a technical clean-up bill that changes the term “temporary license” to “associate license;” expedites licensing for counselors seeking to relocate to Texas; and corrects technical errors in the legislation that created BHEC. Last session, this bill had no opposition and almost made it to the finish line. Refer to the HB 1167 Position Paper when making your calls to Committee members.
TCA Education Services Development Director Carrie Proctor testified in support of  House Bill 1157 by Rep. J.M. Lozano during a meeting of the House Select Committee on Youth Health & Safety. The bill was left pending in committee, which means the Chairwoman can bring it up for a committee vote later in the session. Please call the members of the committee to express your support and ask them to favorably report the bill out of committee!
TCA members certainly made our voices heard during our first Advocacy Day on Tuesday, March 14th. Just over 50 volunteer advocates visited 18 Senate and 36 House offices, with priority given to TCA members’ local offices and the key committees overseeing our issues. Many met with legislative staff, and several were able to meet with their Senator and/or State Rep! Thank you to the members who traveled to the Texas Capitol to advocate for our priorities and to help legislative offices better understand the work of Licensed Professional Counselors and Professional School Counselors.
Advocacy Day Resources
For those of you who were not able to attend, we have posted the handouts from Advocacy Day on the  Public Policy Page  These documents can be helpful to share with your legislators over email, and they can also help you learn more about some of our priority legislation. Newly added documents in the Advocacy Hub include:
Understanding the Work of Licensed Professional Counselors
Understanding the Work of Professional School Counselors
We have also produced new handouts on a couple of our priority bills:
SB1101/HB1157, regarding excused absences for seeing a mental health professional.
HB 1249, regarding continuing education requirements for school counselors, which is now embedded in HB 2929 which will be heard in House Public Education on Tuesday (see above). These talking points will work for HB 2929.
Social Media Engagement
Please remember that we also post plenty of content related to the legislative session on our social media channels, such as this Tweet thanking Rep. Janie Lopez for filing two priority bills.
You can help spread the word by liking, reposting, and tagging our social media content.


In The News
Higher Education is on the radar of Senate leadership with bills filed that would prohibit public colleges and universities from awarding tenure to professors hired after September (SB 18, Creighton) and prohibit Texas’ higher education institutions from considering diversity, equity and inclusion when hiring new employees (SB 17, Creighton). Both bills are high priorities for the Lt. Governor and have been referred to the Senate Education Committee, which is chaired by Senator Creighton. On Thursday, the House Appropriations Committee approved a rider to the House budget draft recommended by the Article III (Education) Subcommittee that would ban colleges and universities from using state funds on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Because this action was taken during a work session, after the public hearings, there was no opportunity for constituent input. TCA recommends contacting  your State Representative soon. 
“Parental Rights” bills are starting to move in the Senate. There is a plethora of legislation that will move dollars from public schools, reinforce many parental rights that are already in place, and generally impose significant constraints on educators in our public schools. The Senate Education Committee meeting on Wednesday, March 22 at 9 am will be where many of these bills will be heard. TCA is closely monitoring these bills as part of the Public School Coalition. 
Transgender youth health care was the focus of the Senate State Affairs Committee on Thursday where several bills attempting to enact healthcare bans that limit access to life-saving healthcare for transgender youth in opposition to best-practice medical standards of care were heard. While these bills would penalize medical professionals, TCA opposes them as they do NOT align with our 2023 Policy Priorities and constrain individual self-determination and autonomy. TCA recommends contacting your State Senator soon.
Next Advocacy Day is April 11
Our next Advocacy Day is coming up in less than a month! Please join us at the Capitol on April 11, when we will have an even better idea of which bills are moving and which are stalled. Representative Janie Lopez will be recognizing us in the House. You don’t want to miss that! You can sign up here. We hope to see you there. 
If you have any questions or need more information, please contact