TCA Capitol Report: May 19, 2023Legislative Session Approaches Final Week
The end of the legislative session on May 29 is in sight, but as we explain below, TCA members still have an opportunity to make a real difference by weighing in with key legislative offices.
First, we want to start with some happy news that reflects the positive engagement of TCA members. This week, the Senate approved HB 2929
, a TCA priority bill which corrects a technical error from last session and removes the cap on professional development (CE) hours for school counselors on core content. The bill has now been approved by both the House and Senate and we expect it will soon be sent to Gov. Greg Abbott for his signature. TCA members have provided consistent support for this bill and your voice has made a difference. Thank you for speaking up on this needed legislation! We have been the primary voice out there this session working to improve legislation for the benefit of LPCs and school counselors across Texas, and this bill is a reflection of that good work.
- HB 2557 has still not been set for a hearing by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst of Brenham, who Chairs the Senate Health & Human Services Committee, and time is starting to run out. This is the bill that would allow Texas to join the Interstate Counseling Compact. We encourage all TCA members to call Sen. Kolkhorst at (512) 463-0118 and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick at (512) 463-0001 and tell them this bill should be set for a hearing. Tell them:
“I ask that HB 2557 be set for a hearing in the Health & Human Services Committee so Texas can join 26 other states in the Interstate Counseling Compact and improve access to mental health services.”
We also want TCA members to know that a guest opinion column by TCA President Dr. Elsa Soto Leggett supporting the Compact has been published in several newspapers around the state, including the:
- We also ask that you contact Sen. Kolkhorst and the other members of the Senate Health & Human Services Committee and ask them to vote out HB 1167, the BHEC cleanup bill. This is a TCA priority bill that makes technical corrections to the BHEC structure and puts the LPC-Associate license title in statute
- Please call Chairman Brandon Creighton and the other members of the Senate Education Committee and ask them to vote out HB 1157, which would allow students to receive excused absences for appointments with mental health professionals. This is a noncontroversial bill with no fiscal note.
- Please call your local State Representative and tell them that TCA is opposed to SB 595, which expands the definitions of what constitutes a psychological or psychiatric exam or test for which prior parental consent is required. This would include anything designed to elicit certain information about a child presented in the form of a survey, check-in, screening, or embedded in an academic lesson — hindering school counselors’ ability to perform some of their responsibilities. An amendment added on the Senate floor actually made the bill even worse by requiring parental consent for “each separate activity in which the child participates.” The bill was voted out of committee on Thursday and is likely to be scheduled for debate by the full House in the coming days.
- SB 763 , the bill authorizing school districts to hire chaplains, is now in a House-Senate conference committee, which is the group of legislators who will try to reach final agreement on the language of the bill. While TCA does not support this bill, we do believe that the version approved by the House is better than the one approved by the Senate. Please contact the members of the conference committee and encourage them to support the House version of the bill. The members of the conference committee are:
, which eliminates the requirement for school counselors to have experience as teachers, was approved this week by the Texas House, with Republicans largely voting for the bill and Democrats largely voting against. This bill is on its way to the Governor for his signature.
to allow school districts to receive Medicaid funding for mental health services to eligible students, has not been set for a hearing in the Senate Education Committee
SB 14 ,
which bans access to gender-affirming care
for minors, has been passed by the House and Senate and is on its way to Governor Abbott, who is likely to sign it into law. TCA does not support SB 14.
, which would prohibit transgender men from competing on men’s college athletic teams and transgender women from competing on women’s college athletic teams, has also been passed by the House and Senate and is likely to be signed into law by Governor Abbott. TCA does not support SB 15.
has been left for dead by the House Public Education Committee, which has not voted on the measure. SB 8 would allow students to attend private schools with public dollars. While the Senate passed a version of the bill that would have opened up these private-school vouchers to millions of students, the Chairman of the House Public Education Committee tried to push through a bill that was more narrowly targeted to students who receive special education services or who attend the state’s lowest-performing schools. However, Governor Abbott said he would veto the House version — giving the Chairman little reason to bring it up for a vote. The Governor has said he will call special sessions of the Legislature if this one ends without a bill making vouchers widely available. While it appears the House is not going to act on the issue, nothing is truly dead in the Texas Legislature until the final gavel falls.
, which aimed to put limits on tenure at public universities, was sent back to a House committee on Thursday when Democratic state representatives called a point of order on the bill, citing a technical error. Later Thursday, the bill was voted back out of the House Higher Education Committee and will probably be set on another House calendar quickly. The Senate has already passed its own stricter version of the bill.
Finally, if you are angered or frustrated by the results you see (or don’t see) from the Texas Legislature, we want to remind you that one of the best ways you can impact change is by voting in primary and general elections. You can easily register to vote in Texas here
. Even if you are already registered, we encourage you to share this link with your coworkers, neighbors, friends, and family members so that they can also participate in the choosing of our elected leaders. It is vitally important for concerned Texans to make our voices heard — and there’s no better time for that than Election Day!