Capitol Office: 512.463.0707   |   District Office: 281.485.6565

Friday, July 07 2017

The Capitol Review Vol 5, No. 12

Greetings, Texans!

 

I've been grateful to spend this past month in the district connecting with constituents and attending many events throughout the area. Today, I'm in Austin attending a meeting of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to discuss my concerns regarding the Blue Ridge Landfill. I appreciate the opportunity to serve as a voice for many of my constituents whose quality of life has been impaired by this landfill.

 

In this edition of the Capitol Review, we are covering the following topics:

  • Major Legislation Passed in the 85th Regular Legislative Session
  • Bill Statistics from the 85th Regular Legislative Session
  • Special Session
  • Reminder: Talk, Text, Crash
  • House District 29 Events

I enjoyed being a part of the groundbreaking ceremony for the Brazoria County Expressway. This toll road project will help alleviate traffic congestion and spur economic development in our community.

 

Major Legislation Passed in the 85th Regular Legislative Session

Over the following months, I will be providing updates and information on legislation that was passed during the regular and special session that will have a large impact on our state.


Senate Bill 8 - Omnibus Pro-life Legislation

  • SB 8 bans partial-birth abortions and prohibits the sale of fetal tissues and organs.
  • While partial-birth abortions are banned by federal law, state prosecutors cannot enforce federal law; this provides an enforcement mechanism for Texas to prosecute those who perform partial-birth abortions.
  • Provides for the disposition of fetal remains.
  • Prohibits abortion by the method of dismemberment. 
  • Signed by the Governor, effective 9/1/2017.
     

Senate Bill 11 – Community-Based Foster Care

  • Expands the community-based foster care system, in which a single source continuum contractor (SSCC) manages foster care for a particular region of the state, to two additional regions and adds ability to transfer foster care case management from DFPS to the SSCC.
  • Establishes a “readiness review” of contractors and adds a process to evaluate contractor performance.
  • Creates a quality assurance division within DFPS to monitor contract compliance and quality.
  • Creates a legislative oversight committee for DFPS similar to TLOC.
  • Includes provisions to improve delivery of medical services to foster children through new requirements for timely medical examinations.
  • Creates additional requirements on prevention services and increases tracking and evaluation of child fatality data.
  • Requires DFPS to conduct assessment of state foster care needs and develop recommendations on increasing foster care capacity throughout the state.
  • Requires DFPS to conduct assessment of state foster care needs and develop recommendations on increasing foster care capacity throughout the state.
  • Updates statutes to ensure that foster parents who work less than 40-hours a week can access day care services. Also directs streamlining of foster home licensing regulations.
  • Signed by the Governor, effective 9/1/2017.

House Bill 10 - Mental Health

  • HB 10 requires the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) to enforce the federal Mental Health Parity and Addition Equity Act that was adopted in 2008 and amended in 2010.
  • Requires mental health parity for most plans that includes mental health coverage including both quantitative treatment limitations and non-quantitative treatment limitations.
  • Designates a person within the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to be an ombudsman for behavioral health access to help providers and individuals seeking care navigate the behavioral health care system.
  • Requires the ombudsman to monitor and report mental health parity complaints to TDI.
  • Creates a mental health and substance use disorder stakeholder work group to develop a framework to implement and enforce mental health parity in Texas.
  • Requires TDI and HHSC to gather data regarding the denial rate of mental health and substance use disorder services compared to denials of medical and surgical services to better understand parity issues currently experienced by consumers.
  • Signed by the Governor, effective 9/1/2017.

House Bill 4 - Strengthening Kinship Care

  • Kinship Care placements have proven to be the most successful way to help children who are in state conservatorship.  Kinship Care allows kids to remain within their family structure which provides greater emotional support and better long term outcomes.
  • Provides additional monetary assistance for Kinship Care placements based on a family’s need.
  • Currently, qualifying families receive an initial integration payment of $1,000 for immediate expenses plus an annual reimbursement of $500 per child.
  • Under HB 4, a caregiver that has a family income that is less than or equal to 300 percent of the federal poverty level would receive a monthly stipend up to 50 percent of the Department of Family and Protective Services’ (DFPS) daily basic foster care rate for the child. A caregiver that has a family income greater than 500 percent of the federal poverty level is not eligible for monetary assistance under HB 4.
  • Signed by the Governor, effective 9/1/2017.

Senate Bill 12 - Bulletproof Vests for Law Enforcement Officers

  • SB 12 creates a grant program to assist law enforcement agencies with the purchase of bulletproof vests and body armor.
  • Funds from the program can be used by law enforcement agencies to purchase bulletproof vests, ballistic plates, and plate carriers.
  • This funding would provide approximately 50,000 vests.
  • Signed by the Governor, took effect on 5/27/2017.

Senate Bill 4 - Sanctuary Cities

  • SB 4 strengthens state sovereignty in enforcing immigration law by creating penalties for local entities and campus police departments who adopt or enforce policy which prohibits enforcement of immigration laws.
  • Individuals found acting against immigration law are liable to a financial penalty ranging from $1,000 to $25,500 depending on the number of offenses. All penalties are collected and deposited into the Compensation to Victims of Crime account.
  • Allows the Attorney General to petition for the removal of a violating public official from office.
  • Creates a grant program in the Office of the Governor to provide assistance to offset costs for full immigration enforcement.
  • Signed by the Governor, effective 9/1/2017.

 

I had the humbling honor to participate in the signing ceremony for the Community Covenant and celebrate the Army's 242nd birthday! The covenant is a promise between the Army and representatives of various organizations to maintain the partnership to build and maintain a strong community. Community leaders that signed the covenant included Pearland Police Chief Johnny Spires, Pearland ISD Superintendent Dr. John Kelly,  City of Pearland Mayor Tom Reid, and many more.

 

Bill Statistics from the 85th Regular Legislative Session

 

Special Session

Governor Greg Abbott has called the Texas Legislature back for a special session that will begin on July 18, 2017. Special sessions can last up to 30 days. Governor Abbott has indicated the following 20 issues will be on the call:

  • Sunset legislation
  • Teacher pay increase of $1,000       
  • Administrative flexibility in teacher hiring and retention practices
  • School finance reform commission
  • School choice for special needs students
  • Property tax reform
  • Caps on state and local spending
  • Preventing cities from regulating what property owners do with trees on private land
  • Preventing local governments from changing rules midway through construction projects
  • Speeding up local government permitting process
  • Municipal annexation reform
  • Texting while driving preemption
  • Privacy
  • Prohibition of taxpayer dollars to collect union dues
  • Prohibition of taxpayer funding for abortion providers
  • Pro-life insurance reform
  • Strengthening abortion reporting requirements when health complications arise
  • Strengthening patient protections relating to do-not-resuscitate orders
  • Cracking down on mail-in ballot fraud
  • Extending maternal mortality task force


    We had a great evening honoring Dr. Bill Staples' many years of service last month as he prepares to step down as the President of University of Houston Clear Lake. I had the honor of speaking on behalf of the legislators and presenting him with this official State of Texas rocking chair.

 

Reminder: Talk, Text, Crash

As the busy summer driving season approaches, the Texas Department of Transportation is urging motorists to avoid distractions and give driving their full attention. With 1 in 5 crashes in Texas caused by distracted driving, TxDOT is pushing its “Talk, Text, Crash” messaging across the state to encourage safe summer driving.

 

Safety experts warn that using a phone to make a call, text, check messages or perform other smartphone functions is particularly dangerous when behind the wheel. In 2016, there were 109,658 crashes in Texas related to distracted driving — up 3 percent over 2015. Research shows that holding a phone and even using a Bluetooth or other hands-free device is a distraction that can cause a crash.

While cell phone use may be one of the most common driving distractions, any behavior that takes a driver’s attention away from the road — including eating, reading, grooming, programming a GPS or adjusting the radio — is dangerous. TxDOT reminds drivers to:

  • Give driving 100 percent of your attention, 100 percent of the time.
  • Put your phone away — or turn it off — before getting behind the wheel.
  • Pull off the road to a safe location before texting or talking on the phone.
  • Tell friends, family and coworkers you will not respond to calls or texts when driving.
  • Use a smartphone app that sends auto-reply texts when you’re behind the wheel.

The Pearland ISD students of CIS-ACE enjoyed a Summer Patriotic Tribute at University of Houston Clear Lake. They allowed me to contribute to their morning and shared songs they had been practicing: the National Anthem and God Bless America.

 

House District 29 Events

Stay involved throughout the district with these upcoming events!

 

If you need assistance on any state-related issue, please contact my Pearland office at (281) 485-6565 or my Capitol office at (512) 463-0707, or email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

 

Thanks for reading, and God Bless Texas!

 

 

Ed Thompson
District 29

 

 

Capitol Office: E2.506                                                                    

P.O.Box 2910                                                                       

Austin, Texas 78768                                                              

(512) 463-0707        

 

District Office:      

2341 N. Galveston, Suite 120

Pearland, Texas 77581

(281) 485-6565 

 

 

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