State Capital Highlights
AUSTIN — With a mere two weeks remaining until the end of the 85th regular session of the Texas Legislature, lawmakers have not yet finalized a state budget for fiscal years 2018 and 2019.
The Legislature’s 150 House members and 31 Senate members can work around the clock, if need be. Their only absolutely required accomplishment in the 140-day-long session is to produce that budget and put it on the governor’s desk. If they don’t, the governor will call them back for a special session.
House floor debates, protracted by Republican intra-party bickering, ate up the clock last week. Sheaves of mostly noncontroversial local and consent bills accumulated and died as deadlines took effect, and chances were reduced for hundreds of other bills to earn a spot on a floor-debate calendar.
Despite the atmosphere in the House, the body tentatively passed House Bill 39, the Child and Family Protective Services and Health and Human Services reform bill authored by Gene Wu, D-Houston; Richard Raymond, D-Laredo; Sarah Davis, R-Houston; Toni Rose, D-Dallas; James White, R-Hillister; and coauthored by Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs; and Ina Minjarez and Tomas Uresti, both D-San Antonio. The bipartisan bill seeks to support the existing child protective services system by creating programs and procedures that respond to service gaps, provide resources for parties involved in child welfare and the foster care system, and establish a more efficient case management system. HB 39 still must gain Senate approval before advancing to the governor’s desk.
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