Bills Are Moving; Help Them Across the Finish Line

by Kathryn Freeman on May 12, 2017 in CLC

The end of the 85th Legislature is rapidly approaching. Several CLC priority bills are still moving, but we need your help to ensure they make it to the governor’s desk.

HB 4: Kinship Care

Families whose incomes are less than or equal to 300 percent of the poverty level would be eligible for a monthly payment not more than 50 percent of the reimbursement rate for foster families. HB 4 helps keep kids with their extended families by increasing financial support for kinship caregivers.

HB 4 is a wise investment in kinship care. Research has shown that children placed with relatives go through fewer placement disruptions, fewer behavioral problems, fewer mental health disorders, all while maintaining a sense of continuity in family support.

This bill has been voted out of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services. Contact your state senator to ask him or her to support HB 4 when it comes to the Senate floor for a vote.

HB 122: Raise the Age

Texas is only one of six states that automatically treats 17-year-olds as adults. HB 122 would raise the age of criminal responsibility from 17 to 18. When 17-year-olds are arrested in Texas, they are treated as adults and no one is required to inform their parents of the arrest.

Raising the age of criminal responsibility would start kids off in the juvenile system, but allow judges to transfer those with the most violent offenses to the adult system if appropriate. Research shows that young people who are kept in the juvenile justice system are less likely to reoffend than those transferred into the adult system.  An adult criminal record creates barriers to getting an education, gaining employment, securing housing, and joining the military.

This bill passed out of the House with bipartisan support. Please consider contacting your state senator and asking him or her to support HB 122.

HB 2552: Human Trafficking Omnibus Bill

One in five human trafficking victims passes through Texas along the I-10 corridor. A recent University of Texas study found there are 300,000 victims of human trafficking in Texas. This bill is designed to deal with sex trafficking and give law enforcement more tools to go after “middle men” in trafficking operations, improve data collection, and create a framework for combatting human trafficking occurring on commercial property.

The bill also includes a provision to post signs with the National Human Trafficking Hotline number in emergency rooms and abortion facilities. It also requires training for licensed cosmetologists on recognizing the signs of human trafficking among their clients.

This bill has passed out of the House and sent to the Senate. Please consider contacting your state senator and asking him or her to support HB 2552.

HB 3859: Conscience Protections for Faith-Based Child Placing Agencies

Faith-based child placing agencies like Buckner International want to be a part of the solution to the foster care crisis in Texas without compromising their sincerely held religious beliefs. Faith-based child welfare providers account for only 25 percent of child placing groups in Texas, it is important that they are able to maintain their seat at the table as the state seeks to recruit more families to foster children.

No one will be prevented from fostering or adopting within the state of Texas. The stated legislative intent of the bill is to ensure that there is a diverse and broad range of foster care providers. We believe it is possible to respect sincerely held religious beliefs and work for the best interest of the child. We need as many churches, providers, and families to be involved to increase the chances of children finding forever families.

This bill has passed out of the House and has been sent to the Senate. Please consider contacting your senator and asking him or her to support HB 3859.

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