Under the Pink Dome the Days Are Few: An Update on Some CLC Legislative Priorities


The end of the legislative session is in sight and while there is still time, the days are getting longer and the chances of getting bills out of committee are getting smaller. This is an update on some of the CLC priority bills, where they are in the process and how you can help get them over the finish line.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

According to the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, the number of women in Texas prisons has grown by nearly 1,000 percent since 1980 (more than twice the rate of men). The vast majority are mothers. Texas leads the nation in the total number of incarcerated women. Yet, because women comprise only a small portion of the overall incarcerated population their needs are largely ignored or unmet. As part of the Texas Smart on Crime Coalition, the CLC has worked this session to address the dignity of incarcerated women in Texas.

We are supporting the following bills:  

  • HB 1389 (Thompson): Relating to the placement on community supervision, including deferred adjudication community supervision, of a defendant who is the primary caretaker of a child. Ths bill encourages community supervision or deferred adjudication where applicable for people who are not a threat to public safety and who are the primary caretaker of a child.

  • HB 1651 (Gonzalez): Relating to the care of pregnant women confined in county jail. This bill would require the Commission on Jail Standards to develop rules and policies around the reasonable and appropriate use of any restraints on prisoners who are pregnant or up to 12 weeks postpartum.

  • HB 3227 (Howard): Relating to a female inmate’s access to programs offered to inmates of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.  This bill requires TDCJ to develop and implement strategies to increase educational and vocational programs available to incarcerated women.

How You Can Help Support These Bills

  • These bills have passed the House and are now waiting for a hearing with the Senate Criminal Justice Committee. You can contact Senate Criminal Justice at (512) 463-0345 and ask that they set these bills for a hearing as soon as possible.

PRO-LIFE LEGISLATION

While rare, infants have been born alive after a failed abortion attempt. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that at least 143 infant deaths involved “induced termination” from 2003 to 2014. The CLC is working to pass the following legislation:

  • HB 16 (Leach): Relating to the enforcement of the rights of a living unborn child after abortion; creating a civil cause of action; providing a civil penalty; creating a criminal offense. This bill clarifies that an independent doctor-patient relationship exists between a doctor and infant after a failed attempt to terminate a pregnancy.

How You Can Help Support This Bill

  • This bill has passed the House and is waiting on a hearing from the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. You can contact the Senate committee at  (512) 463-0360 and ask for it to be set for a hearing as soon as possible.

PAYDAY LENDING

There are no limits on fees charged by payday and auto-title loans in Texas, with interest rates often averaging over 500 percent APR. These loans trap many families in unending debt, draining local charitable resources and harming local economies. The unified payday and auto-title loan ordinances passed in 45 cities across the state puts simple, common sense standards into place to address harms caused by the loan. The CLC opposes the two following bills:

  • HB 3899 (Leach): Relating to the authority of a municipality to regulate statewide commerce. This bill would preempt local payday and auto-title loan ordinances. It would remove broad city powers to address local economic and quality of life issues.

  • HB 3292 (Gutierrez): Relating to sales-leaseback transactions. This bill would re-open a long closed predatory lending loophole known as the “sale-leaseback,” which is a deceptive practice that allows a payday-like cash advance product to operate outside of Texas' consumer lending laws, the federal Military Lending Act protections, and the local ordinances that set a baseline for fair market practices for payday and auto title loans. This bill would remove regulatory oversight of these types of loan transactions.

How You Can Help

  • These bills are in the House Calendars Committee. You can contact the committee by clicking the following links and ask them NOT to set HB 3899 and HB 3292.

Above all else, please pray for the CLC and our lobby team that we would be wise, gentle, reasonable, and unwavering in our work to pursue the common good while representing a biblical worldview in accordance to James 3:16-17.

Related articles: The 86th Legislative Session in Review / CLC announces public policy priorities / 85th Legislative Session is Officially Over: A Special Session Report