CASA Deep Dive: Key Outcomes of the 86th Texas Legislative Session

To keep you informed and inspired during the 86th Legislative Session, Texas CASA is taking the next few months to dive in to some of our key legislative priorities. Read more about our legislative priorities and our work leading up to, and during, the session.

The 86th Legislative Session officially came to a close on Memorial Day (May 27, 2019).

It was another busy session – the House filed 4,912 bills and the Senate filed 2,629 bills. Of the total bills filed, less than one-third made it out of the committee to which they were initially referred – and most of those bills died at other points in the process. In spite of those odds, we are happy to report that CASA saw a lot of success with our legislative initiatives this session, and excellent legislation that will improve the lives of children was passed.

Today, we would like to update you on the success of our priorities and some of the specific bills we worked on this session.

Increased Annual Legislative Funding

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The Latest:

CASA will get an increase of $3.5 million for 2020-21, taking our annual state funding from $13.2 million to $14.95 million! The House had funded our full request of a $4.5 million increase for the biennium, but the Senate had come in much lower in their version of the bill. The $3.5 million represents a compromise between the two funding amounts.

Collaborative Family Engagement, our family finding and engagement partnership with DFPS, was fully funded by both chambers!

Read more on the funding outcomes from the 86th Session.

Improving Outcomes for Older Youth & Youth Transitioning Out of the State’s Care

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The Latest:

HOUSE BILL 53 by Rep. Ina Minjarez, et al.

Summary: Adds topics to be covered under Preparation for Adult Living requirements. Requires PAL to include lessons concerning insurance, taxes and voting.

Status: Sent to the Governor.

HOUSE BILL 123 by Rep. James White

Summary: Allows for foster children, homeless youth, and unaccompanied minors ages 18-21 to receive a copy of their birth certificate without requiring parental consent or any fee. Also grants fee waivers for foster children, homeless youth, and unaccompanied minors when applying for a Driver’s License or ID.

Status: Passed by both chambers.

Meeting the Healthcare Needs of Children & Youth in Foster Care

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The Latest:

HOUSE BILL 72 by Rep. James White

Summary: Allows adoptive parents to opt into STAR Health Medicaid for their child if the youth has a chronic health condition. Establishes a program that protects the continuity of care for each child and ensures the child receives their health benefits.

Status: Passed by both chambers.

Addressing Educational Challenges for Students in Foster Care

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The Latest:

HOUSE BILL 811 by Rep. James White

Summary: Requires public schools to consider whether a child is experiencing homelessness or in foster care when taking disciplinary action.

Status: Signed by the Governor, effective immediately.

HOUSE BILL 1702 by Rep. Donna Howard

Summary: Requires liaison officers at institutions of higher education who assist students formerly in foster care to obtain the names and information of all current and incoming students who were previously in the conservatorship of the Department. The bill requires the liaison to provide these students with information about support services available to them on campus. The liaison officer may participate in relevant training that serves to better assist children formerly in foster care.

Status: Passed both chambers and sent to the Governor.

HOUSE BILL 1709 by Rep. Mary Gonzalez

Summary: Requires school districts to notify DFPS if a surrogate parent has been appointed to a child with disabilities who is in the conservatorship of the DFPS. Clarifies that if the school district determines that a court-appointed surrogate parent is not properly performing their required duties, the district shall consult with DFPS. If DFPS agrees with the school district that the court-appointed surrogate parent is unable or unwilling to act in the surrogate parent capacity, DFPS must request that the court review the appointment of the individual.

Status: Passed by both chambers.

Human Trafficking Prevention


The Latest:

House Bill 3800 by Rep. Senfronia Thompson

Summary: Requires peace officers who investigate human trafficking offenses to prepare and submit a written report that includes the offense being investigated, description of the alleged prohibited conduct, and identifying data of each person suspected of the crime and each potential victim of the offense.

Status: Passed by both chambers.

What’s Next?

Other initiatives, such as Texas CASA champion legislation to promote trauma-informed care and a more comprehensive approach to normalcy for children in care, did not make it to the finish line, but we will be pursuing those issues in the interim and in the 87th Legislative Session.

Whatever your involvement with CASA, thank you for your commitment to Texas children, and for your attention and support this legislative session. We would like to extend an extra-special “thank you” to our partners on the numerous Legislative Advocacy Teams across the state who helped move these bills across the finish line. Texas CASA would not be successful without your support and hard work on behalf of the children and youth in foster care in Texas.

Check out our other CASA Deep Dives!

If you have any questions or would like more information on any of our legislative priorities for the 2019 Legislative Session, contact the Public Policy team at [email][/email].