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Legislature Reaches 60-Day Mark, Action Continues

The 85th Legislature reached an important milestone on Friday, March 10 – the 60th day of the session, which is the bill filing deadline. This deadline means that no more new bills can be filed, which also often signals a significant increase in legislative activity as legislators work to pass their bills.

Budget hearings have been continuing in both the House and Senate, and Texas CASA provided testimony in both bodies regarding funding for CASA programs under the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), continued funding for the Collaborative Family Engagement (CFE) program under DFPS, and other budget priorities. On a preliminary basis, the House Appropriations subcommittee has “pended” half of Texas CASA’s budget request of a $2-million increase annually. This means legislators are trying to find a way to fund this amount, which will be difficult given the state’s current fiscal condition. Continued funding for CFE is moving forward in both houses.

As reported previously, the major CPS reform bill in the Senate, Senate Bill 11, was approved by the full Senate unanimously on March 1. In addition, House Bills 4 and 5 were passed by the full House on March 2. HB 4 requires monthly payments for kinship caregivers, while HB 5 separates DFPS from the HHSC and makes it a free-standing agency. Texas CASA also expects the committee substitute for HB 6 to be heard in committee as soon as Monday, March 20.

For more information on any of these issues, contact the Texas CASA public policy staff at