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After Temporary Defeat, Mental Health Bill Is Revived At The Texas Legislature

Under the Texas Capitol dome in the Rotunda.
State of Texas
Under the Texas Capitol dome in the Rotunda.

The KERA News conversation

State lawmakers have breathed new life into a major mental health bill with bipartisan support, after it was temporarily struck down by a North Texas Tea Party leader.

Senate Bill 10 was prioritized by Texas Governor Greg Abbott after last year's deadly Santa Fe High School shooting as a way to improve school safety. The bill would set aside $100 million to create a mental health care consortium, a group of universities and medical professionals that would work to better connect Texas students with mental health services, expand research and telemedicine. The KERA News story

Late Tuesday night, the bill temporarily died on a technicality raised by State Rep. Jonathan Stickland, a republican from Bedford. Hours later, lawmakers tried to revive the legislation, amending it onto another mental health bill that addresses school safety. Stickland continued to challenge the legislation.

"So what some folks have done is gone into the back room and figured out a way to bring back a bill that died by the rules of the House," Stickland said.

Despite Stickland's attempts to kill the legislation, State Rep. John Zerwas, a Republican from Richmond who sponsored Senate Bill 10 in the Texas House, successfully amended it to another proposal. That amended billultimately passed.

Stickland again questioned the bill on the House floor Wednesday afternoon, raising what are called "points of order." Those technical challenges were overruled. Stickland has challenged other mental health legislation during the 2019 session, raising concerns about government overreach, parental rights and privacy.

The original Senate Bill 10 was sponsored by State Senator Jane Nelson, a Republican from Flower Mound. Nelson has said the bill will fill gaps in the state's mental health care system for at-risk kids.

The 2019 state legislative session is set to end this coming Monday. 

After Temporary Defeat, Mental Health Bill Is Revived At The Texas Legislature

Copyright 2019 KERA

Syeda Hasan is KUT's development and affordability reporter. She previously worked as a reporter at Houston Public Media covering county government, immigrant and refugee communities, homelessness and the Sandra Bland case. Her work has been heard nationally on public radio shows such as Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Marketplace.
Syeda Hasan
Syeda Hasan covers mental health for KERA News. A Houston native, her journalism career has taken her to public radio newsrooms around Texas.