Over the 140 days of the 2023 Regular Texas Legislative Session, approximately 11,800 bills were filed, and 4,550 passed. CHILDREN AT RISK showed up strong, registering support for bills 79 times, and providing expert testimony on legislation 29 times. In addition to testimony, CHILDREN AT RISK organized four Advocacy Rallies to promote legislation on early childhood education, human trafficking, racial equity, and basic needs that brought hundreds of Texans to the Capitol – many for the very first time.

With the dust settled on the 88th Regular Texas Legislative Session, CHILDREN AT RISK advocates dove into the details to highlight what legislation passed, where there were missed opportunities, and what it all means for Texas children. Download our full 88th Session Legislative Report via the button below. 

Bill Highlights

It was a banner year for early childhood education policy, with constituents getting to vote in November for the first time on the importance of child care with the newly passed property tax relief bill for child care providers.

  • SB 1145 and SJR 64 (West/Talarico): A key part of supporting the child care workforce and making child care more affordable for working families is cutting costs for providers. The Texas Legislature passed a Joint Resolution and enabling legislation to put a constitutional amendment on the November ballot to create targeted property tax cuts for child care centers. The property tax cut must be from 50 to 100 percent. To be eligible for the tax cut, child care providers must participate in the Texas Rising Star Program (TRS) of the Texas Workforce Commission and maintain a minimum 20 percent enrollment of children receiving child care scholarshipsIf a child care provider is leasing a facility, the benefit must be passed down to the provider and not retained by the property owner. If the constitutional amendment passes in November, counties and municipalities can adopt this tax exemption. 
  • HB 1905 (Talarico/West) allows school districts in Texas to offer certain school safety training courses, including active shooter training, to employees of accredited private schools, child-care facilities, and organizations providing out-of-school-time care.

This session also contributed to ending human trafficking and child exploitation.

  • SB 1527 (Huffman/Thompson S.) is the human trafficking omnibus bill and includes many provisions that will aid law enforcement and increase support for trafficking victims and survivors.
  • HB 2313 (Thompson S./Paxton) requires Transportation Network Companies to provide training for drivers on how to recognize and report trafficking of car passengers.  
  • HB 3536 (Manuel/Paxton) provides protections to landlords that evict a tenant operating a massage establishment that is not in compliance with state law/licensing relating to massage therapy.
  • HB 1181 (Shaheen et al./Paxton) requires publishers of sexually explicit content to enact an appropriate age-verification method to access their website.

One bill will increase the safety of families and prevent addresses of victims of child abduction from being found through public records.

  • HB 1161 (Meyer et al./Parker) reinforces the importance of protecting our children by including victims of child abduction to the eligible Address Confidentiality Program participants.

There were several legislative wins related to children’s health & nutrition, with the most notable being postpartum Medicaid coverage.

  • HB 12 (Rose et al./Kolkhorst) allows Texans who receive their health insurance through Medicaid for Pregnant Women to keep their health coverage for 12 months after their pregnancy instead of two months.
  • With the passage of SB 222 (Nichols), state employees are now provided with paid parental leave for the birth or adoption of a child for up to eight weeks.
  • HB 1287 (Guillen et al./Blanco) updates the limits in the vehicle asset test for SNAP eligibility to reflect inflation, increasing the vehicle value to $22,500 for the first vehicle and $8,700 for additional vehicles.

K-12 Public Education has been at the forefront of discussions amongst legislators and there were several wins this session for public education.

  • SB 2124 (Creighton/Howard) requires each school district and open-enrollment charter school in Texas to develop an advanced mathematics program for middle school students, aiming to increase the number of students who take advanced math courses in high school and enroll in Algebra I by eighth grade.
  • HB 1416 (Bell K. et al./Paxton) requires school districts to align their curricular and instructional systems with essential knowledge and skills, address deficiencies in prerequisite knowledge and skills, and provide accelerated or supplemental instruction to students who perform poorly on assessments.
  • HB 1883 (Bhojani et al./Kolkhorst) specifies that assessment instruments should not be administered on the first instructional day of the week or on religious holy days, including various holidays such as Christmas, Diwali, and Yom Kippur.

Texas also attempted to continue addressing racial inequities throughout the state this session.

  • HB 567 (Bowers et al./Miles), otherwise known as the CROWN Act (Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair), prohibits discrimination based on hair texture or protective hairstyles associated with race in student dress or grooming policies in both school districts and institutions of higher education.
  • HB 1212 (Jetton/Kolkhorst) prohibits a school district from requiring a note from a clergy member or other religious leader to excuse a student absence related to the observance of a religious holy day.

We hope to see Texas leaders make racial equity a greater priority in future sessions and make the jump from promises to legislative action. Texas will never reach its full economic potential unless ALL Texas children are equipped with the tools and resources they need to thrive.

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