Although nothing is truly dead until the end of the session, Texas lawmakers have ensured that some bills never see the light, burying a number of important laws that should’ve made it out during this legislative session.
Bills that have a direct impact on the lives of people have been stuck forever and with only three days to go, it’s unlikely they’ll get a proper hearing and will probably be left to die until the end of the session. Here’s a round-up of some relevant bills that are left languishing in committee.
The Legislature made some improvements to the state’s current marijuana bills. HB 1535 relating to the medical use of low-THC cannabis by patients with certain medical conditions was passed by the House in a 134 to 12 vote.
HB 1086 and HB 2593, bills that would reduce or reform criminal marijuana-related penalties, are waiting to be considered.
Healthcare and Medicaid Expansion
During the Trump era, Texas was granted a federal waiver that reimbursed hospitals for the “uncompensated care” they provided to patients without health insurance. This made it possible for the state to keep Medicaid access limited while having their citizens taken care of, healthwise. This year, Medicaid officials decided to rescind the waiver in order to push Texas lawmakers to expand Medicaid coverage.
The Texas House had already filed a bill to expand Medicaid, HB 3871 by Rep. Julie Johnson. With bipartisan support and enough votes to pass out of the House, it seemed like the bill was on its way to becoming a reality, but state leaders feel strongly against such legislation being passed. The bill has been stuck in committee for weeks, with no signs of revival on the horizon.
Also stuck in committee without a hearing is HJR 86 by Republican Rep. Lyle Larson.
Casinos & Sports Gambling
HB 2070, relating to the regulation of sports betting would add a constitutional amendment legalizing sports gambling in the state of Texas on the ballot. While the bill has gained a lot of attention in the state for promising huge investments, it was left pending in committee and no new actions have been taken since mid-April.
The legalization of gambling in Texas has a lot of support from major sports businessmen in the state, including Texas Rangers CEO, Neil Leibman who said, “The reality is that sports betting is happening illegally right now and it’s important for the state to take control,” he said.
But it seems state legislators have already decided the fate of the casino bills for this session, Rep. John Kuempel, R-Seguin, told The Dallas Morning News that, “There’s not time for it to pass this session.” Either way, it was always a gamble (pun intended).