Though it tends to take a backseat to a number of other policy issues, mental health policy is arguably one of the most important legislative issues currently discussed and disputed by lawmakers. Attorney Jake Posey noted that various bills which could potentially impact mental health services in Texas were recently introduced in the Texas Legislature. The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities tracks legislative bills that directly affect health-related public policy, including the following mental health bills:
• HB 71: Introduced by Rep. Armando Martinez of District 39, this bill would allow family members to transport an individual to the appropriate setting during a mental health crisis. According to LegiScan, Rep. Martinez filed HB 71 on November 14, 2016. The bill reached the House Public Health Committee on February 13, 2017.
• HB 909: Proposed by Rep. Ramon Romero Jr. of District 90, HB 909 would extend the amount of time a facility can detain an individual for preliminary examination from 48 hours to 72 hours. Rep. Romero Jr. filed HB 909 on January 10, 2017, and the bill currently awaits referral to committee.
• SB 220: Senator Jose Hernandez of District 26 introduced SB 220 to the Texas State Senate on November 14, 2016. This bill would “prohibit the carrying of handguns in any nursing facility, facility under contract by a mental health authority, or hospital or community center that provides mental health services” (Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities).
SB 292: Originally filed on December 13, 2016 by Senator Joan Huffman, SB 292 would create a grant program to reduce the arrests and incarceration of individuals with mental health disorders. This bill reached the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on January 20, 2017.