This article has been updated since its original publishing.
Controversial legislation designed to create the “Texas Mental Health Care Consortium” was killed in the Texas House Tuesday evening on procedural grounds, if only for a few hours.
Senate Bill 10 by State Sen. Jane Nelson (R–Flower Mound) was designed to address mental health and its effect on school violence in the wake of the shooting at Santa Fe High School one year ago. Lt. Gov Dan Patrick named the bill “priority legislation” early on in the legislative session, and Gov. Greg Abbott officially declaring the creation of the consortium an “emergency item” for lawmakers to consider on an expedited schedule this session. And with just days left in the session, the bill’s future seemed to be in peril.
As explained in the official bill analysis, the bill’s goal was to leverage the expertise and capacity of certain health-related institutions of higher education to address urgent mental health challenges. Furthermore, it sought to improve the mental health care system in Texas and to enhance the state’s ability to address mental health care needs through collaboration.
But despite passing out of the Texas Senate unanimously, many conservative activists raised concerns over parental rights, privacy, and the potential for over-medication of psychotropic drugs.
When the bill hit the floor of the Texas House on Tuesday, the last day the bill could pass out of the chamber to have a chance at reaching the governor’s desk, State Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R–Bedford) quickly raised a point of order on consideration of the bill, on the grounds that the bill’s analysis was incorrect.
After an extended period of deliberation lasting nearly two hours, Speaker Dennis Bonnen returned to the front of the chamber to announce the point of order would be sustained and the bill would be taken off the calendar from further consideration.
The bill was not ultimately dead though.
Senate Bill 11, complementary legislation aimed at enhancing school safety and promoting mental health in Texas’ public schools, was given preliminary approval by the Texas House earlier in the day Tuesday. Lawmakers scrambled to bring back that bill over Stickland’s objection and tack on the major provisions of Senate Bill 10. That measure passed with only 11 members in opposition.