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On Our Minds is the name of KERA's mental health news initiative. The station began focusing on the issue in 2013, after the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Coverage is funded in part by the Donna Wilhelm Family Fund and Cigna.

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.

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. 

Syeda Hasan is the Elections Editor and Reporter at KERA. Before moving into that role, she covered mental health at the station. A Houston native, her journalism career has taken her to public radio newsrooms around Texas.