A High-Priority Mental Health Bill Passes After Things Get Sticky At The Capitol

Conservative Rep. Jonathan Stickland almost took down SB 10, a bill the governor had labeled a top legislative priority.

By Jill Ament & Terri LangfordMay 22, 2019 7:13 am,

On Wednesday, State Rep. Jonathan Stickland – a conservative who, until recently, was a leader of the House Freedom Caucus – almost derailed a mental health measure that Gov. Greg Abbott  had made a priority, this legislative session. House leaders saved the bill.

James Barragán, who covers the Texas House for the Dallas Morning News, says Stickland is known for making procedural moves that move bills back in the queue for consideration. So near the end of this year’s session, his move on the mental health bill would have effectively killed it.

“The bill that we’re talking about is this big, priority mental health bill which would have created a mental health consortium that would have included medical professionals and institutions of higher education to help identify mental health behavior and to help research how it affects kids,” Barragán says.

The bill – SB 10 – came out of roundtables the governor hosted in response to the Santa Fe school shooting. It would provide $100 million for a variety of initiatives, including telemedicine that could provide health services to at-rick students.

“But because Rep. Stickland is a staunchly conservative lawmaker, and because he is a very small-government lawmaker, he had issues with this bill and said  that he thought there [were] some questions about parental rights – he didn’t really elaborate on what that meant,” Barragán says.

On Wednesday evening, House Speaker Dennis Bonnen used his own procedural tactics to get the bill back onto the House floor– he brought up another bill, SB 11.

“It becomes very obvious to anybody watching that what they’re going to try to do is tack on SB 10, the bill that Stickland killed a few hours ago, onto SB 11,” Barragán says.

Stickland wasn’t happy, and said so. Barragán says the conflict resulted in “a lot of high drama” between Stickland and SB 10 supporters, including Bonnen.

In the end, what was SB 10 passed as part of SB 11, which had already been passed.

Written by Shelly Brisbin.