News Roundup: Bill Would Help Ensure Foster Care Youth Have Access To Identification Documents

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelMay 8, 2019 2:12 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

A bill working its way through the state legislature seeks to make it easier for foster youth and youth experiencing homelessness to get identification documents. These often transient populations face unique challenges when trying to obtain documents like their birth certificate or a state identification card.

House Bill 123 has already passed in the Texas House. Now the measure is in the Texas Senate, where it got its first hearing in the Health and Human Services Committee Tuesday. State Sen. Kirk Watson, an Austin Democrat, explained why the bill is important during that hearing.

“Having personal identification documents opens the door to being able to secure a job, obtain housing and vote. Easing the burden on vulnerable youth so they can obtain these documents is easy and necessary,” Watson said.

The bill would implement a number of changes so that it’s easier for youth to obtain these documents. For example, it waives fees for copies of documents. It would also let youth use their local Department of Family and Protective Services office as a permanent mailing address.

Sarah Crockett is with Texas CASA, a group that advocates for children in the foster care system. She testified in favor of the bill, and pointed it out that it creates a fund to help cover the cost of fee waivers.

“It’s not going to create any cost to the state. Public citizens will actually be donating to a fund that offsets the cost of these fee waivers. So we think it’s really a win-win,” Crockett said.

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services is legally required to provide youth in foster care with identification documents prior to their 16th birthday. Still, the agency previously told Texas Standard, in its “Unidentified” series, that there are young people who leave the system without them.

The CEOs of the world’s three leading insulin manufacturers will meet with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus over the next two weeks. Caucus Chairman and San Antonio Democrat Joaquin Castro says the cost of insulin has increased by 300% over the last 15 years.

“Insulin is what keep diabetics alive. My grandmother died of complications from diabetes. My mom has Type 2 diabetes,” Castro said in a video on Twitter.

Castro also says that more than 30 million Americans have diabetes.

The Texas Senate advanced a bill that would make it harder for cities and state agencies to remove historical markers, including Confederate monuments.

In some instances, the bill would require that two-thirds of both state legislative chambers approve the relocation, removal or alteration of historical markers.

Tuesday’s vote on the measure from GOP state Sen. Brandon Creighton was along party lines with all Republicans in favor of the bill, and all Democrats opposing it. One Democrat who criticized Creighton’s bill was state Sen. Borris Miles of Houston. He called the legislation “disgraceful.”

“And I’d ask that you really consider some of the pain and heartache that we have to go through – myself and some of my brothers and sisters on this floor, of color – that we have to go through as it relates to our Texas history,” Miles said.

The measure will now head to the Texas House.