The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.
When Child Protective Services removes a child from their family in Texas, parental substance use is a factor in 68% of cases, according to a report released this month by the advocacy group Texans Care for Children. The group’s senior child welfare policy associate, Kate Murphy, says the substances used most often are stimulants such as methamphetamine or cocaine.
“But the next highest after that is cannabis, or marijuana, and that’s what kids are coming into care for about a third of the time around the state in most regions,” Murphy says.
Murphy says when removals are related to parental substance use, two-thirds of the kids affected are under six years old. She adds that overwhelmingly these cases involve neglect.
“Right now, we define the use of a controlled substance and that causing injury to a child as part of our definition for abuse in Texas, but if you look at what kids are actually being removed for … in almost all cases it’s neglect. Statewide, about 94% of the kids who are coming into care related to substance use, it’s a neglectful supervision case,” Murphy says.
Murphy’s group offers a number of recommendations aimed at keeping families together, and helping parents get substance-use treatment.
“Probably the first and the best thing that we could do is increase access to substance-use treatment programs, and that’s something we’re hoping to see this session actually,” Murphy says.
Murphy points out the Texas House budget includes an additional $50 million for substance-use treatment, though the Senate’s version of the spending plan does not. Texans Care for Children also found there is a significant unmet need for substance-use intervention, treatment and recovery services in the state. Just under 6% of low-income Texas adults with a substance use disorder were able to get treatment services through a local provider. In 2017 alone, more than 13,000 low-income adults in Texas were on waitlists for community-based substance-use treatment programs.
Dallas is the latest Texas city to approve an ordinance requiring private employers to offer paid sick leave to employees. Dallas City Council member Omar Narvaez spoke in support of the measure at a meeting Wednesday.
“This is way more than just the public health – way more. This talks about our values as Dallas,” Narvaez said.
The Dallas City Council’s 10-4 vote comes amid Republican-led efforts at the Texas Capitol to ban local governments from passing these sorts of rules. That push from state lawmakers is in response to Austin and San Antonio passing similar sick-leave ordinances last year. Austin’s measure is on hold after a state appeals court deemed it unconstitutional.
The Texas House has approved a bill establishing the Texas Music Incubator Rebate Program, reports KUT News. It’s intended to preserve local live-music venues and music festivals by providing them rebates on alcoholic beverage sales taxes. North Texas Republican Drew Springer criticized the bill ahead of the vote Wednesday.
“As much as I enjoy live music, I have yet to think that we’re seeing a problem attracting people into the state of Texas to be able to perform in these venues,” Springer said.
The bill’s author and fellow Republican Geanie Morrison of Victoria pushed back against this criticism.
“Well, this is not intended for large venues, representative; this is more for your smaller venues that are having trouble,” Morrison said.
The bill ultimately passed after a vote of 95 to 43.