RECAP: County Affairs Hearing / TX Tribune Fest Panel / TUESDAY: Deadline to Register to Vote

Recap:
County Affairs Hearing

Last Tuesday and Wednesday, the County Affairs Committee that I serve as Chair of held two hearings on three interim charges.

The Committee met to hear invited and public testimony on the following interim charges:

Interim Charge #3
Study how counties identify defendants’ and inmates’ behavioral health needs and deferral opportunities to appropriate rehabilitative and transition services. Consider models for ensuring defendants and inmates with mental illness receive appropriate services upon release from the criminal justice system.

Interim Charge #4

Review the population limitations found in Local Government Code Section 154.041 and Local Government Code Section 113.047. Determine if counties with a population below 190,000 could benefit from the population limitations being removed.

Interim Charge #5
Monitor the agencies and programs under the Committee’s jurisdiction and oversee the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 85th Legislature. Under the Committee’s oversight, the Committee will be discussing indigent defense, family drug treatment courts, and behavioral health intervention on the school setting and Sandra Bland Act implementation.


Tuesday’s Hearing

Click here to watch Tuesday’s hearing. Please see below for the names of the invited speakers with time stamps.

Panel 1
Indigent Defense – 00:02

Honorable Fancy Jezek, 426th District Court Judge, Bell County (Center)

Vincent Perez, Commissioner, El Paso County (Committee’s right)

Honorable Mark Hocker, County Court at Law #1, Lubbock County (Committee’s left)

Panel 2
Bexar County – Behavioral Health in the Criminal Justice System – 01:29

Mike Lozito, Director, Judicial Services, Bexar County (Committee’s far right)

Gilbert Gonzales, Director, Mental health, Bexar County
(Committee’s far left)

David Pan, Community Initiatives Liaison, Center for Health Care Services
(Second from Committee’s left)

Kenneth Wilson, President & CEO, Haven for Hope
(Second from Committee’s right)

Panel 3
CPS and Specialty Drug Courts – 02:49

Honorable Aurora Martinez Jones, Associate Judge, Travis County Family Drug Treatment Court
(Committee’s right)

Kristene Blackstone, Associate Commissioner for CPS, Department of Family Protective Services
(Committee’s left)

Panel 4
County Treasures – 03:49

Honorable Bruce Wood, County Judge, Kaufman County
(Committee’s left)

Dolores Ortega Carter, County Treasurer, Travis County
(Committee’s right)

Panel 5
Advocacy: Behavioral Health in the Criminal Justice System – 04:04

Greg Hansch, Policy Director, NAMI
(Committee’s right)

Reginald Smith, Policy Analyst, Texas Criminal Justice Coalition
(Committee’s left)


 Wednesday’s Hearing

Click here to watch Wednesday’s hearing. Please see below for the names of the invited speakers with time stamps.

Panel 1
Rural County Perspective – Behavioral Health and Services in the Criminal Justice System
– 00:02
Gerald Yezak, President and Sheriff, Texas Sheriff’s Association and Robertson County
(Second from Committee’s left)

Tifani Weatherspoon, Jail Administrator, Robertson County
(Far left of Committee)

Al Auxier, Sheriff, Kendall County
(Far right of Committee)

Dawn Elder, Business Development Manager, Starlite Recovery
(Second from Committee’s right)

Panel 2
Statewide Perspective – Behavioral Health and Services in the Criminal Justice System – 01:40

Jim Allison, General Counsel, County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas

Panel 3
Oversight: Texas Commission on Jail Standards – 02:25

Brandon Wood, Executive Director, Texas Commission on Jail Standards
(Committee’s right)

Michael Antu, Director of Special Services and Enforcement, Texas Commission on Law Enforcement
(Committee’s left)

Panel 4
Oversight:
Behavioral Health – School Settings – 02:47
Holly Robles, Head of Counseling Department, Boerne ISD

Photo Gallery

From left to right: Representative Kyle Beidermann (R-New Braunfels), Vice-Chair Drew Springer (R-Muenster), Committee Director Nick Kalla, Chairman Garnet Coleman (D-Houston), Chair of the Calendars Committee Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christi), and Representative Tomas Uresti (D-San Antonio) at Wednesday’s hearing during Panel 1 – Rural County Perspective.

From left to right: Representative Kyle Beidermann (R-New Braunfels), Chairman Garnet Coleman (D-Houston), Dr. Holly Robles, and Representative Tomas Uresti (D-San Antonio) at Wednesday’s hearing. Dr. Holly Robles, Head of the Counseling Department at Boerne ISD testified on Panel 4: Oversight: Behavioral Health – School Settings.
Chairman Coleman joins Lt. Tommy Shelton of the Mental Health & Jail Diversion Bureau at Wednesday’s hearing.


The Judge Ed Emmett Mental Health Diversion Center Opened This Week

On Monday, the Judge Ed Emmett Mental Health Diversion Center officially opened its doors. The Diversion Center seeks to divert low-level, non-violent offenders with mental illnesses to proper facilities instead of holding them in jail. The 29-bed Center in Midtown allows inmates to get proper treatment and avoid jail and criminal charges.

Click here to read coverage from the Houston Chronicle.



RECAP: “TRANSFORMING PUBLIC HEALTH” PANEL AT TEXAS TRIBUNE FEST

On Saturday, I spoke on the “Transforming Public Health” panel at the Texas Tribune Festival. I joined Chair of the Public Health Committee Four Price (R-Amarillo), Dr. Karen Salvo, Professor of Medicine & Population Health at UT Austin Dell Medical School, Avik Roy, President of The Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, and Stephanie Muth, Medicaid Director of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. Health and human services reporter at the Texas Tribune Marissa Evans was the moderator.


From left to right: Moderator Marissa Evans of the Texas Tribune, Chairman Garnet Coleman (D-Houston), Avik Roy, President of The Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, and Stephanie Muth, Medicaid Director of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.


From left to right: Moderator Marissa Evans of the Texas Tribune, Dr. Karen Salvo, Professor of Medicine & Population Health at UT Austin Dell Medical School, Chairman Coleman, Avik Roy, President of The Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, Stephanie Muth, Medicaid Director of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, and Chairman of the Public Health Committee Representative Four Price (R-Amarillo).


Houston Scientist James Allison, PhD, of CPRIT Awarded Nobel Prize

James P. Allison, scholar of the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) and pioneer of cancer immunotherapy, has been awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine jointly with Tasuku Honjo.


     Jim Allison, Ph.D. in 2014. Photo: Craig Hartley, Freelance

As reported by the Houston Chronicle here, Dr. Jim Allison, MD Anderson Cancer Center’s chairman of immunology, and Japan’s Tasuku Honjo received the prize for research that’s led to a class of drugs that have cured patients whose disease was considered hopeless. The research has finally realized the tantalizing promise of immunotherapy, which is now taking its place alongside surgery, radiation and chemotherapy as a pillar of cancer treatment. Immunotherapy unleashes the immune system to attack tumors.”

Read the full press release here.


Black Census Project Comes to Houston

Houston Justice is teaming up with Black Futures Lab and other organizations to bring The Black Census Project to Houston.

It’s a national survey gathering information for an accurate understanding of the diversity of our communities, of the diversity of issues that Black communities care about most, and of the innovative ideas and vision for how to transform our country.  

Black people are often spoken about or spoken for but Black people are rarely listened to.

The Black Census Project aims to set the record straight.

In order to give Black people an opportunity to speak for ourselves, the Black Census Project will conduct the biggest national survey of Black people across class, disability, gender, geography, immigration status, and sexuality. The collected information will clarify the diversity of wants and needs that Black people imagine for our communities.

This survey, the largest of Black people in recent history, will capture a more accurate picture of who we are and what we care about. The Black Census asks Black communities what we see as the key issues in our communities and asks us about what we think needs to be done to address those issues, so that our lives can change for the better.


National Night Out

On Tuesday, October 2nd, we celebrated National Night Out in Houston. National Night Out is an annual event aimed at strengthening communities by bringing together law enforcement, civic leaders, and residents.

I was proud to send baskets to our neighbors throughout the community, including East Montrose Civic Association, Hyde Park Civic Association, Nubia Square, Peck Elementary, Foster Place, Midtown Management District, Midtown SN, Civic Club 239, Museum Park, and Historic Third Ward.


Cartoon of the Week


Source: Jack Ohman | The Sacramento Bee


What To Watch

Our “What to Watch” of the week is a PSA from First Lady Michelle Obama on the importance of voting in the November elections. She says, “[Voting is] how you make your voice heard-on everything from your children’s education to the safety of your community.”

The last day to register to vote in the November election is OCTOBER 9TH. Click here for more info on how to register.

To avoid a last minute rush, register today if you are not already registered. If you have voted in the past, still live in the same location and have not changed your name you are most likely already registered to vote. But, if you are unsure whether or not you are registered you can check by clicking here. If you are not yet registered to vote or need to make a change, you can fill out the voter registration form online by clicking here. However, after filling the form out you will need to print it out and mail it to the address on the form (address varies based on your location).

If you need help getting registered to vote or have questions, pleaseclick hereor call my office at (512) 463-0524.


Song of the Week

Our song of the week is “Till It Happens To You” by Lady Gaga, performed at the 2016 Oscar Awards.

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