HB 1622 (The Food Bank Bill) Suffers Technical Knock Out – Texas Legislative Priorities Not Aligned with Ending Hunger. Thank you for your advocacy!
June 4, 2009 § 1 Comment
Advocacy and Online Marketing Director
Thanks to the hundreds of advocates who called, wrote and organized in their communities, The Food Bank Bill, HB 1622 passed overwhelmingly in the House and Senate and was signed into law by Governor Perry. Legislators in our 21 County service area all voted in favor of the bill. We thank them for their support, especially legislators who signed on to author, co-author and sponsor the bill: Senators Zaffarini, Uresti, and Van de Puttte, and Representatives Gutierrez, Leibowitz, Giddings, Rios Ybarra, and Crab.
The problem is that not one dime was included in the budget to fund the Food Bank Bill.
Other hunger-ending bills like SB 344, HB 3859, and HB 343 suffered a much worse fate, never making it to the Governor’s desk or getting signed into law, even if they were passed by the House and Senate. In good news, bills like HB 830 and HB 4024 that would have restricted access to SNAP (food stamp) benefits never made it past committee.
Session is over, and our legislature has failed to enact strong public policy for the hungry.
An official press release from House Speaker, Joe Strauss claims satisfaction with the appropriations process:
“I am proud of the entire House for working together to produce a balanced budget, control state expenditures, and make wise spending decisions. Today’s approved budget makes prudent investments in critical areas and includes funding increases in education and health care.”
When “critical areas of investment” is not inclusive of the needs of the hungry, what does that say about our leadership’s priorities?
Needless to say, we are deeply disappointed. Not funding legislation, advocated by Texans, passed by legislators, and signed by the Governor that helps nourish hungry children is wrong. Not enacting legislation (that would mean no additional expense to the taxpayer, I may add) that improves access to services that help lift families out of poverty and eases the burden on the working poor is wrong. Not supporting opportunities for Texas to be more efficient and effective with existing federal anti-hunger legislation is irresponsible and leaves money on the table.
I encourage you to look again at these bills and learn about the missed opportunities for hunger reform, nonprofit collaboration, and public policy innovation. Lack of strong public policy is one of the many reasons why we, and our fellow nonprofits, must work so hard to ensure children have even the most basic necessities of life.
We will continue to assess budgets not as complex abstract documents, but for its impact on human lives and the common good. We must, because it’s the right thing to do.
Yes, this is a setback, but it does not distract from the issue that too many Texans do not have the support and resources to adequately feed themselves and their families. I also hope that this session, inspires you to do even more – call as well as write your legislator, send that advocacy email to a friend, tweet a little more about opportunities to take action, send a letter to the editor about your concern for hungry Texas children.
Join us as we continue our advocacy focus on child hunger. More to come soon.