Senate Bill 10 Concerns
There are nine key problems with this bill:
- Increases government.
- Establishes a new level of state bureaucracy with zero accountability to taxpayers.
- The consortium’s executive committee is insulated from voters and taxpayers.
- There is no voice within the Consortium for family, parental, and medical rights.
- This bill allows meetings and activities without parental involvement.
- There is zero requirement for public input.
- The consortium and its executive committee may receive gifts, grants, and donations from any and all sources.
- This consortium and its executive committee can in turn provide grants to academic psychiatry departments at the 12 enumerated universities in Texas.
- The consortium is mandated to propagate the use of evidence-based tools and educate judges on resources available.
Concern #1: SB 10 expands the size and scope of government
Nowhere in the text of SB 10 does the bill claim to reduce governmental inefficiencies, or reduce redundancies of effort across the bureaucratic landscape. Rather, this bill very simply increases the size and scope of government. Worse, it adds new powers into the hands of unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats, primarily from the university environment.
For this reason alone, this bill should die without the support of legislators.
Concern #2: SB 10 establishes a new level of state bureaucracy with unelected, unaccountable, vaguely defined, and wide-open membership.
There are very few problems in Texas that are the result of having too little government in place. As noted above in Concern #1, this bill expands the size and scope of government, and the composition of this new Texas Mental Health Consortium is very loosely defined.
For example, the bill defines membership in this new bureaucracy as being composed of twelve universities across Texas, plus a vaguely defined, “not fewer than three nonprofit organizations that focus on mental health care” and “any other entity that the executive committee considers necessary.” This sort of language allows at least three nonprofit organizations, but in truth can allow as many as deemed necessary.
It is important to remember that universities, academia, and most mental health professionals take a dim view of 2nd Amendment rights, and such organizations often use their power to draw fallacious connections between typical non-violent mental health challenges and the use of red flag seizure type orders.
But the problem is deeper than this. The bill also allows the executive committee to add any other organization that the “executive committee considers necessary.” Note: there is a disturbing lack of boundaries on this. Can the executive committee add a rabidly anti-2nd Amendment organization to this Mental Health Consortium? Yes.
Can this organization add an aggressively anti-family and anti-traditional-marriage organization to this Mental Health Consortium? Yes.
At the very outset, because this bill creates a Consortium that can be easily populated by those without regards for traditional Texas values of family, marriage, and guns (as an example), this bill should be allowed to die without support of legislators.
Concern #3: The Consortium is led by an Executive Committee that is insulated from voters and taxpayers.
The executive committee will be composed of members of the 12 universities defined in the bill, plus “a representative of an organization that represents the interests of community centers…”
This is code language that is being used to describe some existing community mental health provider association. Essentially, imagine an industry special interest group that represents the interests not of Texans, but of community mental health centers as an entity. That’s what this provision is describing as a key part of the executive committee of this consortium. Make no mistake, this sort of “organization” does not represent your values, or traditional Texas values. Rather, the bill itself makes clear they represent “the interests of community centers.”
Such an entity no doubt lobbies for more taxpayer funding for community health centers. No doubt, this sort of organization lobbies for an ever increasing role for their community centers in your life, the life of your family, the lives of your children and their schools.
And, furthermore, this consortium’s executive committee will also include, “any other representative designated by the majority of the members.” Would this permit the executive committee of this new layer of government to include a member of an organization that stands opposed to gun rights, family rights, parental rights, medical rights, and traditional marriage? Absolutely!
Because this consortium is led by an executive committee that is unelected, unaccountable, and utterly unanswerable to taxpayers, this legislation should be allowed to die without support by legislators.
Concern #4: There is no voice within the Consortium for family, parental, and medical rights.
Mental health issues can be complex. But it is imperative that any such work in this area fully respect parental, family, and medical rights. Yet there is a complete absence of any perspective within the leadership of this consortium for family, parental, and medical rights.
This is not surprising, as many in academia and mental health organizations have little regard for traditional family values, the rights of families, the inviolable rights of parents, and medical rights.
For this reason, this bill must be allowed to die without support.
Concern #5: This bill allows meetings and activities without public involvement.
This bill establishes that the executive committee shall meet as called by the presiding officer, but does not establish that all such activities and meetings of this consortium and its executive committee shall be governed by the Texas Open Meetings Act.
It is imperative that all such governmental bodies, commissions, committees and consortiums shall be governed by the Texas Open Meetings Act. This law ensures that the public is properly notified of the date, time, and location of meetings, as well as the agenda of all such meetings. Additionally, under the Texas Open Meetings Act, it allows the public to be engaged and informed in the process.
Yet, such protections are not included anywhere in this act and this is a telling indicator that this executive committee and consortium is not answerable to the taxpayer.
Concern #6: There is zero requirement for public input in the activities and decisions of this Executive Committee and Consortium.
It is vital that the public be allowed to participate in this process. Yet, this bill makes no such provision. Is this an oversight? No. This is done intentionally because this committee and consortium is not about public engagement and public accountability.
Concern #7: The Consortium and its Executive Committee may receive gifts, grants, and donations from any and all sources.
Independence and zero tolerance for conflicts of interest must be one of the highest goals of any such public health organization. Yet this bill authorizes any and all sources to give gifts, grants, and donations to this new layer of state government.
Mental Health solutions are often found in both drug-based solutions and counseling-based solutions. It is no secret that pharmaceutical organizations will seek opportunities to influence this sort of organization so that its recommendations, findings, and new approaches promulgated throughout Texas can favor the pharmaceutical industry.
Doors like this are so wide open, that millions of dollars from the pharmaceutical industry will be money well-spent in their goal of securing greater state blessings, recommendations, and adoption for their latest mental health drug.
This creates a corrosive and corrupting influence within what should be a very independent and unbiased organization.
Concern #8: The Consortium and its Executive Committee can in turn provide grants to academic psychiatry departments at the 12 enumerated universities in Texas.
This creates a sort of legalized money-laundering apparatus whereby any and all sources can give any amount of gifts or grants to this consortium and its executive committee, and this executive committee can then turn around and “launder” those gifts and grants to their favored university psychiatry department.
There’s nothing transparent or independent about this sort of grant laundering scheme.
Concern #9: The mandate for the consortium to use “evidence-based” tools is poorly defined and dangerously vague.
Who decides what tools will be used and how and when and for whom they will be implemented? Especially when SB 10 requires that a training program be developed to educate and inform designated judges and their staff on mental health care resources available within the geographic region in which the judges preside.
Governor Abbott expounds on his intent for such legislation in the State of the State Address: “Programs like the telemedicine wellness project at Texas Tech. It partners with school districts in West Texas to identify and remove students who pose a potential threat. And it provides students the help they need.”
Also, Abbott does not limit it to schools. He adds: “And as we all know, mental health issues are not confined to our schools. They touch our entire society. To better address these needs, Senator Nelson provides a broad-based plan. A plan that creates the Texas Mental Health Care Consortium to collaborate on statewide mental health needs.”
Jane Nelson also states in her bill analysis, ”About 75 percent of children and youth with mental health issues are seen in a primary care setting, underscoring the need to empower pediatricians with guidance about treatment options.”
So who decides what tools will be used and how and when and for whom they will be implemented?
S.B. No. 10, page 1, Subchapter B, Sec. 113.0051
S.B. No. 10, page 6, Subchapter D, Sec. 113.0152
S.B. No. 10, page 6, Subchapter D, Sec. 113.0153
S.B. No. 10, page 7, Subchapter D, Sec. 113.0154
S.B. No. 10, page 9, Subchapter E, Sec. 113.0201
S.B. No. 10, page 2, Subchapter B, Sec. 113.0052
S.B. No. 10, page 4, Subchapter C, Sec.113.0101
S.B. No. 10, page 2, Subchapter B, Sec. 113.0052
S.B. No. 10, page 5, Subchapter C, Sec. 113.0103
S.B. No. 10, page 5, Subchapter D, Sec. 113.0151
S.B. No. 10, page 5, Subchapter C, Sec. 113.0105
S.B. No. 10, page 5, Subchapter D, Sec. 113.0151 (a)
S.B. No. 10, page 6, Subchapter D, Sec. 113.0151 (b)
Abbott’s State of the State Address, Transcript, February 5, 2019:
Bill Analysis by Jane Nelson, et al., page 1, paragraph 2: