The House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence heard testimony March 22 on HB 703. This bill, sponsored by Rep. Gutierrez, would provide criminal penalties for patients who injure healthcare workers. NAMI Texas has concerns about this bill, as it has the potential to criminalize the actions of persons who inadvertently injure a healthcare worker while in a mental health crisis and who may be unable to understand the consequences of their actions, or to conform their behavior to the requirements of the law due to mental illness.
A number of advocates testified about problems with the bill, and Mental Health America of Texas (MHAT), Disability Rights, and the Hogg Foundation provided education on the bill as it might affect persons living with serious mental illness.
If you wish to express your personal opinion on this bill, contact your legislators or the members of the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee. If you need to know who represents you, go to the home page of the Texas Legislative site at http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/Home.aspx. In the middle of the page, under the heading “How do I…”, click on “contact my legislator”. The page that comes up, under number 1 in a list of choices, will have a link to the “Who represents me?” function. Click on that and enter your address and the site will inform you about who represents you.
To find the members of the committee, go to the homepage url listed above, click on “committees” under Texas House, and click on Criminal Jurisprudence. Click on each member’s name in the listing of committee members to obtain contact information.