You’ve probably heard the saying, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Here in Texas, too many school children are going without this healthy start to their day.
That’s why I authored HB 296, to increase participation in the national School Breakfast Program by making breakfast available at no charge to all students if 80% or more of the student body currently qualify for free or reduced price meals.
Read more about why this legislation is important, and get caught up on the rest of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly around the Capitol this week.
The Most Important Meal of the Day
Today, this bill passed the House on third reading and is headed to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
It’s important that our state do all it can to prepare our students to succeed academically.
For many students, that means making sure they start the day with a healthy breakfast to fuel their minds and give them the energy they need to learn.
House Bill 296 encourages public schools participating in the national School Breakfast Program to provide breakfast at no charge to all students if 80% or more of their students qualify for free or reduced price meals. This will help reduce the stigma of eating breakfast at school and help more students take advantage of this program.
Research shows that school breakfast programs reduce hunger among low-income children, increase academic achievement, lead to improved health and nutrition, and help build lifelong healthy eating habits.
Currently, only 60% of Texas students eligible for free or reduced school meals eat breakfast in our public schools.
This bill is designed to increase participation in school breakfast programs, which has been shown to have a positive financial impact on schools that are trying to meet the needs of low-income students by leveraging additional federal funds.
This bill has broad bipartisan support, and I hope it is signed into law so that we can give our school children a healthy start to their day.
Special Thanks to the Hunger Warriors
I’d also like to give special thanks to the students who visited the Capitol today to raise awareness of childhood hunger.
It was a great honor to meet Ms. Rachael Brunson and her 3rd grade class from Elsa England Elementary, who held their Hunger Warriors Rally at the Capitol.
I appreciate their support of HB 296 and their work to make sure no child goes hungry.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
As we approach the end of the session, time is tight to pass legislation. Bills that were not scheduled for consideration on the House floor as of Tuesday at midnight died.
The Good: Cottage Foods Bill Passes House
HB 970, the first item on the Texas House Farm-to-Table Caucus’s legislative agenda, passed the House on Monday. This bill expands the current cottage foods law to enable producers to make and sell additional foods out of their homes, including candies, pickles, and popcorn, and also allow sales at farmers’ markets and other direct-to-consumer venues.
The Bad: Homestead Exemption Bill Fails
HJR 138, my legislation to provide cities and counties with more flexibility in terms of homestead exemptions, failed to pass on the third reading. This would have been a local option property tax cut for low- and middle-income homeowners. Republicans say they support local control, but only vote for it when it’s convenient for them.
The Ugly: Ungentlemanly Conduct
My colleague, Representative Ruth McClendon, has been working for several sessions to set up a pilot needle exchange program in Bexar County to help reduce the rate of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis transmission. Last week, when Republican Representative Van Taylor rose to kill the bill, he tried to use a motion to prevent McClendon from raising the issue again this session. This kind of malicious procedure has no place on the floor of the House. Taylor should be ashamed of his ungentlemanly conduct.
Join Me in Celebrating MALC Next Wednesday
I hope you will all plan to join me next Wednesday to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus on the Capitol south steps. MALC is the oldest and largest Latino legislative caucus in the United States. I’m excited that Grammy winner Ramón Ayala will be there, and I hope you can join us too. All of the details are on Facebook.