SHHS: Consideration of SB 64 on March 17, 2021 (87-R)

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SB 64 by Nelson | et al. – Relating to a mental health program that includes peer-to-peer counseling for certain law enforcement personnel.

There is a Committee Substitute (CS).

Increasingly high risk for fatal mental health challenges. Bill directs Texas Commission on Law Enforcement to develop a peer support system; allows commission to contract with institute of higher education with expertise on mental health issues. Specifies that training hubs cover suicide prevention; ensure they have support in both rural and urban. This bill patterns itself after the peer support network for Veterans.

Q: State vs local responsibility for implementing this? Right Ratio.

A: Bill targets the most local level. State will help establish the program; program executed at local level by local law enforcement officers. State’s role will be to select an institution of higher education to help train peer counselors in how to be counselors. From there it will fall squarely within local jurisdiction.

Q: Cost? Unfunded mandate?

A: No. Cost exists in start-up and training; idea came from local police officers. Local volunteers will not charge to provide counseling for peer officers.

Q: Any mechanism in here to allow us to review this program in a couple of years?

A: Not in the bill but it’ll be easy to do.

Q: Originally had a fiscal note; you moved provisions to TCOLE – erase fiscal note?

A: Yes. They said it was indeterminate. It will not have a fiscal note.

Invited Witness (IW): Jeff Spivey, Texas Police Chief’s Assoc.

Suicide leading cause of death among law enforcement professionals, far surpassing all other forms of death in the line of duty. Texas is a leader in number of police officers who die by suicide. We appreciate CS moving this program out of HHSC/public mental health system and allowing services to remain in law enforcement family.

No public testimony (PT).

Registered but not testifying: 13 for; 0 against.

CSSB 64 passed out of committee 7-0.


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