Food Policy

Food Policy sub-topics

Access to Affordable Healthy Foods

Bill # Author Status Brief Description Past Bills (2013)
HB 269 Rep. Borris Miles

Referred to Agriculture & Livestockleft pending in committee (4/15)
Failed to Pass.

Creates a a community development grocery store and healthy corner store revolving loan fund program. The fund would not be allocated money from the legislature, but would be composed of gifts and grants plus income earned from the loans. Similar bill HB 1221 Failed to pass; Referred to Agriculture & Livestock; failed in committee
HB 1485 Rep. Eddie Rodriguez Failed on House vote. Would establish the Texas Grocery Access Investment Fund for the construction or expansion of grocery stores to expand access to fresh produce and other nutritious foods in underserved communities. The fund would be comprised of money appropriated by the legislature, as well as federal, state, or private grants or loans, federal tax credits, or other type of financial assistance. Companion bill: SB 1590
HB 1616 Rep. Eddie Rodriguez Referred to Agriculture & Livestock; left pending in committee (4/15)
Failed to Pass.
Would create a "Double Dollar" pilot program that would provide a $1-$1 match (up to $20/week) for SNAP benefits spent on produce at farmers markets that serve areas classified as "food deserts". Similar bill HB 3705 Failed to pass; Referred to Human Services; failed in committee.
HB 3290 Rep. Eddie Rodriguez Referred to Agriculture & Livestockleft pending in committee (4/15)
Failed to Pass.
Would create the Farm to School Community Connections pilot grant program to fund efforts by school districts to raise awareness of and increase access to fresh produce for their students. Among other educations efforts, the $5M fund would allow an additional 15 cents per school lunch served if using fresh produce from local farms.
SB 1590 Sen. Judith Zaffirini Referred to Agriculture, Water, & Rural Affairs
Failed to Pass.
Would establish the Texas Grocery Access Investment Fund for the construction or expansion of grocery stores to expand access to fresh produce and other nutritious foods in underserved communities. The fund would be comprised of money appropriated by the legislature, as well as federal, state, or private grants or loans, federal tax credits, or other type of financial assistance. Companion bill: HB 1485

Resources for Healthy Food Financing

  1. Roadmap for Encouraging Grocery Development in Houston and Texas: A Report of the Houston Grocery Access Task Force.
  2. Access to Healthy Food and Why It Matters: A Review of the Research

SNAP Program

Bill # Author Status Brief Description Past Bills (2013)
HB 493 Rep. Terry Canales Referred to Human Services; Considered & left pending in committee (3/9)
Failed to Pass.
SNAP benefits would not be able to be used to purchase energy drinks. Similar: HB 523 Failed to Pass; out of committee but died on House floor.
HB 570 Rep. Alma Allen

Referred to Human Servicesleft pending in committee (4/15)
Failed to Pass.

Would prevent the withholding of SNAP benefits from other eligible household members if the head of household loses SNAP benefits for failing to comply with employment or employment and training program.
HB 620 Rep. Greg Bonnen Referred to Human Services; out of committee
Failed to Pass.
Would require photographs of authorized users on SNAP benefits cards.
HB 747 Rep. Dwayne Bohac Referred to Human Servicesleft pending in committee (4/15)
Failed to Pass.
Would require photographs of authorized users on SNAP benefits cards. Identical to HB 620.
HB 840 Rep. Elliott Naishtat Referred to Human Servicesleft pending in committee (4/15)
Failed to Pass.
Would allow people who were formerly convicted of a felony drug charge to apply for SNAP benefits. Identical to SB 470. HB 1141 Failed to Pass; failed on committee vote.
HB 1258 Rep. Susan King Referred to Human Servicesleft pending in committee (4/15)
Failed to Pass.
Would withhold SNAP benefits from anyone who is delinquent in child support payments. Identical to SB 936.
HB 1259 Rep. Susan King Referred to Human Servicesleft pending in committee (4/15)
Failed to Pass.
Would permanently disqualify a person for SNAP benefits if they fail for a third time (i.e. 3 strikes) to meet the employment or employment training program requirements.
HB 1267 Rep. Senfronia Thompson Passed HouseReferred to Health & Human Services
Failed to Pass.
Would create a SNAP ineligibility window of two years for people formerly convicted of a non-violent drug-related crime, instead of a permanent ineligibility. Identical to SB 606.
SB 470 Sen. Jose Rodriguez Referred to Health & Human Services
Failed to Pass.
Would allow people who were formerly convicted of a felony drug charge to apply for SNAP benefits. Identical to HB 840. HB 1141 Failed to Pass; failed on committee vote.
SB 606 Sen. Sylvia Garcia Referred to Health & Human Services
Failed to Pass.
Would create a SNAP ineligibility window of two years for people formerly convicted of a non-violent drug-related crime, instead of a permanent ineligibility. Identical to HB 1267.
HB 1973 Rep. Matt Schaefer Referred to Human Servicesleft pending in committee (4/13)
Failed to Pass.
Would require photographs of authorized users on SNAP benefits cards as well as information on how to report suspected fraud.
SB 874 Sen. Donna Campbell Referred to Health & Human Services
Failed to Pass.
Would require SNAP benefits recipients to present a government issued photo ID when using their benefits card. The name on the ID must match the account holder name or that of an authorized user.
SB 936 Sen. Lois Kolkhorst Referred to Health & Human Services; left pending in committee (4/22)
Failed to Pass.
Would withhold SNAP benefits from anyone who is delinquent in child support payments. Identical to HB 1258.
HB 2639 Rep. Richard Pena Raymond Referred to Human Services
Failed to Pass.
Would direct the commissioner of Health and Human Services Commission to seek authorization from the United States secretary of agriculture to restrict the purchase of food items with minimal nutritional value with SNAP funds. Similar bill HB 751 Failed to pass; died on House floor.
HB 2666 Rep. Elliott Naishtat Referred to Human Services; left pending in committee (5/4)
Failed to Pass.
Would exclude liquid assets and cars in determining SNAP eligibility.
HB 2673 Rep. Cesar Blanco Referred to Human Services
Failed to Pass.
Would limit the window of ineligibility to 5 years for individuals convicted of a drug crime, if they pass a drug test. Would make individuals convicted of certain very serious crimes permanently ineligible.
HB 3463 Rep. Drew Springer Referred to Human Servicesleft pending in committee (4/13)
Failed to Pass.
Would require SNAP benefits recipients to present a government issued photo ID when using their benefits card. The name on the ID must match the account holder name or that of an authorized user.

Resources for SNAP Program

  1. Food and Nutrition in Texas: What You Need to Know (see page 7 on SNAP); report from the Center for Public Policy Priorities
  2. Energy drinks and adolescents: what’s the harm? (April, 2015) - In this review, the emerging issue of energy drink consumption by youth is discussed and the evidence used to support both sides of the debate is summarized.
  3. Energy Drinks Fact Sheet; Yale Rudd Center
  4. Questions and Answers About Energy Drinks and Health; International Food Information Council Foundation.

Community Nutrition

Bill # Author Status Brief Description Past Bills (2013)
HB 1202 Rep. Sergio Munoz, Jr. Referred to Agriculture & Livestock; out of committee
Failed to Pass.
Would create a, 18-member "Community Nutrition Program Policy Advisory Council" to advise the Texas Dept. of Agriculture (TDA). The council would advise TDA on policies, rules, programs, and priorities related to community nutrition programs.
HB 2824 Rep. Eddie Lucio, III Referred to Public Health; left pending in committee (4/21)
Failed to Pass.
Would require foods and beverages sold in state owned or leased vending machines to meet certain minimum nutritional standards.
HB 2831 Rep. Eddie Lucio, III Referred to Public Health; left pending in committee (4/21)
Failed to Pass.
Would give the state the authority to assess a fine to restaurants that are not complying with federal nutrition labeling requirements.

Resources for Community Nutrition

  1. Food and Nutrition in Texas: What You Need to Know; report from the Center for Public Policy Priorities
  2. Food Labeling; Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items in Restaurants and Similar Retail Food Establishments; rule on food labeling from the Food & Drug Administration

Food Taxes

Bill # Author Status Brief Description Past Bills (2013)
SB 1371 Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. Referred to Finance
Failed to Pass.
Would impose a penny per ounce tax on sugary drinks, with monies collected added to the general revenue fund. The tax would increase annually based on the Consumer Price Index. Identical bill SB 493 failed to pass; referred to Finance and died in committee.

Resources for Food Taxes

  1. MSD Center Blog (2011): Help Balance the State Budget; Drink up, Texas
  2. UConn Rudd Center: Revenue Calculator for Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Taxes
  3. MSD Center Blog (2011): Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax Q&A with Experts in Public Health and Economics
  4. UConn Rudd Center (2012): Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Taxes, An Updated Policy Brief (PDF)