Marissa Evans Health and Human Services Reporter

Marissa Evans reports on health and human service policy issues for the Tribune and has been in Austin since October 2016. Before the Tribune she reported for CQ Roll Call in D.C. where she covered state legislatures and health care issues. Her reporting has appeared in Civil Eats, NBC BLK, Cosmo for Latinas, Kaiser Health News, The Seattle Times, The Washington Post, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The Star Tribune and Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service. She is a 2013 alumna of Marquette University in Milwaukee. When not reporting, she is teaching herself how to code, re-perfecting her chocolate chip cookie recipe, searching for food spots that rival her mother’s cooking, exploring museums, catching up on books and watching documentaries.

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Child welfare bill heads to Senate floor

Sen. Charles Schwertner R-Georgetown listens to questions asked by Sen. Kirk Watson D-Austin during a February 15, 2017 Senate Committee on Health and Human Services
Sen. Charles Schwertner R-Georgetown listens to questions asked by Sen. Kirk Watson D-Austin during a February 15, 2017 Senate Committee on Health and Human Services

Senate Health and Human Services Committee members voted unanimously Wednesday morning to send a bill aimed at overhauling the state's child welfare system to the full Senate for a vote.

House committee hears bills on child welfare

Mercedes Bristol, 62, of San Antonio, at the Capitol with her five grandchildren after testifying to the House Human Services Committee on Feb. 20, 2017.
Mercedes Bristol, 62, of San Antonio, at the Capitol with her five grandchildren after testifying to the House Human Services Committee on Feb. 20, 2017.

Advocates and families testified all day in front of House Human Services members as legislators buckled down to look at key bills that would overhaul how the state takes care of endangered children.

Senate panel hears testimony on 3 abortion-related bills

Sen. Charles Schwertner R-Georgetown listens to questions asked by Sen. Kirk Watson D-Austin during a February 15, 2017 Senate Committee on Health and Human Services
Sen. Charles Schwertner R-Georgetown listens to questions asked by Sen. Kirk Watson D-Austin during a February 15, 2017 Senate Committee on Health and Human Services

Senate Health and Human Services Committee members heard emotional testimony from reproductive rights and anti-abortion advocates on Wednesday over Senate Bill 8, Senate Bill 415 and Senate Bill 258.

Lawmakers mull their strategies as another abortion battle looms

State Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, stands with House colleagues to announce the "Trust. Respect. Access." campaign for reproductive rights on Feb. 8, 2017.
State Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, stands with House colleagues to announce the "Trust. Respect. Access." campaign for reproductive rights on Feb. 8, 2017.

Texas Democrats and abortion rights advocates are strategizing amid mounting worries over what the GOP-led Legislature and federal lawmakers may do in the coming months to further restrict access to the procedure.

Texas legislators urged to "get it right" on child welfare at rally

State Rep. Cindy Burkett, R-Sunnyvale, speaks at a rally in support of overhauling Texas' child welfare system in front of the state Capitol in Austin on Feb. 7, 2016.
State Rep. Cindy Burkett, R-Sunnyvale, speaks at a rally in support of overhauling Texas' child welfare system in front of the state Capitol in Austin on Feb. 7, 2016.

Standing in front of the Capitol in 80-degree heat, attendees gathered at a rally sponsored by Child Protection Roundtable of Texas and the Texas Home Visiting Coalition urging legislators to make long awaited changes to how the state handles abused and neglected children.

Texas lawmakers fired up about state CPS and foster care woes

Department of Family and Protective Services Commissioner Hank Whitman testifies July 12, 2016, to the House Committee on Human Services about his plans to reform the agency.
Department of Family and Protective Services Commissioner Hank Whitman testifies July 12, 2016, to the House Committee on Human Services about his plans to reform the agency.

On Monday, the Senate Finance Committee scrutinized Department of Family and Protective Services budget requests while the House Workgroup on Child Protective Services floated a proposal to make the department a standalone agency.