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Nelson pre-files legislation for upcoming session
From staff reports
Texas State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, filed 15 pieces of legislation Monday morning on the first day of pre-filing legislation for the 83rd Regular Session of the Texas Legislature, which reconvenes from Jan. 8 to May 27.
"Our goals next session are, first and foremost, to protect Texas’ economic recovery, which is outpacing the rest of the country. That means responsibly balancing another tight budget while meeting our needs on education and other important priorities," said Nelson, who serves as chairman of the Senate Committee on Health & Human Services. "We will continue to push for a more efficient, cost-effective health care system and ramp up our efforts to eliminate the fraud and abuse plaguing our health and human services. I am also working on proposals to expand access to primary care and better protect our most vulnerable citizens.”
Omnibus Medicaid Fraud Prevention: SB 56 enhances the state's ability to detect and prevent fraud, waste and abuse in the Medicaid system. "Fraud and abuse of our health care system has become a national epidemic – one that will drive our health and human services into bankruptcy if not addressed,” Nelson said. “We must eliminate this abuse, which robs us of precious resources to help those who truly need state services."
TANF Reform: SB 11 reforms the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, commonly known as welfare, to more closely align with the program's original mission. It strengthens work and job training requirements; institutes drug testing for high-risk applicants; and tightens policies to prevent the use of TANF funds to purchase alcohol, tobacco or other non-allowable items. "We need to ensure that individuals receiving these public benefits are on a true path to self-sufficiency and drug free in keeping with the mission of this program,” Nelson said. “Taxpayer dollars should not be used to subsidize a person's drug habit -- a destructive barrier to achieving independence."
Long-Term Care Redesign: SB 57 redesigns Texas' long-term care system to improve quality, more efficiently use our resources and better coordinate care for seniors and Texans with disabilities. "As our population continues to mature, we need to reshape our approach to long-
term care services for our seniors and Texans with disabilities. Our focus will be on improving the quality of care and designing efficient programs that can serve the most people,” Nelson said.
Mental Health Care Reform: SB 58 carves mental health services for Medicaid patients into managed care to ensure that services integrate behavioral and physical health, expand the number of providers who offer these services, and provide budget certainty to the state. "This bill fully integrates physical and mental health services which will better coordinate care and improve outcomes among our Medicaid population," she said.
Obsolete Reports: SB 59 eliminates obsolete and redundant reports identified by the Legislative Budget Board and other state agencies. "We need to stop bogging down our state agencies with reporting requirements that are redundant, obsolete or no longer needed," she said.
Child Credit Freeze: SB 60 authorizes parents to create a credit file for their children; requires credit agencies to place a freeze on those files upon parental request; and ensures the freeze remains in place unless requested by the parent or until the child becomes an adult. In the past three years, 57,000 cases of child identity theft and credit abuse cases have been reported to the Federal Trade Commission. "A staggering number of Texas children have fallen victim to illegal child identity theft, putting them at risk for credit problems before they ever reach adulthood,” Nelson said. “By giving parents the ability to freeze their children's credit, we can protect young Texans from identity theft and teach them about the importance of establishing good credit."
Military Physicians at Charitable Clinics: SB 61 allows the Texas Medical Board to issue a "volunteer medical license" for current and retired military physicians who would like to volunteer services at charitable clinics in Texas. "This bill will make it possible for military doctors to volunteer their time and expertise to help the uninsured," she said.
Vaccine Legislation: SB 62 aligns the current college student meningitis immunization requirement (SB1107 82R) with national best practices. It eliminates the requirement for students over 22 and moves the conscientious objection process to the Department of State Health Services. SB 63 allows minor parents and pregnant minors to consent to their own vaccinations. SB 64 requires licensed child care facilities to develop policies regarding child care worker immunizations. "While it is important to protect Texans from vaccine-preventable diseases, we must also ensure our approach is focused on those at the highest risk," Nelson said.
Healthy Branding: SB 65 directs the Texas Education Agency and the Commissioner to recognize and reward schools for achievements in student health and wellness. "Many schools have gone above and beyond to improve the health and wellness of their students,” Nelson said. “Those schools and their dedicated administrators and teachers should be recognized for those efforts."
Preventing Child Fatalities: SB 66 adds an EMS provider and family violence provider to the State Child Fatality Review Team Committee, including two additional areas of expertise relevant to preventing child fatalities. SCR 1 designates the month of April as Water Safety
Month to create water safety awareness and prevent drowning, a leading cause of childhood injury related deaths. "The goal of this legislation is to raise awareness about safety and prevent child fatalities in Texas," Nelson said.
Stem Cell Data Collection: SB 67 expands current data collection from universities in Texas regarding stem cell research. "This is a re-file of legislation that passed the Senate unanimously last session but stalled in the House,” Nelson said. “The goal is to ensure we have an accurate understanding of the type of stem cell research being conducted at our universities and how that research is being funded."
Cremation Waiver: SB 68 authorizes physicians to waive the 48-hour waiting period for cremation to assist grieving families who wish to cremate loved ones within 48 hours. "This bill protects religious freedoms and eliminates unnecessary red tape for grieving families who wish to mourn in accordance with their beliefs."
After Monday, legislators may continue to file bills until the bill filing deadline on March 8. To search legislation, visit the Texas Legislature online at www.capitol.state.tx.us.
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