HB 826 authored by Representative John Zerwas (R-Richmond) and I, created the University Of Houston College Of Medicine. The Governor signed this bill into law on May 1st. The UH College Of Medicine is needed because the population of Houston has grown by nearly 4 million people since the last medical school was established in 1972, and Texas is projected to need another 6,260 primary care physicians by 2030. The UH College Of Medicine will integrate with the University’s existing health and health related professions, colleges, and programs to raise the quality of all the programs. Additionally, the College Of Medicine will lift the research capabilities of many of the existing research centers and actives already occurring at the University Of Houston.
HB 1518 that I authored was filed to protect young Texans by prohibiting minors (younger than 18) from purchasing over-the-counter cough syrups that contain the drug dextromethorphan. I have filed this bill every session since 2015 (85th-HB 1939 and 84th-HB 3066), and the bill was finally passed and signed by the Governor on May 17, 2019. The law is effective beginning Sept 1, 2019. “Robotripping” is a serious public health issue in Texas, wherein the drug dextromethorphan in over-the-counter cough syrup is mixed with alcohol to create a deadly high. The National Institute on Drug Abuse found that approximately 3.4% of teens abused over the counter cough medicines to get high in 2018. The Texas Tribune recently published a story on the importance of this bill, which you can read by clicking here.
HB 3459 that I authored and sponsored in the Senate by Senator Borris Miles (D-Houston) creates the Harris County Local Provider Participation Fund (LPPF). This bill was signed into law on May 24th by the Governor. The Harris County LPPF will allow local Hospitals to pool their money together and receive matching funds from the Federal government. These additional funds will go towards ensuring that the Harris County Health System can provide care to those in need. It is vitally important that we passed this bill this session because the billions of dollars Texas receives through the 1115 Transformation Waiver are set to expire soon.
HB 278 which I am Joint-Author of with Representative Tom Oliverson (R-Houston) provides additionally flexibility for physicians and the advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) or physician assistants (PA) working with them. This bill was signed by the Governor on May 16th, and becomes effective on September 1st. Generally, in Texas only physicians have prescriptive authority. However physicians are allowed to delegate prescriptive authority to the APRNs and PAs working with them. Before HB 278 was passed this system was rigged, and was full of unnecessary barriers to make the delegation of authority effective. HB 278 helps streamline the prescriptive authority agreements by removing barriers, so that medical teams are better able to meet the demands of their patients and help people get better.
HB 2079 was authored by me and sponsored in the Senate by Senator Borris Miles (D-Houston). This bill was signed by the Governor on May 24th, and becomes effective on September 1st. I filed this bill in response to a child victim of gun violence in Houston —Sir Romeo. Thankfully, Sir Romeo survived the gun shot wound, however after multiple surgeries him and his family are unable to afford to move out of the home where the incident happened. HB 2079 adds a child who is a victim of a murder attempt among the victims who are eligible to receive a onetime-only assistance payment as part of the state’s crime-victim’s compensation fund. ABC 13 Houston, which has covered Sir Romeo’s story since it happened recently published a piece on the passage of HB 2079. Click here to read.
I will continue to update you as the Governor signs my bills into law during the coming weeks, and will provide a full session wrap-up after the veto period has ended. Thank you all for your support this session.
Freshman of the Session Award
On Monday, The Legislative Study Group (LSG) that I chair awarded our Freshman of the Session Award to Representative Jon Rosenthal (D-Houston). This session, there was an abundance of talented LSG freshman members. Picking 1 out of the 19 talented LSG freshman was no simple task. Representative Rosenthal was chosen because he brought an exceptional level of thoughtfulness when fighting for the core LSG value of supporting public policy that benefits Texas families.
Top row left to right: Brandi Granderson (County Affairs Committee Clerk), Tara Blagg (County Affairs Committee Director), Ali Schoon (LSG), Eliot Davis (LSG), Merci Mohagheghi (LSG), Marissa Gorena (LSG), Elizabeth Churaman (LSG), Chairman Coleman, Donisha Shephard-Cotlone (LSG), Santiago Cirnigliaro (LSG), Raul Lopez (LSG Executive Director), Nicolas Kalla (Chief of Staff), Cara Gustafson (Communications Director), and Ed Martin (LSG Consultant).
Seated left to right: Brittany Sharp (LSG), Kayla Laywell (UH Law Health Policy Fellow), Sophia Creede (LSG), Sharon Jacob (LSG), and Ayesha Muzaffar (UH Hobby Fellow).
What To Watch This Week:
Our video of the week is a Texas Tribune conversation about how the Texas House did during the 86th legislative session with Rep. Mary González (D-Clint), Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Plano) and Rep. Drew Springer (R-Muenster), moderated by Texas Tribune co-founder and CEO Evan Smith.
Cartoon of the Week
Song of the Week