Bill Establishing University of Houston College of Medicine Gets First Hearing

This week, the House Committee on Higher Education heard HB 826 by Representative John Zerwas (R-Richmond) and I. HB 826 would create the University of Houston College of Medicine. Wednesday was another mile marker on a journey that I helped start back in 2015 when I put a rider into the Texas Budget to get the ball rolling on a medical school for the University of Houston. In 2017, Representative Armando Walle (D-Houston) and I worked together to make sure the UH medical school rider was included in the Texas Budget again.

In October 2018, I wrote a letter to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in support of the medical school, which helped make their decision to approve its creation.

One of our primary reasons I support the creation of the UH College of Medicine is because it will focus on educating primary care physicians. Texas is projected to need another 6,260 primary care physicians by 2030.

Also, even though Houston is home to the Texas Medical Center, significant health disparities persist in parts of the Greater Houston area.  The University of Houston is the right institution to reduce those persistent disparities because the College of Medicine will be able to integrate with the University’s existing health and health-related professions, colleges, and programs to mitigate the primary care shortfall in medically underserved areas.

Additionally, the College of Medicine will lift the research capabilities of many of the existing research centers and activities already occurring at the University of Houston.

  Chair Coleman (right) and Chair Zerwas (left) lay out HB 826 in front of the Higher Ed Committee, led by Chairman Turner. Committee members from left to right: Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler), Rep. Armando Walle (D-Houston), Rep. John Frullo (R-Lubbock), Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin), Chair Turner, Rep. Lynn Stucky (R-Denton), Rep. John Smithee (R-Amarillo), Rep. Angie Chen Button (R-Richardson), Rep. Eric Johnson (D-Dallas), and Rep. Leo Pacheco (D-San Antonio).

From left to right: Rep. Howard, Chair Turner, Rep. Stucky, Rep. Smithee, and Rep. Johnson.

County Affairs Committee members on the dais from left to right: Rep. Alex Dominquez (D-Brownsville), Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford), Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Houston), Chair Garnet Coleman (D-Houston), Rep. Doc Anderson (R-Waco), and Rep. Jon Rosenthal (D-Houston).

County Affairs Committee Hearing

On Thursday, the County Affairs Committee that I have chaired since 2009 held a hearing. Click here to watch the video. See below for the list of bills we heard. HB 2477-Coleman-Relating to automatic employee participation in and administration of a deferred compensation plan provided by certain hospital districts.

HB 2324-Geren-Relating to the continuation of a health care provider participation program by Tarrant County Hospital District.

HB 2326-Meyer-Relating to the continuation of a health care provider participation program by the Dallas County Hospital District.

HB 1227-Flynn-Relating to authority of the Hunt Memorial Hospital District to appoint, contract for, or employ physicians.

HB 294-King, Ken-Relating to a petition filed for a place on the ballot for the board of directors of the Muleshoe Area Hospital District.

County Affairs Committee Members

Public Health Committee members on the dais from left to right: Rep. James Frank (R-Wichita Falls), Rep. JD Sheffield (R-Gatesville), Rep. John Wray (R-Waxahachie), Chair Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston), Chair of County Affairs Committee Rep. Coleman (D-Houston), and Rep. Steve Allison (R-San Antonio). 

Public Health Committee Hearing

On Wednesday, the Public Health Committee that I have served on since 1993 held a hearing, led by Chair Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston). Click here to watch the video. See below for the bills we heard. H.B. 278-OliversonRelating to the frequency and location of certain meetings required by a prescriptive authority agreement.

H.B. 410-White | et al.Relating to the personal use exemption for domestic rabbit meat.

H.B. 749-Zerwas-Relating to the distribution, possession, purchase, consumption, and receipt of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and tobacco products.

H.B. 1225 -GuillenRelating to the re-creation of the Chronic Kidney Disease Task Force.

H.B. 18-PriceRelating to consideration of the mental health of public school students in training requirements for certain school employees, curriculum requirements, counseling programs, educational programs, state and regional programs and services, and health care services for students and to mental health first aid program training and reporting regarding local mental health authority and school district personnel.

H.B. 19-PriceRelating to mental health and substance use resources for certain school districts.

H.B. 252FarrarRelating to increasing awareness of the dangers of exposing children to secondhand smoke.

H.B. 253-Farrar | et al.Relating to a strategic plan to address postpartum depression.

H.B. 405-Minjarez | et al.Relating to designating June as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Awareness Month.

H.B. 463-SpringerRelating to reciprocity agreements between air ambulance companies operating a subscription program.

H.B. 787-Davis, Sarah | et al.Relating to a study on the state certification of music therapists.

H.B. 906-Thompson, SenfroniaRelating to the establishment of a collaborative task force to study certain public school mental health services

H.B. 965-González, MaryRelating to updating references to certain former health services state agencies and certain terms used to describe persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the Education Code.

H.B. 992-CalanniRelating to the women’s health advisory committee.

H.B. 1070-PriceRelating to the mental health first aid training program reporting requirements.

H.B. 1015-MartinezRelating to warning signs posted by certain food service establishments that prepare food items containing peanut products.

H.B. 1112-Davis, Sarah | et al.Relating to the removal of signs indicating that a freestanding emergency medical care facility is operational.

H.B. 1579-CainRelating to the definition of first responder for immunization purposes.

H.B. 1278-WhiteRelating to services provided by freestanding emergency medical care facilities.

H.B. 1465-Moody | et al.Relating to a study on expanding recovery housing in this state.

H.B. 1501-NevárezRelating to the creation of the Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council and to the continuation and transfer of the regulation of psychologists, marriage and family therapists, professional counselors, and social workers to the Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council; providing civil and administrative penalties; authorizing a fee.

H.B. 1504-PaddieRelating to the continuation and functions of the Texas Medical Board; authorizing a fee.

H.B. 1508-Oliverson | et al.Relating to designating March as Bleeding Disorders Awareness Month.

H.B. 1518-ColemanRelating to the regulation of the sale of dextromethorphan to minors; providing civil penalties.

H.B. 1589-OrtegaRelating to providing notification to certain pregnant women regarding their eligibility for coverage under Medicaid and the Healthy Texas Women program.

H.B. 1694-Lambert | et al.Relating to limitations on food regulations at farms, farmers’ markets, and cottage food production operations.

H.B. 1849-KlickRelating to the possession and administration of epinephrine auto-injectors in day-care centers; limiting liability.

H.B. 2243OliversonRelating to the use of prescription asthma medicine on public and private school campuses.

Public Health Committee Members

Thank you, Marian Sparks, Founder of Jump For The Rose, for coming to our office on Tuesday to tell your story during Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) Day at the Capitol. Marian was diagnosed with breast cancer after her divorce left her without insurance. She met with representatives to share her story during CPRIT Day at the Texas State Capitol. Funding through CPRIT has helped us serve rural women, like Marian across 38 counties.

You’re Invited:

What To Watch This Week:

Our video of the week is from the University of Houston:

“The College of Medicine joins the University of Houston as its 15th academic college, scheduled to admit 30 students in the inaugural class. These doctors will champion primary care and fulfill the most pressing health care needs. The college’s partnership with HCA Houston Healthcare will provide residencies in Texas so our graduates can continue to work in the state’s “medical deserts” – urban and rural communities where lack of health care takes a heavy toll.”

You can watch below or click here.


Song of the Week

Our song of the week is “Livin’ on Prayer” by Bon Jovi.

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