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May 16.17

May 2017 E-Newsletter

Critical Legislation Making Progress in the Texas Legislature

As we work through the final two weeks of the 85th Legislative Session, several of my priority bills, and priorities of the House of Representatives, are making their way toward the Governor's desk.  Much work remains to be finished, including new property taxpayer protections, public education reforms, and final adoption of a state budget.  While the Houses of the Legislature continue through this process, here are a few important measures we have finished in the House so far.

Sanctuary Cities:

Last week, the Senate adopted the House version of a bill that prohibits Sanctuary Cities and sent the measure to the governor’s desk.  Governor Abbott signed the bill immediately, making Texas the nation’s leading authority on ending the willful violation of federal immigration law.

Public Education:
The House continued our ongoing efforts to improve public education, passing a measure to re-work the A-F ratings assigned to public school campuses.  Soon after, we passed landmark legislation reducing the number of STAAR or end-of-course standardized tests to the minimum allowed by federal law.  Another measure passed by the House brings important financial stability to TRS-Care, our retired teachers’ healthcare system.  These bills will re-focus public education on student success, and provide reliable support to those who teach them.

In addition to these wide-reaching reforms, the House passed a measure providing flexibility to teachers providing direct education services to students with autism.  These young students, in addition to benefiting from a new grant program established by the bill, will not be bound by the traditional school day length and will be provided with unique research based teaching methods.

Step Therapy:
Step therapy is a method insurance companies employ to keep their prices down by requiring that individuals try cheaper drugs before being approved for the drug prescribed by their doctor. My bill to ensure that the step therapy process is transparent, expeditious, and based on sound medical evidence has passed both chambers and will soon be on the governor's desk. This legislation will also prevent patients from being required to fail twice on the same or similar medication because their insurance has changed or their insurer has changed their protocol.

Lawsuit Reform: 
HB 1774 will prevent unnecessary and abusive lawsuits while protecting the right of every Texas consumer to sue their insurance company if it does not pay a claim fully or on time, or acts unfairly or in bad faith. Texas property owners already pay some of the highest property insurance premiums in the country because of our severe weather. Ending unnecessary and abusive litigation puts repair funds into policyholder’s hand quickly, and prevents the subsequent increase in deductibles and premiums or reduced or lost coverage that occurs with unnecessary litigation.

Ethics Reform:
A series of ethics reform bills were passed by the House to prohibit the use of campaign funds by former officeholders that become lobbyists, broaden the disclosure requirements for state ethics reports to include an officeholder’s connection to or contracts with governmental entities, and for legal referrals made or received by attorneys serving in state government.

Limiting Government Growth:
The House has also passed HB 1290 to prohibit state agencies from enforcing any new regulation unless they repeal an old one. This ensures no net increase in regulations. This bill also includes my amendment to require agencies to publicize the true cost imposed on taxpayers and businesses by the new regulation.  This legislation will provide taxpayers with a more transparent and accountable state government.


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