As the 85th Legislative Session came to a close, I want to reflect on some major pieces of legislation we passed this session. We addressed the issues across the state with Child Protective Services (CPS) by passing many bills to help CPS including HB 4 to help keep families together by providing more resources for families and HB 5 that gives more attention and accountability to Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). Also on the list of issues addressed, SB 4 that prohibits local governments from adopting ordinances or policies that prohibit enforcement of state and federal immigration laws. We passed SB 5 to address issues the courts have expressed related to Voter ID legislation that passed in 2011. Protecting the right to vote and the security of your vote is important!
We passed a number of important bills to give access to mental health services. HB 10, gives authority to TDI to enforce mental health parity, HB 12 improves the judicial system related to the mentally ill and HB 13 creates matching grants for mental health community partnerships.
Along with these major bills, several of the bills I authored to make a difference in the lives Texans passed. SB 507 expands mediation for balance billing when consumers get an unexpected balance bill for medical services they thought were fully covered by insurance. HB 1296 will require certain health plans to synchronize the refill dates for patients with chronic illnesses so they don't have to make multiple trips to the pharmacists just because of refill dates are different.
Important to our community, I sponsored SB 1033 that gives Texas Tech University the authority to transfer land to Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) for a new VA clinic. The Veteran's Administration (VA) clinic will provide improved health care access for veterans across Texas with an emphasis on mental health. The clinic will serve approximately 324,000 veterans. In addition, the VA and TTUHSC will be able to joint hire staff and provide many opportunities to recruit and retain staff. This is a great opportunity for our community!! We were also able to secure $4.2 million for Tech Tech University to pursue at vet school to meet the specific needs of West Texas.
I will continue to give you information on bills that passed this session in upcoming e-letters and an "end of session" newsletter. If you want to be sure and receive one of my newsletters, please let me know and I will add you to the list!