P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 21, 1999
AUSTIN - State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, was named Chairman of the newly formed Senate Health Committee today by Lt. Gov. Rick Perry, who also appointed Senator Nelson to the Education and Criminal Justice committees, along with the Special Committee on Electric Restructuring and the Education Subcommittee on Higher Education.
In her fourth term, this is the first chairmanship of a standing Senate committee for Senator Nelson, who represents Senate District 12, which includes parts of Dallas, Denton, Ellis and Tarrant counties.
"This will without a doubt go down as one of the most treasured moments of my career. I have been fighting for Texans to receive better health care throughout my previous three terms in the Texas Senate, and to be recognized for that by Lt. Gov. Perry is a great honor. I couldn't be more thrilled," Nelson said.
Senator Nelson has been one of the leading voices for managed health care reform. She has advocated measures that make HMOs legally accountable to their patients, fought for the confidentiality of Texans' medical records and pushed for teen smoking laws. She also authored legislation mandating that only qualified medical experts - not accountants worried about the bottom line - make decisions about a patient's treatment options.
Nelson served as Vice Chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services committee during the 74th and 75th legislative sessions. In the 75th session, she served on the Senate Interim Committee on Managed Care and Consumer Protections, whose work resulted in landmark changes to laws governing health maintenance organizations (HMOs) in Texas. In the most recent interim, she served on committees studying long-term care and nursing home regulations.
In her newly appointed role, Senator Nelson will oversee several key issues before the 76th Legislature, the most crucial being the Sunset review of several state health agencies. She will also remain a patients' advocate by proposing measures to keep patients' pharmaceutical records private.
Nelson is also pleased about her other committee appointments, which will allow her to influence serval key issues that are important to Senate District 12, especially education. As a member of the Education Committee, she plans to push for changes to the state's school funding formula and has co-authored legislation that would provide relief for fast-growth school districts under the Robin Hood Plan.
"The school districts in Senate District 12 are growing at such a high rate that overcrowding is becoming a problem, and districts are being forced to hold bond election after bond election just to provide enough classrooms to keep up with enrollment - despite the fact they are sending millions of dollars to the state under Robin Hood," Nelson said. "We in the Legislature must recognize the unique problems of these districts and give them some help."
Following are Nelson's committee assignments and some of the issues likely to be debated in that committee:
- Health, chairman: Sunset review for several health agencies, privacy of medical records, children's health insurance, rural health care, immunizations, drug testing and abortion issues.
- Education: Fast-growth school districts, social promotion, vouchers, reading initiatives, bi-lingual education, TAAS testing.
- Criminal Justice: Anti-drug proposals, family violence, parole for violent offenders, gangs and juvenile justice.
- Electric Restructuring (special committee): Decide whether and how to open electric industry to competition, set consumer protections.
- Higher Education (subcommittee): Hopwood decision on college entrance guidelines, financial aid, funding formulas.