P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 1, 2015
AUSTIN – The effective dates for many pieces of legislation passed during the 84th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature is today, September 1, 2015.
"This session we accomplished many things that will make Texas stronger and more successful. Our budget made smart investment in important priorities including transportation, education, and border security, while also providing $4 billion in tax relief to businesses and homeowners," said Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound. "As our work goes into effect, I am looking forward to seeing the results of our efforts. The future is bright for Texas."
Following is a report on Senator Nelson's legislation that takes effect today.
State Appropriations Bill: HB 1, the state appropriations bill, is our two-year state budget, which addresses our needs in a fiscally responsible manner -- growing by 3 percent over the current budget when adjusted for tax relief. "Our state budget responsibly meets our growing needs while addressing our priority issues, including education, border security and transportation. This budget will keep Texas strong and prosperous."
General Revenue Dedicated Account Reform: HB 7 reduces the state's reliance on General Revenue-Dedicated accounts for budget certification, increasing transparency in the budget process and ensuring fees are spent on intended purposes. It also provides $250 million in tax relief through repealing occupations taxes. "When we dedicate revenue for specific purposes, those funds should be put to use as intended – not stashed away in reserves. This bill will reduce our reliance on dedicated accounts and provide for greater transparency in the budget process."
Graduate Medical Education: SB 18 addresses Texas' medical workforce needs by expanding graduate medical education in our state. "A strong health care workforce is key to a healthy Texas, and this bill will help ensure that Texas-trained doctors are able to finish their training and continue their careers in Texas. By working towards a goal of a 1.1 to 1 ratio of residency slots for medical school graduates, we will not only retain our own graduates, but also attract graduates from other states to help meet shortages in regions and critical specialties."
State Contracting Reform: SB 20 reforms state contracting practices and strengthen contract oversight across state government. "Texas citizens rely on state contracts to receive services they need, and we must ensure that those contracts are awarded fairly and transparently. This legislation will protect taxpayer resources and make our agencies more transparent."
Child Advocacy Center Clarification: SB 60 aligns Child Advocacy Center (CAC) statutes with current best practices, clarifies that victim interviews can be conducted offsite and prohibits the distribution of victim interviews to unauthorized parties. "By ensuring our laws line up with current practices, we will strengthen our ability to protect and help child victims of abuse."
Health and Human Services Sunset: SB 200 is the Sunset legislation for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, and reorganizes Texas' five health and human services agencies. "This legislation is critically needed to help our most vulnerable citizens navigate what is currently a confusing system with blurred lines of accountability and similar programs spread across five independent agencies. The new structure will better serve the needs of Texans who rely on these important services."
Department of State Health Services Sunset: SB 202 is the Sunset legislation for the Department of State Health Services (DSHS), which eliminates unneeded regulation and allows DSHS to squarely focus on its core public health mission. "By de-regulating several occupational licensures and transferring others to different agencies, we will help this department focus squarely on its core mission of public health"
Texas Health Services Authority Sunset: SB 203 is the Sunset legislation for the Texas Health Services Authority (THSA), which would continue THSA as a state agency for six years before allowing it to function as a private non-profit entity. "The Texas Health Services Authority has been very successful in promoting the establishment of electronic health exchanges that lead to better coordinated care and higher quality care. By keeping it in statute for six more years, we will ensure it is ready to take the next step in its development."
Respectful Burial: HB 635 ensures parents who have experienced a miscarriage have the option to give their child a respectful burial, regardless of the age of the fetus. "Every parent who experiences a miscarriage should have the opportunity to provide their child with a respectful burial."
Tuition Reimbursement: HB 3337 requires a state agency to establish rules for employee tuition reimbursement payments, increasing transparency and accountability for tuition reimbursement payments for state employees. "While state employees should have professional development opportunities, there needs to be more transparency and clear policies in place on how employees are reimbursed."
To search legislation, visit the Texas Legislature online at www.capitol.state.tx.us.
EDITOR'S NOTE: All quotes in the capsules above are attributable to Senator Nelson.