84th Legislature Bill Tracking List
Thursday, January 15, 2015 12:24 PM

Did you know that you can create your own list of bills to watch during the Texas Legislature?  Did you know that you can search the text of filed bills for key words?  Did you know that it is easy to do and to use?   Here’s How.

1.  Go to www.capitol.state.tx.us

2.  Click on “login” in the upper right corner (you will want to create an account because it will remember the bills in which YOU have an interest).

3.  Click “new user” under the "email address" and "password boxes” and complete the basic registration information and complete any instructions given.

4.  Then you will be ready to “login” with your email and password.  Browse around.  There are TONS of features that you might find useful.

5.  But to find and track bills of interest to you you will want to conduct a search.  Click on the “Search” menu tab in the menu bar.  Select “Text Search” to start.  There are many types of searches and you may explore them all, but text search will allow you to find bills that contain key words of interest to you.  For example if you want to find all the bills with the word “dog” in them, you will find that (as of 1-3-15) there are at least two.  Complete the search parameters to your heart’s content.  I suggest a “simple search” with “any of the words” and type in such words as “chiro, chiropractic, chiropractor, doctor, physician” and the like.  When you search, any bill that contains any of these words will be displayed to you.  You may limit your searches to a specific house, type of bill, etc.   I think that you may find that a search of 

Legislature:  84(R) - 2015

Chamber:  both house and senate

Bill Type:  All types

Version:  All versions

Document:  Bill, amendment, bill analysis may be of most interest to you.

Now, when you click search you will be presented a list of dozens to hundreds of bills that fit the criteria of the word search you requested.  Now come the really useful part.

6.  Periodically search this list (you may save your search to make it easier to conduct in the future) to determine which bills you would like to really keep an eye on.  When you are logged in you will see a little State of Texas logo to the left of each bill mentioned.  Click on that logo and you will be offered the opportunity to “Add to bill list.”  Select this option and you may add this bill to an existing named list or create a new list to add it to.  For example you might have a 2015 list of all bills you want to watch, and a list to track all bills mentioning the word “dog.”  You can even add a comment to jog your memory, for example “this bill requires a degree to become a dog catcher” or “allows dogs to hold political office."

7.  Now, once you have saved the bill(s) you want to track, all you need do is  

a) Click on the “My TLO” selection in the menu bar.

b) Click on “Bill Lists"

c) Select “Run” for the list you wish to view.

and you will see the bills that you wish to track.

The "My TLO" feature even allows you to enter “Alerts" for bills you really want to keep an eye on.  It will tell you when any selected action is performed relating to that bill.

So what are some of the bills that we can be watching?  At the time of this writing on January 3, 2015, there have already been 661 bills filed in the House and 243 bills filed in the Senate for a total of 904 total bills and the session has not yet been opened.  By the time the 84th legislature is completed in May they will have considered many THOUSANDS of bills.  In the last Legislature the House considered 7500 bills and the Senate 3130 for a total filed bill count of 10,630 total bills; a veritable library to read and consider in 140 days.

I’ll share with you some of the bills that I am watching, and these may or may not be the same as what the TCA is tracking; these are merely your Editor’s observations.  Some of these are of direct interest to chiropractic doctors.  Some will be of potential interest if wording is changed as the process goes along.   If you think that a bill should be added to my list for reporting, please send me an email and I’ll add it to the list of bills to watch.  Hopefully we can all become a bit more active in participating in our legislative process and share our opinions with our elected leaders.

EDITOR’S WATCH LIST

HB 126      Relating to parking placards for vehicles of persons with disabilities.  This bill was filed in November of 2014 by Representative Fletcher.  Language would be added to appropriate law(s) that would stipulate that application for a handicapped parking placard may be made by a person with “a temporary mobility problem that substantially impairs the person’s ability to ambulate … may be issued by a person licensed to practice chiropractic …." 

HB 180     Relating to the confidentiality of certain information following the completion of a review conducted by a utilization review agent or an independent review organization.  Some may have an interest in this bill as it pertains to insurance utilization review.

HB 574     Relating to the operation of certain managed care plans with respect to health care providers.  Some may have an interest in this bill as it too pertains to the operation of managed care plans and their ability to remove health care providers from their plans.  

HB 633     Relating to a sales and use tax exemption for certain health care  supplies.  This bill would allow prescriptions by veterinarians to be tax free to the purchaser.

HB 676     Relating to School Bus Safety Week in public schools.

HB 677     Relating to cardiac assessments of participants in extracurricular athletic activities sponsored or sanctioned by the University Interscholastic League.  This bill would make ECGs mandatory, but would remove any “liability or cause of action against” anyone – provider, interpreter, school... 

“PHYSICIAN" ONLY POTENTIAL CONFLICTS: The federal government considers Doctors of Chiropractic to be physician level providers for Medicare and certifies qualifying DCs to become federally Certified Medical Examiners.  Sometimes the State of Texas considers “physician” to mean only those licensed by the Texas Medical Board.  Many proposed bills may contain references to “physician” that might become a source of conflict for Doctors of Chiropractic in performing their occupation.  Some, but by no means all, of these potential conflicts are noted below.

HB 68       Relating to the creation of a Texas resident driver's permit, provisional Texas resident driver's permit, and Texas resident driver's instruction permit; creating an offense.  This bill stipulates that the application for a Texas Driver’s permit must “provide space for the applicant to voluntarily list any health condition that may impede communication with a peace officer as evidenced by a written statement from a licensed physician.”  

HB 141     Relating to the use of a wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle; creating an offense and providing penalties.  This law stipulates certain exemptions to when using a mobile communication device is permitted on school property.  It exempts “emergency calls” to EMS, hospital, fire department, “health clinic” or “medical doctor’s office” among others.  Why is it necessary to stipulate a “medical doctor’s office” is different from a “health clinic”?  This differentiation is unnecessary and gives preference to “medical doctors."

HB 175 and HB 390     Relating to the establishment of the Veterans Recovery Program to provide certain veterans with hyperbaric oxygen treatment.  For example these bills defines “Health care practitioner” as “a person who is licensed to provide medical or other health care in this state and who has prescriptive authority, including a physician.”  It also defines “physician” as “a person licensed to practice medicine by the Texas Medical Board."

HB 566     Relating to the use of epinephrine auto-injectors on public and open-enrollment charter school campuses and at off-campus school-sanctioned events.  Yet another example where a bill defines “physician” to mean “an individual licensed to practice medicine in this state."

In this editor’s opinion it may be time to consider a law that defines “physician” to be a doctorate level provider duly licensed by a state regulatory agency and afforded direct and non-referred access by the public.  Hence creating medical physicians, chiropractic physicians, dental physicians, veterinary physicians and so forth.  Then “scope of practice” determines the appropriate limitations, not an obscure monopolistic reference to “practicing medicine” or being a “physician".  I’m sure that better legal minds than mine that can figure something out.  Common sense seldom prevails in the legislature so expect a long struggle to make such an obvious provision come to pass.