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Hotline is a daily electronic newsletter for TMA members only that reports the legislature's latest actions on bills affecting Texas medicine. The hotline is delivered each legislative day before noon beginning Jan. 1. A weekly recap, delivered each Sunday, is also available.
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Latest issues of TMA's Legislative News Hotline
TMA Legislative News Hotline: Friday, Feb. 17, 2017
Watch this week's TMA Legislative News Hotline video to hear a top physician describe the logic behind the push to increase Texas’ tobacco-use age to 21, and see the House budget-writing committee in action.
TMA Legislative News Hotline: Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017
Preventing chronic diseases, curbing tobacco use, and restraining ill effects caused by tobacco — a TMA legislative priority — took a formal step forward Wednesday. Rep. John Zerwas, MD (R-Simonton), filed House Bill 1908, and Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) filed Senate Bill 910, both of which aim raise the legal age to use and possess tobacco in Texas from 18 to 21. The goal is to take a bite out of the number one cause of death.
TMA Legislative News Hotline: Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017
The Texas House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee continued its budget analysis today, including invited testimony about Medicaid and mental health spending. Committee Chair Rep. John Zerwas, MD (R-Simonton) and members invited staff experts from the Legislative Budget Board to detail how much has been spent in these areas, identify sources of funding, and how the budgets work. This background information is beneficial to all committee members but is of particular value to the nine legislators who are serving on the House budget-writing committee for the first time.
TMA Legislative News Hotline: Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017
During Monday’s House Appropriations meeting, Chairman Rep. John Zerwas, MD (R-Simonton), commented that he would consider tapping the state’s Economic Stabilization Fund (known better by its “Rainy Day Fund” nickname) to cover budget gaps. The House plan would significantly expand mental health treatment for low-income Texans, for example, which is not in the Senate plan. Representative Zerwas said in media reports, "We didn't artificially cut people just to make a number work,” in defense of the preliminary House budget. The tighter Senate budget proposal does not take into account expenses like growth in Medicaid enrollment. State auditors say the Rainy Day Fund will near $12 billion by the end of the next two-year budget cycle, which is more than $4 billion more than the comptroller’s office says is needed to maintain good standing with credit rating agencies.
TMA Legislative News Hotline: Monday, Feb. 13, 2017
The Texas House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee wasted no time getting to work Monday on the state budget, as chair Rep. John Zerwas, MD (R-Simonton), called the meeting to order at 7:30 am. The 29-member committee heard testimony from the Legislative Budget Board, providing legislators with a state spending overview. The committee faces the challenge of creating a state budget in a lean revenue year.