And they’re off.
With much opening-day fanfare, the 86th Texas Legislature convened at noon yesterday and quickly got to work.
After heartfelt, bipartisan nominating speeches, the Texas House unanimously elected Rep. Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) as speaker. With his typical humor and candor, Speaker Bonnen eagerly accepted the honor and the challenge. In his remarks, he stressed the importance of fostering collaboration and working together to find solutions to the problems that face the state, and leaving the “House and our state better than we found it.”
Led by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) in the absence of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the Texas Senate selected Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin) as its president pro tempore. The position puts him third in line as acting governor if both Gov. Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Patrick are out of the state.
Today, members of both chambers established the rules to guide them through the session. While we don’t expect many substantive changes, we do eagerly await the naming of House and Senate committee members. Senate committees are expected to be determined within the next week. Sen. Charles Schwertner, MD (R-Georgetown) no longer wants to chair the Health and Human Services Committee, so a new face will lead that committee. The House will take longer to sort out as the new speaker considers the preferences of his 149 colleagues, but we expect committees to be named within a couple of weeks.
New legislative sessions mean office relocations for many senators and representatives; find your lawmakers’ offices on this list.
The Texas Medical Association's 2019 legislative agenda includes priorities to help advance patient care in Texas.
Top on the list are the state budget, insurance reform, scope of practice, maternal health, the Texas Medical Board and Medical Practice Act, and public health.
For more details, see “On Call at the Capitol” in the January issue of Texas Medicine.
TMA member physicians and medical students, and TMA Alliance members play a significant role in advancing medicine’s priorities at the Capitol. Here are some ways you can help:
- Register for First Tuesdays at the Capitol;
- Testify before a House or Senate committee;
- Learn more about TEXPAC, TMA’s bipartisan political action committee;
- When called to do so, respond to Action Alerts on specific bills; and/or
- Make sure you receive TMA’s Legislative News Hotline each day, via Texas Medicine Today. Here’s how: Just log in to the Edit My Interests page on your TMA profile. Ensure you get all the legislative updates by selecting "Health care issues in the Texas Legislature" as one of your Grassroots and Advocacy interests, and TMA’s updates on the latest bills affecting medicine will arrive in your inbox as part of Texas Medicine Today at 2 pm each day lawmakers convene at the Capitol throughout Texas’ 86th legislative session.
PHYSICIAN OF THE DAY
Physician of the Day is a service the Texas Academy of Family Physicians (TAFP) provides the Texas legislature. Each day the legislators are in session, the group names a physician to serve in the Capitol. This tradition started in 1971 and has continued every legislative session since, including special sessions. This program is organized by TAFP with support from TMA and the Texas Department of State Health Services. The Physician of the Day is introduced in both the Senate and the House of Representatives each day, and his or her name becomes a permanent part of the official legislative record.
Today’s physician of the day at the Capitol is Manojkumar Dobariya, MD, of Coppell. Dr. Dobariya graduated from BJ Medical College Gujarat University in India and is a member of TMA and the Dallas County Medical Society.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Texas Legislature to convene with a list of big issues to tackle – San Marcos Daily Record
Two Years Ago, The Texas Legislature Started With a Bang. This Year, It’s Quieter – The Texas Tribune
Texas House leader-to-be Dennis Bonnen is aggressive, colorful – and has a lot of different people to please – The Dallas Morning News
How to stop teen vaping? Make e-cigarettes harder to get – NBC News
A Virus Even More Dangerous Than Zika to Pregnant Women – The New York Times