January 2007 MedBytes: Texas Legislature and U.S. Congress

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The Texas Legislature convenes this month for what is sure to be an action-packed 140-day session. Issues ranging from tax reform to workers' compensation to Medicaid/CHIP, patient safety, scope of practice, and graduate medical education will be addressed. Here are a few Internet sites where you can find information on what's going on in the Texas Legislature and in the U.S. Congress.

TexasMedical Association
TMA's Web site has a complete rundown of the association's legislative package for 2007. You can keep track of the status of TMA's top priorities throughout the session. Log on to  www.texmed.org , then click on Governmental Affairs, then Texas Legislature. TMA's Legislative Hotline will deliver daily up-to-the-minute legislative news. It will be available each day before noon beginning Jan. 15. A weekly recap, delivered each Friday, also is available. To subscribe to the Hotline, click "MEMBER LOG-IN" on the TMA Web site and go to "Update Your TMA Demographic Information (including newsletter subscriptions and preferences)."

Texas Legislature Online
Log on to  www.capitol.state.tx.us to keep track of bills as they progress through the Texas House of Representatives and Senate. Bills can be tracked by number, subject, author, committee, or keyword, and you can find the membership and schedules of legislative committees. Video broadcasts of the House and Senate sessions can be accessed. The site also features links to House and Senate leaders, state laws, the Texas Constitution, and state agencies such as the Texas Legislative Council, the Legislative Budget Board, and the Legislative Reference Library. Don't know your senator or state representative? You can find out by clicking on "Who Represents Me?" and entering your ZIP code, address, county, or city. The site also has information on how redistricting has changed legislative and congressional districts.

Texas House of Representatives
The House Web site at  www.house.state.tx.us  includes updates on the status of bills and bill analyses; committee membership and schedules; audio and video recordings of committee meetings, including archives; a directory of House members' telephone numbers; and information (including maps) about the State Capitol and Capitol complex.

Texas Senate
Go to  www.senate.state.tx.us and you'll find the Texas Senate site. It has many of the same services as the House of Representatives' Web site, but the Senate offers its information in Spanish as well as English. Also available are a virtual tour of the Capitol complex and a special section for children.

American Medical Association
The American Medical Association provides the latest information on congressional action at  http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/advocacy/centers-engaged-advocacy/federal-advocacy/advocacy-with-congress.page . The site provides updates on key legislation, tips about communicating with members of Congress, and information about joining the AMA's Grassroots Action Center. You can also find out how your Texas senators and representatives voted on the issues by entering your ZIP code. It also tells you the association's position on particular bills.

Library of Congress
Visit  thomas.loc.gov for information on legislation pending in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. The site, sponsored by the Library of Congress, allows visitors to search bills by topic, number, title, or type. It also offers a primer on how a bill becomes law, House and Senate directories, and links to the Library of Congress, the Congressional Record, House and Senate committees, and the executive and judicial branches.

MedBytes is a quick look at new, or newly discovered, Web sites of interest toTexasphysicians. The column also highlights features of the TMA Web site. If you know of some interesting medical sites or have questions about how to use the TMA Web site, e-mail erin.prather@texmed.org . Publication of information about Web sites in this column is not to be considered an endorsement or approval by the  TexasMedical Association of the sites or sponsors, or of any products or services involved.



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