Senator Jane Nelson
P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
Fax (512) 463-0923

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 17, 2011
Contact: Janet Elliott (512) 463-0112

Food Safety, Nurse Protection Bills Pass Senate

AUSTIN — The Senate today passed bills by Texas State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, to promote food safety, to ensure that facilities regulated by health and human services agencies do not improperly receive licenses and to enhance protections for nurses engaged in patient advocacy activities.

SB 81 protects consumers from unsafe food by closing a loophole in the inspection process for entities that harvest, package, wash or ship raw produce. "Consumers need better protection from food-borne illnesses that may arise from fresh produce," said Senator Nelson.

SB 78 requires health and human services agencies to share information about adverse licensing decisions such as denials, sanctions and revocations. "Those who are sanctioned by one agency for conduct that puts vulnerable Texans at risk should not be able to get a license from a different agency," Senator Nelson said.

SB 192 strengthens protections for nurses engaged in patient advocacy activities. Texas received national attention when two nurses in Winkler County were criminally charged with misuse of official information after filing a complaint against a physician to the Texas Medical Board. Charges against one nurse were dropped, and a jury found the other nurse not guilty, but not before both nurses lost their jobs. "Nurses must be protected from retaliation when they report questionable medical care," said Senator Nelson.

Eight of Senator Nelson's other bills also were passed Thursday and sent to the House.

SB 74 allows universities to donate extra computer equipment to rural hospitals for health information technology.

SB 85 makes a county voter registrar responsible for maintaining a list of permanent jury duty exemptions instead of the county tax assessor/collector. Denton County officials sought this change to improve efficiency.

SB 187 requires more stringent documentation for the transportation of bodies and body parts.

SB 189 adds a requirement that in order to receive a medical license in Texas under an H-IB Visa, applicants must practice for at least three years in medically underserved areas in order to improve access to care.

SB 190 makes a number of changes to the Texas Medical Board's complaint process; including prohibiting the acceptance of anonymous complaints and increasing the amount of time physicians have to respond to complaints.

SB 191 increases the transparency of the disposition of cases by the Texas Medical Board.

SB 436 allows a county with population of 500,000 or more to contract with a city to conduct day care inspections within the city.

SB 796 requires Health & Human Services Commission to identify priorities for addressing diabetes in the Medicaid population.

SENATOR JANE NELSON represents District 12, including portions of Tarrant and Denton Counties. She is Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health & Human Services.

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