P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
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SENATOR NELSON CONTINUES PRE-FILING FOR 83RD SESSION
AUSTIN — Texas State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, filed nine bills today as she continues to pre-file legislation for the 83rd Regular Session of the Texas Legislature, which reconvenes from January 8, 2013 to May 27, 2013. This package follows the 15 pieces of legislation she filed on November 12, 2012.
"As we prepare for the legislative session, we remain focused on protecting the Texas economy, which continues to outperform that of other states," Senator Nelson said. "We must also prepare to meet the needs of our growing population and ensure we are helping the most vulnerable among us."
Behavioral Health Outcomes Transparency: SB 126 requires the Department of State Health Services to create a public reporting system to allow the public to view and compare performance and outcome measures among community mental health and substance abuse providers. The bill prohibits information posted in the system from identifying individuals. "We invest a significant amount of taxpayer dollars in our community mental health and substance abuse programs, and it is imperative that the public can see how these resources are used and what outcomes their money is getting."
Public Health Omnibus Funding: SB 127 requires funding formulas for regional and local health departments to be based on local needs. It also requires the Department of State Health Services to evaluate capping administrative costs at local and regional health departments and determine if public health functions can be provided more effectively by another entity. Finally, it directs DSHS to create a policy allowing local health departments more flexibility in the use of personnel to respond to disasters. "To maximize the effectiveness of our public health programs, we must implement a process to determine how to best utilize our tax dollars based on local needs."
DARS Background Checks: SB 128 allows the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services to obtain background checks in order to better match clients to employment and training opportunities. "This is a simple clean-up bill to make sure the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services has authority to obtain criminal background checks for employees and clients consistently across all programs."
Protective Order Filing Location: SB 129 allows victims of domestic violence to file a protective order in the county where the offense occurred. Currently, protective orders can only be filed in the county in which the victim resides or the county in which the alleged offender resides. "By allowing victims of domestic violence to file a protective order where the crime has occurred, this legislation opens up another option for those who have been harmed by these vicious crimes. The more options a victim has, the better."
Prosecutor Conflict Clarification: SB 130 permits a prosecutor to represent a victim of domestic violence with filing protective orders, without conflict, when the prosecutor has represented the Department of Family and Protective Services before or is representing DFPS concurrently in a matter involving the victim. "Victims of domestic violence should not face any unnecessary hurdles when trying to get the protection they need. This legislation helps navigate one such hurdle."
Winery New Year's Eve: SB 131 was filed at the request of the Texas wine industry, which has deep roots in SD 12 in the community of Grapevine. It allows Texas wineries to remain open past midnight on New Year's Eve -- until 2 a.m. on New Year's Day -- in order to better market their facilities for receptions. "This legislative change will help our wineries grow their businesses and support Texas' vibrant wine industry, which contributes significantly to the Texas economy."
Minimum Grade Policy Clarification: SB 132 clarifies that Texas school districts may not require teachers to artificially inflate a student's grade, including report card grades or other cumulative averages of a student's individual grades. "As a former teacher, I am opposed to the idea that students should receive anything other than the grade they deserve. It is unfair to the students who work hard for their grades, and it rewards minimum efforts from others."
Community Gardens: SB 133 directs the General Land Office to create a plan to utilize unleased state land for community gardens. "Texas should take advantage of its unused land to promote local, fresh produce and encourage healthy-eating habits."
High School Health and Physical Education: SB 134 strengthens health and physical education requirements for high school students in Texas. Texas has the 7th highest percentage of obese and overweight children ages 10-17 in the country. "Far too many of our students are overweight, putting them at risk of chronic illnesses that will shorten their lives. Students in the upper grade levels are reporting the highest levels of obesity, which is why we must restore this graduation requirement and, more importantly, put our students on a path to better health."
Legislators may continue to file bills until the bill filing deadline on March 8, 2012. To search legislation, visit the Texas Legislature online at www.capitol.state.tx.us.
EDITOR'S NOTE: All quotes in the capsules above are attributable to Senator Nelson.
SENATOR JANE NELSON represents District 12, including portions of Tarrant and Denton Counties. She is Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health & Human Services.