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February 18, 1998     (512) 463-0300

LEGISLATORS DISCUSS QUALITY OF HOME HEALTH CARE

HOUSTON - The Senate Interim Committee on Home Health and Assisted Living Facilities met in Houston on Tuesday, February 17, in order to work on proposed legislation for the 76th Legislature. The committee heard from state agency officials concerned with the quality of home health care as well as how it is financed.

Chair Mike Moncrief of Fort Worth along with committee members Gonzalo Barrientos of Austin, Mario Gallegos and Jon Lindsay of Houston, and Jane Nelson of Flower Mound heard officials describe how the funding systems could be simplified in order to give tax payers more for their money. Additional methods of curbing waste and fraud were also discussed.

The committee began its second day of hearings on Wednesday, February 18, with invited testimony from local government officials and representatives from personal care facilities. Senator Mike Moncrief, chair of the committee, then opened the hearing to public testimony.

The committee's next public meeting will be in Harlingen on April 22, 1998.

SENATORS LOOK INTO REGULATION OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

AUSTIN - Members responsible for the regulation of certain health and human service agencies met at the state capitol on Wednesday, February 18. The Senate Interim Finance Subcommittee on Articles 2 and 8 Agencies reviews agency efforts and budgets, appropriations and expenditures, and collects recommendations in order to improve the performance measures within each agency. Chairing the committee is Senator Jane Nelson of Flower Mound and members include Senators Royce West of Dallas and Carlos F. Truan of Corpus Christi.

The meeting consisted of invited agency testimony. Those agencies represented included the State Office of Administrative Hearings, the Health and Human Services Commission, the Department on Aging, the Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, the Commission for the Blind, and the Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Also providing testimony was the Department of Health, the Department of Human Services, the Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation, the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services, the Rehabilitation Commission, the Cancer Council, and the Children's Trust Fund of Texas Council.

INTERIM COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION MEETS IN HOUSTON

HOUSTON - The Senate's Interim Committee on Transportation met Wednesday, February 18, at the University of Houston's Hilton Hotel. Texas' population growth has created a need for an extensive review of the state's transportation network. The Houston-Galveston area is the largest transportation hub in the state; an intersection of rail, trucking, air cargo, and shipping. In addition to the hearing, committee members will tour Houston Transtar, the most advanced state-of-the-art traffic management facility in the nation, which coordinates all local, state, national, and mass transit efforts of traffic management in the area. It is one of the first high-tech transportation and emergency management centers to open in the United States. Local testimony included Houston Mayor Lee Brown and Harris County Judge Robert Eckels. This is the first in a series of hearings that will be held across the state to gather public input relating to transportation issues. Committee members include Senators Ken Armbrister of Victoria serving as Chair, David Cain of Dallas, Troy Fraser of Horseshoe Bay, Mario Gallegos of Houston, Drew Nixon of Carthage, Bill Ratliff of Mount Pleasant, and Carlos F. Truan of Corpus Christi.

The committee was appointed by Lt. Governor Bob Bullock to review the methods Texas transportation projects are funded and whether current plans are adequate to meet the demands of increased traffic while minimizing the potential for congestion. The committee will examine transportation funding in other states, to explore ways to ease crowding on state and local roads and to evaluate state efforts promoting alternatives to traditional transportation. Bullock also requested the committee to study the funding of metropolitan transit authorities to determine their economic efficiency, and to study railway accidents in Texas to determine if there is a need for state action.

The next meeting is scheduled for March 4th in Tyler, Texas. The committee will complete its final report by October 1, 1998, with recommendations to the 76th Legislature which convenes in January 1999.

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