Agreement Reached on Damage Caps for Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
and Fallen Soldiers Remembered
Austin - At an informal press conference around ten p.m. Friday, Mount Pleasant Senator Bill Ratliff and Houston Representative Joe Nixon announced that they had come to an agreement on the major provisions of House Bill (HB) 4.
Under the deal, a claimant would be able to obtain a maximum of $250,000 from all doctors and nurses for damages for pain and suffering in medical malpractice lawsuits. A claimant could also sue up to two health care institutions, such as hospitals and nursing homes, for punitive damages for as much as $250,000 each.
The rest of the provisions in the bill generally followed the Senate's version.
Negotiations continued on the budget, with the main point of contention being how quickly universities would be able to set their own tuition rates.
Earlier on Friday, the Senate and House paid tribute to the soldiers who lost their lives in Operation Iraqi Freedom during a joint session held on the other side of the Rotunda.
"Their names are etched into the fabric of American history, never to be erased, never to be forgotten," said Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, himself an ex-U.S. Air Force officer.
Senator Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio solemnly read the names of the twenty-eight fallen service men and women who either were from, or had ties to, Texas. They had served in the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy.
Today's Senate floor action consisted of the Senate concurring with House amendments made to Senate bills and appointing conference committees if there was objection.
Among the bills sent to conference committee was House Bill (HB) 7, the supplemental appropriations bill that officially puts into place the cuts requested of state agencies in January. The bill also makes adjustments in the funding of several agencies.
The Senate will reconvene Saturday, May 31, 2003 at 10:00 a.m.