The Texas Legislature might be on track to deliver a special session that would cost taxpayers $800,000 and perhaps even more in frustration. Why is that? Because Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick wants to pass a controversial bathroom bill, a property-tax reform bill, and privacy legislation – and, more importantly, he wants it done sooner rather than later. So much so, in fact, that he’s willing to allow the taxpayers to swallow the extra cost by invoking a special session to do it.
Ordinarily, it might be more difficult to get his way. Right now, unfortunately, the “Sunset Safety” bill is on the line. Essentially, Patrick would force a special session in order to review and pass the bill (along with his own), or chance the closure of the Texas Medical Board (TMB) which oversees the licensing of Texan doctors.
This is a potential recipe for disaster. Doctors who are on the verge of acquiring their licenses might have to postpone or cancel their plans, while those hoping to renew licenses would have to do the same. This would make it harder and more expensive to find a doctor anywhere in the state of Texas, potentially putting the health of its citizens at risk. Even worse, as costs rise more people could be deterred from seeking needed medical treatment.
What can you do as a result of these legislative squabbles? Well, if you find yourself injured or in need of medical help after a theoretical TMB closure, you can use Houston law to your advantage. A legal avenue–and potential lawsuits–from residents of one of the biggest cities in Texas might help sway the legislature not to pull these shenanigans for some time to come. For those who don’t have the time or money to push legal consequences on their state legislators, it might be time to flood their offices with thousands of calls crying out in unison for some semblance of sanity, or at the very least humanity, from those who are supposed to draft laws to help everyone.
Hopefully, this kind of action won’t be necessary.
So what kinds of bills have already been passed? We imagine you’ll find them no less controversial than the bathroom bill. SB 4 allows police officers to request proof of citizenship from anyone they meet. This includes children. Sheriffs would become accountable if they don’t comply with requests from ICE. This is a big boon to President Trump’s current war on undocumented immigrants, who are still being deported at a much higher rate than during the previous Obama administration.
Even a bill that should have been held in high regard by everyone managed to remain controversial because of certain stipulations held within. A bill meant to reduce the number of children put through the foster care system will provide immunity to private institutions who will share some of the burdens of overworked caseworkers, potentially putting more kids at risk. On top of that, Republican lawmakers squashed a provision that would have allowed kids to receive common vaccinations during required medical exams.
The legislature also placed a load of new restrictions on abortion, passed the Sandra Bland Act to help keep certain criminal classifications out of jail, and finally, passed another bill that should help minority voters find their way to the ballot. In 2011, federal courts concluded that Texas voting laws discriminated against minorities, and so a new bill was drafted and passed. With so much on the table at once, you’d think some of it would be less controversial in 2017.