85th LEGISLATIVE SPECIAL SESSION

legislation

BILLS PASSED IN FIRST CALLED SESSION

HEALTH:

HB 13 by Giovanni Capriglione (R-Keller) and Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) requires health care facilities and physicians to electronically report abortion complications to the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) within three business days for physicians and within 30 days for facilities. The report must include (if known):

  • the date and the type of abortion that caused or may have caused the complication;
  • the gestational age of the fetus;
  • the name and type of facility in which the abortion was performed;
  • the date the complication was diagnosed or treated;
  • the name and type of facility other than the reporting facility in which the complication was diagnosed or treated;
  • a description of the complication;
  • the patient’s year of birth, race, marital status, and state and county of residence;
  • the date of the first day of the patient’s last menstrual period;
  • the number of previous live births of the patient; and
  • the number of previous induced abortions of the patient.

HHSC is required to develop and publish an annual report on the commission’s Internet website that aggregates on a statewide basis each abortion complication reported. It adds a civil penalty of $500 per violation for physicians or health care facilities that fail to comply with the reporting requirements. HHSC is required to report a physician who violates this provision to the Texas Medical Board. It was signed by the governor on August 15, 2017 and takes effect on November 14, 2017.

HB 214 by John Smithee (R-Amarillo) and Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) prohibits health benefit plans from providing coverage for elective abortion; but allows a person to purchase optional or supplemental coverage for elective abortion under a health benefit plan. It allows a health benefit plan to provide coverage for elective abortion only if:

  • the coverage is provided to an enrollee separately from other health benefit plan coverage offered by the issuer;
  • the enrollee pays a separate premium for elective abortion coverage in addition to the premium for other health benefit plan coverage; and
  • the enrollee provides a signature for elective abortion coverage, separately and distinct from the signature required for other health benefit plan coverage provided by the issuer.

In calculating the premium for elective abortion coverage, a health benefit plan issuer must calculate an enrollee’s premium so that the premium fully covers the estimated cost of elective abortion per enrollee, determined on an actuarial basis. The issuer is prohibited from taking into account any cost savings in other health benefit plan coverage that could result from coverage for elective abortion, and is prohibited from discounting an enrollee’s premium or reducing an enrollee’s premium on the basis that the enrollee had health benefit plan coverage for elective abortion. It was signed by the governor on August 15, 2017 and takes effect on December 1, 2017.

HB 215 by Jim Murphy (R-Houston) and Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) requires physicians who perform an abortion on a woman younger than 18 years of age to report information in her medical record regarding whether she obtained parental consent, was granted a judicial bypass, or was in an emergency situation. If known, the physician must report whether the woman became pregnant while in foster care or in the managing conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services. It requires a physician who performs an abortion based on a severe and irreversible fetal abnormality in the third trimester to report the type of fetal abnormality identified by the physician. It was signed by the governor on August 16, 2017 and takes effect on November 14, 2017.

SB 11 by Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) and Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood) clarifies the circumstances under which a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order is valid. It defines DNR order as an order instructing a health care professional not to attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on a patient whose circulatory or respiratory function ceased. The provisions only apply to DNR orders that are issued in a health care facility or hospital and do not apply to an out-of-hospital DNR. It requires a patient’s DNR to be issued by the patient’s attending physician, requires the DNR to be dated and requires the DNR to comply with:

  • a competent patient’s written directions;
  • a competent patient’s oral directions delivered to or observed by two competent adult witnesses, at least one of whom is not the attending physician or other employee of the facility;
  • the directions in a properly executed advance directive;
  • the directions of a patient’s legal guardian or agent with medical power of attorney; or
  • a treatment decision that follows the procedure under state law for when a person has not executed or issued a directive and is incompetent or incapable of communication.

A valid DNR can be revoked at any time by the patient’s attending physician. Before a DNR order can be placed in a patient’s medical record, the patient must be informed of the order or, if the patient is incompetent, the physician or person acting on behalf of a health care facility makes a diligent effort to contact and inform the patient’s known agent or legal guardian. If the patient does not have an agent or guardian, a diligent effort must be made to contact the patient’s spouse, adult children, or parents (in that order). It makes it a Class A misdemeanor offense for a physician or other person to intentionally conceal, cancel, effectuate, or falsify another person’s DNR order or to intentionally conceal or withhold personal knowledge of another person’s revocation of a DNR order. It was signed by the governor on August 16, 2017 and takes effect on April 1, 2018.

SB 17 by Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) and Cindy Burkett (R-Sunnyvale) expands the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force and extends it until September 1, 2023. It adds to the task force one nurse specializing in labor and delivery and one physician specializing in critical care. It requires the task force to:

  • hold open meetings except to review specific cases;
  • allow public comment during at least one public meeting each year;
  • present recommendations to help reduce the incidence of pregnancy-related deaths and severe maternal morbidity;
  • study and review rates or disparities in pregnancy-related deaths and severe maternal morbidity;
  • study and review health conditions and factors that disproportionately affect the most at-risk population;
  • study and review best practices and programs operating in other states that have reduced rates of pregnancy-related deaths;
  • compare rates of pregnancy-related deaths based on the socioeconomic status of the mother; and
  • consult with the Perinatal Advisory Council when making recommendations to help reduce the incidence of pregnancy-related deaths and severe maternal morbidity.

It requires the Health and Human Services Commission to:

  • make available to physicians and other persons certified to conduct a substance use screening and domestic violence screening of pregnant women information that includes guidance regarding best practices for verbally screening pregnant women for substance use and domestic violence and a list of treatment, prevention, and intervention resources (and to make the information publically available on the commission’s Internet website);
  • statistically analyze aggregate data of pregnancy-related deaths to identify any trends, rates, or disparities;
  • evaluate options for reducing pregnancy-related deaths, focusing on the most prevalent causes of pregnancy-related deaths and for treating postpartum depression in economically disadvantaged women;
  • develop strategies in coordination with the task force to lower the costs of providing medical assistance related to severe maternal morbidity and chronic illness and to improve quality outcomes related to the underlying causes of severe maternal morbidity and chronic illness;
  • promote and facilitate the use among health care providers of maternal health and safety informational materials, including tools and procedures related to best practices in maternal health and safety;
  • examine national standards regarding the collection of death information; and
  • submit a report to the governor and legislature prior to each regular legislative session summarizing the commission’s implementation and outcomes and providing recommendations for improving the effectiveness of the maternal health and safety initiative and the processes and procedures for collecting cause of death information including any challenges to collecting accurate information.

 It was signed by the governor on August 16, 2017 and took immediate effect.

SB 20 by Van Taylor (R-Plano) and Larry Gonzales (R-Round Rock) changes the sunset dates for the Texas Medical Board, Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists, Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists, Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors, and the Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners from September 1, 2017 to September 1, 2019. It was signed by the governor on August 11, 2017 and took immediate effect.

SB 60 by Van Taylor (R-Plano) and Larry Gonzales (R-Round Rock) repeals appropriations contingency riders that made funding for the Texas Medical Board and the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists contingent on passage of their sunset bills during the regular session in order to provide continued funding for those agencies. It was signed by the governor on August 11, 2017 and took immediate effect.

PROPERTY:

HB 7 by Dade Phelan (R-Port Neches) and Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) prohibits a municipality from requiring a person to pay a tree mitigation fee for the removal of a tree if the tree is located on a property that is an existing one-family or two-family dwelling that is the person’s residence; and is less than 10 inches in diameter at the point on the trunk 4.5 feet above the ground. If a municipality imposes a tree mitigation fee for tree removal on a person’s property, the municipality must allow the person to apply for a credit for tree planting to offset the amount of the fee. It was signed by the governor on August 16, 2017 and takes effect on December 1, 2017.

SB 6 by Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) and Dan Huberty (R-Humble) prescribes procedures to be followed by a municipality before annexing property. It divides counties and municipalities into two categories for annexation purposes.

Tier 1 – A Tier 1 county is a county with a population of less than 500,000 (with the exception of a county that contains a freshwater fisheries center operated by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department). A Tier 1 municipality is a city wholly located in one or more Tier 1 counties that proposes to annex an area wholly located in one or more Tier 1 counties.

Tier 2 – A Tier 2 county is a county with a population of 500,000 or more (or a Tier 1 county in which a majority of the registered voters have approved being a Tier 2 county). A Tier 2 municipality is a city wholly or partly located in a Tier 2 county or wholly located in one or more Tier 1 counties that propose to annex any part of a Tier 2 county.

 Annexation of an Area With Less Than 200 Population – Prior to annexing an area with a population of less than 200, a Tier 2 municipality must have approval (by petition) of more than 50 percent of the registered voters and which includes at least 50 percent of the landowners in the area to be annexed. The municipality that proposes to annex an area must adopt a resolution that includes a detailed description and map of the area; a description of each service to be provided in the area by the municipality; a list of each service the municipality will provide on the effective date of the annexation; and a schedule that includes the period within which the municipality will provide each service not provided on the annexation’s effective date. There is a notice, public hearing, election, and petition requirement.

 Annexation of an Area With 200 People or More – An area with a population of 200 or more can only be annexed by a Tier 2 municipality if a majority of registered voters approve the annexation at an election. If more than 50 percent of the land in the area is not owned by registered voters, a petition signed by more than 50 percent of the landowners is required. There is a notice, public hearing, and petition requirement.

 Requirements for All Municipal Annexation – A municipality annexing an area of any population without the consent of all landowners must:

  • provide a list of services to be provided on or after the effective date of annexation;
  • mail notice of the proposed annexation to each resident and property owner in the area; and
  • hold hearings during and after the petition or election period.

If the petition or election fails to meet the threshold, the municipality cannot annex the area and cannot try again for at least one year.

Annexation of Roads and Rights-of-Way – A Tier 2 municipality may annex a road or the right-of-way of a road upon request of the owner or the governing body of the political subdivision that maintains the road or right-of-way.

Annexation Near Military Bases – Prior to the annexation of an area within five miles of a federally owned or operated military instillation or facility, the city is required to adopt a resolution to maintain the compatibility of its regulation of the land with the base’s operations.

Exceptions – Annexation of areas owned by the municipality, areas involving strategic partnership agreements, navigable streams within the municipality’s extra-territorial jurisdiction, and industrial districts are not subject to the petition or election procedures. It was signed by the governor on August 15, 2017 and takes effect on December 1, 2017.

PUBLIC EDUCATION:

HB 21 by Dan Huberty (R-Humble) and Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) makes several public school finance reforms including:

 Teacher Retirement System – It adds $212 million to the Teacher Retirement System to provide support to participants in TRS-Care to decrease premiums and deductibles.

 Charter School Facilities Funding – It provides $60 million in facilities funding to charter schools that have an acceptable performance rating. The funds can be used to:

  • lease an instructional facility,
  • pay property taxes on an instructional facility,
  • pay debt service on bonds issued to finance an instructional facility, or
  • any other purpose related to the purchase, lease, sale, acquisition, or maintenance of an instructional facility.

Financial Hardship Transition Aid – It provides $150 million ($100 million for the 2017-2018 school year and $50 million for the 2018-2019 school year) for financial hardship transition aid for school districts scheduled to lose Additional State Aid for Tax Reduction (ASATR).

School District Debt Allotment – It provides $60 million for facilities funding for existing school district debt allotment.

Small-Sized District Adjustment – It provides $41 million for the small-sized district adjustment.

Autism and Dyslexia Grant Programs – It provides $40 million ($20 million for each program) to fund grant programs for school districts and open-enrollment charter schools for innovative services to students with autism and dyslexia. A program is eligible for a grant if it:

  • operates as an independent campus or separate program from the campus in which the program is located;
  • incorporates evidence-based and research-based design;
  • uses empirical data on student achievement and improvement;
  • includes parental support and collaboration;
  • incorporates the use of technology;
  • has the ability to replicate the program for students statewide; and
  • serves students between the ages of three and nine.

 Texas Commission on Public School Finance – It establishes the Texas Commission on Public School Finance to develop and make recommendations for improvements to the current public school finance system or for new methods of financing public schools. The commission is composed of 13 members with four members appointed by the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker and a member of the State Board of Education designated by the SBOE chair. It was signed by the governor on August 16, 2017 and takes effect on November 14, 2017, except Sections 1, 5, and 8 take effect September 1, 2018 and Sections 4 and 12 take effect September 1, 2023.

HB 30 by John Zerwas (R-Fulshear) and Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) provides funding for HB 21. It transfers $351 million from the Health and Human Services Commission in unencumbered 2018-2019 general revenue appropriations to the Texas Education Agency to provide:

  • $150 million to fund financial hardship grants to school districts;
  • $60 million to fund instructional facilities for open-enrollment charter schools;
  • $60 million to increase funding for existing debt allotment for school districts;
  • $41 million for the small-sized district adjustment;
  • $20 million for a grant program for innovative services to students with autism; and
  • $20 million for a grant program for innovative services to students with dyslexia.

It also transfers $212 million in general revenue from the Health and Human Services Commission to the Teacher Retirement System of Texas to be used to provide support to participants in the TRS-Care program. It was signed by the governor on August 16, 2017 and took immediate effect.

STATEWIDE:

SB 5 by Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills) and Craig Goldman (R-Fort Worth) creates the offense of election fraud for voting or attempting to vote a ballot belonging to another person or providing false information on an application for ballot by mail. It is an offense for a person to knowingly or intentionally make any effort to:

  1. influence the independent exercise of the vote of another in the presence of the ballot or during the voting process;
  2. cause a voter to become registered, a ballot to be obtained, or a vote to be cast under false pretenses; or
  3. cause any intentionally misleading statement, representation, or information to be provided to an election official, or on an application for a ballot by mail, carrier envelope, or any official election-related form or document.

An offense under this law is a Class A misdemeanor; however an offense is increased to the next higher category of offense if it is shown at the trial that the defendant was previously convicted of a similar offense, the offense involves a voter 65 years of age or older and the actor was not related to the voter or physically living in the same dwelling as the voter, or the defendant committed another similar offense in the same election.

Election Records – It requires precinct records to be preserved for at least 22 months after an election.

Electronic Signatures and Mail Ballot Requests – It specifically prohibits an electronic signature on a mail ballot application. It allows a mail ballot application to be submitted by fax or electronic transmission only if it is submitted by mail and received by the early voting clerk within four business days after the fax or electronic transmission.

 Mail Ballots – It makes it a Third Degree felony for a person to possess a ballot or carrier envelope unless requested by the voter, and the penalty is increased if the defendant has a previous similar conviction, if the offense involves a person 65 years of age or older, or if the defendant committed another offense in the same election.

 Rejected Mail Ballots – Early voting clerks are required to deliver notice to the attorney general within 30 days after an election of any ballots rejected because:

  • the voter was deceased,
  • the voter already voted in person in the same election,
  • the signatures on the carrier envelope and ballot application were not executed by the same person,
  • the carrier envelope certificate lacked a witness signature; or
  • the carrier envelope certificate was improperly executed by an assistant.

The notice must be provided on a form prescribed by the attorney general pursuant to rules adopted by the secretary of state and must include certified copies of the carrier envelope and corresponding ballot application of the rejected mail ballots. It was signed by the governor on August 11, 2017 and takes effect on December 1, 2017.