With so much going on at your State Capitol this week, I thought it best to jump right into our legislative update…
In one of the busiest weeks to date, we had a number of legislative developments that I want to bring you up to speed on. I recently presented House Bill 1681 before the House Committee on Homeland Security & Public Safety. This legislation would allow for local police departments to participate in peer assistance programs, which would bolster confidentiality protections for police chaplains helping troubled or impaired officers cope with a traumatic experience. I filed this bill to ensure that our dedicated police officers not only have greater access to mental health assistance, but to also protect those officers, and the chaplains that provide support, from civil liability.
I also passed several bills out of the House this week, which will now be sent to the Senate Chamber for their consideration. The first, House Bill 1409, which you may remember from previous columns, seeks to protect timberland owners from appraisers seeking to asses fair-market value on land rightfully designated for timber production. The second bill that passed the House this week, House Bill 1964, would cut red tape in the water right amendment process conducted by The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) by exempting landowners seeking to amend inconsequential water rights from the burdensome procedural requirements intended for more significant amendments. These pieces of legislation support limited government and private property rights, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to send both bills to the Governor's desk for final approval.
As access to quality healthcare in rural areas continues to decline, we must do more at the state level to promote strategies that would help address this critical issue. That is why I'm pleased to inform you that I recently passed House Bill 1065, which would create a state grant program to incentivize rural residency training opportunities to improve and preserve access to care in rural areas. By providing grants for rural training opportunities, these programs would increase the number of physicians and hospital staff in underserved areas, provide training for residents preparing for practice, facilitate greater cooperation between urban and rural hospital partnerships, and enrich recruitment opportunities for rural communities.
The mobile office is on the road this month and looks forward to seeing you on the following dates, in the following locations: April 17th at the Houston County Courthouse Annex in Crockett from 9:00-11am, or at the Trinity County Courthouse in Groveton from 1:30-3:30pm; and finally on April 24th at the San Augustine County Courthouse in San Augustine from 9:00-11:00am.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact our office if we can help you in any way. Our district office may be reached at (936) 634-2762, or you can call my Capitol office at (512) 463-0508.