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2021-22 legislative session ends with progress on health care, transportation

Texans will need to wait two more years for advancement on many key issues
For Immediate Release

As the state legislative session wraps up, the advocacy group TexPIRG says that while the Legislature delivered for Texans on prescription drug price transparency and the expansion of telehealth, on the whole, lawmakers didn’t do enough to help their constituents.

“Given the high-profile opportunities to  winterize our electrical grid, hold companies liable for mistreating consumers and prevent the spread of COVID-19, Texans expected better results from the Legislature,” said Bay Scoggin, TexPIRG director.

“Health care was one bright spot, and we applaud the continued leadership of state Rep. Tom Oliverson, the Insurance Committee Chairperson, on his ongoing efforts to protect consumers from the pitfalls of our healthcare market, from surprise medical bills to exorbitant prescription drug costs.” 

Beyond health care, TexPIRG, which is one of the leading advocates for better, safer transportation policies in the state, noted that there was a sea change in thinking about transportation, but no concrete policy changes are likely until the 2023-24 session. 

“Despite more hearings and more serious discussion of great transportation bills, it seems like the Legislature is not quite ready to take that big next step towards transforming our transportation system. Nonetheless, seeing bills such as HJR109, which could transform transportation spending, get a hearing and a great show of support was a big step in the right direction.”

Here are some of the best bills for Texan consumers that passed this session:

  • Health Care

    • House Bill 1033 (Oliverson, Shaheen) would create more transparency in the cost of prescription drug prices, putting downward pressure on prices to keep consumers’ costs low

    • House Bill 4 (Price, others) would authorize Medicaid and other public benefit plans to pay for telemedicine, thereby increasing access to healthcare for Texans

  • Infrastructure and Transportation

    • House Bill 2219 (Canales) re-authorizes the Texas Mobility Fund, the only funding mechanism the state has for non-highway transportation funding

    • Senate Bill 632 (Buckingham) allows the Lower Colorado River Authority to help municipalities access broadband, particularly in rural areas, to keep Texans connected online

Bad bills that passed

 

  • Consumer Protection

    • House Bill 19 (Leach) would limit trucking companies’ liability in personal injury and wrongful death cases, leaving Texans struck by trucks with minimal compensation options.

    • House Bill 3 (Burrows) includes the Texas Pandemic Response Act, which would negatively impact public health: it would dramatically limit the ability of county commissioners to impose public health orders while concurrently shielding businesses from any liability related to a pandemic.

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