Preserving Families, Passing Bills, Celebrating Easter

April 2, 2021

I hope this letter finds each of you well and surrounded by loved ones on this Good Friday. I'm looking forward to spending time with my family this Easter holiday after a busy week at the Texas Capitol.

As we progress further into session, we will begin spending more time on the House floor to debate, amend, and vote on bills that have been voted out of their respective committees. This week we considered and passed a number of bills, including several related to the recent power outages. Of note, HB 10 would require all ERCOT board members to reside in Texas and would create an additional board position to represent consumer interests. HB 11 requires electric transmission and generation facilities to weatherize in order to continue operations in extreme weather. HB 16 bans the type of variable rate plans that led to huge bills for some customers. While passage of these bills is a positive first step, there's still plenty of work to be done to ensure that the power outages that occurred earlier this year never happen again. 

I'm also pleased to report that one of our bills, HB 567 - the Child Trauma Reduction Act, overwhelmingly passed the House on Thursday. I've included a brief overview below for those interested.

We also had movement on three other bills, each of which received a hearing in its respective committee. We heard testimony on two of our bills in the Human Services Committee on Tuesday -- HB 2658 and HB 3041. I've mentioned both of these bills before, but as a reminder HB 2658 makes several changes to improved Medicaid efficiency, while HB 3041 creates the Family Preservation Services pilot program. Meanwhile in the Public Health Committee, we had the opportunity to introduce HB 548, the Veteran Medical Licensing Act, which you can read more about below. 

Hopefully, you will enjoy the extra reading material and video in this newsletter as well during this holiday weekend.

May God bless you and your family,
James B. Frank Signature
James B. Frank

Human Services Committee Update

As a father, I can think of few things more painful than having your children taken away based on false claims of abuse. On Tuesday the Human Services committee heard from several families who lived through this nightmare scenario and were, in many cases, forced to undertake severe financial burdens in order to fight back against a system that is often rigged against them. 

Our committee is considering several bills to help ensure that removals only occur when a child's safety is at risk. Check out the article here for more information on some of the work we're doing to address this all-too-common issue.

Making Progress (HB 567)

As I just mentioned, preventing unnecessary removals is one of our major priorities for this legislative session. I'm pleased to report that one of the key vehicles for attaining this goal, HB 567, was overwhelmingly passed out of the House this week.

HB 567, The Child Trauma Reduction Act, seeks to reduce the cycle of trauma that many children experience in foster care by clarifying procedures and grounds in the Family Code that DFPS and the courts rely upon when making life-altering decisions concerning the removal of children into foster care and termination of parental rights.

Veteran Medical Licensing Act (HB 548)

Texas has a shortage of physicians and nurses, especially in rural areas of the state. We are also the proud home of the largest number of military installations in the country. It only makes sense that active duty medical personnel that have served our armed forces in a responsible manner be allowed to continue their practices once they leave active service in the military

On Tuesday, HB 548, the Veteran Medical Licensing Act received a hearing in the Public Health Committee. HB 548 will allow physicians and nurses in good standing to waive into a Texas License and continue to practice in Texas once they leave active duty service if they have served at a military installation for at least a year and pledge to provide their services in a part of the state that is deemed medically underserved. All of HD-69 (Archer, Baylor, Clay, Foard, Knox, and Wichita) are "medically underserved" and would fit within the parameters of the legislation.

I expect this bill to receive broad support among members of the committee. 

Thoughts on Bureaucracy 

I recently came across an article in National Review by Charles Cooke that used the systemic problems that have haunted the Department of Education as a jumping off point for the larger problems that plague any bureaucratic institution. The short of it is that centralization insulates such entities from the actual focus of their missions and results in agencies that cater to powerful interest groups rather than those they are supposed to be directly serving. Couple this with a government entity's natural tendency to grow and expand its sphere of influence, and you wind up with a sprawling, bloated department far from its original design.

Unfortunately, as Mr. Cooke lays out, the problems associated with the Department of Education are not unique to the department. Centralization and sprawl are the rule, not the exception, when it comes to government agencies. That's why it's incumbent on the Legislature to continually act as a check on the executive branch and its agencies. 

Those interested can read the original article here

The Cost of Healthcare

I'll have more to say on the subject in future newsletters, but for now I wanted to share this minute and a half video on healthcare costs. It identifies two of the primary issues negatively impacting our current healthcare system: a lack of price transparency and the bureaucratic expanse that separates doctors from their patients. 

Patients First: The Cost of Health Care
Patients First: The Cost of Health Care

Bill Tracker

COVID-19 Protocols at the Capitol

If you are planning to visit the Capitol during the next few months, I encourage you to contact my Austin office (512-463-0534) to get the latest updates on health and safety protocols before making the trip down.  The rules are constantly changing but are gradually heading toward normalcy once again. 

You may find the following information useful as your plan your visit:
  • My office is always open to constituents. 
  • The House Gallery will be open to the public at reduced capacity.
  • Committee hearings will be open to the public both in-person and virtually. 
  • There are no public tours, groups, or sponsored event spaces.
  • All visitors must enter the Capitol through the north door.
  • COVID-19 rapid testing is available prior to entering the Capitol (located outside, north of the building).
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