It’s finally over…. After a 140-day Regular Session and a 29-day Special Session, the Legislature is adjourned “Sine Die”. (sorta, the House technically has to return today….)
It’s been a long, hot summer in Austin, Texas.
The 82nd Legislature’s first called Special Session has passed the two major bills that had to pass in order for the state’s next budget to balance. Additionally, they managed a few more, including Congressional Redistricting and reform of the Texas Windstorm Association.
Day before yesterday, both the House and Senate passed the Regular Session’s SB 23, SB 7 and SB 8. This time, those bills that died in the Regular Session were rolled into one bill – Senate Bill 7 – relating to healthcare cost containment – finally passed in the current Special Session. The bill establishes the Texas Institute of Health Care Quality and Efficiency to develop a state plan to implement and use pay-for-performance as a way to improve the quality and efficiency of healthcare. The other bill, previously known as SB 23, was projected to save more than $1.5 billion by expanding managed care in Medicaid, using technology to prevent fraud and ensuring that individuals receive the appropriate level of community services. It also restructures the payment system for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program to focus on health outcomes and to reduce costs associated with waste, inefficiency and preventable medical errors. All of these matters were wrapped up into Senate Bill 7 during the special session.
Also, a few education bills that did not pass during the regular session were voted out by both Chambers and are on their way to the Governor. This includes SB 6 by Florence Shapiro (R-Plano) and Rob Eissler (R-The Woodlands) which combines the textbook fund and the technology allotment fund into a new instructional materials fund. SB 8 by Florence Shapiro (R-Plano) and Rob Eissler (R-The Woodlands) which gives school districts flexibility is also on its way to the Governor’s desk.
Finally, yesterday the “Fiscal Matters” bill, Senate Bill 1 by Senator Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock) finally passed. This bill – along with Senate Bill 7 – were “must past” bills in order for the next fiscal budget for the state to balance. The bill co-authored by House Appropriations Chairman Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie), is the omnibus bill that cuts across all areas of state government to find cost savings. After a brief scare of the bill not passing, a motion to reconsider passed the bill.
Today the members should head home for what’s left of the Summer.