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An update on some of the bills I passed out of the House on Friday:

Foreign Agents Disclosure aKa Shaken, not Stirred. With this bill, Texas lobbyists would have to locally disclose if they were hired by foreign governments.

Local Better Communications - reduces the regulatory burden at farmer’s markets. Did you know that the rules for selling blueberries is different when you put a toothpick through it (fresh vs prepared)? Ridiculous.

Insurance adjusters: expands an existing law, reducing potential conflicts of interest on insurance claims.

Lots more to do!
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Today we voted on a somewhat controversial bill but I wanted to share with you what the legislation would do and why I voted for it.

HB 10 seeks to make Texas a leader in addressing mental health issues by creating the Texas Mental and Behavioral Health Research Institute to create best practices, leadership, and vision for addressing child/adolescent behavioral health needs and to fund research for behavioral health issues.

Many of us were shocked and saddened by the tragic school shootings across the country, and, here in Texas. Mental health awareness increased and I held a public school safety town hall where we listened to many concerns.

I believe that an effort needs to be made to address mental health concerns, especially here in Texas where per capita spending for such programs ranks at the bottom. (This includes substance abuse, depression, etc).

I spent many hours over the past few days trying to improve the bill and address various controversial items. With that in mind I filed several amendments, all of which were accepted by the author, Chair Thompson.

1. My first amendment to HJR5 replaces the original bond structure to fund the research with a much more fiscally conservative approach. Rather than borrowing $3 billion dollars (and costing $2.5 billion in interest), I converted the bill to a “pay as you go” structure and would fund the institute only if the economy does well.

2. I added a privacy amendment that says that any personally identifying information obtained during this research is absolutely confidential.

3. I added disclosure of funding - basically if any company sponsors the research the public is entitled to know who is behind the funding.

4. I added an amendment prohibiting certain research for example, research using hallucinogenic drugs or electronic devices that modify the the behavior of children.

After my amendments were added (and an amendment by Jeff Leach that requires informed consent) , I personally felt that this law would put Texas on the leading edge in new treatments in a fiscally conservative manner while protecting children and patients rights.
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