Several big issues pass the House on Friday

Posted in 81st Legislature, Around The State, Criminal Justice, Elections, Health Care, Money In Politics, Uncategorized at 11:31 am by wcnews

Kuff has the lowdown on children’s health insurance, Another win for CHIP, (HB 2962). It includes the statement from the bill’s author and CHIP champion Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston).

“This collaborative, bipartisan product will allow an estimated 80,000 children to access health care,” said Representative Coleman. “It will increase public awareness of the CHIP program to bring in children currently eligible under existing limits who remain uncovered.”

HB 2962 will implement a sliding scale to cover uninsured kids with working parents earning from 200 to 300 percent of the federal poverty level.

“Families covered under these provisions will have to pay co-payments and monthly premiums, and will contribute more than the state to the CHIP buy-in created in this bill,” said Representative Coleman. “If families do not pay their monthly premiums, they will be locked out of the program. We’ve also added strict anti-crowd out provisions to ensure that private health insurance is not substituted by CHIP coverage.”

The bill includes a full cost buy-in option, at no cost to the state, for children from families with a net income from 300 to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, who were previously enrolled but lost coverage due to an increase in income.

HB 2962 also excludes child support payments and assets in college savings plans from being considered when determining eligibility for programs like CHIP and Medicaid.

“This will encourage families to invest in the future of their children’s education without fear that their investment will cause them to lose their health care,” said Representative Coleman. “My only regret is that we could not include annual Medicaid eligibility at this time since there is no money appropriated for this provision.”

The two other issues as reported by the FWST’s “Capitol Briefs”, were stricter regulation of union and corporate money in campaigns (HB 2511):

The House passed stricter regulation of corporate and union campaign contributions by a 71-63 vote Friday. House Bill 2511 would close what its author, Rep. Todd Smith, R-Euless, has called an “absurd” loophole that enables corporations and unions to escape a century-old ban against political donations by paying for “issue ads” that stop short of endorsing or opposing a candidate. Under the bill, donations from corporations and unions could go only toward a political party’s or political action committee’s administrative costs. The opponents, mostly conservative Republicans, argued that the measure would restrict free speech. This is Smith’s third try with the bill. It was voted down in 2005 and 2007. The current setup “isn’t right. It’s immoral. It’s corrupt,” Smith said. “I’ve been doing this for six years, and I’ve been opposed every step along the way by people who support the status quo.”

And the approval of an innocence commission (HB 498):

The House on Friday approved establishing the Timothy Cole Innocence Commission to examine wrongful convictions. House Bill 498 by Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon, D-San Antonio, would create a nine-member commission to investigate possible exonerations. The commission would recommend ways to avoid future wrongful convictions. The bill heads to the Senate. The commission would be named for the late Timothy Cole, a wrongly convicted Fort Worth man

Of course all three still have to get through the Senate and be signed by the Governor.

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