Senator Nelson's Capitol Digest

August 15, 2014

Senator Nelson Chairs First Senate Finance Committee Hearing
Senator Nelson made history this week by becoming the first woman to preside as chair of the Senate Finance Committee. The committee heard presentations on the Texas economy and state budget, including an overview of spending limits and the Economic Stabilization Fund. "Our committee will work to keep Texas strong and successful and follow the policies of fiscal discipline that have led to the Texas miracle," she said.

Senate Finance Committee Discusses Border Security
The Senate Finance Committee this week also reviewed funding mechanisms to support the state's efforts to address border security. The Legislative Budget Board estimates that Operation Strong Safety, led by the Texas Department of Public Safety with support from the National Guard, will cost approximately $17-18 million a month. A copy of the presentation can be found online. "Even though this is a federal responsibility, Texas taxpayers bear the costs of an unsecure border. Therefore we must take action on the state level to address the ongoing crisis," said Senator Nelson.

Sunset Advisory Commission Approves Senator Nelson's Mental Health Modification
This week the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission, chaired by Senator Nelson, considered proposed changes and additions to Sunset reports and approved 46 modifications, including one proposed by Senator Nelson to improve Texas' mental health system. The modification is intended to increase local involvement in the hiring and recruitment processes at state hospitals; expand contracting for inpatient beds in the community; better align incentives in our mental health system to achieve outlined goals; ensure that Texas is purchasing outcomes through the mental health contracting process; and strengthen and streamline the stakeholder input process. "Sunset did an excellent job of outlining the problems in our mental health system in their report, and I believe my modification will help us achieve a better, more accountable behavioral health system," said Senator Nelson.

Sunset Advisory Commission Makes Decisions Regarding State Supported Living Centers, Regulatory Programs
The Texas Sunset Advisory Commission also approved proposals of two workgroups Senator Nelson: one relating to licensure programs at the Department of State Health Services and another dealing with State Supported Living Centers (SSLCs) that serve individuals with disabilities. The commission voted to direct state agencies to improve the quality of care for individuals living in SSLCS; establish a "Restructuring Commission" to determine how many SSLCs are needed; and ensure that any final decision about the closure of SSLCs would rest with the Legislature. "Our approach recognizes the value of these centers while also addressing challenges with quality of care," said Senator Nelson. The Commission also approved modifications that retained four mental health professions at DSHS; transferred four professions to the Texas Medical Board; transferred 12 profession to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation; and deregulated 11 professions. To view all of the proposed modifications and if they were approved by the Sunset Advisory Commission, please visit the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission's website at www.sunset.texas.gov/.

Deadline Today to be Listed as a Host
The print deadline for the invitation for Senator Nelson's Annual 40th Birthday Party is today! If you would like to be listed as a host on the invitation, we need your pledge by 5 p.m. this afternoon. For more information, please visit Party HQ online or call 817-488-7400.