AUSTIN - Several bills authored by Texas State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, have been signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott and take effect immediately, including two bills that respond the opioid epidemic.

"Opioid abuse is on the rise, and I was proud to pass legislation that will be key in breaking the cycle here in Texas," said Senator Nelson. "My bills aim to educate more students about the dangers of opioid use, prevent opioid use disorders among pregnant and post-partum women and save lives by ensuring Good Samaritans are not penalized for carrying lifesaving opioid antagonists."

Every day, on average, 115 Americans die from opioid overdose. In Texas, deaths from opioid overdose have increased on average by ten percent per year since 2014.

Below is an overview of Senator Nelson's opioid bills:

Youth Opioid Education: SB 435 directs local school health advisory councils to recommend appropriate opioid addiction and abuse curriculum for their districts. The bill takes effect immediately.

Maternal Opioid Intervention: SB 436 expands the Texas Alliance for Innovation in Maternal Health (TexasAIM) program to curb maternal opioid abuse disorder. It directs the Department of State Health Services to build on the current program to improve early identification of abuse, bolster intervention efforts and restrict access to opioids for mothers. SB 436 takes effect immediately.

Opioid Antagonists (Naloxone): SB 437 makes it easier for Good Samaritans to carry the lifesaving drug Naloxone. The bill prohibits life insurance companies from denying coverage solely because a person possesses an opioid antagonist drug that delays the effects of the opioid until lifesaving care can be administered. Senator Nelson became aware of a problem after reading news reports about a nurse denied life insurance because she carried Naloxone in case of an emergency. The bill will take effect on September 1, 2019.

Additionally, the following bills authored by Senator Nelson have been signed into law and take effect immediately:

Zero-Based Budgeting: SB 68 puts agencies under strategic fiscal review — a form of zero-based budgeting that requires agencies to build their budgets from the ground up, making sure existing funding levels are justified.

Corinth Fire District: SB 235 allows the City of Corinth to improve its fire and emergency response system. It authorizes the City to propose a fire control, prevention, and emergency medical services district to be approved by voters. Upon approval by voters, the City may use a portion of its current sales tax revenue to fund the district.

Veterans Mental Health: SB 822 aligns the grant program for mental health services for veterans and their families with current practices. The bill further supports community mental health programs for Texas veterans and their families.

DCTA: SB 1066 improves the composition of the DCTA Board, by reducing the number of voting Board members from 14 to five. The bill ensures municipalities who share in funding the district are able to better represent their taxpayers.

Senator Jane Nelson represents District 12, including portions of Tarrant and Denton Counties. She is Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and the highest-ranking Republican in the Texas Senate.

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