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Hindrances to Healthcare

May 22, 2015 @ 04:06:40

Overcoming Hindrances to Healthcare Freedom
 

One of the major hindrances to health care freedom is the government. SB 339, a narrowly tailored medical marijuana bill by Senator Etlife, is a case in point. This bill is designed to help people suffering from some forms of epilepsy. I supported efforts to improve the bill and expand its scope, but these efforts were not successful.

The downside to SB 339 is that it expands government intrusion into health care. It creates a licensing, regulatory scheme and a registry. It allows a specific low-THC cannabis to be used to treat seizures only after multiple pharmaceuticals have been tried and shown to fail.

However, forcing individuals to try pharmaceutical drugs may do as much, or even more, damage as it is a benefit. Pharmaceutical treatment of seizures includes side effects as benign as dizziness, sleepiness, headaches, and blurred vision to more extreme side effects such as aggressive behavior, memory loss, hallucinations, liver damage, bone loss, suicidal thoughts, and death. I do not think the government should force patients to suffer through these side effects first if cannabis may be a better source of treatment.


Despite these setbacks, I am grateful that a majority of my colleagues are beginning to understand that cannabis may be used responsibly and for good. Voting for SB 339's passage was a small step in the right direction. The bill passed the House Tuesday with 108 in favor of the bill and 38 against. It has been sent to Governor Abbott. 

Although SB 339 is not a medical freedom bill like HB 2165, I did support the bill to help some obtain relief with cannabis treatments. My hope is that the government will eventually get out of the way so that citizens may use their God given liberty to legally seek the medical treatment of their choice. Those suffering from epilepsy, PTSD, pain, and cancer deserve to return to their homes, their families, and their support systems as they battle illness and disease. The government should not hinder this right. 

May it one day be said to us, "Then you recently turned and did what was right in [God's] sight—every man proclaiming liberty to his neighbor...." (Jeremiah 34:15). We should love our neighbor's liberty as much as we love our own.


My medical freedom billHB 2165, which would repeal marijuana prohibition in Texas, failed to make it to the House floor for a vote before last week's deadline. I am grateful for the support it did receive and the discussion it has brought to the forefront.
"Mallory's Hope"

I encourage you to watch the video below, "Mallory's Hope," which is about a family whose story is remarkably similar to that of numerous citizens that live in Texas. The difference between the story of the Minihans and citizens in Texas is that the Minihans were able to find hope for their daughter in their own state. If SB 339 is signed into law, my hope is that the little bit of freedom it allows will be helpful to some Texans, so we may hear similar success stories in the future.
ER Doctor Endorses Cannabis Research for Epilepsy

Other Issues of Importance

House bill 2540, which designates Spur 63 in Gregg County as the Texas Ranger Glenn Elliott Memorial Highway, passed the House last week. Texas Ranger Glenn Elliott, who served in East Texas for 38 years, is remembered as one of the most respected lawmen in the state. His service to citizens began in the U.S. Army in World War II, he then went on to become a Texas highway patrol man, and ended his career as a Texas Ranger. Elliott worked murder cases, bank robberies, oil field thefts, kidnappings, and terrorism. His colleagues and those who knew Elliott remember him as "one of the hardest workers." This memorial highway designation is just one way to honor and remember Texas Ranger Glenn Elliott's years of service in East Texas.
 
Legislative Deadlines
Hundreds of House bills died on Thursday, May 15 — the last day the House had an opportunity to vote on bills originating in that chamber. Some of these bills would have expanded liberty for Texas citizens, but many did not. We are now considering senate bills, some local House bills, and reconciling bills in the conference committee process. Other deadlines are looming as we approach the final days of the regular session.

As the vision of liberty grows, I hope there will be greater opportunities for expanding liberty and increasing personal responsibility in future legislative sessions. We must not give up and give in to despair because of the many hindrances to freedom that remain. Let us hope in the Lord and do our duty, trusting the results with Him.

Please continue to pray for me and my colleagues that we will make wise decisions, debate with truth and civility, and finish well.
 Thank you for the privilege of representing District 7 in the Texas House.

For Texas and liberty,
David Simpson

 
P.S. You can follow along each week with any bills of interest by watching the process. Links to committee hearings and floor activity can be found hereBills that I have filed may be found here.
 
LEGISLATURE BY THE NUMBERS
As of Friday, May 22, 2015
 
House Bills & HJRs Passed: 1,162
Senate Bills & SJRs Passed: 724
Total Bills Sent to the Governor: 236
Total Bills Signed by the Governor: 45
Bills I introduced that have passed the House: HB 3175HB 1200, and HB 2540. HB 1199 was amended to HB 1265 on third reading.
 

In Case You Missed It!


"Marijuana Prohibition is Unscientific, Unconstitutional, and Unjust" published by ForbesMagazine.com, May 14, 2015

"Texas House committee approves Simpson's marijuana bill" published by the Longview News-Journal, May 6, 2015

"Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Bill Offered in Texas" published by the Heartlander Magazine, April 23, 2015

"A Christian case for drug law reform" published by The Texas Tribune, March 2, 2015

"Holding Marriage in Honor" Op-Ed published by the Longview News-Journal, February 28, 2015
 

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Avalanche Of Bills

May 14, 2015 @ 10:03:58

 


An Avalanche of Bills
During these last weeks of the legislative session, the House is often voting on more than a hundred bills a day. Despite long hours, bills are piling up on the House calendar due to an avalanche of bills that have poured out of the committees. Over 300 bills are set for today's calendar. Though some progress is being made, in the end most bills will die on the calendar.
 

Bills Moving Forward


Several bills expanding the ingredients to the controlled substance list are working their way through the process this session. In the past this method has not proved effective, so I authored bills taking a different approach to the synthetic drug problem plaguing our communities. The first bill, HB 1200, would create civil liability for those engaging or aiding in production, distribution, sale or provision of synthetic substances. It was passed by the House unanimously, and it is now in the Senate where Senator John Whitmire will shepherd it through the process.

A companion bill, HB 1199, would hold the makers and sellers of synthetic substance accountable for utilizing deceptive trade practices. It is set for today's calendar. However, due to delays, it may not come before the House until tomorrow.

HB 2165  was voted out of committee last week and is on its way to the House floor. The version I laid out in the committee hearing was voted out of committee. It would repeal all marijuana offenses, while restricting the sale to minors, and place ultimate responsibility in the hands of parents, where it belongs. I am very grateful for the support from my colleagues to continue this important discussion. The bill is now in the calendars committee.

Passage of HB 2165 would help many Texans to legally access and responsibly use the marijuana plant as an inexpensive and natural treatment of seizures, PTSD, pain, and cancer. This bill is NOT about getting high; it is about liberty, personal responsibility, and medical freedom. I believe this limited government and personal responsibility approach is the right way forward for Texas and liberty.

The Criminal Jurisprudence Committee preparing to vote HB 2165 out of committee 

Texas House Honors the Constitution —
Sometimes

Last Thursday, a classic example of politics over principles was offered in a pair of similar bills on the House floor. House bills 2489 and 939 both offered (within a few hours of each other) propositions to override contracts between an HOA and a property owner.

The first, HB 939, prohibits a property owners' association from adopting or enforcing a provision that restricts an owner from installing a standby electric generator. I agree with the right of property owners to use generators on their property. However, I take exception to violating Article I, Section 16, of the Texas Constitution prohibiting the making of laws that impair a contract. I offered an amendment to make the bill effective only in contracts going forward. The amendment failed with a mere 14 members voting to uphold the constitution.

Only hours later, HB 2489, which regulates HOA's residential leases or rental agreements, also had the same constitutional flaw. Again, I offered an amendment to remedy the issue. This time, 94 members voted to uphold the constitution. I am encouraged by the victory, but it is puzzling why the Texas Constitution is supported in one instance and not in another on the same issue. 

 
On another issue of liberty, I proposed an amendment to HB 4069, which is a bill relating to the regulation of barbering and cosmetology. While I believe in less regulation of trades, the committee substitute of this bill, which proposed to deregulate the practice of "threading" — a technique that removes unwanted eyebrow hair from a person by using thread to pull the hair — was offered in a formal meeting instead of in a public hearing. This means that stakeholders never had a chance to publicly testify on removing threaders from regulation.

Threading became a legal issue when the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation stepped in and deprived individuals of their livelihood by stopping the practice of eyebrow—threading operations. This action resulted in a law suit, Patel vs TDLR, which is currently awaiting a decision from the Texas Supreme Court on the issue of economic freedom protection granted in the Texas Constitution. Deregulating the practice in statute prior to the court's decision would deprive individuals of their day in court by making the decision on economic freedom moot.

I joined with fellow East Texan Rep. Matt Schaefer and five other members in a bi-partisan move to offer an amendment to make the effective date of the bill after the rendering of the judgment in Patel vs TDLR. This amendment ensures that all Texans will benefit from any expansion of economic liberty provided by this ruling. 
 
Thanks for stopping by!
It was a pleasure to meet George Tilton-Low, who served as an honorary House page last Tuesday. George lives in San Franciso, California with his parents, Sarah Tilton and Lawrence Low. George did an excellent job serving as a page on the House floor. Thank you for volunteering at the Texas House!
Last Friday morning it was a privilege to visit and pray with Mobberly Baptist Church's pastor, Dr. Glynn Stone, and his wife Angie. Acknowledging our dependence upon God and calling upon him for his favor and wisdom is an important tradition for which I am grateful. Thank you, Dr. Stone, for coming and leading us to the throne of grace. 
 
We are only 18 days away from sine die, which means that the House calendars have increased, the debate has amplified in fervor, and tempers are on edge as members and their staffs begin to see issues they have worked on for months at the brink of success or failure. Please keep the legislature in your prayers that we may be wise and principled in our final decisions of the 84th Legislative Session.
As always, I welcome your input and covet your prayers. Thank you for the privilege of representing District 7 in the Texas House.

For Texas and liberty,
David Simpson

 
P.S. You can follow along each week with any bills of interest by watching the process. Links to committee hearings and floor activity can be found hereBills that I have filed may be found here.


LEGISLATURE BY THE NUMBERS
As of Tuesday, May 12, 2015

House bills passed: 951
Senate bills passed: 696
Bills signed by the Governor: 5
Total number of bills filed this session: 6,461
Bills I introduced that have passed out of committees: HB 134HB 1199HB 3175, HB 2165

Bills I introduced that have passed the House: HB 3175 and HB 1200HB 2540

In Case You Missed It!


"Texas House committee approves Simpson's marijuana bill" published by the Longview News-Journal, May 6, 2015

"Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Bill Offered in Texas" published by the Heartlander Magazine, April 23, 2015

"A Christian case for drug law reform" published by The Texas Tribune, March 2, 2015

"Holding Marriage in Honor" Op-Ed published by the Longview News-Journal, February 28, 2015
 

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Immunizations

May 07, 2015 @ 03:21:36

Last week, the Texas House voted to protect the security and integrity of the private information stored in ImmTrack, the state's immunization tracking registry. HB 2171 is a bill that would allow the state to maintain an individual's immunization information after the parental consent expired at age 18 until the individual reaches the age of 26.

I proposed, and the House concurred, an amendment to ensure that expressed consent from an adult (19 years and over) must be received before immunization records are released. The amendment also expressly extended the firewall that is currently in place protecting an individual's immunization information from being shared with anyone outside the Department of State Health Services.
This will confirm that the privacy of all individuals within the registry must be protected and respected.

Sometimes the options available to a legislator are limited. That was the case with HB 2474, a bill that requires immunization exemption statistics to be reported at a campus level. This information is already collected at the campus level and reported at the district level as de-identified information. I do not support the collection or release of personal medical information, even in this manner. However, the bill before us was not one to end the collection of such data.

Those in favor of HB 2474 have touted it as the "parent's right to know" bill because they believe it will allow parents to make informed decisions on where to send their immunocompromised children to school. However, arguments on the House floor indicated that releasing exemption rates is just a political ploy on the local level to peer pressure parents into vaccinating their children against their conscience.

When there is not the will to repeal bad policy, the next best option is to amend existing statutes to improve it. In order to ensure that the bill did what the supporters said it would do, I offered an amendment to require the disclosure to parents of all the de-identitfied information provided by the campus to the district. This includes the immunization rates of each required vaccine, the students in provisional enrollment due to late vaccines, the number of conscientious exemptions, the number of medical exemptions, and the number of students delinquent in their immunizations. Since delinquent rates are higher than exemption rates, it is critical that when a parent needs this information to make an informed decision, they have all of the information.  

This amendment, which the House approved, provides a much more transparent statistical analysis for parents. However,
 parents should be informed that high immunization rates do not necessarily prevent an outbreak of a vaccine-preventable disease.

Last week, I presented two bills dealing with legislators’ retirements to the Committee on Pensions, chaired by my fellow East Texan, Rep. Dan Flynn.

House Bill 131 would serve as an alternative to term limits by ending the incentive of a retirement annuity that can reach up to $140,000 a year. Being a state legislator may not be a high paying job, but it can have high paying benefits. HB 131 would cap a legislator’s annual retirement at $30,000 a year, which is the amount currently paid for 12 years of service. This amount is more in line with the amount a retired teacher receives. 

When legislators want to raise their own retirement now, they simply raise the pay of district judges, because their retirement is tied in statute to the amount of a district judge salary. I filed HB 3699 to end this problem by decoupling the salary of district judges and pensions of state legislators. There is currently a provision in the appropriation bill that would give judicial employees (including district judges) a five percent pay raise. That would give legislators a raise in their retirement. They may deserve the raise. We do not.

If you like these ideas, I would urge you to contact the members of the Committee on Pensions.

Thanks for stopping by!
It was great to meet William Peacock, who served as an Honorary Page on the House floor last week. William's father, Bill Peacock, is the vice president of research and the director of the Center for Economic Freedom at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Knowing this, I understand why William has a passion for learning about our state government. Thank you for volunteering your time to the Texas House of Representatives!

Sam Houston once said, "I have but one maxim; do right and risk the consequences." Now that we have arrived at the final month of the 84th Legislative Session, there is a great temptation due to fatigue and fear to just fade away. It is my prayer and determination to be principled and not give into this temptation; to press on and to do unto others as I would want others to do to me; to protect life, liberty and property of all Texans, and trust Providence with consequences.

I welcome your input and covet your prayers. Thank you for the privilege of representing District 7 in the Texas House.

For Texas and liberty,
David Simpson

 
P.S. You can follow along each week with any bills of interest by watching the process. Links to committee hearings and floor activity can be found hereBills that I have filed may be found here.
 
LEGISLATURE BY THE NUMBERS
As of Tuesday, May 5, 2015

House bills passed: 564
Senate bills passed: 568
Bills signed by the Governor: 2
House & Senate bills pending in committees: 1,826
Total number of bills filed this session: 6,461
Bills which I introduced that have passed out of committee: HB 134HB 1199HB 1200HB 2540 

Bills which I introduced that have passed the House: HB 3175
 

In Case You Missed It!


"Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Bill Offered in Texas" published by the Heartlander Magazine, April 23, 2015

"A Pro-Life Defense of Marijuana Legalization" published by the Texas GOP Vote, April 10, 2015

"Texas Young Republicans Support Marijuana Decriminalization" published by the Dallas Morning News, April 10, 2015


"Holding Marriage in Honor" Op-Ed published by the Longview News-Journal, February 28, 2015
 

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