Submitted by Jeff Leach, State Representative
As we approach the final days of the regular 83rd Legislative Session, both the House and Senate chambers are concluding debate and final passage of all non-emergency items. Currently, conference committees are meeting to resolve any differences between companion House and Senate bills, and the regular session will officially conclude on Monday, May 27th.
Over the next three days, before Sine Die, the House will debate and vote on several important spending measures, including the biennial state budget. As you know, the primary duty of the Legislature is to pass a balanced state budget, and during these final days I am committed to standing firm on my core beliefs of limited government, lower taxes and free-market principles. As a steward of your hard-earned taxpayer dollars, I pledge to carefully review these matters in a fiscally responsible and conservative manner.
In other legislative news…
This week I proudly authored legislation limiting the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare. After vigorous and substantive debate, the legislation was passed overwhelmingly in the House. This provision was offered as an amendment to Senate Bill 7, a substantial piece of legislation that significantly reforms the Texas Medicaid Program. Under current law, the Texas Health & Human Services Commissioner has full authority to expand Medicaid without legislative approval. My amendment closes this loophole by ensuring that future Governors and Commissioners are constrained by statute from expanding the Texas Medicaid Program without the consent of the Texas Legislature. We have a responsibility to ensure that Medicaid is sustainable in the long term. It is the duty of the Legislature to fundamentally reform this broken system before expanding it, and I have been honored to actively take on this fight alongside Governor Perry and Commissioner Janek.
Additionally, I was proud to join with my colleagues in finally addressing the state’s long-term water needs. The Texas House passed a constitutional amendment, Senate Joint Resolution 1, providing a productive and fiscally sound pathway to water resource development in Texas over the next 50 years. A fiscally responsible solution to our water resource needs, this legislation prioritizes water management strategies at the regional level while preserving the significance of funding for conservation, reuse, and rural needs.
Finally, I fought for the House passage of Senate Bill 1406, bringing transparency and accountability within the Texas Education Service Center Curriculum Collaborative, also known as CSCOPE. Over the course of the Legislative Session, numerous constituents have expressed grave concern over the mismanagement of CSCOPE and its record of producing biased material. Senate Bill 1406 brings CSCOPE curriculum under the public vetting process as currently implemented by the State Board of Education. Additionally, it requires that all CSCOPE materials go through the standard textbook adoption process, which includes public hearings and a screening process that prevents factual errors from entering curriculum. By promoting transparency and accountability in our classrooms, this legislation is an instrumental reform for public education curriculum in Texas and I am proud of its passage.
Recently I had the opportunity to visit with a great bunch of homeschool students during their visit to the Texas Capitol with the North Texans Citizens Lobby (pictured at top). We discussed various issues, including the state budget, water resource development and education, among others.