AUSTIN – Texas State Representative Lina Ortega filed five bills today, which is the first day that lawmakers can file bills for 86th Legislative Session, which begins January 8, 2019.
"I filed bills relating to health care, consumer protection, and economic development in order to highlight some of the main policy areas I intend to work on when I return to Austin next January," Ortega said.
• H.B. 80 (health care workforce study): As Texas' population continues to grow, it is possible that our existing health care programs are inadequate to meet the state's future health care needs. H.B. 80 would require the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to conduct a study that would identify statewide and regional shortages in health professions, with an emphasis on shortages in doctoral-level training. The Board will also develop an overview of existing doctoral-level health-related degree programs and note the enrollment capacity of each. Some of these fields include medicine, nursing, and pharmacy.
"Ensuring that Texas has a sufficient health care workforce to meet its ever-increasing population needs is critical for the future of our communities," Ortega said.
• H.B. 60 (women's health care programs notification): State-run women's health care programs continue to have low enrollment, specifically in our community. In order to increase enrollment, we need new and different ways to reach Texas women. H.B. 60 requires all public higher education institutions to notify all students through email about state-run women's health care programs and provide links to the Health and Human Services Commission's website for eligibility requirements and ways to enroll. This bill comes directly from the Frontera Roundtable event in March, where health care professionals, community organizations, and state health agency officials gathered to discuss how to improve health outcomes for women in the El Paso community.
"We have more than 1.6 million students enrolled in higher education who may either be eligible for these women's health care programs themselves or may know someone else who is," Ortega said. "This bill utilizes an existing network of Texans to increase participation in our programs."
• H.B. 90 (wrap-lending regulation): Wrap mortgage loan scams victimize Texas homebuyers and homeowners, resulting in defaults on first-lien mortgage loans, big hits to sellers' credit ratings, and the loss of tens of thousands of buyers' dollars. H.B. 90 protects consumers by helping the Texas Department of Savings and Mortgage Lending to detect wrap lenders who abuse licensing exemptions, holding wrap payments in trust, enforcing discloser requirements, and requiring wrap sales to be completed with the consent of the senior lienholder.
"Weaknesses in current law allow scam artists to fly under the radar of the state, withhold important information from buyers and lienholders, and avoid liability," Ortega said. "This strengthens current law to protect consumers."
• H.B. 36 (expedited court proceedings for dangerous buildings): El Paso is in the midst of revitalizing the downtown area. But as in other urban cities, one of the things our community has to address is substandard buildings that pose a health and safety risk to the community. H.B. 36 expedites any court proceedings relating to substandard buildings in order to prioritize cases that are detrimental to the public and economic health of our communities.
"This bill will result in more timely resolution of these lawsuits and allow our cities to continue developing without dangerous buildings holding them back," Ortega said.
• H.B. 280 (allow more receivers to rehabilitate dangerous buildings): In certain cases, local governments may appoint a receiver to rehabilitate properties that are in violation of city ordinances. Current law only allows individuals with previous history of rehabilitating properties to be appointed. The City of El Paso has found it difficult to find people with previous experience to take on these projects. H.B. 280 expands those who are eligible to be receivers by no longer requiring them to have previous experience.
"This bill encourages further revitalization efforts and economic development by allowing more people to become involved in repairing dangerous buildings in our community," Ortega said.
Brooke Bennett Galindo
310 N. Mesa