FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 07/26/2021
87th Legislative Session: Representative Lopez Gets the Job Done
Austin, Texas - Representative Lopez finished the 87th legislative session with 43 bills authored, 18 bills joint authored and 149 bills co-authored. "From the very beginning of the regular session, I sought to push for Medicare expansion, property tax reform, and expanding services to Veterans, just to name a few of the first bills I filed," stated Rep. Lopez.
Representative Lopez kept his promises and never faltered to bring relief to the people of HD 125 and of Texas during these unprecedented times. Rep. Lopez sent 6 bills to the Governor's office to be signed. House Bill 2365, which was signed into law goes into effect on September 1st 2021, allows Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio to receive Medicaid costs as payments in full, eliminating the harsh debt collection that past patients at this facility had experienced. "HB 2365 is vitally important to Bexar County because it will ensure that our most vulnerable population who receive trauma care from a military treatment facility will not be saddled with excessive medical debt." said Rep. Lopez.
Of the Senate Bills sponsored this session, five were signed into law including, SB 611 and SJR 35, which provides for a total residence homestead property tax exemption for the surviving spouse of a member of the U.S. armed services who is killed or fatally injured in the line duty, closing a legal loophole. "Texas Tax Code currently provides a full property tax exemption to the surviving spouses of military service members who are killed in action. While this does provide important tax relief to the spouses of our fallen heroes, it unfortunately fails to cover the needs of all spouses of deceased service members. This tax exemption currently excludes members of the military who succumb to non-combat related injuries and from service members killed on duty," explained Lopez. This Constitutional amendment will be laid before the citizens of Texas for a vote on November 2, 2021.
Children in the Foster care was a top priority for Representative Lopez's office coming into the regular session and one of the first bills he filed in early November 2020. Trauma-informed care is a particular type of support to persons that recognize, respond to, and take into consideration the signs, symptoms and risks of trauma to better support the needs of those individuals. This is especially important when dealing with children, who may have endured traumatic experiences in the foster care system. "It is vital that those who work in and with the Texas child welfare system make use of a trauma-informed approach. SB 904, which was signed by the Governor and goes into law in September 2021, requires attorneys who are on the court-maintained list of qualified attorneys ad litem for children in child protection cases, complete a training program on trauma-informed care and the effect of trauma on children in the conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services.
This bill will ensure that attorneys are trained in childhood trauma and it will help attorneys better understand the challenges that their clients are facing," said Lopez.
SB 464 increases the reporting efficiency of deaths and other data by local health authorities in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The provisions of this bill streamline communications between local health departments and the Department of State Health Services (DSHS), especially around local health authorities who only work part-time. "Part-time Local Health Authorities were not afforded the same powers of those who work full time by the DSHS when the pandemic broke out, and this bill will amend that to create a more coordinated effort in combating COVID-19," explained Lopez.
"The unusual nature of the session and the constraints of the pandemic brought about challenges that heightened the urgency to respond. Our mission was clear from the beginning, we met the demands, and I am proud to have worked on various pieces of legislation that saw passage, bringing relief to the people of Texas." said Lopez