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The inner workings of legislative committees are the perfect opportunity to kill bills without leaving fingerprints. However, legislative committees can be used as tools for good. A few instances include saving vulnerable patients, ensuring families are given the final say in treatments of their loved ones, and allowing you to consent before a Do-Not-Resuscitate order is written over your life.
The Standing House Committee on Public Health is likely to see all three of these highly important pieces of legislation this Session. Who Speaker Straus appoints to chair this committee is of dire importance to all Texans.
Here a few qualities in a Public Health Chair which Texas Right to Life believes would convey a commitment by House Leadership to the Pro-Life values claimed during the Speaker’s race:
A Representative scoring 100% or above on Texas Right to Life’s 2013 Legislative Scorecard;
Clearly, at the last primary polls, Republican voters showed they mean business on the Pro-Life issue. Voters demand action, and on a committee so important to Pro-Life issues, there is no excuse for failing to appoint a Chair of Public Health who has achieved a perfect legislative score by the largest Pro-Life advocacy organization in the state.
A Representative who is not bound to the pocketbook of the hospital lobby; and
Undeniably, issues concerning patients’ rights and the role of hospitals, ethics committees, and physicians will be at the forefront of the Pro-Life fight this session. A serious conflict of interest would arise if the Chair of Public Health were married, financially or otherwise, to an influential member of the hospital and medical lobby.
A Representative who has led the charge for Pro-Life policies.
With a majority of Republicans, with Republican House Leadership and the Republican Party Platform calling for respect of human life, why not appoint a Chair who has become a leader on the Life issue? An inappropriate Chair of Public Health would surely be a Representative who has voted for weakening amendments on Pro-Life bills or publicly called measures such as House Bill 2, “a mistake.”
The same qualifications outlined above apply just as forcefully to those chosen to chair the House Human Services Committee and the Appropriations Sub-Committee on Health. Both can see, or kill, as much Pro-Life legislation as Public Health.
There is one more ingredient into pushing campaign-rhetoric talk into concrete action – the makeup of committees. Placing a qualified Representative as chair would be meaningless if the majority of members chosen also to serve do not meet the same standards. After all, a majority is needed to pass Pro-Life legislation out of committee and onto the next step.
Luckily, in Texas, there are only a handful of Pro-Life-In-Name-Only (meaning, with an “R” behind their name) Representatives who would be dangerous in being chosen to serve on these most important committees. However, the tea leaves at the Capitol predict that the members of this unsavory club are indeed the very ones being considered. If these rumors come to fruition, Pro-Life Texans should be mad.