It was a busy 86th Texas Legislative Session for State Rep. Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound) as the District 63 representative authored 19 bills this year.
Among his bills that passed and were signed into law were several pieces of legislation that addresses health.
Parker authored House Bill 3148, which continues a bill he passed in the last session, known as Charlie's Law. The bill allows Texas to become the first state to expand right-to-try laws so patients can have access to adult experimental stem cell treatment, thus allowing patients to get that treatment locally instead of having to leave the country.
Currently, the Federal Drug Administration allows some stem cell treatments to occur where the cells are minimally manipulated and replaced back into the body in the same 24-hour period from when they were taken out of the body.
These new laws apply the "right to try" model to the use of expanded adult stem cell therapies – those therapies that require more than 24-hour manipulation for best results.
Parker said this law will be important for the treatment of chronic and terminal illnesses such as cancer, lupus and multiple sclerosis.
“My hope is that these high-quality physicians will come to Texas and start providing these treatments,” Parker said. “We're going to continue these efforts to ask the FDA to step back and let Texas become the innovative engine. And we're going to take this fight for medical freedom to the White House.”
Parker also authored HB 3147, which he said will provide greater access to cancer clinical trials. Specifically it would reimburse the participants for ancillary costs associated with the trial.
“There are cutting-edge things happening in these trials,” Parker said. “But there are patients who can't financially qualify for them. This sets up a structure with private and philanthropic organizations to help donate to and underwrite some of these costs. This will make a difference in the lives of thousands of Texans.”
Parker authored House Bill 3748, and its Senate version, SB 1207, passed. This bill aims to reduce the delay of medical service for children with certain conditions by ensuring insurance companies and Medicaid work together to allow for the treatment to take place.
Parker's HB 3707, which ultimately passed as SB 1780, allows the Health and Human Services Commission to enter into value-based arrangements in the Medicaid vendor drug program.
Parker led HB 2555 – it passed as SB 869 – which he said was sparked because of the experiences his daughter has dealt with. The law updates health services guidelines in schools and creates a structure for notification and information about anaphylaxis, which are life-threatening allergic reactions, often from food allergies.
HB 982 builds upon HB 3014 from the 84th Legislative Session, both of which relate to the administration of "pay for success" contracts for state agencies. HB 3014 established a trust fund that only permitted appropriations by the Legislature. HB 982 expands upon HB 3014 by allowing the deposit of gifted, granted, or donated funds from the private sector also.
Parker led House Resolution 1160, which calls for the U.S. Congress to pass the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Lawmakers said the agreement would create a more balanced reciprocal trade that benefits American workers and the economy.
Parker's HB 981 adds digital currency into the penal code for money laundering.
“Today's statutes don't address money laundering through crypto-currency, such as bitcoins,” Parker said. “It's becoming an issue in Texas and in other parts of the country.”
Parker authored HB 985, which aims to take organized labor out of the equation when it comes to awarding resources for state contracts. He said this will help the government remain neutral on project labor agreements yet keep the construction industry vibrant.
HB 3716 increases the population requirement in which a county must have its own medical examiner's office. It had been 1 million people, and with this law it becomes 2 million.
For years Denton County has used Tarrant County for its medical examiner services.
With Denton County approaching 1 million people, Parker said he wanted to increase the cap so the county can continue partnering with Tarrant County. He said having its own medical examiner's office would cost Denton County “tens and tens of millions of dollars.”
HB 3714 will allow Denton County to provide street lights on county roads. Parker said several county roads are not lighted and are dangerous.
HB 2298 calls for Jan. 28 to be Sexual Assault Survivors Day. During the 81st Legislative Session Parker created “Jenna's Law,” which requires school districts to adopt and implement a policy addressing the sexual assault of children.