Legislators are less than two months into the session and some of them are already throwing elbows and resorting to high stakes brinkmanship.
Just yesterday State Rep. Dan Huberty (R–Kingwood), who chairs the Public Education Committee, told committee members that House Bill 76, his legislation to require public school students who participate in UIL activities to obtain an EKG heart exam before being allowed to participate, is legislation that he believes the committee must pass. It’s the legislation he’s been trying to move through the Texas Legislature for a number of years, and he’s willing to gum up the works, if necessary, to cajole members into advancing his bill through the committee.
“This is the bill that’s going to get passed before anything else that I do this session,” said Huberty.
Huberty’s threat isn’t one to be taken lightly.
Under the rules of the Texas House, committee chairmen have full authority over which bills to bring up for a vote in their committee—meaning Huberty could kill literally every proposal referred to his committee should members decide to scuttle his bill.
The prudence of Huberty’s bill (and his threat) aside, it isn’t likely lawmakers will force him to make good on it. Even if they didn’t support it—and most of them do—the pressure for each of them to fall in line behind him is rather intense.
Remember that full authority? If the chair of the committee decides not to bring your bill up for a hearing, then it won’t be given one.
But back to Huberty’s legislation.
House Bill 76 is a personal cause for Huberty, a bill he says he filed in honor of the late Cody Stephens, a student athlete from his district who died from an undiagnosed heart issue in May 2012, in hopes of preventing the same tragedy.
“Cody was a Senior offensive lineman at Crosby High School who proudly wore number 76. Set to attend Tarleton State University on a football scholarship, he had the world at his fingertips, but his life was tragically cut short,” said Huberty when he filed the bill this past November. “Cody didn’t get the opportunity to have an ECG as a part of his sports physical, which could of found the heart issue that caused his death. This preventative measure could have easily saved his life.”
However, medical professionals disagree and think the bill could do more harm than good.
Last session, the Texas Chapter of American College of Cardiology, Texas Medical Association, American Heart Association, and the Texas Pediatric Society all testified against the legislation.
Merits of the legislation aside, Huberty should be commended for standing up for his bill. Taxpayers should be asking their lawmaker to show the same kind of resolve on fulfilling their own campaign promises and do what it takes to ensure pro-taxpayer legislation crosses the finish line.