Published 4:52 pm Monday, May 15, 2017

A bill to ensure that day care facilities can keep epinephrine auto-injectors on site received unanimous approval in the Senate Wednesday. The measure, SB 1101 by Plano Senator Van Taylor, would let day care administrators get prescriptions to keep the life-saving drug, often known by its trade name EpiPen, on hand in case of emergencies.   Even if there aren’t any known cases of potentially fatal food allergies among a day care population, many cases don’t appear until there is a life threatening reaction to an allergen, said Taylor. “The symptoms of anaphylactic shock can set in within seconds and if left untreated these symptoms can manifest themselves into unconsciousness and even death,” said Taylor. “Many children never know they have that allergy until it’s literally too late.” The bill would permit doctors to write a prescription for the auto-injectors in the name of the day care rather than a specific person. Facilities would be responsible for training employees in the signs and symptoms of anaphylactic shock as well as use and disposal of the injectors.

Also Wednesday the Senate approved a bill that would add photo identification to the front of Lone Star cards. These cards are used to provide federal and state food and cash assistance to needy individuals, and work just like a debit card. SB 1443 author Senator Brandon Creighton of Conroe said that with so much money being spent on these programs, Texas must do what it can to reduce waste and abuse. “Increasing accountability through fraud prevention measures is a good policy and it serves all that are relying on the use of this card and these programs,” he said. “These measures will ensure that benefits go to intended recipients and tax payer dollars are used for their intended purpose.” The bill would also require Lone Star cards to feature the number of a fraud hotline that can be used to report suspected fraud. The new photo requirements would not apply to people over the age of 65, under the age of 19 or people who are blind, disabled or the victims of domestic abuse.

In committee Wednesday, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee looked at a measure to increase cooperation between local and state agencies to provide community based mental health services. The bill, HB 13, sponsored by Senator Charles Schwertner of Georgetown, would allow local, community based mental health programs to apply for state matching funds. “The mental health challenges facing our state require locally driven solutions,” said Schwertner. “HB 13 will allow communities to partner with the state to solve these most pressing mental health issues.” The Health and Human Services Commission would evaluate each submitted proposal and, if approved, could offer to match non-state resources already secured for the program. The amount of the grant would be dependent on the population of the county in which the program would be created.   Schwertner, who also chairs the Senate HHS Committee, said he intended to take a vote on the bills heard Wednesday later in the week.

The Senate will reconvene Thursday, May 11 at 11 a.m.