Election Day sweeps 22 Republicans
into Texas House
Family physicians positioned well for 82nd Texas Legislature
The November 2010 Texas general election swept 22 Republicans into the Texas House increasing the majority to 99-51 from a previous 77-73. There were far fewer contested races in the Texas Senate where Republicans maintained a super majority of 19-12. Politics aside, the Texas Academy of Family Physicians Political Action Committee and family physicians are positioned well for the 82nd Texas Legislature.
“TAFPPAC took a measured, low-key approach during the 2010 election cycle. We focused on supporting our friends and allies on key committees and did not engage in a lot of legislative races,” says TAFP CEO Tom Banning. “The TAFPPAC Board made a strategic decision to conserve a good deal of money to be available during the next election cycle after redistricting where there will likely be a lot of turnover. We had a lot of wins and some losses, but should be well-positioned entering the legislative session.”
TAFPPAC candidates are endorsed according to their support for issues important to family medicine. With the increasing role of the Republicans, the state will likely see a wave of conservative bills when the Legislature convenes Jan. 11, 2011.
“I think it is fair to say any repeal or changes to our medical liability reforms are off the table. The real question in my mind is how does this new Legislature balance a $20 billion budget deficit with a pledge not to increase taxes?” Banning says. “There are a lot of critical state programs that receive state funding that could be significantly cut, if not eliminated outright, such as the state preceptorship program, the physician education loan repayment program, graduate medical education funding, and Medicaid and CHIP. The Legislature lost a lot of institutional knowledge, so the learning curve is going to be steep, which always creates challenges and opportunities.”
After election night, Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, reaffirmed his intention to stay in the race for House speaker against current Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio. In response to Chisum’s action, 77 Republicans and 49 Democrats have pledged support for Straus, according to the Quorum Report.
“Speaker Straus has done a very good, admirable job of leading the House of Representatives,” Banning says. “I think at the end of the day, with all the challenges facing this Legislature—redistricting, a $20 billion shortfall, sunset of some major state agencies—the rank-and-file House members won’t want another Speaker fight. Mr. Chisum is a well-respected force in the House, but I think all the discussion about a possible Speaker’s race is interesting inside-the-Austin-beltway politics and not much more.”
To access policy briefs on the issues most important to the family physicians of Texas, go to TAFP’s advocacy resources webpage, www.tafp.org/advocacy/resources.
By Melissa Ayala, TAFP publications intern - Fall 2010