Legislature Blocks Medicaid Expansion, Guns on Campus Stalls

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As the 83rd Legislative session draws to a close, our elected officials are burning the midnight oil. Today, the following chart circulated on Twitter tracking the progress of both chambers:

Last night, the House cast a largely symbolic vote blocking the Medicaid Expansion provided by the Affordable Care Act — though it's not like Governor $10,000-Degree-Oops-Hairdo-“Back Pain” was going to let that happen anyways. Over in the upper chamber, Senator Whitmire claims that concealed carry on campus doesn't have the votes to get to the floor.

Read more below the jump.  Rep. Jeff Leach Kicks Uninsured Texans While They're Down

Last night during the debate on SB 7, the Senate's bill on Medicaid, Republican Jeff Leach tried to make absolutely sure that no Texans can take advantage of the Affordable Care Act provisions to expand Medicaid to the millions of poor Texans who need it.

First, he put forth an amendment to block Medicaid eligibility for “any person who would not have been eligible for that assistance and for whom federal matching funds were not available under the eligibility criteria for medical assistance in effect on December 31, 2013.” In other words, if the Legislature doesn't change the eligibility rules by the end of the year, then folks would be prevented from accessing the expansion in the future. It was withdrawn by Leach after Democrats Lon Burnam and Naomi Gonzalez made points of order against it, which were also withdrawn.

Undeterred, Leach offered the amendment again:

LIMITATION ON PROVISION OF MEDICAL ASSISTANCE.

Notwithstanding any other law, the department may not provide medical assistance to any person who would not have been eligible for that assistance and for whom federal matching funds were not available under the eligibility criteria for medical assistance in effect on December 31, 2013.

Despite more points of order and a failed motion to table by Rep. Richard Raymond, the amendment passed. So just in case anyone was worried that Texas might possibly expand Medicaid eligibility to our 28% of residents who lack insurance by any other means, fear not — Leach has your back. Too bad he just doesn't give a damn about uninsured Texans.  

Sen. Whitmire: Campus-Carry 'Doesn't Have Votes' in Senate

Parents of college-age Texans should be cheering the 2/3rds rule right now, as the Senate apparently lacks 21 members willing to let the watered down Concealed Carry on Campus bill, HB 972, make it to the floor for a vote. While some conservative activists have called the bill a failure for insufficiently forcing guns on unwilling campus faculty, staff, and students, the bill would still decriminalize the act of bringing a gun into a campus building. That is currently a felony.

However, opponents of the bill can't breathe easy just yet. From the Houston Chronicle today:

In the committee hearing last Tuesday, Whitmire warned opponents of campus carry that if the House bill that includes an opt-out provision is not passed this session, the more stringent version without a local option would be forced on Democrats in a special session where the 2/3 rule is not in place.

Additionally, AP reporter Jim Vertuno pointed out on Twitter that Senator Brian Birdwell (the man who wants your college kids to get mowed down in the crossfire) could try to amend the bill to the higher ed bill, but would risk a major floor fight to do so. With time running down and good bills dying, would it be worth it?  

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About Author

Katherine Haenschen

Katherine Haenschen is a PhD candidate at the University of Texas, where she studies political participation on digital media. She previously managed successful candidate, issue, voter registration, and GOTV campaigns in Central Texas. She is also a fan of UCONN women's basketball and breakfast tacos.

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