Simpson weighs in on pharmacy bill vote

Published on Saturday, 15 February 2014 09:28 - Written by

When Dr. Rodney Mabry and Mr. Howard Patterson met with me to share their vision for a privately funded pharmacy school at the University of Texas at Tyler, I immediately expressed my support for the proposal. The idea was good for Texas (hundreds of Texans were having to obtain that training out of state); it was good for East Texas as a growing center of healthcare services; and it was a model for higher education.

Once the well-crafted legislation was prepared, Rep.Schaefer authored the bill in the House (HB 1610) with the support of Representatives Hughes, Clardy and myself, as co-authors. Senators Eltife and Nichols both authored the identical bill in the Senate (SB 566).

The bills were each heard in their respective committees on March 27. The Senate bill was reported favorably to the local and uncontested calendar the next day, but the House bill was left pending in the Higher Education Committee chaired by Rep. Dan Branch. No surprises here. The more senior members’ and senators’ bill moved.

When the Senate bill came over to the House, Rep. Schaefer garnered much support for the bill and worked to overcome some resistance to the measure due to anticipation of possible future appropriations for the school. He also worked with the leadership to see that the bill was heard in committee and quickly placed on the calendar for a vote. It passed intact with overwhelming support.

So where are these gross misrepresentations and outright falsehoods about Rep. Schaefer’s role with the passage of the pharmacy bill coming from? Well, at Monday night’s debate I learned that they are espoused directly by his opponent, Skip Ogle, who — despite being a lobbyist for many years — has failed to either understand the legislative process or bother to study the official record of this successful bill.

First, Mr. Ogle cited the pharmacy bill as an instance of failure, but the bill passed. Next, Mr. Ogle claimed that Rep. Schaefer failed to shepherd the bill through the House, referring to the bill going in and out of a conference committee. But the bill was never amended. The Senate bill was the identical companion to Schaefer’s House bill. It never needed nor did it go to conference to be reconciled. Then Mr. Ogle claimed that “Rep. Clardy authored the bill in the last.” This surprised me again; surely, as an Austin insider, Mr. Ogle knows that it is impossible for any representative to author a Senate Bill.

Rep. Clardy was chosen as the sponsor of the Senate bill since he was on the Higher Education Committee, but all of the East Texas representatives were named as co-sponsors including Rep. Schaefer.

Whether due to ignorance or prejudice, Mr. Ogle’s multiple misrepresentations are inexcusable. The truth is Rep. Schaefer led an East Texas coalition in the House to pass an important bill for District 6 and all of East Texas.

 

Rep. David Simpson serves Gregg and Upshur counties (District 7) in the Texas House and formerly represented northern Smith County before redistricting.