“I am going into the 88th Legislative Session ready to fight for public education, healthcare access, and affordability in Travis County."
By State Representative Sheryl Cole
AUSTIN, Texas (Texas Insider Report) — “I'm going into the 88th Legislative Session ready to fight for public education, healthcare access, and affordability in Travis County," said State Representative Sheryl Cole (D-Austin,) announcing the filing of her first bills for the upcoming 88th Texas Legislative Session that begins this coming January.
"These first bills represent just some of the niche issues facing constituents of House District 46, but the Legislature can improve the lives of millions by expanding Medicaid, fully funding our teachers and schools, and restoring our civil rights,” said Cole, who serves on the House Agriculture & Livestock, the House Administration, and the House Ways & Means Committees.
Vice Chair Cole has filed the following bills:
- HB 683 - Relating to the exemption of tuition and laboratory fees at public institutions of higher education for certain paramedics.
- In Texas, firefighters qualify for certain college credits, and most paramedics are also firefighters. However, this isn’t the case in every jurisdiction, including for Austin-Travis County EMS. HB 683 closes this gap.
- HB 684 - Relating to the conspicuous marking of certain police vehicles as police vehicles.
- Constituents and criminal justice reform advocates have raised concerns about “invisible” or “ghost” police vehicles. HB 684 requires patrol vehicles to be clearly marked, improving public safety and visibility in the community.
- HB 685 - Relating to the use, possession, delivery, or manufacture of testing equipment that identifies the presence of fentanyl, alpha-methylfentanyl, or any other derivative of fentanyl.
- The availability of fentanyl testing strips would go a long way towards reducing the threat of accidental overdoses. However, they are considered illegal paraphernalia in Texas. HB 685 would legalize them, make great strides towards harm reduction, and allow for Travis County to pilot a distribution program.
- HB 686 - Relating to a highway toll exemption for public school buses.
- Major toll roads go through the hearts of Pflugerville and Manor ISDs. With our school districts already overloaded and underfunded, we shouldn’t further tax their resources by charging public school buses that need toll road access.
- HB 687 - Relating to the enrollment period for newborns under certain employer health benefit plans.
- Life with a newborn is tough. HB 687 provides new parents with some leniency by extending the enrollment period for newborns to health insurance from one month to two.
- HB 688 - Relating to sales and use tax exemptions for certain computers sold during a limited period.
- As education grows more reliant on technology, back-to-school shopping gets more expensive for working families. HB 688 adds certain computers and tablets valued under $500 to the items eligible for the existing sales tax holiday.