A run-down of bills vetoed by Governor Abbott

Governor Abbott has vetoed 50 bills passed during the 85th Legislative Session, including several related to health care. This is the highest number of bills vetoed by a Texas governor since 2007, when Governor Perry vetoed 56 bills.

Governor Abbott vetoed Senate Bill 670, which would have changed the position of commissioner of the Department of State Health Services to be appointed by the governor. Currently, the commissioner is appointed by the executive commissioner of the Health and Human Services Commission, who is appointed by the governor.

The Senate passed the bill unanimously. The House passed the bill 146-0, with four representatives either not voting or absent.

The governor vetoed the bill because he believes the current arrangement works well.

Governor Abbott also vetoed Senate Bill 790, which would have extended the Women’s Health Advisory Committee until September 1, 2019. The committee will now expire on September 1, 2017, the original date.

The committee was created last session to provide recommendations to the Health and Human Services Commission on the consolidation of women’s health programs. The HHSC consolidated the programs under the Health Texas Women’s Program, which launched in July 2016. The governor believes that the committee has achieved its purpose and should disband to allow for other programs, such as his maternal mortality task force.

Senator Boris Miles, the bill’s author, issued a statement after the veto:

According to the World Health Organization statistics, Texas has the highest number of pregnancy-related deaths in a developed world. For Black women, the numbers are even worse. I am dumbfounded that the governor would announce a special session and add maternal mortality to the list, then veto SB 790, which would extend the Women’s Health Advisory Committee for another two years and benefit countless women across our state.

This committee was created in 2015 to advise and provide recommendations to the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) regarding two new women’s health programs. These programs are less than a year old and the committee needed more time to advise HHSC and discuss ways to improve these new programs dedicated to improving women’s health in Texas.

This legislation costs state taxpayers absolutely nothing, but the benefits are limitless. This bill passed both chambers with bipartisan support because legislators knew this committee’s work was important for our state and for improving women’s health.

Dismantling this committee is incredibly shortsighted, especially since the maternal mortality rates are skyrocketing across our state. Texas women deserve better.

The bill passed the Senate unanimously but ran into some opposition in the House, where it passed 83-52.

Senate Bill 1912 was also vetoed because Governor Abbott found that while some parts are beneficial, others go too far in expanding the government.

The bill would have allowed courts to establish a mental health public defender office to provide proposed patients with legal representation.

Governor Abbott explains in his veto statement that when the government seeks court-ordered mental health services, the court already appoints an attorney to represent the defendant.

The Senate unanimously passed the bill. The House passed the bill 128-17.