Bill Text: TX SB968 | 2021-2022 | 87th Legislature | Engrossed


Bill Title: Relating to public health disaster and public health emergency preparedness and response; providing a civil penalty.

Spectrum: Slight Partisan Bill (Republican 3-1)

Status: (Engrossed) 2021-05-10 - Left pending in committee [SB968 Detail]

Download: Texas-2021-SB968-Engrossed.html
 
 
  By: Kolkhorst S.B. No. 968
 
 
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
 
AN ACT
  relating to public health disaster and public health emergency
  preparedness and response; providing a civil penalty.
         BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
         SECTION 1.  Subchapter B, Chapter 418, Government Code, is
  amended by adding Section 418.0125 to read as follows:
         Sec. 418.0125.  LIMITATIONS ON MEDICAL PROCEDURES. (a) In
  this section, "nonelective medical procedure" means a medical
  procedure, including a surgery, a physical exam, a diagnostic test,
  a screening, the performance of a laboratory test, and the
  collection of a specimen to perform a laboratory test, that if not
  performed within a reasonable time may, as determined in good faith
  by a patient's physician, result in:
               (1)  the patient's loss of life; or
               (2)  a deterioration, complication, or progression of
  the patient's current or potential medical condition or disorder,
  including a physical condition or mental disorder.
         (b)  The Texas Medical Board during a declared state of
  disaster may not issue an order or adopt a regulation that limits or
  prohibits a nonelective medical procedure.
         (c)  The Texas Medical Board during a declared state of
  disaster may issue an order or adopt a regulation imposing a
  temporary limitation or prohibition on a medical procedure other
  than a nonelective medical procedure only if the limitation or
  prohibition is reasonably necessary to conserve resources for
  nonelective medical procedures or resources needed for disaster
  response.  An order issued or regulation adopted under this
  subsection may not continue for more than 15 days unless renewed by
  the board.
         (d)  A person subject to an order issued or regulation
  adopted under this section who in good faith acts or fails to act in
  accordance with that order or regulation is not civilly or
  criminally liable and is not subject to disciplinary action for
  that act or failure to act.
         (e)  The immunity provided by Subsection (d) is in addition
  to any other immunity or limitation of liability provided by law.
         (f)  Notwithstanding any other law, this section does not
  create a civil, criminal, or administrative cause of action or
  liability or create a standard of care, obligation, or duty that
  provides the basis for a cause of action for an act or omission
  under this section.
         SECTION 2.  Subchapter C, Chapter 418, Government Code, is
  amended by adding Section 418.0435 to read as follows:
         Sec. 418.0435.  PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT CONTRACTS.
  (a) The division shall enter into a contract with a manufacturer of
  personal protective equipment that guarantees a set amount and
  stocked supply of the equipment for use during a public health
  disaster declared under Section 81.0813, Health and Safety Code.
         (b)  The division may purchase personal protective equipment
  under a contract described by Subsection (a) only if the division
  determines the state's supply of personal protective equipment will
  be insufficient based on an evaluation of the personal protective
  equipment:
               (1)  held in reserve in this state; and
               (2)  supplied by or expected to be supplied by the
  federal government.
         (c)  The division shall pursue all available federal funding
  to cover the costs of personal protective equipment purchased under
  a contract described by Subsection (a).
         SECTION 3.  The heading to Subtitle D, Title 2, Health and
  Safety Code, is amended to read as follows:
  SUBTITLE D. PREVENTION, CONTROL, AND REPORTS OF DISEASES; PUBLIC
  HEALTH DISASTERS AND EMERGENCIES
         SECTION 4.  The heading to Chapter 81, Health and Safety
  Code, is amended to read as follows:
  CHAPTER 81. COMMUNICABLE DISEASES; PUBLIC HEALTH DISASTERS; PUBLIC
  HEALTH EMERGENCIES
         SECTION 5.  Section 81.003, Health and Safety Code, is
  amended by amending Subdivision (7) and adding Subdivision (7-a) to
  read as follows:
               (7)  "Public health disaster" means:
                     (A)  a declaration by the governor of a state of
  disaster; and
                     (B)  a determination by the commissioner that
  there exists an immediate threat from a communicable disease,
  health condition, or chemical, biological, radiological, or
  electromagnetic exposure that:
                           (i)  poses a high risk of death or serious
  harm [long-term disability] to the public [a large number of
  people]; and
                           (ii)  creates a substantial risk of harmful
  public exposure [because of the disease's high level of contagion
  or the method by which the disease is transmitted].
               (7-a)  "Public health emergency" means a determination
  by the commissioner, evidenced in an emergency order issued by the
  commissioner, that there exists an immediate threat from a
  communicable disease, health condition, or chemical, biological,
  radiological, or electromagnetic exposure that:
                     (A)  potentially poses a risk of death or severe
  illness or harm to the public; and
                     (B)  potentially creates a substantial risk of
  harmful exposure to the public.
         SECTION 6.  The heading to Subchapter B, Chapter 81, Health
  and Safety Code, is amended to read as follows:
  SUBCHAPTER B. PREVENTION AND PREPAREDNESS
         SECTION 7.  Section 81.044, Health and Safety Code, is
  amended by adding Subsection (b-1) to read as follows:
         (b-1)  In this subsection, "cycle threshold value" means for
  a communicable disease test the number of thermal cycles required
  for the fluorescent signal to exceed that of the background and
  cross the threshold for a positive test. The executive
  commissioner shall require the reports to contain the cycle
  threshold values and their reference ranges for the reportable
  disease that is the subject of the report.
         SECTION 8.  Section 81.081, Health and Safety Code, is
  amended to read as follows:
         Sec. 81.081.  DEPARTMENT'S DUTY. The department is the
  preemptive authority for purposes of this chapter and shall
  coordinate statewide or regional efforts to protect public health.  
  The department shall collaborate with local elected officials,
  including county and municipal officials, [impose control
  measures] to prevent the spread of disease and [in the exercise of
  its power to] protect the public health.
         SECTION 9.  Subchapter E, Chapter 81, Health and Safety
  Code, is amended by adding Sections 81.0813, 81.0814, and 81.0815
  to read as follows:
         Sec. 81.0813.  AUTHORITY TO DECLARE PUBLIC HEALTH DISASTER
  OR ORDER PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY. (a) The commissioner may declare
  a statewide or regional public health disaster or order a statewide
  or regional public health emergency if the commissioner determines
  an occurrence or threat to public health is imminent. The
  commissioner may declare a public health disaster only if the
  governor declares a state of disaster under Chapter 418, Government
  Code, for the occurrence or threat.
         (b)  Except as provided by Subsection (c), a public health
  disaster or public health emergency continues until the governor or
  commissioner terminates the disaster or emergency on a finding
  that:
               (1)  the threat or danger has passed; or
               (2)  the disaster or emergency has been managed to the
  extent emergency conditions no longer exist.
         (c)  A public health disaster or public health emergency
  expires on the 30th day after the date the disaster or emergency is
  declared or ordered by the commissioner. A public health disaster
  or public health emergency may only be renewed by the legislature or
  a designated legislative oversight board that has been granted
  authority under a statute enacted by the legislature to renew a
  public health disaster declaration or public health emergency
  order.  Each renewal period may not exceed 30 days.
         (d)  A declaration or order issued under this section must
  include:
               (1)  a description of the nature of the disaster or
  emergency;
               (2)  a designation of the area threatened by the
  disaster or emergency;
               (3)  a description of the condition that created the
  disaster or emergency; and
               (4)  if applicable:
                     (A)  the reason for renewing the disaster or
  emergency; or
                     (B)  the reason for terminating the disaster or
  emergency.
         (e)  A declaration or order issued under this section must be
  disseminated promptly by means intended to bring its contents to
  the public's attention. A statewide or regional declaration or
  order shall be filed promptly with the office of the governor and
  the secretary of state. A regional declaration or order shall be
  filed with the county clerk or municipal secretary in each area to
  which it applies, unless the circumstances attendant on the
  disaster or emergency prevent or impede the filing.
         Sec. 81.0814.  EXPERT PANEL. (a)  Immediately after
  declaring a public health disaster or issuing a public health
  emergency order, the commissioner shall appoint an expert panel
  composed of five physicians and four other health care providers
  who have extensive experience involving treatments, therapeutics,
  and prophylactics for communicable diseases and other important
  knowledge and experience related to the disaster or order.
         (b)  The commissioner shall appoint a presiding officer for
  the expert panel.
         (c)  The expert panel shall meet during the public health
  disaster or emergency to provide recommendations on the disaster or
  emergency to the chief state epidemiologist appointed under Section
  1001.0515.
         (d)  The expert panel is abolished on the termination of the
  public health disaster or emergency for which the panel was
  established.
         Sec. 81.0815.  FAILURE TO REPORT; CIVIL PENALTY. (a) A
  health care facility that fails to submit a report required by the
  department under a public health disaster or emergency is liable to
  this state for a civil penalty of not more than $1,000 for each
  failure.
         (b)  The attorney general at the request of the department
  may bring an action to collect a civil penalty imposed under this
  section.
         SECTION 10.  Subchapter A, Chapter 161, Health and Safety
  Code, is amended by adding Section 161.0085 to read as follows:
         Sec. 161.0085.  COVID-19 VACCINE PASSPORTS PROHIBITED. (a)  
  In this section, "COVID-19" means the 2019 novel coronavirus
  disease.
         (b)  A governmental entity in this state may not issue a
  vaccine passport, vaccine pass, or other standardized
  documentation to certify an individual's COVID-19 vaccination
  status to a third party for a purpose other than health care or
  otherwise publish or share any individual's COVID-19 immunization
  record or similar health information for a purpose other than
  health care.
         (c)  A business in this state may not require a customer to
  provide any documentation certifying the customer's COVID-19
  vaccination or post-transmission recovery on entry to, to gain
  access to, or to receive service from the business. A business that
  fails to comply with this subsection is not eligible to receive a
  grant or enter into a contract payable with state funds.
         (d)  Notwithstanding any other law, each appropriate state
  agency shall ensure that businesses in this state comply with
  Subsection (c) and may require compliance with that subsection as a
  condition for a license, permit, or other state authorization
  necessary for conducting business in this state.
         (e)  This section may not be construed to:
               (1)  restrict a business from implementing COVID-19
  screening and infection control protocols in accordance with state
  and federal law to protect public health; or
               (2)  interfere with an individual's right to access the
  individual's personal health information under federal law.
         SECTION 11.  Subchapter C, Chapter 1001, Health and Safety
  Code, is amended by adding Section 1001.0515 to read as follows:
         Sec. 1001.0515.  OFFICE OF CHIEF STATE EPIDEMIOLOGIST. (a)
  The commissioner shall:
               (1)  establish an Office of Chief State Epidemiologist
  within the department to provide expertise in public health
  activities and policy in this state by:
                     (A)  evaluating epidemiologic, medical, and
  health care information; and
                     (B)  identifying pertinent research and
  evidence-based best practices; and
               (2)  appoint a physician licensed to practice medicine
  in this state as the chief state epidemiologist to administer the
  Office of Chief State Epidemiologist.
         (b)  The chief state epidemiologist must:
               (1)  be board certified in a medical specialty; and
               (2)  have significant experience in public health and
  an advanced degree in public health, epidemiology, or a related
  field.
         (c)  The chief state epidemiologist serves as:
               (1)  the department expert on epidemiological matters
  and on communicable and noncommunicable diseases; and
               (2)  the department's senior science representative and
  primary contact for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  and other federal agencies related to epidemiologic science and
  disease surveillance.
         (d)  The chief state epidemiologist shall report to the state
  operations center, under the direction of the chief of the Texas
  Division of Emergency Management, during a declared public health
  disaster to provide expertise and support this state's response to
  the disaster.
         (e)  The chief state epidemiologist may provide professional
  and scientific consultation regarding epidemiology and disease
  control, harmful exposure, and injury prevention to state agencies,
  health facilities, health service regions, local health
  authorities, local health departments, and other entities.
         (f)  Notwithstanding any other law, the chief state
  epidemiologist may access information from the department to
  implement duties of the epidemiologist's office. Reports, records,
  and information provided to the Office of Chief State
  Epidemiologist that relate to an epidemiologic or toxicologic
  investigation of human illness or conditions and of environmental
  exposure that are harmful or believed to be harmful to the public
  health are confidential and not subject to disclosure under Chapter
  552, Government Code, and may not be released or made public on
  subpoena or otherwise, except for statistical purposes if released
  in a manner that prevents identification of any person.
         SECTION 12.  Sections 81.082(d) and (e), Health and Safety
  Code, are repealed.
         SECTION 13.  (a) In this section, "council" means the
  Preparedness Coordinating Council advisory committee established
  by the Health and Human Services Commission under Section 1001.035,
  Health and Safety Code, for the Department of State Health
  Services.
         (b)  Under the direction of the emergency management council
  established by the governor under Section 418.013, Government Code,
  the council shall conduct a study on this state's response to the
  2019 novel coronavirus disease. The council shall examine the
  roles of the Department of State Health Services, the Health and
  Human Services Commission, and the Texas Division of Emergency
  Management relating to public health disaster and emergency
  planning and response efforts and determine the efficacy of the
  state emergency operations plan in appropriately identifying
  agency responsibilities.  The council may collaborate with an
  institution of higher education in this state to conduct the study.
         (c)  Not later than December 1, 2022, the council shall
  prepare and submit a written report to the governor, the lieutenant
  governor, the speaker of the house of representatives, and the
  members of the legislature on the results of the study conducted
  under Subsection (b) of this section. The report must include
  recommendations for legislative improvements for public health
  disaster and public health emergency response and preparedness.
         (d)  This section expires September 1, 2023.
         SECTION 14.  Section 418.0125, Government Code, as added by
  this Act, applies only to an order issued or regulation adopted on
  or after the effective date of this Act.
         SECTION 15.  (a)  The Department of State Health Services
  and the Preparedness Coordinating Council advisory committee are
  required to implement this Act only if the legislature appropriates
  money specifically for that purpose. If the legislature does not
  appropriate money specifically for that purpose, the department and
  council may, but are not required to, implement this Act using other
  appropriations available for that purpose.
         (b)  The Department of State Health Services shall use any
  available federal money to implement this Act.
         SECTION 16.  This Act takes effect immediately if it
  receives a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each
  house, as provided by Section 39, Article III, Texas Constitution.  
  If this Act does not receive the vote necessary for immediate
  effect, this Act takes effect September 1, 2021.
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