How the 2020 Election Impacts Texas EMS Policy

Texas EMS policy isn’t the fancy of many at the moment.

In our world, it’s the focus of everything.

As the 2020 election enters a climactic conclusion, the two biggest influences on EMS policy are quietly complete: The Texas Legislature and our Congressional Representatives.

This article reviews the EMS policy impact following the 2020 election. If you’re new to policy, backgrounds on each legislative body have been provided. This is a great time to engage and explore.

The Texas Legislature

Policy Impact: Positive

Background: The Texas Legislature is the policy making body of Texas and meets for only 140 days every two years. It consists of a 150 member House of Representatives and 31 member Senate.

What Changed: Very little. The House is returning 136 incumbents and the Senate is receiving only two new members. The House maintained its Republican majority and Republican control.

Notable Returns: Three of ATEMSP’s “Outstanding Legislators” are returning for the 87th Legislative Session. Representatives John Turner (D), Sheryl Cole (D), and Steve Toth (R) all secured reelection without issue.

Notable Loss: The retirement of “Outstanding Legislator” Kirk Watson. Senator Watson championed ATEMSP’s Paramedic Tuition Exemption bill throughout the 86th Legislative Session and stood as a strong advocate for EMS.

Policy Impact Explained: Overall, the returning legislators create a positive policy environment for Texas EMS. Many of the relationships ATEMSP built during the 86th Legislative Session will be progressing into the 87th.

COVID-19, however, is the unknown negative. Many experts believe the virus will create a limited legislature in which fewer bills will be passed. Relationships and uncontested legislation will be favored.

ATEMSP Assessment: The ATEMSP Legislative Committee is already working with legislators for the 87th. Pre-filing bills begins November 9th.

ATEMSP’s priorities this session are COVID-19, increased access to higher education, remembering our EMS fallen, and preventing EMS exclusion from public safety legislation.

The greatest threats to progressing EMS policy are legislators being unfamiliar with our profession and trade associations opposing EMS progress.

United States Congress

Policy Impact: Mixed

Background: The United States Congress is the policy making body of the United States of America. The US Congress convenes on January 3rd of each odd-numbered year and lasts for two years. It consists of a 435 member House of Representatives and 100 member Senate.

Texas has 36 Representatives and two Senators.

What Changed: Texas experienced little change with party representation but is sending seven new members to Congress (about 1/5 of the Texas representatives).

Notable Returns: Two members of the Congressional EMS Caucus are returning to Congress. Representatives Lloyd Doggett (D) and Brian Babin (R) both secured reelection without issue.

Notable Loss: The retirement of Representative Bill Flores (R) removes the only other Texan participating in the Congressional EMS Caucus.

Policy Impact Explained: The return of Rep. Doggett gives Texas EMS a strong Congressional voice. Rep. Doggett is the most engaged Congressional EMS advocate in Texas. Texas EMS, however, still has a hard road ahead with influencing federal policy.

The biggest hinderance to EMS policy progress is a lack of representation on the Congressional EMS Caucus. Texas provides the second largest number of Congressional Representatives but only two participate in the EMS Caucus.

This means that the majority of our Representatives operate with an incomplete understanding of EMS needs. Private lobbyists, such as those hired by private ambulance companies, are sometimes the primary source of EMS information.

ATEMSP Assessment: ATEMSP works closely with NAEMT advocacy efforts and continues to be impressed with the growth of NAEMT’s federal presence.

In 2019, Texas became one of the most active states for EMS advocacy. This is most notable during an NAEMT Call to Action. ATEMSP must continue building a grassroots network that amplifies the voice of Texas EMS in each Congressional District.

The top priority for 2021 is adding three members to the Congressional EMS Caucus.

Closing Summary

The 2020 election provided few surprises for Texas EMS policy.

This is welcomed stability in a policy world being upended by COVID-19.

The next Texas Legislative Session begins January 12th and the new Congress convenes January 3rd.

ATEMSP is actively tracking policy for Texas EMS and looks forward to progressing positive change with the legislative bodies provided by the 2020 elections.

Visit www.atemsp.org or email info@atemsp.org to learn more about Texas EMS advocacy efforts.

The Association of Texas EMS Professionals (ATEMSP) represents the individual Texas EMS professional. ATEMSP is active in state and federal public policy.

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