The 85th Legislature

Austin — In about 40 minutes Wednesday, the Texas Senate Higher Education Committee unanimously passed five bills on various topics and left one pending about physician education loans.

Sen. Borris Miles, D-Houston, authored the pending bill, Senate bill 1225. This bill is similar to Senate bill 247 that Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, proposed in the meeting last week. Both bills note a shortage of medical professionals in some places and would implement ways for graduates to pay loans off while working for their community.

Miles’ bill would specifically adjust eligibility for loan repayment assistance for physicians at state hospitals or living centers.

One of the five bills passed is about research transparency. Committee chairman and Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, authored Senate bill 803 and filed it in early February. The bill would make research performed by public institutions available to people.

Seliger said public colleges and universities’ research belongs to taxpayers, who fund the institutions. The Texas Legislature passed a similar bill by Seliger last session that requested research advisory boards to follow the Open Meetings Act and become subject to open record requests.

SB 803 does not apply to commercialized research, Seliger said.

“The people of the state of Texas are paying for [the research], they own it,” Seliger said.

Senate bill 810 by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, was passed. The bill is also about open educational resources and was previously discussed at a March 29 committee meeting.

Open educational resources are teaching materials. The bill would make these resources more available to help accommodate for textbook costs. In the amended, or committee substitute version of SB 810, Kolkhorst said the amount of funds received by faculty would be limited.

The bills passed will progress to a full Senate vote.


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