in Houston, Texas
Plan for health care compacts advances
Thursday, May 26, 2011, 10:54AM CST
By Mark Lisheron
Reese's peanut butter cup

For conservatives, this is the health care version of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, with Rep. Lois Kolkhorst the frantic confectioner.

Late last night, Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, succeeded in convincing a House majority to attach her House Bill 5, which would allow Texas to enter into health care compacts or agreements with other states, to Senate Bill 8, another major piece of health care legislation.

Now, Senouse Bill 8.5 or Hounate Bill 5.8 (In case you are wondering, we’re making these titles up.) must go back to the Senate, where lawmakers can approve the amended bill and send it on to the governor or drop it into a committee to achieve the perfect blend of chocolate and peanut butter, according to an Austin American-Statesman story.

This is why they say one ought never be forced to witness sausage, candy or legislation being made.

Prior to being amended, SB 8 by Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, with its focus on cost cutting and improvement of health care in Texas had been pretty popular with everyone but the Office of Policy Planning for the Federal Trade Commission.

The House had given overwhelming preliminary approval for Nelson’s bill in spite of a Trade Commission warning that the law might decrease competition in the health care industry.

Kolkhorst’s bill, which relies on the 10th section in Article 1 of the Constitution, giving the states the right to enter into contracts without federal interference, had moved along, too. Until Wednesday.

Sausage Manufacturing Alert !

The Senate’s 19 Republicans couldn’t convince the necessary two of the 12 Democrats to agree to allow a debate that might have led to a vote on HB 5, according to the Statesman. Kolkhorst zigged east on the second floor of the Capitol, lobbying the Senate, and west to the House trying to hold off a vote on SB 8.

When it was clear the Senate wasn’t going to budge, Kolkhorst offered her bill as an amendment and the House complied.

"Today, I watched HB5 die in the Senate," Kolkhorst told House members afterward. "Thank you for letting me stand up to the Senate and say the House does the work."
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or

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Photo of Reese's candy by flickr user haronovich, used via a Creative Commons license.
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