State Capitol Week in Review by Senator Larry Teague
January 29, 2021
LITTLE ROCK – A Senate committee has passed laws protecting the rights of people with disabilities who need an organ transplant.
Senate Bill 155 is also known as Lila’s Bill after a girl with Down syndrome who was denied a possible heart transplant in 2018. The Senate Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee gave him a positive recommendation, which means the entire Senate will vote on it.
Federal law prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities, but there is a general lack of enforcement. If SB 155 were passed, Arkansas would join 15 other states with similar laws designed to highlight and prevent discrimination.
SB 155 would prohibit healthcare providers, organ donation organizations, laboratories and other providers from discriminating against people with disabilities. Not only could they refuse a transplant simply because the person was disabled, nor could they put that person on the list of potential organ recipients.
They couldn’t refuse to refer someone to a transplant center or put them on a waiting list. The person with a disability could not be denied coverage.
However, under the law, a health care provider could still refuse to perform a transplant that is considered medically inappropriate.
SB 155 would expedite the appeal process if someone is denied a transplant and decides to go to court.
In other news, House passed HB 1151 to suspend a school rating system for this year.
The impetus is that the Covid-19 virus has caused changes in planning, increased absenteeism and disruptions in previous routine tasks. For example, school staff have to renovate the classrooms and maintain social distance. Many other students are taught virtually.
School reports contain a variety of information, such as: B. Graduation rates and student results on standardized tests. They also contain a letter of grades from A to F, but under HB 1151 these grades would not be included for the 2020-2021 school year.
HB 1151 was sent to the Senate and referred to the Senate Education Committee.
HB 1056 was approved by the House to allow public entities to practically meet during a governor-declared disaster. It would change the current provisions of the Freedom of Information Act that public meetings must be open. The public could still participate virtually under HB 1056.
The public body must publish the method by which people can virtually join the meeting.
The sessions have yet to be recorded.
The Senate passed SB 87 on the approval of massage therapists by the health department. SB 87 authorizes the state licensing agency to deny someone a massage therapy license if the person has committed a prostitution crime.
The Senate also approved SB 27, which would ensure that the Department of Health recruits people with experience working with veterans to serve on staff answering state suicide prevention hotlines.
In the past three years, 1,077 veterans have called the state hotline for suicide prevention, according to the sponsor of SB 27.
SB 87 and SB 27 were sent to house committees. When the committees bring this up, the whole House will vote on them and they will go to the governor’s office for signature.
1-29-21 11:15 AM KAWX.ORG