AM Update: 9/4/12
8:54 am
Tue September 4, 2012

AM Update: Hearing on Women's Health Program, Lawmakers to Discuss Texas Prisons, New Rules for CDLs

It's back to work today for many after a long Labor Day weekend. Expect another day in the triple digits.

Public Invited to Comment on Texas Women’s Health Program

Today the public will get a chance to express their thoughts on proposed changes to the Texas Women’s Health Program – what used to be known as the Medicaid Women’s Health Program.

The program provides health services to about 130,000 low-income Texas women. It has been mostly paid for with federal funding. But when Texas lawmakers decided to enforce a state rule that the program could not support clinics affiliated with abortions, the Obama Administration vowed to cut off the funding. When Medicaid funding is cut off in November, Governor Rick Perry says Texas will pay for the program. The details of how the state will take on the funding have not yet been outlined.

Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood is suing in hopes of retaining funding. Planned Parenthood says their clinics provide important health services to women who would otherwise have a hard time getting them.

Late last month, a judge decided the state can cut off funding to Planned Parenthood before a full trial next month.

The Department of State Health Services is hosting the public hearing this afternoon at 1:30 at the Criss Cole Rehabilitation Center on North Lamar.

Senate Committee to Discuss Prison System Policies

Texas Senate Committee on Criminal Justice is meeting this morning to discuss the use of “administrative segregation” – or solitary confinement – in Texas prisons.

The committee wants to find out what impact solitary confinement has on prisoners’ mental health and if it impacts how likely they are to return to prison. Lawmakers will discuss the potential expansion of programs in order to improve inmates’ transitions from solitary confinement to the general public.

The committee is also set to talk about the overall care of female inmates.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the percentage of female inmates grows every year and is rising at a higher rate than men.

The Associated Press reports that 2012 will be the deadliest year in Texas Prisons in nearly 15 years.

DPS Announces New Requirements for First-Time CDL Applicants

Starting today, applicants for a Texas commercial driver's license (CDL) will need to bring proof of residency to any Texas Department of Public Safety office.

The requirements, which only apply to first-time CDL applicants, are the result of legislation approved by the Texas Legislature.

Applicants are required to establish a “true, fixed and permanent home and principal residence” in Texas to be eligible for a CDL. To prove residency, new CDL applicants will be required to present two acceptable documents containing their name and address.

The new law resembles the legislation enacted in May requiring additional proof of residency for Texans trying to obtain a regular driver's license.

Applicants that cannot provide the necessary documents may complete a Texas Residency Affidavit.