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News News
Proposed Constitutional Amendments
Article By: by Texas State Rep. Larry Phillips
Posted: 9/2/2013 Views: 1615  Impressions: 6816
Categories: Politics

This week's column will be the second in a series outlining the proposed constitutional amendments on which Texas voters will decide on November 5. These amendments were joint resolutions that were passed during the recent legislative session; however, because they change the Texas Constitution, they need state-wide voter approval before they can take effect. The order that the amendments appear on the ballot has been randomly selected by the secretary of state. This information is taken from a report by the House Research Organization, a nonpartisan agency that provides information to the legislature.

Amendment No. 2 (H.J.R. 79)
The constitutional amendment eliminating an obsolete requirement for a State Medical Education Board and a State Medical Education Fund, neither of which is operational.
House Joint Resolution 79 carries out a decades-old recommendation by the Sunset Advisory Commission and the Legislative Budget Board to repeal a now obsolete constitutional provision added in 1952 that required the legislature to create a State Medical Education Board (SMEB), establish a fund, and make appropriations to that fund to be used by that board to provide grants, loans, or scholarships directly to medical students who agree to practice medicine in rural areas of this state. The board was not created until 1973 and, once created, was largely ineffective in serving its purpose of attracting physicians to serve in medically underserved communities. Due to its ineffectiveness, the board has not received state appropriations or issued new loans for more than 20 years, and the legislature has since enacted more effective methods of attracting physicians to serve in rural Texas.
Lawmakers and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) now use loan repayment programs instead of direct loans to medical students as their primary method of attracting physicians to practice in rural Texas. These programs help already licensed physicians retire their student-loan debt through annual payments in return for practicing in rural and medically underserved parts of the state. Unlike current programs, the SMEB loan-issuance programs often paid to educate students who never honored their agreement to practice in rural Texas. Many of the loans issued by the SMEB have gone into default and have been deemed uncollectable, leaving taxpayers on the hook.
In an ongoing effort to remove unnecessary provisions from the Texas Constitution, H.J.R. 79 removes the requirement for the defunct medical education board and its related fund. Supporters of the proposed amendment say it would afford an opportunity to shrink state government by eliminating an obsolete governmental office, streamlining the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), and simplifying an ever-expanding state constitution. The objectives and functions of the State Medical Education Board are now accomplished by other more effective means.
There has been no documented opposition to this amendment.
You can view a complete list of the proposed constitutional amendments with analyses online at For more information regarding these propositions, you can contact my office by writing to P.O. Box 2910, Austin, TX 78768-2910 or by emailing me at My district office phone number is (903) 891-7297.

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