What Makes Texas State Politics Unique?
Written by Editor   
Monday, May 01, 2017 12:47 PM

What is unique about Texas politics?  Learn some of the particularly unique aspects such as low pay for legislators that may discourage middle-class citizens from seeking state office, thus attracting a particular elite or poor segment of society, rather than a diverse population. Campaigning for government office in Texas is slanted toward the well-off likely to include members of the medical profession and result in more bias against non-medical entities.

By William E. Morgan, DC
Excerpted from Chiropractic in Texas is Under Attack, 
Dynamic Chiropractic, March 2017


It appears the medical lobby has identified that chiropractic in this state is particularly vulnerable to attack, given the unique system of laws and regulation in Texas. Though the problems we are facing in the state are complex, I'll attempt to clarify some of the

uniquely Texan political aspects of the governmental landscape.

1. The TMA has a particularly strong medical lobby. Texas has more medical doctors in its state House than any other state. It has 

six, all Republicans: three in the state Senate and three in the state House.

From my time in the U.S. Capitol, I know congressmen and congresswomen frequently defer to colleagues they consider subject matter experts. It is common for a lawmaker to defer to another lawmaker who is a medical physician in matters dealing with health care.

This gives the medical profession an expanded voice in Texas politics. Three more medical doctors have announced their intention to run for the state House in the 2018 elections; if they win, this will further strengthen the medical lobby.

2. Lawsuits. The TMA is currently in a legal battle with the Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners to remove diagnosis from chiropractic. The TMA has a long history of lawsuits intended to restrict the scope of practice of all non-MD / DO professions. Right now, TCA is fighting to combat these lawsuits as they relate to chiropractic. The TCA is also appealing a decision in which the definition of the subluxation complex has been narrowed.

3. The Scope of Practice Partnership. The SOPP, while not a uniquely Texas organization, has had great influence in the state. It was formed in 2006 by the American Medical Association to limit scope-of-practice expansions by non-MD / DO physicians. The TMA has been a charter member of this organization and is essentially its attack dog.

But chiropractors should not feel alone in the attacks on our scope of practice. The SOPP and the TMA have also campaigned against the scope of nurses, midwives, podiatrists, physical therapists and others. They don't like competition. 

4. The Sunset Advisory Commission. In an attempt to limit unbridled bureaucracy, the state of Texas created the Texas Sunset Act in 1977. According to this act, every regulatory agency will automatically be abolished (hence, there is a "sunset" to its existence) at the end of a 12-year cycle unless the legislators vote to keep the agency.

Approximately 130 state agencies are subject to the Sunset Act. This year, the Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners is due to enter the sunset review process. After the commission agrees on the proposed fate of the reviewed agency, it is presented to the general session for a vote. 

5. Limited legislative sessions. The Texas legislative body meets only every other year, in the odd-numbered years, for five months. This schedule for the legislative body dates back to the days of the Old West, when the preferred method of travel was horseback. At a time when it could take weeks to travel to Austin from the far reaches of the state, it made sense to meet only every other year.

Retaining this archaic schedule means it can take much longer in Texas to challenge and undo actions taken by the legislature. In addition, because such actions are in place for a minimum of two years, changes can take on inertia and become much harder to undo once implemented.

6. Low pay of Texas legislators. The pay for lawmakers in Texas is low: $600 per month, plus $125 per day when they are in session or traveling during official business. This low wage and short (140 days every other year) legislative season lends itself to attract those who can leave their jobs for five months and do not need the money (or have a strong sense of civic duty and are willing to make the sacrifice).

This wage may discourage middle-class citizens from seeking state office, thus attracting a particular elite or poor segment of society, rather than a diverse population. Only the rich or the poor can afford to serve as Texas state lawmakers.

Since running a campaign is expensive, government office in Texas is slanted toward the well-off versus those with lower financial reserves. This situation results in a demographic among Texas legislators that is likely to include more members of the medical profession and more bias against non-medical entities.

Thomas Jefferson is attributed as saying, "The cost of freedom is eternal vigilance." This fight will never end; it is eternal, just like our commitment to our patients. Part of being a master clinician is to be an advocate for our patients. This is the time to become that advocate.

We have a serious battle ahead of us, one that will require the resolve of every member of the chiropractic community to guarantee victory. I am calling upon you for political and material support. Our patients are relying upon us. 

Source: http://www.dynamicchiropractic.com/mpacms/dc/article.php?id=57906