Lines in the Sand

Austin Legislators Prepare to Redraw Their Own Districts -- While Doing Business as Usual

Lines in the Sand
Photo By John Anderson

Rep. Elliott Naishtat, D-Austin

House District 49 (Austin)

Capitol Office: E1.506

Capitol Phone: 512/463-0668

When he was appointed chair of the Human Services Committee last session, Naishtat was caught between the 100 bills he had filed and the chairmanship of a committee about to undertake, among other issues, the "welfare reform" that Gov. Bush wanted in order to protect himself from an attack from the man he assumed would be his opponent in the GOP primary, Pat Buchanan. "Last year, we filed 100 bills and passed 60,"Naishtat said. "This year, we will file 30." Those bills will focus on long-term care in nursing homes, support for working families, public health, and criminal justice. One bill will provide liability insurance for nursing homes. "One-fifth of the nursing homes in Texas are in bankruptcy," he said. "They claim they are bankrupt because of jury verdicts. But verdicts aren't paid by the homes, they are paid by insurers. They complain that liability is going through the roof -- so why not make liability insurance affordable to nursing homes?"

Naishtat also said he will address Medicaid reimbursement, which will improve the quality of health care for the poor, in a state with a large percentage of its population living in poverty. "We're 45th in the nation in Medicaid reimbursement,' he said. "I've filed three bills on Medicaid eligibility. We want to enroll the 565,000 of the state's 1.4 million children that we know are eligible for Medicaid." He has also filed bills to streamline the process by which children are enrolled in the Medicaid. "In Texas," he said, "it is hard to get on, and hard to stay enrolled."

Naishtat has also filed criminal justice bills that would prohibit the execution of the mentally retarded, open up the clemency and pardon process, and give the governor the authority to declare a moratorium on executions. He is also the sponsor of a "life without parole" bill which would provide juries and judges an alternative to capital punishment.

His North Central Austin district is one of the districts into which Republican legislators hope to move more suburban Republican voters.

Naishtat has served in the Legislature since 1991 and has filed 11 bills this session.

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