Texas Democrats made gains in the State House and Senate in last month's elections, but the new members say they will be charting a 'common sense' course in the coming session, and don't plan to focus on traditional liberal base issues like gun control, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Democrats picked up 12 seats in the 150 seat House and two seats in the 31 seat State Senate, which the party says will be enough to defeat any of the movement conservative issues which have surfaced in recent sessions, like last year's very controversial 'bathroom bill.'
At a recent meeting to discuss priorities, two issues emerged...health care and transportation.State Rep. Stephanie Click (D-Ft. Worth) said she will push for legislation bringing transparency to medical and hospital pricing, including a bill that would require health care providers reveal their pricing structures.
"Because of the higher out of pocket co-insurance amounts you're paying, it is becoming harder and harder for you to find out how much something is going to cost before you consume it and get the big bill," she said.
Democrats say they will push for pricing for medical procedures to be made public, pointing out that nobody would shop at a grocery store if you were told you would only be told how much something costs after you had committed to buying it.
There is also talk among Democrats to require hospitals and medical centers to do more to remove 'out of network' surprise 'balance bills' which are charged by members of a surgical team who is not in the patient's primary medical network. They point out that it is not uncommon for a patient to do diligence and make sure the hospital or doctor is covered under their health insurance, only to latest get a bill from an obscure technician in the operating room who was 'out of network.'
Democrats say health care was top of mind among their voters leading up to the 2018 elections, especially with patient costs skyrocketing.
Newly elected State Senator Beverly Powell (D-Ft. Worth) who defeated movement conservative Konni Burton, who in turn had filled the seat vacated by 2014 Democratic governor candidate Wendy Davis, says her constituents were most concerned about transportation issues.
"Whether that is commuter rail, or mass transit for our communities, so that we can move this growing population to schools and to work, those things are really important to me," she said.
Another item that came up in the discussion was the regularization of the state's marijuana laws. State Sen. Jose Menendez (D-San Antonio) has introduced a bill legalizing medical marijuana, while other lawmakers say they support decriminalization of possession of small amounts of pot.
But no Democrats indicated a willingness to support any of the more radical 'Democratic Socialist' ideas being pushed in some other states. Some said they will use their new numbers mainly as a check on Republicans, pointing out that the way the rules in the Legislature are written, it is a lot easier to kill bills than it is to get them approved, and the pointed out that Republicans still have solid majorities and conservatives still control both chambers and sit in the governors office.